Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Changing Things Around; Moving to the Pasture

Sunday morning, I worked Spot again by myself in the small pen. This time I didn't use the long line. And, I added the silly Barbados ewe to Spot's working group. I was just thinking that I needed to make things more difficult even though I wouldn't be taking him out to the bigger pasture, by myself. 

Working him without the line on, in the small pen, was really no problem. I think we will need the line in the big pasture for a while. The little Barb ewe also works just fine in the pen. But you let her outside, and she just wants to RUN. Not good for a puppy. 

On our next outing during the week, we worked in the bigger pasture, with some help to make it happen. I didn't want to take Spot out into the pasture, by myself. Too many things could happen, such as a sheep could jump out of the pasture and I'd be stuck trying to get it back by myself...or could run out on the road and cause an accident. No, I wanted our first couple of pasture works to have a helper with a backup dog, on standby.

I don't have pictures of our pasture outing but we did finally get successful. Once we got the right arrangement of sheep figured out (no white ewe who is behind the Barb in the top photo) -- as she also wants to run off to her buds-- and the right places covered, Spot and I were finally able to do some walkabouts in the pasture. Yippee! It took some perseverence, and I am very grateful to my friend and her dog who helped us. What troopers they are! The key seemed to be for me to walk right through the sheep and then Spot would cover and go back to balance. It's so hard to pick up on what works and what doesn't, when you are working all by yourself. Having an observer is much faster and better! What's the old saying about two heads are better than one?

The sheep we're using for Spot that are working the best, are yearling white wethers that we bought last year, as lambs. They are a Dorset/Dorper cross that we have bought some of before, for dog training. They work out quite well for beginner/intermediate dogs. I'm glad we have them. I would not like it to have the horns on the Scottish Blackface powering towards me with a puppy behind them, right about now!

Saturday, July 27, 2013


The other night I got brave and took the iPhone out to the training area with Spot and me and snapped a few photos of him working. The last photo is Spot cooling off in the water bucket, after his sheepdog training session.

The next time I took him out to work, a couple of days later, I took the rope off and worked him without that bit of a went OK. I think when we go out to a bigger area I will put some kind of a long line back on him but for now I need to get more comfortable without having the line on him.

It's going OK...we are learning a lot together! And I tentatively have a lesson scheduled for us with our trainer coming up so that all the things I am missing can get pointed out to me, to work on. :-)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spot's Progress

This is the top of Spot's head.

The photo above shows the top of Spot's head (taken several months ago, but it is still his head). Why am I featuring the top of Spot's head? The answer is, because he has been doing a lot of thinking lately. He's been doing a lot more thinking about his favorite topic....sheep. So far I don't have any actual photos of Spot working sheep. I need somebody else to take some and I'm sure that will happen, eventually. I have my hands full at this point! :-)

Spot and I are back to working on the sheep. He is making some progress. I am also making some progress of thinking through where I need to be and what I need to do, to give him good situations to learn about sheep. Right now I am not trying too hard to get into that head pictured above. I want him to figure out feeling his own influence on the sheep and gaining confidence to be around them on his own without me telling him a lot of what to do. Certain things, obviously, I am not going to allow him to do, which I am attempting to show him by my positioning and tone of voice. So we're learning it together. My brother calls the current sessions, "magic moments". Cool! You can tell that Spot is thinking. Any time in our work sessions where I feel he has slipped over to not thinking or if he is getting too tired, we quit.

Meanwhile, we went to the Bill Slaven funeral in Zamora this week. It was sad but very appropriate and extremely well done. I am so thankful to have known Bill and I treasure the times spent running my dogs in trials at the Slaven ranch over the past several years. I'm sad...and I know many others are, too...

Ryme's shoulder was really messed up when the boys had their monthly chiropractic adjustment this week. So while I'm working Ryme, I'm sort of taking it easy with him for now. He doesn't show any lameness or discomfort but I want to be careful with him. As a result I am using Coal more for sorting chores; which is a good opportunity to insist that Coal does as he is told - a common issue between he and I!! :-) Chiefie seems good...his weight is much more where it should be versus early in the year when I allowed him to get too heavy.  Even though it is not August yet, and although I am somewhat sad at times, we are enjoying the dog days of summer. It's nice to be able to work the dogs again.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beach Fun July 2013

The boys and I bugged out for a while to escape the Fourth of July firecrackers in our neighborhood. We were extremely fortunate to spend part of that time at a place where there is beach access. Pure enjoyment!

Spot and Ryme - Spot's first trip to the beach

A seal monitors our movements on the beach, from out in the water

Coal and Chief in a rare moment of quiet

Ryme loves the waves

Spot and Chief

The Gang of Four

Hardly any paws on the sand!

Chiefie - so happy at the beach!

Ryme doin' his thing