Thursday, July 30, 2009

Border Collie Fail

Another spectacularly frustrating lesson at the chicken farm! Today, at least she didn't try to dig in any holes. I set her up for an outrun and ... she ran off the field to the "spectators" and my friend --who she LOVES-- and got bopped on the head by my friend because she wouldn't leave her. Her face was priceless when she realized that Kelley wouldn't be helping her out!

Ugh. So, I went and nicely got her and had her fetch the sheep back out to the middle of the field and made her run some flanks around then just went and sat back down.

After a few minutes we tried some driving and that was abysmal. She was much better last week. Basically, she didn't even try.

So, I asked my instructor if I could just take her with some sheep and school on her with some flanks and some shorty-short outruns and she thought that was a great idea. I took her off to a corner of the field and got some decent work done. I did really push her to run and be quick and be keen. On the away side, she kept running out and and out and out and getting off contact and possibly trying to run off. I called her name (thanks, BC board for that little trick!) and she came in just enough to keep her on contact. That was very helpful.

Then we did a few outruns and I stopped her at like, 3 o'clock, kicked her out and reflanked her with a great deal of success. That went pretty well. I was setting up for another outrun and the sheep started to break for their friends out on the lower field. I ran after them, flanking Soda and getting her all amped and she made it to their heads and stopped them. She was very excited after that. She likes stopping escaping sheep and turning singles but she's not fast enough to do it most of the time!

We brought those sheep back to the trailer (with the other sheep that had joined us) and I *made* Soda walk them with me, rather than just letting them break back tot he trailer. She did a really excellent job of that and after a minute of me flanking her to cover, she got it and did it herself. Good girl!

Then, I held some sheep for another student on the lower field and she got all weird again and started displacement sniffing and not listening. So BIZARRE. Later, I set her up for an outrun and she pretty much ran right at the sheep. I stopped her, kicked her out and then she wouldn't complete it. I don't know why the lower field is so bad and the upper field is okay. It's the SAME DAMN FIELD! Same stuff, same cut, same chicken stench. So dumb.

I'm a little frustrated, if you can't tell. I don't know what her problem is and why this seems to be dragging out. Usually if she has a mental breakdown like she is she gets over it in a lesson or two but I am not seeing and bettering or abatement. I know I need a new dog soon--I keep seeing other students with well-bred collies and I'm thinking "Damnit. I want that."

On a positive note, so you don't think I'm totally shitting on Soda, she did a fantastic job of stopping runaway sheep and that really keened her up. And she paced herself on the fetch! w00t! Ohh, and Terry was teaching the more advanced students shedding so that was really good to watch! Sometimes, it's best to watch someone just learning how to do something because you really learn from their mistakes and you can see their progress.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I can see the end

We went to the chicken ranch again this week. This time the plan was to work on driving b/c it was so damn hot out, outruns wouldn't be prudent.

I got Soda out of the car and walked her out to the field and she started critter hunting immediately. Now, this isn't displacement sniffing--she does that too, but it's a lot different. I told her to watch her sheep and she started digging! Then, I went near the sheep and gave her a directional command and .... no dice. She just put her tail up and started hopping around for bugs/critters.

Not cool.

So, I snatched her up, threw her (literally) in the car, shut the doors (don't worry--all the windows were down and the back window was up and it was under a big oak tree) and I sat where she couldn't see me while the next person worked. I was pretty furious.

Then I got her out and MAGIC Soda wanted to work now. Hmph. Big wonder.

No work = mom gets very angry and you have to sit by yourself in the stinky ol' car
Work = mom tells you good girl and you get to sit by mom.

Anyway, she actually worked pretty decent after that--for her.

During this whole thing, I think now I can see the end of progression creeping up. I think, within the next year, or year and half we're going to hit the ends of Soda's ability and I'm going to need a new dog.

I'm not being down on Soda, just realistic. I don't want to make her miserable trying to make her something she's not and I can see that we're pushing her now (not that that's bad) but I know that the point is coming where I can't push her anymore because there's nothing left to push.

For those that have had a dog peter out, how'd you know the end of progression was approaching?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chernobyl-style melt down

On Thursday we went back out to the chicken-farm big field in the evening to get some "big field" practice in. 

Soda had an old-school, running-off-the-field, pouting, I-hate-my-mom meltdown of epic proportions. 

She got a correction for blowing off a stop and I was hard on her, I'll be honest. So then, after that she could no longer successfully complete an "away" outrun. She ran out then just ran out and out and out and started to go into a ditch and kept wanting to cross behind me to take the go-bye side because that was more comfortable. 

And so we stopped and came off the field. 

Then I went out and asked her again, only it was shorter and I walked really close to the sheep--baby style. Same thing. Walked off the field again with her. 

Last time, I walked out onto the field with her, set her up so it would be REALLY uncomfortable for her to take the go-bye, stood as close to the sheep as I could and sent her and squeeked "ah-weeeeeeeeeeee! go go go go go get em get em get em get em" the whole time and FINALLY she finished the flank. She ran up at the top too--I think 1/4 of the problem is she doesn't like the footing. It's plowed oat hay so it's prickly. 

Big ol' whiney baby but at least we ended on a positive note. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Whistles and The Big Field

Last week I started putting whistles on Soda. She likes them and I like blowing them. I have trouble blowing the stop--don't know why. But everything else comes out clear and consistent--thank you 6 years of playing of the flute! 

This Tuesday I went out to the big field to work on outruns. It is next to a chicken farm and the stench is so horrendous that my stomach did flip-flops when the wind changed. Seriously awful. I was super late so my trainer was working with her advanced students and I was in a sub-field working and I hear on the walkie-talkie: "Hey, you still have your sheep? Did they get mixed in with the cows yet?" 

Me: Uhh... Didn't know that was an option, but no. I still have them. 

So, needless to stay we stayed WAY away from the cow pens, lest they get mixed up! 

Soda did alright. I pushed her out on top and she got her panties all in a bunch about the whole thing but I made her keep working anyway and I'll be damned if she wasn't deeper at the top.She did run off once and go in the ditch (critter hunting) and I nearly had a panic attack. I don't know this field/area so I had no idea how deep it was, how far it went or what was in it. But I walked over and called her out and she had that "Oh shit." look on her face when she realized that I was really ready to murder her. Otherwise, it was all okay. She was pretty fast too, even though this was a "weird new field". 

That's pretty much it. Two pretty boring sheep dog lessons. Gonna work on driving some more. Yay. That's like pulling teeth somedays. I just want to go and kick Soda in the butt to make her move. But I don't. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bye Baby


No more lonely cold nights or hearing that I'm bad
No more growling belly from the meals I never had.
No more scorching sunshine with a water bowl that's dry. 

No more complaining neighbors about the noise when I cry.
No more hearing "shut up", "get down" or "get out of here"!
No more feeling disliked, only peace is in the air. 

Euthanasia is a blessing, though some still can't see 

Why I was ever born If I weren't meant to be. 

My last day of living was the best I ever had. 

Someone held me very close, I could see she was very sad.
I kissed the lady's face, and she hugged me as she cried.
I wagged my tail to thank her, then I closed my eyes and died.

--Don't know who wrote it. Been there, anyway.