Friday, May 29, 2009

Just a boring ol' lesson!

Pretty much just the usual. We worked on driving. BLEGH. It's so slow going. The impatient part of me (that's like 98% of me) says NOW NOW NOW NOW!

Patience is a virtue. I must remember that.

She did drive further than ever before so that's good. Not having inside flanks is a problem--it's takes FOREVER for her to swing around me to get to the sheep. Well, I almost forgot--she did take two inside flanks on Thursday. I was really surprised. It's just another one of those "things".

I did have to get on her about her stop. She totally blew me off on the fetch and was just basically chasing the sheep. Not cool. It's just something I find we have to frequently revisit to make sure she understands that stop really does mean stop.

My plan is to start her on whistles this Wednesday. I'm really anxious to see how she takes to it because she gets really excited when she hears other people blowing them.

I have a trial this weekend up in Llano. I hope we do well. I feel confident about the "B" course but am still shaky on "A" course. We'll see.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

6 things

I've been tagged by Laura at Don't expect anything deep, folks. And if you are expecting something deep, then you probably don't know me too well! :D

6 things that I appreciate that may, to someone else, seem unimportant, but to me are precious:

1.) My job. How lucky I am to have it, and to love it and to have found it.
2.) A nearly overripe bannana. Everything about them is perfect--the smell, the taste, the texture. mmm....
3.) The internet. How did people find anything before the internet??
4.) Doc Bronners Peppermint soap. It's perfect stuff.
5.) A brand new razor. I have some mighty leg hair so it's always a joy when I bust out a new blade.
6.) Cats. I just like cats and think they're hilarious.

Lemme tag a couple of folks: (I think everyone else on my list has been tagged!)

Cousin Hollie:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How I got into this whole sheepdog thing

It started with my coworker, S. She said, "paige, hey, so I went sheepherding with my dog" and I couldn't believe it! In Orange County, no less. She had seen it on "The Dog Whisperer". She said I should take LT and I did. LT ... well, I thought she was amazing. Now I know it was just a bunch of chasing--but still. LT has a ton of prey drive. So I took lessons for a little while at one place and then I realized that I wasn't actually learning anything. I looked around and found my current trainer. We worked together for awhile and LT had tons of prey drive but not so much "listen to mom" drive and when we put rules on the game, she didn't want to play.

I cried.

But I was hooked. This was something that suited me and I really enjoyed it. If I can't have a horse, this is the next best thing.

So I made up my mind and kept my eye out for a border collie--casually, of course.

And Soda fell in my lap.

Let me just say, all the years I've been at the shelter and we've had like, 3 possibly purebred border collies. One only had one eye and that was many years ago, and one was a complete spaz and then there was Soda. Relinquished by her owner and she came at just the right time.

I took her out to my trainers to see if she would be interested in sheep at all and at first she just stood there. I just stood there, in the deep mud and drizzle and waited. And waited. And she was scared of the sheep. Then my trainer brought in one of her dogs to let Soda watch and I will never forget this for the rest of my life:

Soda's eyes lit up, and I read her mind. It was "I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT!" and that was all it took. She wasn't the keenest dog in the world but she definitely thought it was fun. She barked and ran around and put all the sheep in a corner and barked and then she circled them with her tail down and I thought "okay--we'll give this a go".

I had to move out of my situation and change a lot of things but it's been an awesome series of "oh, hey!".

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The foster puppies

I have two 5 week old foster puppies. They're pits and they are so. freaking. cute. They're with me to get some more socialization and learn how to be good dogs. :) Would you like to see some anerable pictures?




The foster kitten is in with them--Daniel in the Lions Den, so to speak. :) Also, you can see pee on the blanket. That's what 5 week old puppies are good for. Peeing on everything.



So, a quick animal count: 3 adult dogs, 2 adult cats, 2 foster kittens, 2 foster puppies. My house is a zoo.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting ready for more trials.

I have three trials coming up in the next month or so. The last weekend of May I have an AKC trial (shut up!) and then in the middle of June I have a novice trial and at the end of June another novice trial. I am really excited/nervous/proud/elated about the novice trials. I cannot believe we're even able to run in novice. Most border collie folks don't even bother with novice but it's been an amazing, long, hard-fought journey for Soda (and me!)

Well, we had a helluva lesson on Thursday. I worked more on driving and Terry said I need to make things happen and not just let them happen and react. She's right--I do do that a lot. She also said Soda was being fidgety and I need to stop her more. I'm not quite sure I saw what she was talking about but I did clean things up a bit.

Then I worked on more big outruns. The go-by was great but away got kind of messy because of the fence. She wanted to swing out wider but couldn't and that made her slow. We're going to try to get out into a bigger field here pretty soon. I also overworked her. That was stupid of me and I knew I was pushing it. Lesson learned. She didn't get overheated or anything but I could tell that her little brain was just done.

OH, and then I had my stupid, idiotic handling moment: I was telling her "AWAY! AWAY! AWAY!" to get her to cover the draw and then I realize that she is/and needs to be on the go-by side just as my trainer goes "uh, it's GO BY".

SO DUMB. My poor dog--it's a wonder that she doesn't just bite me.

We worked for pretty much a solid hour with only a couple of small breaks. It was really hard for her.

Next week, I want to work the away again and then I want to change the picture and have her run up the hill for the sheep. I think she'll be able to do it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Shelter folk have waited a long time for this woman to be put away. I have a vested interest: My dog Cash was from this woman. She was his "foster mom"...

"On Monday, having deliberated for less than a day, the jury in the Cindy Bemis/ Cynthia Trapani trial returned a verdict of GUILTY on all charges ( 14 counts of animal cruelty for Bemis/ 6 counts for Trapani ) and Judge Kenneth Twissleman, ordered both directly to jail, denying all efforts on part of the defense to keep them out on bail until the sentencing June 17th.

Although this is the news we have all been waiting for, the direct result of this victory is that more than 200 dogs have been left behind on the Mojave compound, with a care taker who can barely take care of himself. Just as had been thought all along, Bemis and Trapani, have been collecting more animals while awaiting trial, most of which are unaltered. Those animals now need help. Animal control would prefer not to get involved. The rescue community, led by LCA, are trying to move the dogs out as quickly as possible.

Outside about 60 dogs are kenneled and another 100 or so roam free. They have formed packs and have areas they reside in, almost like gangs in a prison. Those packs consist mainly of Shepherd and Black Lab x packs, most of which are young dogs. There are pregnant dogs and dogs full of milk without puppies. Dogs who have made underground dens. Some seniors that need help. Some skin conditions but surprisingly, overall the dogs appear to be relatively healthy. The biggest problem will be the socializing of the dogs that have been living a feral life but the ones we are focused on right now are the dogs that can easily be placed or are in need of medical care. The majority of dogs are friendly.

The smell is what hits you first. The ammonia is so strong it makes you retch. The floors are torn up and every surface is covered and smeared with feces. Inside the house is where the smaller dogs and favorites are kept, including 10 cats. A lot of these dogs have probably never been outside. "





My shelter is going to be taking a few of these poor souls.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Unintended Side Effects

One of the unintended side effects of learning to be a sheepdog is that Soda will now, happily and readily, go under things. Anything. She'll also squeeze through fences. She would never dream of doing this 6 months ago.

I've asked Soda to go under a panel to get sheep; I've had her go through very narrow chutes after sheep; I've had her sit under a trailer because it was cool. All of this has led to a dog that will now happily go under anything to get something.

We were walking outside the my trainer's property during the trial so Soda could potty and get a little exercise and she saw an opening in the fence slipped through the tiniest of holes, for no reason other than it was there. She stopped right away and looked at me like "HEY! That was fuN!" I had to lure her back out because through the fence she was on the property and I didn't want her taking off to "help" with anyone's run.

Anyway, it's just one of those unintended side effects!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ran in another trial today

We ran in another HRD trial and did well. We got third place, yay! We had a meltdown in the take pen--which is something we've been having trouble with lately. It's kind of weird. I am sure it's something I'm doing wrong and I suspect it has something to do with timing.

Anyway, the rest of the run was really smooth and clean. It's amazing what one month of training will do!

After my class, I was bored and the tests were running and my trainer was going to have a mini-party at her place afterwards so I wanted to stick around. I told Terry that at the next trial I wanted to work set-out. She told me to go work with Chet, who had been doing set out all day. Chet was really nice and coached me through it and let Soda work. That was a lot of fun and a lot of work for Ms. Soda. His dog was spent. He'd been doing it alone all day! He had me get Soda into a pen and sort sheep and I have to say, that is NOT our strong suit. Soda frequently just looks confused at the back of a packed pen. She'll go in perfect and "scrape" the sheep off the fences then push them to the door but if they don't go out she just stands there looking kind of googly eyed. I got her moving a bit today and that was good.

Soda drove the sheep AWAY from me for about 15 feet with very little hesitation! It was towards a strong draw (hay) but the sheep weren't in a hurry to get there. I was really proud of her. That is so huge for my little girl.

Anyway, some non-working pikters:

The Soda Monster:

This is a really cool Aussie. She's working bred and really fine boned. Very nice dog. She's trying to steal some treats, LOL.

This is the world's fastest sheltie:

This is Zula, my trainer's up and comer. I LOVE this dog. Love the way she works. She hates being tied though. It's funny--she just pouts all day.

Bermuda Triangle of Black and White:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just plugging right along

We plugged right along at driving today. I see little improvements every time. It is slow though!

We put the sheep out at like, 50 yards away and sent Soda out and stopped her about 1/2 way, then asked her to walk up. It was MUCH better than the last time we tried this. She does look at me a lot, which Terry says is normal. That made me feel much better! Soda almost took an inside flank today and that was pretty impressive. I say almost because I stopped her before it truly became an inside flank but that was something that before she would have had a lot of trouble with.

All in all, I think I need to remember patience, remember that this is a learning process for both of us and I should stop being so covetous of the well-bred border collies for whom this is so much less difficult! I'm not poo-pooing Soda, but there is a big difference! I am daily proud of how much Soda has improved and how much heart she has.

We're running in another HRD trial this weekend for funzies. That will finish the title for me. Fun stuff.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The big kid outruns

We worked on novice level outruns today. 100 yards. It was a bit ugly at first. We tried it with the sheep on top of a hill but I think that + further than she run out before was too much. So, we put the sheep at the bottom of the hill so we took one diffiult part out of the equation. It was much easier for her this way. She tried to cross over, but she did it very early on (like two steps out from me) so it was easy to correct her. Then, everything went pretty well. She needed some help with confidence out at the top (a redirect). The first few outruns were like out-trots but as her confidence grew she ran faster. I was pretty proud of her. Oh, also, I watched her watch the lead sheep to cover and help cover the draw. That's a really big step for her.

I wish I had access to sheep more than 30 minutes once a week. There are so many things I want to work on. Like today, all we had time for was outruns--not really any driving or anything. I just think Soda could be so much more with more practice.

Anyone have sheep and need an indentured servant? I can throw hay with the best of them and my poo scooping skills are unparralled. Annnnd you need to live near Orange County, CA.

OR, are there any extremely wealthy men who really like chubby red-heads and want to buy me a ranch and don't mind the fact that I have a boyfriend?


Really? No?

well... I'll make do, I suppose.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Soda's new "thing"

... is snuggling with me on "my" chair. It's adorable. I love it. Just love it. Neither of my other dogs are snugglers and if Soda is trolling around, looking lonely, I can call her up and she just wedges herself into the chair and goes to sleep and snuggles with me.

Warms the cockles of my heart.


Not a lot went on at the last lesson-- pretty much just same ol' same ol'. We worked on driving and she did a really nice job. I was pleasantly surprised. We'll keep on truckin!

We kind of started working on inside flanks and that was just pathetic. I do not want to work on that. She hates it and it makes me hate it. She just looks constipated or something when she's trying to "squeeze" between me and the sheep. Even calling her to me is a freaking chore. She's so sensitive to the pressure--and yet, still likes to run them over me. Can't have my cake and eat it to, can I?