Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Here is a Happy Halloween story for you compliments of my friend Carl: :-)


It Was a Dark and Stormy Night............. 


Bob Hill and his new wife Betty were vacationing in it happens, near Transylvania. They were driving in a rental car along a rather deserted highway. It was late and raining very hard. Bob could barely see the road in front of the car. Suddenly, the car skids out of control! Bob attempts to control the car, but to no avail! The car swerves and smashes into a tree.

Moments later, Bob shakes his head to clear the fog.
 Dazed, he looks over at the passenger seat and sees his wife unconscious, with her head bleeding! Despite the rain and unfamiliar countryside, Bob knows he has to get her medical assistance.
Bob carefully picks his wife up and begins trudging down the road. After a short while, he sees a light. He heads towards the light, which is coming from a large, old house.
 He approaches the door and knocks.
A minute passes. A small, hunched man opens the door.
 Bob immediately blurts, "Hello, my name is Bob Hill, and this is my wife Betty. We've been in a terrible accident, and my wife has been seriously hurt. Can I please use your phone?"

"I'm sorry,"
replied the hunchback, "but we don't have a phone. My master is a doctor; come in, and I will get him!"
Bob brings his wife in.


An older man comes down the stairs. 
"I'm afraid my assistant may have misled you. I am not a medical doctor; I am a scientist.. However, it is many miles to the nearest clinic, and I have had a basic medical training. I will see what I can do. Igor, bring them down to the laboratory."

With that, Igor picks up Betty and carries her downstairs, with Bob following closely.. Igor places Betty on a table in the lab. Bob collapses from exhaustion and his own injuries, so Igor places Bob on an adjoining table.

After a brief examination, Igor's master looks worried.
 "Things are serious, Igor. Prepare a transfusion."Igor and his master work feverishly, but to no avail. Bob and Betty Hill are no more.

The Hills' deaths upset Igor's master greatly. Wearily, he climbs the steps to his conservatory, which houses his grand piano. For it is here that he has always found solace.
 He begins to play, and a stirring, almost haunting melody fills the house.

Meanwhile, Igor is still in the lab tidying up. His eyes catch movement, and he notices the fingers on Betty's hand twitch, keeping time to the haunting piano music. Stunned, he watches as Bob's arm begins to rise, marking the beat!
 He is further amazed as Betty and Bob both sit up straight!

Unable to contain himself, he dashes up the stairs to the conservatory.

He bursts in and shouts to his master:

 Master!.....The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"


(I am soooooo sorry.....but you really should've seen that one



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dynamic Duo

One of Ryme's assignments from our lesson is that he and I are to work a single sheep, but starting with a pair of sheep first. Monday evening I sorted off two good sized ewes who made a dynamic duo for Ryme to work with. It was not a problem for him to keep them on track and driving. Our goal is to keep both the sheep and Ryme at a walk though, which we did manage here and there. Ryme has a run like a gazelle so it is some challenge to get him to feel the sheep and keep them at a walk without over commanding him. Or at least that is the theory and plan. But soon there will be very little daylight.

All of these issues are nothing in comparison to what some folks are facing. We're waiting to hear what wreckage has been left by hurricane Sandy.

Monday, October 29, 2012


So, the Giants won the World Series and while I am not a huge baseball fan, just about everyone else I know and work with is a huge Giants fan. I am glad that one is over! The fireworks last night in town when the game was complete were very scary for Chiefie. He gets very upset and the other dogs do too, but to a lesser degree. I am very fortunate, I know, in so many ways but I do get frustrated with the constant firecrackers in the town where I live. They shoot off firecrackers for just about anything, or nothing....oh to live a little farther out or in one of the surrounding towns where firecrackers are not tolerated. That said it is just a teeny blip on the radar of what other people are dealing with in their lives so we will manage. Chiefie is fine this morning and all is forgotten until next time.

The other boys and I are feeling some success with the homework we started on three weeks ago. We had a great lesson yesterday with our trainer and the work we are putting in, week to week, is starting to show. We are still far from perfect but we were much more in synch and able to do things. Yeah! I even got to shed with Coal on those impossible-to-shed sheep. Coal was much more flexible and while he will never be totally flexible due to his extreme eye, he can be kept more in tune if I am more diligent with it. Ryme did two outruns, one to each side, and both were good. His natural pace on the fetches and drives is showing just teeny bits of improvement and our work together is improving. Our trainer says we are "so close". We shared a lesson time with another dog who is very similar to mine; I learned a lot by listening to the exchange between trainer and handler on that dog. It is so much easier to process, at least for me, when you are not the one in the hot seat!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some Progress with the Boys

The boys and I have made some progress on our sheepdog work in the past couple of weeks. We were lucky enough to get a chance to practice in a large field yesterday. It is really hard to set up any kind of distance at our regular fields so this was a very fortunate opportunity. The weather smiled on us too and it was neither too hot nor raining...rain is in the forecast for next week and is very welcome but we didn't need it for our special training day!

Coal and I have been out of synch a bit but in our second run yesterday it felt like everything was falling back into place like old times. That was a nice feeling although I do feel like he and I need more tuning up. His outrun was great but the suppleness and responsiveness is still not there on the rest of his work, like I want it to be. But everything felt better so we are on our way.

Ryme ran the open course as well. I almost asked our sheep spotter to bring the sheep in closer for him to a more P-N level but then said to myself that we should just give it a go, as is, for the open outrun. I am so glad that I did. Ryme did a beautiful outrun, took my stop whistle at the top and then we went through the rest of the big course with only a few glitches, none serious, and only because my timing was poor in places.

I am very grateful for my good boys and also that they both drew into Hopland.

Monday, October 15, 2012


The boys and I have been working on our homework from our last lesson, as best we can. The days are getting shorter, fast...and sometimes getting home after work takes a long time! Like today the eleven mile trip took an hour and 15 minutes due to an accident. Oh dear. No dog work today.

Regardless when we do get to the sheep we are giving it a go to do the best we can. Ryme is thinking about his pace a little more. Coal is a bit more flexible. It's all good (I hope). We're looking forward to Hopland and Dunnigan (well I am and I'm sure they will be happy about it once we get there). Those will be big tests of how well we have done our homework, but they are two of my very favorite trials.

Saturday we had an NCWSA Board meeting in Pleasanton. We met at a sunny park not far from the Alameda County Fairgrounds, where the Scottish Games are held. Pleasanton was sort of equidistant for everybody to drive.  It was a good meeting. We are trying very hard to plan some good stuff for the club members for next year.Everyone on the board took home some homework to do. It has been very hard to keep the club going and to plan events. I am not so sure why it's so hard...but I would love to hear from folks what would help them to gain experiences to make the next level in their training or trialling. What would help novice people the most to become more intermediate? Let me know. Being president of the club has been really hard for me. I have to chunk down some of the things I have done in the past year and get them delegated,  otherwise I can't do it again....

Something else really fun has been happening. A very dear old friend with a lovely rehomed dog asked if we could take him to sheep. We gave him a couple of sessions lately and each time he gets better. He is a very happy dog, very nice on stock and really fun! So now we get his owner up to speed. Another sheepdog addict is born. Yeah! I think he will make a great beginner's dog.

There's a new sheepdog club in town, or rather in our part of the West: the High Desert Sheepdog Association. Check out their new website on my sheepdog club links. I would love to get to some of the fun trials but not sure about driving that many hours at $4.49/gallon. But those who are closer should be thrilled that sheepdog events are picking up again in western Nevada.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back to School

The boys and I went back to school yesterday. Rather, Coal, Ryme and I finally had a lesson with our sheepdog trainer on Saturday. The homework has been duly assigned. If I had to carry it in a backpack like the school kids do, my pack would be enormous.

Coal and I are so rusty, having no place to practice distance work all summer; he's kind of got his hearing turned off when we get to a certain point or if something is happening that sucks him in with his extreme eye. This was not news to me and I work on these issues all the time; however it apparently is not enough, but especially not at a distance.

Ryme and I have some more issues to work out that are also falling under the major subject of scope and his relationship to the sheep. There was a lot of discussion of making the dog take responsibility vs. just ensuring that he takes this command or that. Commanding the dog to get through a trial course is not the ultimate goal.

I'm not discouraged, though. I wish the dogs had done better so we could have worked on some other stuff too. But we got what we needed and I'll try to figure out a way to get them some work sessions at longer distances. Both dogs were worn out, too and not in good enough physical condition. That is a tall order for me with fewer daylight minutes each day now. It's good to know where you stand though. Our trainer is trying to get us all to the next level, whatever that is. I am so grateful for the input.

It was a lovely day, not too hot, and beautiful weather. Just the little mini-vacation that I needed to restore my self. Just like fall weather that I remember when we were kids...when we went Back to School. :-)