Friday, December 31, 2010

Photos from December 30, 2010

One ewe done, one to go!
Thanks to T. Tucker for these photos with her new camera!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Eco Uses for Wool

Check out the following website from the University of California Cooperative Extension in Mendocino County:

New Eco Uses for Wool

They also have a Facebook page with all kinds of interesting links:


 Thanks to TT for the heads-up on these links!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dogged Determination

I am still cleaning out files. In my emails, I ran across the link to this 1991 article by Donald McCaig that was carried in Sports Illustrated. All of the sheepdog fans out there will find it interesting, I think. Be sure to read to the very last quote!

Dogged Determination

Then, at the grocery store today, I found this photo tucked into the calendar in my purse. Oh my. Let's just say I will be cleaning out various types of files for a while.

Rime at the Willowside NCWSA fun trial, Oct. 2010

Photo by R. Toews.

Two Years Ago

In the midst of cleaning out files, I found these baby pictures (three weeks old) of Rime, from just two years ago. How he has changed! From this:

To this!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Gift of Hopland Photos

Many thanks to Charlene Jones for the unexpected "Christmas gift" of these photos of Coal and me at the Hopland open trial in November.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Modern Day Shepherds

Today's shepherds are featured in this USA Today story.


Besides the article, there is an interesting video including interviews with the shepherds and one of their employers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Silly Phone Photo

This is a silly phone photo (not the best) but so rarely do I have all three dogs chained to the fence at the pasture I just had to grab it.  The dogs are tied up so that I could move my truck safely after unloading hay.  Chiefie looks a bit disgusted because he never gets chained up. I'm sure he would rather be out sniffing, rolling in and especially eating, sheep goodies on his free time!

Rime looks like he is thinking, "Oh boy we're chained up! We're gonna work sheep! Oh boy!"

Coal seems to be asking, "You stuck me next to him?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Post About 2010

Some of my dearly beloved fellow bloggers are looking forward philosophically to 2011 already. They already have their 2010 "house cleaned" and their bags packed for the new year. Oy. In my true procrastinator's fashion, I am still deeply and hopelessly entrenched in 2010. Today's post concerns a topic that is only vaguely related to the dogs and sheep (but still related -- you'll see!!), however, still important.  When I moved to California in 1996, I kept hearing, "it's all about the food". I didn't get it. I came from Illinois, the midwest, the breadbasket, the food machine of the nation, if not the world. We grew corn and soy, and raised hogs and cows. We went to the Hoopeston Sweet Corn Festival as kids and got free steaming hot ears of sweet corn that were cooked in a railroad steam engine boiler. I worked at one of the Land Grant Universities for years, where there were corn plants in a test plot visible out my window and a livestock pavilion next door to the office. The vet school was down the street and I made friends with the university shepherd. My friends worked at the university dairy barn. What else could people be talking about? Little did I know that California had a whole 'nother story to tell.

In 2010 I did something I had been wanting to do for years, and that was to start participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program for a weekly box of veggies and fruits. I signed up in June for a weekly box from Valley End Farm. Every Tuesday I go and pick up my box. Clint eagerly shows me what's inside the box for this week and often makes suggestions on how things can be cooked. They also offer free-range eggs. For a while this summer, we were treated to weekly locally-raised and grass-fed meat offerings (lamb, beef, pork and chicken) from the Victorian Farmstead (Sebastopol) as well.

So this year I have not only enjoyed eating locally grown veggies and fruits that are sold by a farm only a couple of miles from my house, but I have learned to cook and eat the following veggies, some of which I had never touched before!

Arugula, chard (both yellow and red), kale, turnips, beets, mustard greens, butternut squash and eggplant! (to name a few)...

On a regular basis we also get locally grown and mostly organic potatoes, several types of radishes, sweet potatoes, celery, lovely carrots with the tops on, gourmet mushrooms, oranges, avocadoes, tangerines, tomatoes, plums, pears, apples, butter lettuce, leaf lettuce. Herbs are a bonus at times, such as rosemary, spearmint, and all kinds of basil.

And yes, we did get sweet corn. That is the only California product that disappoints me to this day. It's just not the same as Hoopeston. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Whatever I don't get eaten in a week, can become part of the dogs' food. They love it! We are all eating better and I feel great helping to support local ag.  So whatever else happened in 2010, I feel good about this one thing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Early Christmas Present

Last summer, Coal had some physical issues that I did not share with many folks. My vet and I were really worried about him. He presented with reverse sneezing and just not feeling good, nor working very well, but not really sick. After blood work and a thorough exam, we could find nothing wrong, except that my vet could hear a split heart sound. This is a very serious finding. He went on some antibiotics and other meds, and I only worked him lightly so that he was not over-taxed. We went back several times to the vet's office so that she could listen to Coal's heart. We thought he might need further workup for a potential cardiac condition which could prevent him from working (or worse). But, at our last visit in July his heart sounded okay. We all breathed a huge sigh of relief. Since then he has worked, played, and felt well. He never went off feed or had a temperature.  Still a nagging bit of worry remained for me. Yesterday he went back to the vet for a routine exam, and she concluded that his heart sounds just fine! This was an early Christmas present for me. I am very, very thankful.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Road to the 2010 National Finals

There is a wonderful, interesting article about Patrick Shannahan and Riggs' "road to the 2010 national finals" on his website. Enjoy!


Friday, December 10, 2010


Click on the link below for a beautiful painting of Pam Cornell with her dogs, and a tribute to her memory.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pam Cornell, a Truly Great Lady

The stockdog world has lost a great lady -- Pam Cornell -- who owned Willowside Ranch in Pescadero, CA. Pam was a purposeful lady who created a dream showcase for many folks in which to work their dogs on sheep, geese, and other stock. Pam was the definition of "Class" in every sense of the word. I know she would not want us to be sad but we are all very much affected by the news of her passing.

I can see her working her beloved dog, "Tar" on the sheep. I recall her telling the story lovingly how Tar laid down on a duck at the Collie Family Showcase that one year, simply because she told him to "lie down, Tar!". Tar simply adored Pam, as we all did. Pip, "the Queen of the Ducks" and Pam were a force to be reckoned with on the AHBA trial course..I can't count how many times Pip took first or second place in the duck classes with her prowess. Pam was always cheery, always encouraging, always positive. Her vision for the ranch is something that enabled many of us in Northern California (and from other parts of the country as visitors, as well) to gain experience, follow our hearts, and live our dreams. I can't thank Pam enough.

Pam (in pale blue sweater) accepting an AHBA trial placement ribbon from Linda Rorem at Willowside Ranch in Feb. 2009
It was truly a privilege to know Pam, and as someone else said, it is a very sad time in the border collie community.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rime is Two Years Old!

Rime will be two years old tomorrow, December 6th. He's changed from this cute little puppy:

Then to a gangly yearling like this:

To this:

People ask me where his name comes from; invariably before I can answer, they laugh and say "it must mean no rhyme or reason". That is probably true, however what I had in mind when I chose this name was a dual meaning: first, I was an English major in college, so the "rime" (or rhyme, for poetry) is something I have studied a lot. Somehow it appealed to me to have a dog who might work or move like poetry in motion.  Second, besides poetry, rime has another meaning, for a type of frost or ice that has a "rim" on leaves and grasses outlining them in sparkly frost. I thought this was appropriate (i.e., a weather name) since Rime's father's name is Fog and his grandmother's name is Cloud. I liked the short name with a consonant beginning that was different from my other dogs' names.

For the past year Rime and I have worked very hard on his sheepdog training, at least four times a week and sometimes five or more times per week. He's at the point now where things are starting to click together. He's doing longer gathers now, is almost entirely on my whistles and is doing drives and crossdrives with more and more control and precision. He's a capable and helpful chore dog and can do just about anything I need to do with our sheep at our various fields. He has not helped with lambing ewes yet (but no doubt will soon) and I have not started to teach him to shed. But, I am very hopeful that he will be able to trial in 2011 in Pro-Novice and Nursery. It is a dream come true to have a second dog to trial along with Coal! Special thanks should go to his breeder and my sheep partners and trainer for helping me to bring him along. So, Happy Birthday to Rime!

Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 National Finals Video

Check out this nice video promoting the 2011 USBCHA National Finals!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Photos

I took some photos on Thursday and Friday of my dogs and a few others' dogs. They are in a Picasa album, so take a look and enjoy.


"That'll Do"

I saw a notecard in the Border Collies in Action catalog titled "That'll Do", and had to buy it. The painting reminded me so much of my Bid. Then when I received the card, on the back was a website for the artist. I found the original post about the painting.

Enjoy. This painting and all of the other work is just lovely. Cowgirls, horses, dogs, cowboys, steers, all done in oils and beautifully captured.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dunnigan Hills Trial, November 2010

Sunday we ran in the Dunnigan Hills trial near Zamora, CA. The day was clear and brisk, in sharp contrast to the heavy overnight rain and wind storms. Local folks in the Zamora area had been without power overnight. The weather gods were smiling on the sheepdog trialists and trial hosts, however, as it couldn't have been nicer (and there wasn't a strong Zamora Wind that we all know so well!). David Rees was again judging and we had another left-hand drive but no single or shed, because the terrain at the ranch just doesn't allow much room for a shedding ring.

Coal ran twelfth in the order so once again I didn't have to wait too long but had plenty of runs to watch before we stepped up to the post. I sent him left, to his better side, and that worked out fine. He could have been deeper but it was adequate. The lift was a bit offline though as a result. The fetch was fast and furious; I should have gotten hold of Coal sooner on the fetch - my bad. Since Coal is sometimes too careful and creepy, I often get sidetracked in my handling when he is fast! In theory, I can deal with too fast much better than too slow but it's something I need to adjust for more quickly on the fly. It must've been the cool crisp weather that made both dog and sheep really light on their feet. We made the fetch gates, and brought the sheep up the hill and 'round the post to start the drive. The sheep are very "educated" as one top handler put it, and they gave each dog and handler team a run for their money on the drives. The cross drive is right on the path to "home". I thought we were going to make the first drive panel, but didn't, and ran just low-- disappointing but it was my mistake and Coal's exuberance that I wasn't up to speed with. The cross drive was adequate and we did make the second drive panel, turned for home and I tried to remember to keep my eyes on my sheep the whole way up the hill and over to the pen. I couldn't see Coal but I could see the sheep and that was enough. The pen was successful in spite of Coal deciding to be sticky and not take my flanks close at hand (another issue to put back on the "to-work-on" list). We ended up with a generous 71 points which is a new high for us in the open.

We've run in six Open trials in about the past month and have gotten a score in each one. This little "circuit" has shown me a lot of what I need to work on over the winter, but more importantly, has shown me that we can indeed be somewhat successful in the Open. I have no regrets about moving up in class last April. I'm really happy with the little black dog. We are having so much fun!

Thank you to all who helped to put on the past weekend trials; they were both great and I know very much appreciated!

Kurrajong Trial, November 2010

This past Saturday Coal and I ran in the Kurrajong sheepdog trial, near Plymouth, CA. The weather forecast was for rainy and cold but for most of the trial, the rain stayed away other than some light sprinkles and showers. The temperatures were chilly, though, and it was often hard to recognize our fellow handlers because everyone was all bundled up in order to stay warm. Just a few miles away I knew there was snow in the Sierras but it didn't visit us at the trial. I was glad I bought a heavy waterproof parka last season, because I was plenty warm and dry.

We ran a left-hand drive on three very well-fed farm flock sheep and had to single one off the back before the pen. The course was designed to fit with the layout of the field and the lines were well visible for the most part due to the terrain. This was my first time participating in the Kurrajong trial and I really enjoyed it. David Rees from Wales was our judge for the weekend. It is always good to see David as we had all gotten to know him locally when he spent several years in California a while back. David always has a positive outlook and greets each handler with his warm smile. He had tremendous knowledge about border collie bloodlines and sheepdog trial judging.

Most of the experienced handlers sent to the right so I followed suit even though that is Coal's poorer side. On the left was a large tree which would have partially hid the sheep from the dog's view on his outrun. If we had a second run I would dearly have loved to send left to see how that would have worked out. In trials, Coal is sometimes tenative on his outrun especially to the right. In practice, he rarely shows this, so it is something hard to train for. I will be working on understanding this issue over the winter. Anyway he did finally get to his sheep, and had a nice lift. We made the fetch gates and turned the post a bit wide but the sheep were very light and touchy (and big!) and I didn't want to monkey with them too much. Like any green handler, I am always just a bit joyful when the dog gets the sheep to my feet!

We made the first drive panel after crossing over a little ditch to the right of another large shade tree, then turned for the cross drive, which put the sheep on their path to "home" (and kicked them into really high gear). I thought we were on line for the second panel but in fact, we just skimmed it on the top. We got them turned tightly without threading them back through the panel and turned for the shedding ring. It was hard to set up the single because the sheep were -- as one handler put it -- so "spirited". Finally we did get our single and were headed to the pen when David honked the truck's horn saying that our time was up. For me it was all over too quickly! I think that tells me that I am starting to really have fun. It was good having a quick visit with David, and also nice to meet a handler from Colorado who was in the area visiting family and running in the weekend trials. On Sunday we ran in the Dunnigan Hills "sister trial" to the Kurrajong and I will write about that in my next post.

Monday, November 15, 2010

UC Hopland Sheepdog Trial, 2010

My last post was titled, "Winter is Here", but now that is far from the truth. My subtitle should be, "Summer is Back"! Or perhaps "The Summer that Never Was, is Here". We've had 80-degree and sunny weather the past few mid-November!

Regardless of the weather, which was glorious and almost too warm for the dogs and sheep, we had a wonderful time at the UC Hopland sheepdog trial this past weekend. Held at the University of California research farm in Mendocino County, the trial ran Friday through Sunday with Pro-Novice and Nursery on Friday. Saturday and Sunday there were two one-day Open USBCHA trials. Fresh sheep from the university's flock were used for each and every run; how often does that happen? Not too often. I figure they must have used close to 500 sheep. Just the thought of that is mind-boggling.

The trial field is a huge grassy bowl surrounded by beautiful vistas of hills, vineyards (in their various fall colors), trees, water, and wonderful country side. The trial itself runs like clock work due to intrepid organizers, tons of savvy volunteers, and help from the university staff. The Hopland trial is one of the really special treats for sheepdog triallers in this part of the country.

Coal and I ran in the Open both Saturday and Sunday. We are very much the rookies in the field of Open dogs in our area, but I felt good about our runs. The outrun was long and foiled a lot of even the experienced dogs. The draws for the sheep back to setout and later in the day, up to the exhaust, were very strong, even though none of the sheep were re-run. These draws made the fetches, drives, sheds and pens, sometimes very difficult. But everyone loves the challenge at this site. Our Sunday run was better than our Saturday run and I walked off the field smiling at my little dog who tries so hard for me. We have lots of things to clean up but overall I am very proud of Coal and just happy to be out there livin' the dream.

So without getting too sentimental, I'm going to tell another story about livin' the dream. Twenty years ago, after I got my first border collie Alix, I started wanting to do this sheepdog thing but at the time there were just no resources close to me to pursue it. Fifteen and more years ago, with my second border collie, Augie, I finally got to do a little bit of sheepdog work but without much direction, no mentor, and no guidance, it was almost an impossible task. I had a couple of books. I had been to a clinic or two, one clinic with a very bad experience and one or two with good experiences. But Augie and I both wanted it so badly that I kept at it, no matter what improbable situation we found ourselves in. We were both green as grass. At the time I had made friends with the shepherd at the University of Illinois. He asked me to do a little demo on the sheepdog for one of his Animal Science classes. He selected some sheep for me to work with there on the farm, to prepare for the demo, with Augie. So there I was, knowing almost nothing, out in a pasture trying to practice with some blackface cull ewes who had never been worked by a dog. My dog was young, fast, tight, grippy and terribly keen. Impossible? Yes. Did I keep at it? Yes. We did that demo. It was Augie and that shepherd and those blackface ewes that I was thinking about on my drive up to UC Hopland on Sunday, and it was also Augie who was on my mind, along with my good boy Coal (who had just worked so hard with me), as we walked off that big open field with a score even though it wasn't one of the high scores. We were an improbable team but sometimes life is just too short to wait for the most probable team.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter is Here

The clocks have "fallen back", and the rainy season is upon us -- winter is here. After a nice sunny day yesterday, it's raining off and on "cats and dogs" here today.

Another of our winter rituals is complete. We moved some of our sheep today to the winter place that we have been offered so graciously, now for the fourth year. It is hard to believe we've done this so many times now. The three bred ewes and two young wether lambs that we trailered across town were so happy to be turned out on lush pasture. They joined the three new Scottish Blackface ewe lambs that we got this past week, along with their very own guardian dog who seemed to accept the newcomers within minutes as part of his flock. Our sheep have never had a guardian dog but they also seemed to accept the dog almost immediately.

Yesterday we had lessons in Zamora for the first time since August. As I kind of expected, each dog had his ups and downs. There is much to work on with the dogs, and with me. I am thankful that winter is training time in Northern California and I am hopeful that we will get in more lesson sessions over the coming months.

It's time to get ready for Thanksgiving...but Hopland is next on the calendar. I know it's not just me who is saying this, but the year has certainly seemed to fly by!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Point Pleasant Fall Sheepdog Trial 2010

Last Friday and Saturday Coal and I ran in the Open at the Pt. Pleasant Sheepdog trial near Elk Grove, CA. We lucked out with good weather both days even though rain had been predicted. It was only our second outing in competitive Open and the first time in Open since last April, so I was viewing the whole thing more as a practice/warmup rather than anything else. We had a really good time; the sheep were fit, the courses challenging (including a Maltese Cross instead of a pen), the company oustanding, and the dog work, of course, excellent.

Both days Coal's outrun was lacking since he has not been trained to run out through a gate in a fence, and/or do what I am calling for better or worse, a "keyhole" outrun. On Friday we ran late in the afternoon, and his lift and fetch were off line but the drive was pretty good. A split of sheep in the shedding ring was not pretty but performed well enough to move on. We timed out trying to complete the Maltese Cross but I was happy overall with Coal's purposeful, forward attitude throughout the run.

On Saturday we were up second in the early morning. The first run ended in RT because the sheep were beating up on the working dog, which was not something to give me confidence! Our sheep packet worked OK although clearly the sheep were behaving differently for everyone on Saturday versus Friday. Coal's outrun was not great but the lift and fetch were much better  than Friday's. Our drive, though, was very poor and we deservedly lost almost all of the drive points. We ended on a good note; completing the Maltese Cross assignment, but then we timed out before getting to attempt the single.

Thanks to the Spencers for putting on the trial and to everyone else who helped make the event happen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NCWSA Fun Trial at Willowside Ranch

We had a great, if somewhat wet, weekend just past, at the Willowside Ranch just outside the tiny town of Pescadero, CA. The ranch is one of our favorite places and it was a real treat to be able to go back and trial there. NCWSA put on a fun trial including Open Ranch, Pro-Novice, and Novice-Novice classes for handlers and sheepdogs on the Willowside farm flock. The sheep were great, moving well off the dogs, but not running too much, providing a good challenge for all. The weather smiled on Saturday which was our longer day with all three classes, plus fun runs added in the afternoon. Sunday's storm made things a bit more difficult (we couldn't post scores and a few handlers did not show up for their runs) but we managed to do all the trial runs, and got things cleaned up by mid-day.

I ran Coal in Open Ranch, non-compete, as this class was for Open handlers but not Open dogs. I just wanted a chance to get out there and practice on an ISDS-style course which we have not done in a trial since April! I was really pleased as Coal was in fine form, and ran like a little top. On Saturday we missed our second drive panels (operator error) but had a nice pen and shed. On Sunday our drive was much better, had a good pen, and had just started setting up the shed when time was called. Overall they were two nice runs and Coal did everything that was asked of him in fine style. It was a real confidence builder for both of us!

Rime ran non-compete in Nov-Nov as that was the outrun length and class that suited his current training level. His outrun the first day was shaky as he didn't know what to make of the settling-vee. He has taken sheep off of a stock handler many times in practice but has never seen a funnel-chute such as was used to keep sheep contained until they were lifted. But I urged him on and after some hesitation he went 'round and picked up his sheep just fine. I was really pleased with the degree that he listened to me and while we weren't able to drive and I had to fetch the drive and cross drive, overall Rime was in good control with only a few bobbles here and there. I retired at the pen on Saturday as he was getting a bit hyped up with the close at hand work. On Sunday Rime's outrun was great, and with no hesitation. However once the sheep were out of the vee, he decided it was a tail-in-the-air moment, but soon he calmed back down and we finished the course including the pen. By this time the ground was quite muddy around the pen from the storm, so part of the challenge was staying on one's feet!

Once again I was fortunate that our friend Teri took some wonderful photos of Rime's Saturday work. A few of them are shown below but the rest are in a Picasa album, here.  I am extremely grateful to have all these fabulous photos!


Thanks to the NCWSA and everyone who worked so hard to put on this fun trial. It seemed like everyone had a good time and found the experience very useful, whether it was to step to the post for the very first time, or to season a new dog for an experienced handler. I know I was thrilled to be able to get my boys out somewhere different, challenging, and fun for all of us. The cream of artichoke soup at Duarte's doesn't suck either!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photos from RESDA 2010 Fall Trial

Our friend Teri was kind enough to take a series of photos of the dogs at last weekend's RESDA Fall Trial. Here is a sample each of Coal's and Rime's photos. Click on the photo to see the whole album in Picasa.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

RESDA Fall Trial 2010

Yesterday was the final RESDA trial of the 2010 season, the traditional-course Fall Trial. Held at the Johnson Ranch in Mendocino County, and run on the ranch ewes, the Fall Trial is always a test of the best dog and handler teams in the RESDA style.

I got some pictures of some, but not all, of the dog and handler teams. They are in a Picasa album, here. The winner was Patti Sowell with her experienced Del, followed closely in second place (I believe only one point difference) by Darrell Duncan and Nell (a team which has won this trial before). Both had beautiful runs. The rest of the placings, which I won't try to quote from memory, will be posted on the RESDA website.

Creekbed behind the trial field
The day turned out to be sunny and beautiful, but was quite hot even by mid-morning, which was the undoing of Coal's Open run. He handled the ranch ewes well, which was a plus, but he got too hot so we retired at the pen. I decided it was best to save him for another day.

By afternoon while it was still hot, a bit of a breeze came up when we went to run the Pro-Novice dogs, making things a bit more tolerable. Rime was up first. We got five ewes instead of the Open three. I moved up quite a ways, leaving Rime behind the pen. He cast out nicely but when he got close to the sheep, was in for a huge surprise in that these big ewes did not just move neatly off of sight of a dog like he is used to with our dog-broke sheep. He looked at me and I urged him on around and he finally lifted them correctly and thoughtfully. This made my day! Those ewes taught him so much just in that one moment. The rest of his run was quiet and composed and we even penned. Needless to say I was quite pleased with the baby dog. Rime will turn two years old in early December and we still have a long way to go, but this was a very good experience for him. I am thankful that RESDA has a program for upcoming dogs as well as upcoming handlers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chiefie Birthday and Carmel

Chiefie on the beach in Carmel
Today is Chiefie's birthday; he is nine years old. We have had a wonderful vacation in the past week that included a couple of nights spent in Carmel, CA with our dear friend, Lisa. The dogs and we greatly enjoyed our trip that included a day at the lovely Carmel beach, and staying in a quaint cottage near the Carmel River and Mission. Chiefie has also had multiple back rubs and massages from Lisa who is a fabulous healer of both (wo)man and dog! We are so very fortunate! I have uploaded more Carmel photos into a Picasa album, here.

The dogs loved the beach. Coal and Chief had been there before, a couple of times, so they knew what they were in for and fairly dragged me down to the sand. Rime was a beach newbie and I was a bit concerned as to how he would handle it. But my worries were for nothing as Rime enjoyed his day as much as the others and we didn't have any problems. Well, the only problem was getting the dogs to take a rest from running, chasing waves, and otherwise playing. When we returned to our cottage that night, all three dogs were "lights-out" for several hours. Ahhhh!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kudos for Finals Webcast!

Nothing but kudos from here about the wonderful Finals webcast today!

My old and slow computer got an upgrade to its guts last night -- I very carefully opened it up on the kitchen table and added memory -- so the webcast worked just fine this morning. The dogs woke me up at 5 AM; I tried to go back to sleep but suddenly realized, hey, it's 8 AM in Virginia! I was so pleased to find out that my scary computer work had done the trick.

I can't imagine that there is possibly one blog reader who doesn't have the link for the Sunday finals, but here goes, just in case:

USBCHA National Finals Streaming Video Link

It's hot-hot-hot the dogs got just one quick work apiece after another run to the feed store for hay. Now back to chores put off due to streaming video!

Good luck to all the competitors in the Sunday finals and a special shout-out to our trainer, Bill B. and his fine dog, Mike, for getting into the final round.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Virginia Finals TV Interviews

There are three short interviews (each about four minutes) on this Washington, D.C.-area TV station website. The reporter is covering the USBCHA National Finals and the Belle Grove Plantation where the Finals are being held.

TV Interviews Link

They are pretty well done and give you a picture of where the action is happening this week!
It makes me a bit sad to think it has already been a quick year since we were at the Finals outside of Klamath Falls, where we had such a good time and met so many friends!

Good luck to all the competitors this week.

And a hearty "job well done" to our District One gals who did so well in Nursery.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More Humility, with Tri-Tip

Coal last Sunday at the Hagemann Ranch fun trial (photo by T. Tucker)
I just love this photo of Coal taken last Sunday at the Hagemann Ranch. We ran in a "fun" trial generously hosted near Bodega Bay by the Hagemann family. There were three "celebrity" judges to score the runs, all handlers from days gone by who have won many a trial in the Redwood Empire style.

We were treated to fresh sheep who had no use for a dog. This proved to be quite difficult for those of us who (a) have no opportunity to train on fresh sheep and/or (b) have dogs who have little to no experience working truly fresh sheep. Coal lifted them and then eventually I retired on the fetch before he blew up. I was told later that I should have let him blow. It is all about factor (c) the handler who has so little experience running the dog on fresh sheep and knowing what to do with that elusive split-second timing. Another comment from one of the judges was something along the order that our trial dogs of today might be too obedient. Something to think about. Well I would think about it more intelligently if I understood the concepts more completely. Let's just say it's all more of that humbling learning experience that is dog trialling and the tricky balance between what is just enough and what is too much.

Afterwards we had a wonderful potluck that was centered around grilled tri tip at the Hagemann Trout Farm, a lovely location. If nothing else the Redwood people do truly know how to serve and eat a great meal!

Fortunately we do not have any trials for a few weeks. Whew! Coal, Rime and I are working on our various assignments until our trainer gets back from the Finals. I am hoping to show progress or if nothing else, no de-evolution! Sigh. Pass that jug of humility this way, would ya?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend 2010

The dogs and I have been relishing a three-day weekend with me away from the office and having time to rest and recuperate. And work dogs! We've put in three solid days of dog work, two of them at the home field working with a setout partner/dog (thank you, thank you, you know who you are!) and the middle day working at a friend's place to get that "away from home" effect, especially for Rime. I am hoping we see improvement and progress from the three consecutive days of scheduled training and handling efforts.

The Labor Day weekend ritual in the past few years has consisted of frequent checks at the computer and refreshing the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Classic scores page. Congratulations to all who have made it to today's final round! As it's not over until it's over I can't congratulate the winner yet but they are all champions to have made it to this day.

Last night I finally got a chance to watch the documentary, "Sweetgrass". It is really worth watching and savoring if you are at all interested in the sheep industry, ranching, and the American West. Oh yes -- and the occasional border collie plays a role too -- but really the movie is all about the sheep and the family that cares for them. Even in the rough moments, the care shines through. I imagine it was really impressive in the movie theater on the big screen with all of the panoramic photography. But even on my old TV I really enjoyed the film. Put it in your Netflix queue!

Once again I was lucky enough to have a friend taking pictures of me working with Rime. This time we were at a friend's place where we went to get Rime working 'away from home'. The sheep were lovely white (yearling?) dorper/dorset crosses who are much bigger and stouter than the sheep we normally train on. It is great to get Rime (and Coal too) out on sheep that they don't know and to work in a different place. I just wish we had more places to go. Rime turns 21 months old today so I am feeling bits and pieces here and there of his maturity starting to kick in and that his work is starting to come together. Anyway here are the latest and greatest up to date photos of Rime learning a bit of an assisted drive and also of us working on a bit of pace and feel on his sheep. Enjoy.

Photos by T. Tucker.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


SB250 has been defeated, at the eleventh hour (literally) in the California Assembly. Details are as always on the Save Our Dogs website. A huge thank you to all who helped!

Let the good times roll!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Every Picture

Every picture tells a story!  Our fab Oneforthebook team photographer has taken some nice new pictures of the gang over the weekend. The pictures kind of tell the story.

Saturday we had a RESDA trial at Oak Springs Ranch in Santa Rosa. The weather was absolutely perfect. Coal and I ran in the Open class and his run started out OK, then disintegrated. This is becoming the story of our summer trialling season. I am ready to make some changes to get us out of the bottom of the upside-down bell curve that Coal and I are in! Anyway luckily there are no pictures of that run (mercifully). It's too bad we couldn't have fared better since it was Coal's birthday weekend. He has now turned 4 years old, which is plenty hard to believe. Coal has been such a blessing for me though and I know we will work out our trialling issues and get back on our game.

Anyway after the Open class was completed, and the sumptuous potluck consumed, we held the Pro-Novice class. I entered Rime non-compete in his first RESDA outing, just to get him some experience in a new place and on different sheep. He did OK.  The saying goes that when you take a green horse or green dog out away from home the first few times you are lucky to get 50% of the performance that you get "at home", so that is what I expected from Rime. I was pleasantly surprised and can say that he gave me probably 65% or better! I just tried to enforce his stop and keep him behind the sheep moving in the general direction of the obstacles, not staying entirely true to the course if it wasn't working for us. I did retire before attempting the pen and pushing our luck.

Rime getting ready for his first RESDA run

Rime on course at Oak Springs Ranch
The next day we got together with friends to work dogs and review the prior days' activities. I concentrated on working with Rime at a friend's place and Coal got to play setout dog for another friend from out of town who was looking for new experiences for her 2 yr old+ dog. It was a fun and relaxing day. All the dogs got a good run at the sheep field while we set out hay and filled waters for our sheep.

Chiefie after his run in the pasture with the gang
Chiefie has had some arthritis problems flare up in the past few weeks. But with some rest and anti-inflammatories, he is getting back to normal. The swelling in the tendons around his wrists has gone down and he is running more freely again. I just have to monitor his activity more carefully so that he doesn't go overboard (which he would if I didn't stop him).

The oneforthebook gang (at least part of it) setting up a chase game in the pasture
The dogs love to run while we feed hay and fill water tanks for the sheep. They have their running and chasing order and in the above photo they have stopped the action momentarily before they start again!
Photos by T. Tucker.

Assembly Still in Session

Monday Aug 30 6:22 pm Update : The Assembly is in session today and will work until late tonight. They are trying to get through the pending bills before the 2009-2010 session ends tomorrow. SB 250 is on the schedule but has not been dealt with yet.

The above is from the Save Our Dogs website. It's not too late to make your voice heard.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Advocate for the Working Dog

Advocate for the working dog: read the latest on Save Our Dogs website about voting today on SB250. It's not over yet. We still need help with phone calls and faxes.

"... the Assembly might vote on SB 250 once again on Friday, or perhaps Monday or Tuesday if the Assembly reconvenes next week. Tuesday is the last day the legislature can vote on bills according to the state Constitution.
Your calls and faxes are making a huge difference."

It would be wonderful to throw a huge party when this stupid thing fails! Please help if you can.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No on SB 250 - Need More Calls and Faxes

This is from the Save Our Dogs website, posted today (08/24/10):

California SB 250 – mandatory sterilization for dogs and cats – is eligible for a vote in the Assembly at any time. If it passes the Assembly it may be moved very quickly to a final vote in the Senate. Additional polite No on SB 250 calls and faxes are needed from Californians to these legislators:

Assemblymember phone fax

Evans (916)-319-2007 (916)-319-2107

M. Perez (916)-319-2080 (916)-319-2180

Hall (916)-319-2052 (916)-319-2152

Saldana (916)-319-2076 (916)-319-2176

Lowenthal (916)-319-2054 (916)-319-2154

Adams (916)-319-2059 (916)-319-2159

Carter (916)-319-2062 (916)-319-2162

Senator phone fax

Pavley (916)-651-4023 (916)-324-4823

Correa (916)-651-4034 (916)-323-2323

Simitian (916)-651-4011 (916)-323-4529

Yee (916)-651-4008 (916)-327-2186

Negrete-McLeod (916)-651-4032 (916)-445-0128

Wright (916)-651-4025 (916)-445-3712

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Yesterday I had the privilege of judging a small schooling show (AHBA trial). It was my first experience in judging a whole trial (I had judged several non-comp runs in AHBA in the past). The trial hosts were informed in advance of my inexperience, yet hired me anyway, so there was full disclosure! ;-)  Anyway the venue was beautifully maintained as always, the dogs were nice and the stock well suited to the trial (for the most part). (The geese might be another story on that!) And, I survived! A major factor in my survival was the fabulous Clerk Debbie (below in blue) who was incredibly competent (I am in the pink). Judging is easy when you have such a great clerk.

They're making me think again!
There were several nice runs. Most of the dogs were border collies, even though AHBA is open to all breeds. I am not sure why more of the other breeds were not entered but that is a question for someone who knows more about it than I do. Runs were offered on sheep, goats and geese. The goats were a real trip and the geese, well, were geese-like. The sheep were very fit and worked well if the dog was right. It was not easy. Anyone who says that AHBA is too easy has not tried that venue. Anyway many thanks to the trial hosts for keeping this venue going in our area. And thanks for having confidence in me to judge! I feel like I learned a lot that will carry over into any venue where I choose to trial.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Californians Take Immediate Action - SB 250 is Back

Please check the Save Our Dogs website.

Senator Florez has pushed through amendments to SB 250 - the mandatory spay-neuter bill. The amendments while not yet in print, are very minor, and do nothing to address the reasons to oppose this bill. Senator Florez may push for an Assembly vote as early as this Thursday or Friday.

If you do not want mandatory sterilization for dogs and cats in California, it is critical that you call or fax the office of your Assembly member today. It takes less than one minute to call.

Ask your Assemblymember to continue to oppose Senate Bill 250 – mandatory spay-neuter for dogs and cats – when it comes up for a vote. The recent amendments do nothing to change any of the reasons for opposing this bill.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coal on the Fetch

A friend took these lovely photos at the RESDA trial this past Saturday in Boonville. The trial functioned as a qualifier for the Mendocino County Fair trial which is to be held in September. The top eight dogs get into the finals that take place during the Fair. Coal and I did not get into the finals but I was really happy to get such nice photos. The sheep are commercial ewes from a working ranch, and are for the most part completely undogged, which made an arena setting trial quite difficult. The sheep fought the dogs quite fiercely to get back to the letout or over to the exhaust pen. Many teams had difficulty but there were some good runs and great dog work/dog handling. Photos by T. Tucker.