Monday, October 24, 2011


The puppies are 4 weeks old now, and exploring new places every day.  We took them to the barn, they saw the sheep.  We took them for a little walk down to the gate and back.  They got to see various rooms of the house and get carried here and there by the kids.  They have met all the big dogs now and the adults are unimpressed, except for Sprite who loves to play with them, and Becky who follows them around licking them.  They have various toys such as dumbbells, frisbees, and a cardboard box to climb around on, as well as some little puppy stuffed toys.  Jayne is definitely the more spunky pup, he wags and growls and plays almost constantly, he sometimes barks too.   Book is a quieter pup who will come up to me wagging his tail, get petted, but then just sit and look at my face thoughtfully for a while. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hawk in the barn

We have a hawk in our barn, and I'm happy about that and hope he will stay.  I'm not sure what kind it is as the barn is pretty dark, but it does have a striped tail and is medium large sized.   He (she?) was there yesterday and all the pigeons were gone.   Dane thought the hawk might be trapped, so he opened the barn doors wide.  Well, he is still there today and just as I went in I saw him make a dive for a pigeon and miss.   As long as he sticks to pigeons and stays out of the ducks and chickens I'll be happy.    We have far too many of the winged rats and they make horrible messes in there. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nationals, and lessons

Ganesh, opener of ways
I spend most of Nationals in Renea's RV (thank you!!!!) but the last night the RV had to go home so I stayed at the Super 8, watched over by this little guy.    When I saw him at the front desk I knew it would be a good place to stay, and it was. 

Sprite and Hank, competitors

Luke and Pepper, visitors
I took 4 dogs, not knowing if I would get any runs because I was on the wait list for everything.  I ended up getting into everything I signed up for, but changed my mind on Sprite's advanced sheep run at the last minute and let someone else have it.  I was confused by the new rules on staying at the same level and I actually could have trialed her in open again, so I was kicking myself later when I figured that out.    Hank was in sheep and ducks in the Nationals trial and Sprite was just in advanced ducks.  Except for Hank's sheep run I was happy with how they did.  Sprite scored a few points higher than Hank on ducks because she actually got hers through the center obstacle.  Hank was being very stubborn on "out" and coming in at the wrong moment.  

On sheep, Hank would not drive to the panels, and I was very frustrated with him just standing there holding the sheep.  But I did get some very helpful advice from Shannon Wolfe on how to work on that, so I'm trying it.   I went by there for a lesson later on.  

First of all, Hank is slipping side to side because I have not taught him to hold a line, so he's following the sheep; he tends to miss the panels because he's not on a line (not a rope, but a straight line with the sheep), and then when I get excited and give a bunch of commands he gets worried and looks back to me.   Then, he doesn't want to push into them because of the worry so he stands and holds them.  Also, he needs work on taking the inside flank.

So, the first thing to work on is how I start the drive.  Instead of just saying "walk up" and letting the dog take it from there, I am now giving a couple of flanks to get the sheep headed the right direction, and then saying "there, walk up".   This shows the dog where the line will be and lets them learn to hold it.  I wasn't expecting instant results with this, but it seemed to really help him out right away.  

The second thing was to brush up on the inside flanks, which we did by flanking him from the balance point around 360 degrees several times.    Then to be next to him while driving and emphasize "HERE, away" or "HERE, go bye".

The third thing was to have him drive them into a corner and then keep driving them until they scatter and he has to come out and cover.  It's very important to stay calm and let him know it's fine if he makes a mess, he knows how to fix it again.   This should get to his reluctance to push in.   The first few times I tried it he was really slipping side to side and letting them go around the corner, but then he figured out what I wanted and was actually driving them straight into the corner.  

It's really helpful to have a good trainer take a look at your dog and figure out what you need to do to improve.  

All these things are working with the younger dogs too so I can hopefully head any problems off before they start.  

Shannon's dog Miska working in the pens
I spent a lot of time working in the sheep pens, which was fun and kept me busy while still being able to watch the runs.   And I helped a small amount by being a fence for the cattle drives as they were moved from barn to arena and back again each day.  

Aside from a flood in the RV and some rainy weather some of the days, Nationals was really good for me this year and I had a great time seeing everyone there.   I can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tyra and Sally

I have never written where Tyra and Sally ended up, so since today is a day off for me I thought I'd give updates on them.   Tyra went to a family back in May, where they had owned a previous generation of my mom's dogs.  Now the daughter is grown up and out on her own and came back to my Mom for her own dog.   Tyra has a little girl whom she loves, and has managed to become an important part of the household.   One night she was put to bed in her crate as usual, but completely unlike her, she just would not stop barking.  Finally her owner got up to see what was wrong and found the back door wide open.  As soon as the door was shut and Tyra checked and found everything was ok, she went to bed peacefully.

Sally has gone for a try-out period with a sheep dog trainer friend.   So far she is doing really well and my friend really likes her.  Sally will get to work sheep quite a bit and trial if all goes well between them.   

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I got home from Nationals to find that we'd had unexpected births while I was away.  These two little black guys were born September 23, the first day of fall.   Their mom is Tessa, and dad will have to be determined by DNA testing because they were some sneaky little buggers.     They are some of the fattest puppies I've seen, with only two of them to share the food.   They have names.  They are Jayne and Book according to me, but we haven't decided which name goes with which pup.  Sometimes they are also Storm and Pistachio (if you ask Michael).