Monday, May 26, 2008

Have Sheep, Will Travel

Our sheep have a new job grazing down grass on a hillside ranch near Cazadero, CA. Sunday was moving day.

The old ewe leads the bunch out of the trailer

The ten ewes will have more grass than they can hold

The view from the sheep's new holding pen

Resident border collie, Meg, is very excited about her new ranch mates.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More from UC Davis

UC Davis is conducting a DNA study on canine epilepsy. We (rather, all of my dogs living at that time) donated DNA for this project more than a year ago (New Year's Day, 2007) at the TRACS agility trial in Rancho Murrietta, CA. The friendly folks from UC Davis took blood from Bid, Chief, and Coal and took cheek swabs from Augie, Bid, Chief, and Coal (who was then just a baby puppy and very brave about the whole thing).

I just found out yesterday that Bid and Chief have made it into the study in the 90-dog-member (non-epileptic) "control group". It's too bad that Augie could not contribute blood to the project since he had experienced some seizures late in life, but at that time he was an unwilling participant in the blood drawing process and neither I nor the staff wanted to torture him at that time.

I don't know what will come out of all of this, but it's exciting to be a part of the ongoing research studies at UC Davis. The research staff will be mapping other traits, behaviors, and appearances besides canine epilepsy. They are even going to attempt to map the genetics for the type of spot that is on top of Chief's head!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Some More Photos from May 2008

Coal gathering part of the gang

A couple of cheviot ewes give Coal a run for his money

Bid very happy to be out working...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Highway 80 Madness

The past three weekends it seems like all we have done is run up and down Highway 80 to the Sacramento area and surrounding places for dog events but they have all been fun and productive outings.

The Berhow shedding clinic last weekend was awesome and I learned a lot. If nothing else, I will be a much better spectator at Open trials. It's much easier to watch and critique shedding (just like anything else) than it is to actually do it first hand, but now I have some tools to work on it.

A couple of days have been spent doing private lessons and those are really helpful too. We just started really working on an outrun for Coal so I feel like a new chapter is opening there. The only problem is that summer is upon us, bringing with it the heat, foxtails and other stickers, and hard dry, cracked ground.

Yesterday we went to a USBCHA trial in Elk Grove. I didn't run Bid in the Pro-Novice because he had a torn foot pad. But I did run Coal in Novice-Novice, just for a practice, and he did very well, taking first place! I was quite pleased with him because he listens even in a strange place and on different sheep. Mid-course I realized I'd never penned with Coal but we managed to wing it. He's such a good boy and he got many compliments. Many thanks to the Spencers for putting on such nice events.

A Fun Sheep Story from Dave

This is not my sheep story, but my friend Dave's, from Illinois. It was so "one for the book" though, that I asked Dave for permission to post the link. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

New Photos, May 2008

Chief and Coal at home

Can it be May already? Here are a few recent photos. Coal is now 20 months old and coming along well in his training. Bid and I are cleaning up our skills on the sheep field. Chief continues to improve in his obedience class (especially when I put in the practice time during the week).

Coal at the training field

Coal driving a mixed group of sheep

Bid at the training field

More to come later, I hope. We have a Bill Berhow shedding clinic this weekend and a trial on Mother's Day, both to look forward to.

Bid's Father, Lefty

It has been a rough spring for special dogs. Lefty, Bid's father, passed away on Tuesday at not quite 13 years old. Lefty was a sweet and gregarious dog with a personality that made him a favorite no matter where he went or what he did. Though he traveled at warp speed in agility, he was thoughtful and kind elsewhere. Here are a couple of photos taken of him at a ranch where he was showing off his herding skills, during the weekend that I went to pick up Bid as a little eight-week-old puppy.

Lefty will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by many folks.