Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not Wearing her Thinking Cap

Soda did not come to school today with her thinking cap on. She just was all woogy and off and not listening and running off and not coming (a recurrent problem) when called.

It started when we were grazing the sheep behind the arena and that is in The Corner Of Death(tm) where commands cannot be followed and work cannot be done, according to Soda. So, we're back there, and she wanders off critter hunting and the sheep get in the road and despite my panicked calls, she did not come and I had to get the sheep myself. Then I went and got her and made her follow me around for a few minutes and then we just sat. Or I thought we were just sitting. Soda wandered off when I wasn't paying attention, critter hunting again and the sheep wandered into the pasture and I had to get all angry to get her to listen and get the sheep out of the field. Grrr...

Actually, even before The Corner of Death(tm) started when we were sorting off some sheep and the sheep didn't want to go back in the arena (can't blame them, really) and Soda just stood there, googly eyed and looking like "huh. well look at this. What do I do mom? Just stand here? okay.... what? walk up? what? get up there? what? okay. I'll just stand here..." So embarrassed, my trainer sent her to push the sheep in because Soda was taking so GD long.

We put most of the sheep away and started working on outruns and she just wasn't there. On the last couple she wouldn't take the flank. She would take off, nice and square and then bend backwards, away from the sheep and into the pasture. I didn't let her get in there and then just called it a day. It was frustrating for me and her.

On a positive note: Soda has progressed to the point where I can tell when she's thinking and when she's not and I'm actually proud of that.

On the non-dog training but still sheep note: I helped my trainer massage an ewe's bag to help unclog her ducts and it was really cool! I love doing stuff like that. It helps prepare me for day I have my own sheep.

And now, some sheepictures. I particularly like the one where Soda is sitting under the trailer, looking like a Real Ranch Dog(tm).






Monday, March 23, 2009

Some outruns!

We worked a bit on outruns on my last lesson. I lerv working on outruns because Soda loves it and so it's easier. We got her leaving straight out from my side and she was really rocking it. I started pushing her out and she was running nice and wide. I do think we need to shorten it up a bit and push her out at the top, but that's normal.

I've been internetless for a week (HORRIBLE) so these are just the bare details that I remember, but you get the idea! :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trial Pictures

Some pictures of Soda and I at the trial. I'm wearing YELLOW! for easy identification. :)

No More Fetch

More Driving.

Driving Driving Driving Driving. That's all I can think about these days!

It's still slow going but we made some progress today. We started out in the arena and did alright and moved to the green green field and did better. She just doesn't like the arena much. I really got after her for blowing off her flanks and that made quite an impression on her. I don't think she'll be making her own choices anymore.

So the new plan of action is no fetching. Or at least, as little as possible. The idea is to make driving the only way she gets to move sheep so it gets reinforced more often and she doesn't get to rely so much on fetching. This, of course, means a lot more work for me now because I'm going to have to go behind the sheep and walk with Soda rather than being lazy and making her bring them to me. I think, in the short time we worked today, we saw an improvement and more fluidity. I was really proud of her. We used some natural draws to help Soda push them along and that helped but when the sheep really started to go for it I could she would panic about losing her sheep and that was difficult to reconcile, especially on our "no fetching plan". I would try to flank her out enough to stop them, but not enough to fetch them and then reposition myself and then start the exercise again, but when we would do that, we'd lose the draw. Like I said, very hard to reconile.

I rounded up the moms and babies that were out grazing and Soda was pretty good with them but she looked at one of the little babies and I could see her thinking "WTF is that??" and I had to remind her that we weren't going to be sniffing little baby sheep and possibly trying to pounce on them. (She had *that* look until I gently reminded her to mind the rest of the flock).

I'll tell you what, lambs may be the cutest things in the universe. For real. I picked up my favorite (I named her Sally) and carried her around for a minute, Paris Hilton-style. Shut up. I know, but they're soooooo cute!

On a non-sheep related note:

I love the drive down to Escondido. I really do. It's so beautiful. A lot of people don't realize how beautiful California is. I suspect most people think of that shithole Los Angeles as the typical California but it's not. Really. CA has some stunning natural beauty and has tried really hard to preserve a lot it and I respect that. The drive to weekly lesson takes me down the 5 freeway which is on the coast. I can see the ocean for 3/4 of the drive. It also takes me past Camp Pendleton, which is the largest Marine base in the US. Anyway, a lot of the time, you get to see the military doing practice exercises out on the water and it's so cool. There are helicopters flying around doing lifts and drops, there are tankers out in the water and land vehicles (including tanks!) all around. It's really neat.

I stopped at a view point off the freeway today, hoping to get some good pictures of the military stuff but they weren't doing anything. I was a bit bummed but I did get to see the world's fatest and tamest ground squirrels begging for food. It was a riot. For one thing, they were less than 5 feet away from my dog and didn't seem to care at all. There was some big burly trucker dude feeding them and they would come to his feet and stand up and beg (I'm not kidding, folks!) and he would set the food down and they take it and race off and come back and beg at his feet again. It was adorable. They were all super fat too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Trial

Soda and I ran really well. :) We qualified but didn't place and that's okay. She got pushy (again!) on the fetch so we were kind of wobbly but we did everything else pretty well. Oh, also, when we were pulling the sheep from the pen Soda somehow managed to split the sheep into two groups and that cost us a few points. We were really trucking along and we finished the course in 7 minutes and 7 seconds. My trainer who was doing set-out laughed and said it only took us like 3 minutes because we were so dang speedy.

It was a HUGE class with over 20 dogs and it took for.ever! The class started at 10 ish and ended at 4:30!! Couldn't believe it.

I made a contact with a woman who lives in Orange County and has her own sheep and was amenable to letting me use them at some point so I'm really excited about that! It will interesting to see what Soda develops into with more consistent sheep exposure.

Anyway, good times were had by all.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A couple of crappy videos.

I got a couple of videos from my cell phone of Soda and I grazing the other day. I was also using this opportunity to work on outruns and going wide around ALL the sheep.

Getting Ready for a Trial!

Well, we're all ready for the HRD trial coming up this Sunday. I'm pretty excited. I think we're going to do pretty well and trials are a lot of fun.

We worked some more on driving and I am soooo sick of saying "Get 'em" 1.2 gogillion times before she unsticks herself. I've noticed that she gets really sticky on her down (actually a sit) and it's alot easier to say "there, walkup" rather than "lie down, walkup".

We put her in a packed pen and let her push and she could and would but did get stuck a couple of time, but was also pretty happy to get in there and boss some sheep around.

I'm getting more control over the driving and more control over her flanks. We're going to really start enforcing that she take the correct flank now and not have second guess me as often as she does.

We grazed some sheep again and that's just always a lot of fun. I got some pictures.

I'll have to jack with it later. I'm too lazy to re-resize them.