Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend 2008

No trials, no lessons, this weekend...gratefully, just some time off work, and celebrating Coal turning two years old. Here are some videos shot by me while working the dogs on the sheep. It's not the best scenario, operating the camera while working the dogs, but it's better than nothing. The dogs seem to know the handler is a bit impaired and sometimes take advantage. The sheep were wanting to run to their buddies, which didn't help either.

Anyway here is Bid, age 9.

And here is Coal on his two-year-old birthday:

I can't work Chief right now because he has unfortunately (again) hurt his leg (not while herding but somehow in the back yard unsupervised). When he gets sound again--however long that takes--we will try some more sheepdog training. But he can still have a short run in the field.

Now back to watching the Soldier Hollow scores come in, and rooting for our favorites...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oak Springs Ranch, RESDA, August 24, 2008

Coal took second place in the Open class today at Oak Springs Ranch in Santa Rosa, CA. He got 44 points out of 50 which surprised the heck out of his handler, although I knew he did a fairly good job overall. I thought we might place 6th or 7th, given the overall good quality of the mostly smooth runs that I watched; however, we will not argue with the judge on this one. Clearly, our training yesterday on some of the hard stuff made an impression that paid off today.

What is the old saying; a poor practice makes for a superior performance?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reality Check, or, Bid Saves the Day

I guess this is why I like working more than one dog. Oftentimes, one dog saves the day, and sends me home from lessons or a trial with a smile on my face, meanwhile the other(s) can have their "reality checks" without getting me too upset.

Today it was Bid's turn to shine in our lessons at Zamora, and I got to run him on a "trial course", which I almost never do (except at trials). He ran the equivalent of a short Open course/long P-N course and I felt good about what we did. I need more improvement with timing and taking risks, in order to make things smoother. But it is so nice to be "handling" and not just "training" for a change. Ahh!

Coal and I got a reality check in many ways, regarding the length of the outrun he is willing to do at an unfamiliar place, and the degree to which he will listen on stops and flanks as well. It's just our level of training and I have my work cut out for me to be insistent yet encouraging with him, these next few weeks until the next time we can get a lesson. I have to continue to "keep the pickup running" when I send him (that is, start up the field after him if it is a long-ish outrun). No doubt, keeping the pickup running should be good exercise!

This afternoon I worked Chief again at our home field, for just a short time. It's definitely a work in progress and he has forgotten a lot of what he formerly knew.

Meanwhile, it's the High Season for sheepdog trialling both here and abroad and the opportunity to root for favorite handlers at the overseas trials and those here in the West alike, will be awesome for the next month.

Friday, August 22, 2008

AB 1634 Senate Vote Today -- Measure Defeated

From the website:

"AB 1634 Goes Down in Flames
The California State Senate overwhelmingly rejected mandatory spay/neuter today. The preliminary vote count is 5 YES, 27 NO. The supporters have asked for reconsideration which means it can be brought up again next week, so it's not over yet, but this was a huge victory. According to the Legislature's rules all bills must be passed by both houses by August 31.We will keep you informed, so please check back daily. We may have to remind our Senators how important this bill is to us.There are lots of people in this fight and we can't name them all. Thanks to our Friends and to all of you who called, faxed, visited, and emailed your senator. That will do. "

I watched the vote on the web cast and I still can't believe what I saw: 5 Yes votes and 27 No votes. It's unbelievable! Yes, the bill may come back next week but we have won such an important battle in the war. Senator Padilla said that the AKC was still neutral when he brought the bill up for vote, despite the change of heart by the AKC yesterday to "strongly opposed". I am glad that AKC came to its senses but they very nearly did us irreparable damage by their short-sighted temporary move in the past week to "neutral" and then back to "opposed" on Thursday. Senator Padilla was corrected, and the vote was re-taken with the above result.

After 18 months of work to win such a battle, it is truly, truly overwhelming. My hat is off to the very strong, articulate, and intelligent people that I have gotten to know in this period of time.

Back to dog training, at least for now! On that note, we have lessons with our trainer scheduled for tomorrow, which I am greatly looking forward to, and a RESDA trial on Sunday for Coal (so that he can gain some more experience in a different field). I did not enter Bid in the trial, since he does better in open-field driving style trials. Also, I have actually returned to working Chief on the sheep. It is a work in progress, but I feel so much more confident about it this time with a much-expanded training "toolbox".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lambs & Sheep Update

Some updated photos of the new lambs are below; the lambs are about two weeks old now. Black boy - a "pistol"!

White and brown boy -- already getting into the alfalfa.

Little white & black girl in the Cazadero group -- like the boys, she is fast!

This caramel-colored girl belongs to a friend.

And, one very dirty sheepdog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tired but Not Giving Up...Fighting AB 1634

We're extremely tired of fighting this battle, but we are not giving up, even though on Thursday the American Kennel Club changed its position on AB 1634 from opposed to "neutral". I could say a lot of nasty things about that extremely short-sighted move on the part of the AKC, but I will refrain and take the high road. Suffice to say, I hope that those who continue to participate in AKC events and registration will take a long hard look at the east-coast organization that has no qualms about leaving west-coast dog fanciers (of all breeds, not just border collies) high and dry when the chips are down and the going gets a bit rough! As for me, AKC has seen the last of me, for good. I used to participate in agility, obedience, and tracking, and enjoyed those sports very much, but no more. If I want to pursue any of those activities, I'll find another venue such as ASCA or USDAA. Meanwhile, the sheepdogs are calling the shots around here anyway, and have been for some time.

AB1634 may come to a vote early this week because the Senators of both parties will be wanting to leave to get to their respective conventions.

Below is a post from Laura Sanborn ( that is cross-posted by request and with permission. If you are reading this far, please follow Laura's suggestions as to how to take action, and SOON. I'll be firing up the ole fax machine over the weekend myself.

--- please cross post ---

Angie Niles and I visited the Capital today (Friday August 15th) to convey to Senate staff our
continuing opposition to AB 1634.

Bottom line: it is imperative that everyone get updated opposition letters
to the Senators this weekend letting them know that we still oppose this bill.

There is an impression among staff that the August 12 amendments negated
the opposition. If you have not sent an updated opposition letter to the
Senators specifically referencing the August 12 amended version of the
bill, you must do so this weekend, as the vote could be as early as Monday.
Our previous efforts worked. Levine stalled and then had to amend the bill
because we had it beat, just as we had done 10 times previously. We can do
it again. The clock is running out on this bill. But it isn't dead yet.

Contact everyone you know to get their updated letters out. Spread the word!
Here are some talking points to help formulate your opposition letter

Organizations need to FAX or email their updated opposition letters to all
40 State Senators.

Every Californian needs to FAX or email their updated opposition letter to
their own State Senator.

You can look up your State Senator here, and click through to his/her
website to get more contact info

A list of State Senators' fax numbers and email addresses is here

Laura Sanborn

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Position Statements of the DVMs who Study Reproduction

... from the American College of Theriogenologists – the vets who study reproduction.

This points to a page of position statements; be sure to read both their "Position Statement on Mandatory Spay/Neuter" and the following"Basis for Position Statement on Mandatory Spay/Neuter."

Important points include: "the decision to spay or neuter a pet must be made on a case by case basis and this decision should be made between the pet's owner and its veterinarian."

And, "research has shown that in locations where mandatory spay and neuter programs have been instituted, a decrease in the number of vaccinated and licensed animals has been seen due to poor program compliance."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekends Are Too Short

The weekends are definitely too short.

Saturday we had great lessons with our sheepdog trainer, but of course it took up the whole day. Coal and I worked on "getting to the next level". He did some really nice outruns of increasing length and difficulty, taking sheep off of another dog and handler. His driving was nice but we have some pesky inside flanks to work on, as well as getting some more control (i.e., stops) at a greater distance.

Bid got a less extensive workout but did fine in the heat even though by the time he had his turn it was noon. I was quite pleased with his attitude. He did one long "Zamora Outrun" where he disappeared from sight over the hills, but eventually (after what seemed like an incredibly long time) came up behind the sheep in a perfect line to bring back them to me.

Sunday was mostly taken up with worming some of the sheep and banding the new lambs (ugh). Coal got some real chores in, splitting moms/babies off of the big group and bringing them in separately, against their wishes, or so they thought. There is nothing like real work for an eager young dog like Coal.

Bid and I also worked on our shedding techniques both days. He's showing understanding of what is needed for everyday farm-type chores.

Monday will be here all too soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another new resident

This little guy appeared yesterday, August 6.

Following mom like a good kid. He's got her ears!

He's fast, even though he's only a day old!

Here's a new photo of the lamb who came last week.

And the culprit who is responsible for all this foolishness!

Monday, August 4, 2008

CA AB 1634 - State Senate vote will happen soon

Forwarded by request from Laura Sanborn:
AB 1634 will be voted on in the full California State Senate sometime on or after Thursday, August 7, 2008. The deadline for legislation to pass is August 31. Please forward this email to your organization or club distribution lists and let them know that we need everyone's help to defeat AB 1634. We are close to having enough State Senators lined up to defeat it. But we are not there yet. We need an avalanche of phone calls, emails, and faxes to stop it.Information about the current version of AB 1634 and how individuals can take action can be found on the Save Our Dogs website The current version of AB 1634 differs significantly from last year's version, and is in some ways much worse. The "new" AB 1634 establishes owning an intact dog or intact cat as a "secondary offense" according to bill author Assemblyman Levine in his testimony before the Senate Local Govermentment Committee. Make no mistake about what this means. It means that owing an intact dog or intact cat will be illegal in California -- NO EXCEPTIONS. NO exceptions for law enforcement dogs. NO exceptions for working ranch dogs. NO exceptions for hunting or sporting dogs. NO exceptions for search-and-rescue dogs, guide dogs for the blind, or service dogs for the disabled. NO exceptions for purebred dogs or pedigreed cats. NO exceptions for dogs or cats owned by responsible breeders. NO opportunity to purchase an intact permit. All of that was deleted when the bill was gut amended. The "primary offense" that triggers the "secondary offense" that can lead to a forced sterilization order need not be valid or upheld... it can be a frivolous or malicious allegation that is dismissed. Please let me know if you need any help.
Thanks very much.
Laura Sanborn

Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Addition to the Family

This little guy arrived on the scene early Friday morning, August 1st.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sonoma County Fair, July 31st

Coal did very well at the RESDA-sponsored sheepdog trial at the Sonoma County Fair. Even though we had drawn first in the running order, he spotted the sheep just fine and put in a very nice run for 38 points out of 50. This was good enough for sixth place in a very competitive evening trial. The sheep (wooly ewes from a ranch in Mendocino County) worked evenly for most of the dog and handler teams. It was a great way to celebrate Coal's 23-month birthday which was on the 29th. It's hard to believe he will be two years old in just one more month.

There was a large audience of dedicated sheepdog fans which made it all the more fun. Thanks to all who participated.