Friday, March 4, 2011

Puck's children

WTCH. Holmberg's Melica Nitens RTDs, HTDIs, HRDIIs, HTADId, HTADIIs
Becky-- Holmberg's Prairie Wildfire OTDdsc, RTDs, HRD IIs, HTDIds

Smudge and his daughter, Lena

Smudge, WTCH Holmberg's Running Spot RTDs

All the Puck pups I have known, either from Satchmo or Gizmo as the sire, have been similar in having a good, calm, undemanding temperament.  They are just really nice dogs.  Their working style tends to be gentle and calm with stock, although occasionally they get a little rowdy. 

Becky was an excellent learning dog for me, not too difficult and plenty of instinct to get the job done.  She reacted differently to cows than Teak.  If one kicked her she'd just get mad and go after it harder.   Becky, Teak and I had several years of lessons with Shannon Wolfe at Magic's Legacy, until we got the basics down.  Working a dog is not easy to learn for some of us, but I was hooked and kept at it.  Shannon was an excellent teacher and gave me tips like "don't lie the dog down if the sheep are headed the wrong way".  That is the dog's job to fix them, then you can lie him down when they are going right, if you really need to.    And "go where you are going" is a mantra.  If you are having the dog fetch the sheep, keep walking, don't stand still and wait for something to go wrong, because it will.   And don't stand still fussing at the dog, it only frustrates her.  
I learned so much, and not just from my own lessons, but from watching other people with their dogs, and watching Shannon train her own young dogs.  

I also went to countless clinics over the next few years, getting several techniques to put in my tool box.  I went to a few that were not so helpful, but most of them were really good. 

In 2001 Dane graduated from vet school,  I gave birth to David, and we moved to Las Vegas where a job had been offered to Dane to start right away, all of this within a two month period.  It was a time of big changes, so of course right away when we moved into our house I bought 3 goats and 2 barbados lambs, as well as a flock of ducks.   A few months later I bought some more barb ewes.  

The funny thing about Las Vegas, in contrast to any city in the Midwest, is you can keep livestock on just about any small patch of ground in the city.  We had one acre, as did each of our neighbors.  They had horses and chickens, we had goats, sheep and ducks.  

Cinder was just 1 year old, just getting started with working, so Becky and Teak were my main dogs for dog breaking and handling all the stock.   They were excellent helpers, and one time in particular I remember, Becky was invaluable after some power line workers cut a hole in our fence and left the big gap standing open.   The sheep and goats were moseying down the road when our neighbors came and told us "Your goats are in the road".   Just about everyone who doesn't own them considers hair sheep to be goats, I guess.  

I was beyond nervous over whether Becky could get them back, but I took her out and in front of a nice sized audience told her "get around" and she did, the flock came swooping back to me and I led them back to their pen, not a problem.   

The neighborhood chickens were the bane of my existence, constantly coming over into our yard.  I didn't want the dogs to eat them, so I would use one of the dogs, Teak, Becky or Cinder, to round up the chickens and send them home before I could let out the whole pack.  The chickens also seemed to delight in scratching in my flower bed and digging up all the flowers. 

The chickens and the heat.  I am not a hot weather person, and Las Vegas is obviously the desert.  Nice in the winter, bloody awful in the summer.  I had not experienced having bits of my car interior melt when left in the sun too long before.  So, as soon as possible I began campaigning for a return to Wisconsin.   And we did come back, luckily just a few years before the housing market in Las Vegas went completely down the toilet.  

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