Thursday, February 6, 2020

Great Britain Travel Blog 14 - Goodbye to Raise Lodge

May 19, 2019

This was our last full day in the UK for the trip. It was cloudy and colder; but no rain. After breakfast and packing up our things, we went outside to observe Derek and Ludi training dogs for one last session. Gloria also worked Foss again.

Derek wanted to show us something with Lynn to take home in our minds: a short flank, walk in, "there" so the dog can be really flexible and walk in at any point that you tell it to. This helps in making little adjustments on the drive, and otherwise. It's not (quote) "natural", but it looks natural and is very smooth.

We had lunch, said our goodbyes, and Gloria drove us in the rental car back to Manchester to the airport. We turned in the car, and got the shuttle back to the hotel. There was lots of reflecting on what all we had seen and done. Over the course of the trip we saw so many good dogs and met countless wonderful folks. The next day we began our long airline journey back to SFO. We had lots of time to think and talk through what we had experienced. It was a wonderful trip and everything I had dreamed of and more.

Great Britain Travel Blog 13 - To Northumberland to a Sheepdog Trial!

May 18, 2019

We were all up early at Raise Lodge, on this rainy day. We were off to a sheepdog trial up in Northumberland! It was great fun to watch, even though it rained. Derek ran Lynn and Jett, and Ludi ran her Meg.

The course had a complicated outrun. If you sent left, your dog had to cross a farm road and navigate a fence corner that stuck out into and interfered with the dog's path, which was uphill. To go left the dog needed to neatly bend out around the fence corner. If you sent right, there were other trees, some farm buildings that some dogs were confused with, more uphill, and also crossing the farm road but at a higher point. The draw back to the pens and buildings was very strong if sending to the right. A few dogs got lost up in the farm buildings up the hill when sent right. My photos of the course taken only with my phone did not turn out very well, especially in the rain on a dark-ish day.

 Once the dog picked up the sheep, the course became a bit more standard (the outrun was tricky enough!). The drive crossed the farm road again, and the at-hand work consisted this day, at least of split and then pen. Few were able to pen. The sheep were tricky Texel crosses with a breed name I didn't quite get. But the sheep were consistent, healthy and challenging.  The sheep were from the farm where the trial was held. And the sheep's owner/ farmer did the setout up top.

Trial sheep in the exhaust pen

Besides Derek's and Ludi's dogs, our favorite was Paul Turnbull's Mirk pictured above. A lovely rough coated dark dog under such good command. Wow. A nice team! There were also lots of big heavily coated dogs (Northumberland style border collies) who were neat to see but we talked about how they would never make it in our area back home with so much coat.
Derek had a nice go with Lynn, but did not have time to pen. Ludi also had a nice go, but time was up at her shed. Jett had more trouble (he is young) on the outrun, but Derek worked him through some issues. Very nice dogs running, overall. Beautiful country, near lots of Roman historical sites (Hadrian's Wall), horse country and tons of sheep everywhere.

The Northumberland group puts on a series of trials and had a full schedule set up for the year. It left Gloria and I wishing for so many trial opportunities so close to us as this, despite the low-budget no frills event (no porta potties).
We stopped on the way home for tea, which was nice. Soup helped me (still nursing that darn head cold) to feel better! Then we went out to dinner with everyone. So much fun. :-)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Great Britain Travel Blog 12 - To Scotland!

May 17, 2019

Yet another beautiful, sunny day. How could we be so lucky? 😍 Aren't the British Isles notoriously foggy and rainy?

In the morning, we went "out training" as in the days before, and watched Derek and Ludi work dogs. Gloria worked Foss, and Claire worked Briar. Derek and I talked about my Cap; he told me to encourage Cap to push into his sheep.

Derek working Meg (and making her listen!) :-)

In the afternoon, Gloria and I went by ourselves and took a driving loop up into Scotland. It is only about a 30 minute drive from Derek's to reach the Scottish border. We went on up to Moffat, Selkirk, Havrick and back down to Carlisle. It was the Scottish Borders loop. OMG, I loved it. Rugged hills. Statue of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. St. Mary's Loch. Border Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep, everywhere.  Exactly as wonderful as I had imagined all those places to be, and even better.

It was a lovely afternoon, with a little shopping at Moffat Woolen Mill. I picked up a few little prizes as gifts for family and sheep caretakers at home (tins of Scottish Shortbread cookies!), a lovely Stewart tartan plaid (we have Stewart in the family background) wool scarf for myself, and some more note cards.

Our driving loop complete, and the afternoon about gone, it had finally started to get cloudy and look like the rain that had been forecasted for the next day. We arrived back at Raise Lodge, where Derek and Ludi had been busy working all afternoon, vaccinating lambs.

Helen went out for delicious fish 'n' chips takeout dinner for all of us. Then, Ludi asked us to watch the "Away to Me" movie (about Soldier Hollow) with her and provide U.S. color commentary. LOL. A very fun day!

Great Britain Travel Blog 11 - More Training; Visiting Keswick and Winter Crag!

May 16, 2019

Sunny again; this was really helping me to feel better. I would just sit outside and watch everyone work dogs, and soak up the sun on myself. Ahhhh...and of course, training tips:

Have the dog hold sheep to you on the fence, and call the dog to your hand, regardless of what the sheep do.

If you have a dog who tends to run too wide, then do not set them up to begin their outrun behind you and wide from you.

If you ask the dog to take sheep off the fence, have the dog lie down and not slash through quickly. If it lies down at the fence, the sheep will walk off and dog can get up and walk the sheep up to you.

Derek worked his Lyn again. She is lovely. He has worked her a lot on just walking forward. She is really a listener.

Ludi worked some of the young dogs that we had now seen 2-3 times during the week. They all made progress, from one day to the next. Their training sessions were not long, but they were effective and clear.

Gloria worked Foss again (which means "waterfall" in Scandinavian countries). Foss was getting more comfortable with Gloria so she was faster and tighter...but this gave Gloria something work with. She got a bit tougher with her, and Foss straightened right up...Foss is a cute and responsive little dog.

After lunch, we went to visit Keswick, with Helen.  Her art group has a store front downtown and she had to take a turn in monitoring it, which gave us all an excuse to go and shop. I bought a bunch of note cards from the various artists, to take home. Keswick is very cute, old, and a tourist trap, sort of. :-) Old buildings, a market downtown, and lots of shops. We bought lots of souvenirs, for friends, family, pet sitters and the like. We went to a tea place for refreshments, which was very quaint.

When the afternoon was nearly over, Helen came and picked us up and we drove out past their former farm, Lonscale, and Ben Cathra (sp). We went on to Winter Crag, Rachel and Jack's new place. Lake Ullswater (sp) is there. Rachel and her friend Elin from Sweden showed us a lot of dogs and puppies on the sheep. The sheep were both Herdwicks and Swaledales on Winter Crag. The hills around there are amazing with lots of old stone walls. Certainly, a different world for me.

Great Britain Travel Blog 10 - An Eye Opening Wednesday at Raise Lodge

May 15, 2019

We lucked out into yet another beautiful sunny day, on Wednesday. 

Gloria makes friends with the resident Raise Lodge kitty :)
After breakfast, we all went out again with Derek and Ludi, to train. Meg (formerly Claire's) showed us all how very ineffective we were as her handler! - LOL! I tried to work Meg but I soon gave up. With my cold, I just couldn't speak effectively enough to put Meg through her paces, so Meg won. It made us all appreciate how the kids from the college class the day before, could get her to work expertly for them. And I sat on the sidelines as an auditor the rest of the week (which was absolutely fine with me...there was so much to take in and learn without working a dog...)

Derek worked Foss (a very smooth and nice nursery bitch) and his open dog Jett. Claire worked Briar. Derek and Ludi worked numerous other young dogs. It was a nice morning. After lunch we went back outside. Holly, a Facebook friend came with a 1 year old pup who she had been socializing for Derek. It was such fun to put face to name with Holly and chat with her! Another eye opener but super fun. Lots of different dogs were worked, and it was low key and fun.

Train the dogs to do as they're told, says Derek...and the sheep stuff will appear (not his wording in the second half of that sentence). :-) This was the answer that I got when I asked him how he built Jett up into more confidence. It's no good breeding dogs who won't listen, he said (interesting/good point!).   With both my dogs Spot and Cap, I need to work more on calling my dog straight to me, regardless of where the sheep are (for shedding).

Derek said that Gloria could take Foss for the week and work her each day. This was fantastic. Gloria got along great with working Foss. I declined more dog work because it was hurting me to talk; my stupid head cold was hanging on. I truly enjoyed watching and listening, though. Ludi and Derek pulled out one dog after another, each in various stages of training and all different.

Holly and her protege'

Foss and Gloria
On Wednesday nights they have a tradition of an informal get-together to train dogs, and potluck. We met more internet friends Lindsay and Britta (who has Fleece) and all the others. Rachel came with her two young dogs. They all have two to three year old dogs who are already so well trained! It was astounding. They're supportive of one another but training to a very high level with their dogs. It wasn't all about me-me-me, either!! Gloria and I found it very illuminating. I've never seen a bunch of mostly two year old dogs, and a few three year olds, who were so well prepared, all in one place, and enjoyed by a group of friends. Wow, just wow. Both Gloria and I said how much we would relish having such a supportive training group, near to us, back home...

Great Britain Travel Blog 9 - At Raise Lodge

May 14, 2019

It was a beautiful sunny day! Each morning at Raise Lodge, we were treated to a sheepdog training session with Derek and Ludi.  Derek and Ludi would each take out a succession of dogs to work, and then they talked to us about each one. The training set of sheep were mostly the little black horned Hebrides, with a few Shetlands mixed in; they never seemed to tire or get overly dog broke.

Training fields and sheep at Raise Lodge

It was very educational and like auditing a top level sheepdog training clinic every morning. Wow!  I picked up a few pointers this first day, that would apply to my dogs.

(1) Bring the sheep all the way straight to you on a fetch. Have the dog practice pushing the sheep practically onto you and don't stop them part way out. Have the dog push the sheep all the way up to you at least most of the time. Other variations are ok but this should be the default.

(2) A young or green dog starts out noticing only A, and then B, but we must teach him or her to respond to C.
A - sheep's movement
B - handler's body movement
C- your voice

After cramming so much activity and sightseeing into our days in Wales, it felt funny to slow down and savor the moments, at Raise Lodge. But it was good (especially for me, being sick) to take a slower day.

Since were back on WiFi and had cell reception (of which there is little to none in Wales), I received this funny photo from my house/dog sitter in the States:

I missed my boys, but I knew they were in great hands!

Great Britain Travel Blog 8 - To Raise Lodge in Cumbria!

May 13, 2019

Goodbye, Wales; Hello England and Cumbria!

After saying goodbye to Glyn and Lynne, we drove the five miles or so to Glyn Ceiriog to say goodbye to Elgar. It is bittersweet because they are all such wonderful people. But our continued Great Britain shepherd's adventure trip needed to get under way...

Saying good bye to the Jones farm in Wales...

A building I thought was interesting, in Glyn Ceiriog
Then we drove the several hours up to Raise Lodge, near Wigton, in the north of England, where we were to stay with the Scrimgeours and Ludi. It seemed like another long travel day, even though it's not such a long distance in miles. (I had unfortunately picked up a travel cold...which was miserable and a bummer...but I tried not to let it ruin my trip. I blame the International Terminal at London Heathrow which is a petri dish of international germs!) After a stop to get a cartload of groceries (and cold supplies for me!) we arrived at the serene and beautiful Raise Lodge.

My lovely and comfy room!
After we all got settled in our rooms, Derek took  all of us around in the pickup at evening chore time to see the sheep.  There were several different green and lush fields, full of ewes with lambs. Most were Swaledale Mules, with Texel cross babies.  The lambs were little chunks! There were quite a few fields that comprise the property, one with a fairly good sized hill, that they call the Church Field. Ludi was just as enchanting and funny in person as she had been online all these months while we corresponded about planning our trip.

Derek worked his good bitch, Lyn, and she did a very nice job on the hill being sent back for ewes and lambs. Helen made dinner for all of us when we got back, which was really nice.

Tomorrow would be another adventure. Spring was much further along here, than in Wales. There were flowers and green grass and blooming things. I knew that when I looked out my bedroom window in the morning, it would feel like a scene from one of my favorite movies, Enchanted April (even though it was May!).