Sunday, November 30, 2008
At any rate, the point is that I got home from Mary's exhausted, and happy. After I unloaded the dogs and all of our stuff I wanted nothing more than to sit in my chair and mindlessly watch some football on TV. But for some reason I felt inspired... to put up my Christmas tree!
So I did. I drug it into the living room piece by piece (it's a 9' slim prelit tree) and put it up, and then went into the closets and drug out all of my decorations and ornaments. The living room now looks like Christmas... for the first time in three years. It appears, though, that I'm slightly vertically challenged even at 5'8", with a chair to stand on and all! I couldn't quite reach the top to put my angel topper on, so I settled for snaggging and bending a branch about 6" from the top and putting the topper bow I have on there. It looks fine from the front, but sort of ridiculous from the back. Anyway, Tall Tree (as my Stepmom refers to CR) has agreed that next time he's over he'll put the bow up there properly for me. Hah!
I promised my friend Paula that I would put my tree up this year - if nothing else then as a symbol of hope this year. This year I have a lot of things to celebrate hope for that I've not had in a while, and I'm truly thankful for it.
Unfortunately I can't post a picture of the tree - dang if I didn't put my memory card away somewhere for safe keeping (while I was working on my computer the other week) and now I can't remember where that place was. Wouldn't it have made too much sense to put the thing back in the camera??? At any rate, the decorations are burgundy, silver, gold, and crystal (I have quite a few crystal angel ornaments that were a gift from my Stepmom). I have a few Lennox china ornaments too. So the symbol of Hope is up this year. I'm hoping that ALL of us have a fruitful and good next year!
dog working updates to follow tomorrow...
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
When I got home from work today he was swimming around in the baby pool in my back yard (where I'd left him after Nick and I put him in the back yard at lunch). So the plan was to put an ex-pen out there, with some food, covered with a tarp... and run him in it. Well, after one failed attempt (and having to go regather him... is it really a gather when there's one? I guess not... let's call it retrieve) and another almost fail, I noticed that he was just happy as a clam when Nick was fetching. Whenever I'd go help Nick drive he got very unhappy and things would go all to heck. Well, the expen thing? Not happening.
I wound up having Nick fetch him up the sidewalk... and in the back door into the house. Yep, we fetched a duck into my kitchen, and then into the living room. I then was able to toss a blanket over him while he was on the couch, and put him in Zippy's crate. He wasn't thrilled about the being handled part but I was as gentle as I could be.
I took him home - and it turns out my assumption and/or understanding was wrong. They tell me he's to be given as a gift to be a pet, and they're leaving tomorrow to take it to some uncle in New York. I don't know if I believe it or not, but it felt like the right thing to do to take it back to them. I tried to explain that he might be tough eating since he'd gotten his exercise, but they looked at me like I'd grown another head. Maybe he IS supposed to be a pet. Except I think HE might be a she.
Oh, and the beast took a dump on my couch.
They should be glad they're getting a mostly dog-broke duck. They should be glad I didn't notice the duck poo or they might not have GOTTEN a dog broke duck, they might have gotten a BROKEN duck. I admonished them to PLEASE not let the duck out again.
Thus ends the saga of the great duck roundup in the city.
For reference, he looked like this:
Image from www.blog.americanfeast.com .Mary wanted to know why I didn't get a picture of him while he was on my couch. Uh... I have no idea. I figured I didn't want him to have time to see the plant shelf or the archway thingie.
Monday, November 24, 2008
So, what did I do? Of course. I got my dog. At this point the duck was down at my house, so I brought out a crate, told the girls where to stand and where to move, and flanked Nick around. Good thing he likes him some ducks, hunh? Except... it wasn't SOME ducks, it was A duck. A duck with non-clipped wings, a fact that we learned right as I had it about two steps from the crate. Little bugger flew up on top of my neighbor's porch roof thingie.
No worries, I had a plan. I went around back and got out the Mad Spaghetti Noodle, and got that naughty bird down off of there. We then drove it back down towards it's house - I had a new idea. I had the girl open her front door, and we worked the duck up four steps, and onto the porch. Nick and I, and the girls, had it about three or four steps from the front door, when, whoooooooosh. Off again. That was my fault though - I was getting hurried (uh, wasn't I supposed to be back at work 20 minutes ago??) and put too much pressure on it.
Well, to make a long story short after bringing the beastie back down the road several times I finally had to go back to work when it decided to make another trip up on top of someone's garage. Great - now I have a dog that's looking for stock to work every time he comes out the front door, because according to him where there are ducks there must be sheep. My one regret is that we didn't have more time, because I was feeling rather determined to get that beastie BACK in that front door.
I told the girls that if he was still loose when I got home from work we'd try again. I guess I'd better check Nick's pads, too, as he's not used to working on asphalt and concrete. He sure did work like a champ though.
I sure have gotten a lot of ribbing on THIS one now that I'm back at work. When I called to tell them I was trying to catch up a duck, they were like, "You WHAT????". Just another day, hunh?
So, lots of stuff happened dog working wise, so I'll start with Nick. Saturday I used him to hold out for a while (and to sort, and so on). By the time we went back down to the bottom he pretty much had the bit in his teeth, and his fingers in his ears (figuratively speaking). I'm starting to think that he just might be getting tougher as he gets older, too, because he didn't seem to be sensitive to the fact that I was on him about stopping. Turned out he was right first time out actually - if he stopped this ewe lamb in our first group would try to run away. At any rate, later I finally got a chance to run him around the course that was still set up - using his whistles. He's not only taking them nicely, but REALLY seems to like them. He still had his fingers in his ears, though. Here we are waiting for our sheep to be set:
Picture by Darci Gunter. Did I mention it was rather chilly? Nothing like overalls and three layers of clothing to make one look like they're wearing one of those huge blow-up sumo wrestler suits, right?
Anyway, Sunday I used Nick to bring Chuck's calves in (only 5), sort them out, and do the same with the sheep. He still had the bit in his teeth some, but worked both the calves and sheep nicely. He did run into some trouble on the calves because his handler would stand in the gate and wonder why they wouldn't come through. Duh. Needless to say I'm learning a whole lot about how cattle react and think. Not. Like. Sheep. And they're big. Pretty... but big. At any rate, I didn't work him much on Sunday other than to use him to hold out some, and shuffle stock around for everyone (and he digs that stuff).
I worked Linc at Robin's and I think he liked the slightly larger area. He was really nice - but slightly hesitant in a few spots. There was some really good stuff there, but I didn't like those hesitant moments. It was enough for Robin and I to agree that probably he needs more time to grow up, so I'm going to put him away for a month.
I pulled Spottie out at Robin's, too. I was worried she might not work for me on her home turf, but she actually worked pretty nicely. I chickened out on shedding with her (then), but we had a pretty nice go and I was really happy with her and the progress we'd made. After we finished Robin came out and gave me some thoughts that I think will help. Then, Sunday I pulled her out over at Chuck's, and things did not go so well. We just were not making the same kind of connection as we did on Saturday. It wasn't a total bust though! Spottie and I managed to shed our sheep! Surprisingly with a dog that knew what she was doing (and was digging it, too) and sheep that were settled and happy it was much easier for me to think. I remembered what Robin's been teaching me, and we did it. I could feel where I was going wrong with Nick, too.
I went on and scratched her from the trial in two weeks. I didn't want to - but logic tells me that even though it's possible we might get it together between now and then it's not together enough for me to be comfortable NOW (and today's the pull date). I feel like maybe I'll be inclined to put too much pressure on both of us with a two week deadline, and may be doing so already. I know I'm feeling sort of under the gun, and maybe not having the fun I'm supposed to be having with her. So. I'm going to aim for running her in January, which feels more reasonable to me. This coming week I'll be farm-sitting, and will get ample opportunity for some good dog working, and I'm looking forward to it! I'll still run Nick in two weeks though (Nursery).
So that was our weekend. I'm pretty wiped out today. Socializing and dog working sometimes takes a lot out of a girl.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I have agendas, by the way. Schedules, agendas, the Way. Things. Should. Be. Whatever you want to call it. I have trouble sometimes being adaptable, but I'm trying to be moreso these days. So, on this morning's agenda was to finish packing and getting cooking items together so that I'm ready to make chili for tomorrow's hang-out-with-friends-and-work-dogs day. Should be fun, and the chili should be hot. It's only supposed to get up to 41 tomorrow - which in my book is butt-crack cold.
So since I'm off track anyway I'll talk about dogs. Spottie is adjusting to being with me fairly well. It's not all that unusual for a dog to take some time to work for a different handler, by the way, and it can't be easy for her adjusting to a new home either. She's being such a trooper, really.
The big news is that yesterday she worked for me. I went down to Julie's at lunchtime, and while Julie stayed inside I took her into the roundpen. She went right to work - never even blinked. I was feeling encouraged, so I took her on out into the big pasture with the main flock. As we drove around the corner she slammed on brakes, her head popped up, and she ran back around to the roundpen. So, I stood where I was and waited. After a minute or so I called her, and she came running, and went right back to work.
After that she was working for me pretty nicely. Later on I worked her for Robin, who hid in the van. Heee! I was a little afraid she'd be looking for Robin knowing she was there, but surprisingly she didn't. I'd say we're not 100% together yet - but the difference from Sunday to Thursday is just staggering to me. I think we're really going to have a lot of fun together - she's a blast. I think we're going to mesh just fine.
Nick was looking really good yesterday. We did a good bit of sorting and shuffling sheep around, which he loves. I didn't fool with any shedding (giving him a break) and he's taking his whistles really nicely now. Tomorrow we'll hopefully get to do some setting out, which he loves to do. It makes him very happy. Pushy, but happy. Linc was a big of a booger, and the sheep were just a little too light for him, so it was a bit of a frustrating session with him.
We've got a busy few weeks coming up. Lots of dog working, and a few trials. I'm running Nick in Nursery in Cowpens, SC, December 5th. If Spottie looks good this weekend I'm planning to run her in Open down there that weekend too. Uh... this would be *my* debut into Open, a fact that makes me want to throw up. But still, this has been a year for doing things I've been afraid of, so why not? I'm also considering entering one or both of them to run Open Cattle up at Roy Johnson's December 13th. Since I'm farm-sitting over Thanksgiving I should be able to get plenty of good dog-working in. I'm looking forward to it!
editing to add...
I'd like to now take back the "Yay, it SNOWED!!!" enthusiasm, please. Now the snow is gone, and I'm left with a wet, muddy mess. That makes for 24 wet, muddy, icky paws trampling around, which makes for quite a disaster. Why is it that melting snow makes for more mud than rain does? Is it like... punishment for the fun gained by making snowmen and snow angels? If so, I don't deserve it because I did none of the above. So, I'd like to offer up my serving of mud to benefit the greater good, please. Thankyouverymuch.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday I met Julie and Robin for lunch at this neat little place down in Randleman, and we then went back to Julie's to work dogs and do some switching dogs around. I handed Raven back off to Julie, and Robin handed Spottie off to me.
Spottie is going to be staying with me for a little while to teach me some things and I'm pretty darned excited. I hope I'll be able to run her in Open soon (and though the very thought makes me want to throw up on my shoes I'll deal with it) - and I really think this will take some of the pressure off of Nick. I think working with her is going to make the picture more clear for me - not only the where I'm going with Nick part, but the how to get there too. I think she has a lot to teach me, and I'm pretty stoked about it.
So far she's not quite ready to work for me, yet, but she will be. Shoot, it's only been two days. Hah! We're mostly getting to know each other right now which is proving to be quite fun. She's a hoot - a very funny and sweet dog, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun together. To see a picture or two of her go visit Robin's blog on the sidebar (Shoofly Farm). I'm sure over the next few weeks I'll be taking some pics of the dogs in general, though!
So far Spottie is fitting right in with the resident dogs. I suppose they're reasonably used to dogs coming and going a bit - and that certainly makes transitions like this easier.
If June had her own blog, it would be entitled, "Armpit Love".
I finished the last of the Sex and the City seasons last night. I sniveled and cried, and alternately snorted and laughed. Oh, and they FINALLY show you what Big's real name is at the end of the last show! All of the characters finally sort of "get" to the place I was hoping they would - and it's just the perfect way to end up, IMO. I can't wait for us to all get together and watch the movie. I think I've enjoyed the episodes enough that I wouldn't mind actually having them on DVD.
This getting dark early thing is for the birds. I am going to try to get the bosslady to let me take my remaining vacation days in half-day increments so I can manage to get my dogs worked some during the week. I've been feeling rather frustrated and encouraged to unload my house as soon as it will be financially responsible to do so. With the current housing market and economy as it is it wouldn't make sense to try to sell, but as soon as things start looking up I am SO out of there.
Fleecy winter pajamas here I come. It's going to be a cold one this week - and the weekend should be as well. I'm not sure if I'm ready for winter, but ready or not it's coming. Brrrr!
Today is day two of being back on plan - WW - in loss mode. I'm feeling like I've finally got it under control. I've learned that I have trouble with letting myself run amock when I try to be less rigid about counting my points. Once I get to running amock, amock, amock I find that it's awful hard to get myself back under control. I think the answer for me is that I just cannot relax by much when it comes to what I eat. I will say it feels GOOD to have things back together again. CR is coming over for dinner Tuesday night, and I think maybe I'll treat us to some Shepherd's Pie ala WW recipe.
PS - PW has put up two new chapters in "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels".
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Ok, so I'll play. I won't even talk about the BAD things today, because wouldn't that just cancel out the good things? Maybe it even cancels out the good things to mention that there are bad things, but still...
My Three Good Things for today:
1. SATC Season 6, part 2 disc 1 should be in my mailbox today
2. I slept all the way through the night last night
3. My lip shimmer color this morning is the BOMB
Ok, so maybe those are a little weak, but it's the best I can do today I think. Sure, I could drag out the old "I have a job" type stuff, but I was trying to come up with good things that didn't have a qualifier attached. So, those are my three good things that don't have any sort of "but" attached to them. Put THAT in my hat and smoke it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Nick is just barely over 2 years old. I'm running him in Open Ranch, and Nursery right now - we do ISDS style trials exclusively (USBCHA). He's quite useful, and I think we make a good team. He's always been quite sensible on stock - even as a youngster, and I really enjoy him. Although he's technically my second dog (June being the first) he's more like my first dog. I held him at less than a day old, and knew he was supposed to be mine. These pictures by Robin French (the first was taken after we'd been setting out, and he'd been having a big old time in the pond on the way back down the hill):
Linc is just a hair past 10 months old, and his main job is being a puppy right now. I've had him on sheep a handfull of times, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun together. He's very goofy, bouncy, and very sweet... if slightly hard-headed. Hah! These pictures by Julie Poudrier from Sunday:
June is eight years old, and was my first "real" border collie. She came from an unofficial rescue situation - and I first met her at Becca's place. I remember thinking how much I wanted her (which was odd, because my only border collie experience was Bree, and I KNEW I didn't want another dog like HER) but she was already promised to someone else. As it turned out she wound up with me anyway, and I got started learning to work sheep with her. When she came to me she was completely turned off of stock (she'd had a very rough beginning to life). She turned back on - and although she never has amounted to much we've had some fun together. I adore her, really.
And then... there are the non border collies!
What a fun bunch these guys are. Life is never boring with them, that's for sure.
Monday, November 10, 2008
While I'm thinking of it, Becca is having some surgery today. While it SHOULD go as planned I'm keeping her and her family in my prayers that it will go as it should, and that the recovery (it will most likely be a long one) will go well. It's going to be a tough few weeks I'm afraid.
At any rate, Sunday was lessons with Robin out at Julie's place. It was a beautiful day for lessons, and I had a ball. One of the awesome things about Robin is her ability to read and adjust to each individual dog AND her ability to read and adjust to each individual person. I never come away from a session with her confused. I may sometimes come away not quite yet doing what I need to, but I always at least understand what she's telling me.
Case in point... we worked on shedding with Nick. This is me heaving a big old sigh, because my body language is still wrong. I'm probably going to spend a few days mulling it over, because for me to help HIM learn how to shed I have to be able to shed!!! I understand what I need to do here, it's just a matter of getting my body and mind to meet in the middle.
I also took a lesson with Raven since she's hanging with me and my crew this week. We worked on several things - getting her more happy about stopping for one thing, and I was pleased that we were able to get her to stop and remain engaged. We also worked on some driving - doing some of the things I was trying to do with her, but Robin helped me to muddle through where I was having troubles. She's an awful lot of fun, and I think AK Dog Doc is going to have a ball with her.
Then... then there was Linc. He started out like he has been (apparently having forgotten the lesson from Friday) but we finally managed to really get through to him. Here is some video that doesn't quite do him justice (this was truly one of those "you had to be there" things).
Yesterday, second session:
What fun we're going to have together methinks! Hopefully we'll have some pictures to share too, but it probably won't be today. Happy Monday!
Friday, November 7, 2008
I managed to get Nick, Raven, and Linc each worked twice today. Nick worked about like normal - and I managed to sort him out a nice driving group second time out. Raven and I worked on driving some - switching sides mostly. It took her until the second go until it seemed like she was "getting it" but she was in fact getting it. It was even more helpful when I realized how badly my timing was sucking, and got more on the spot about stopping her sooner. Duh! She pushed the sheep on out ahead of me about 30 to 40 yards or so also, which is something she's not been willing to do yet. She doesn't have a lot of steering on her yet, so mostly I just let her go on and stopped her and repositioned myself behind her if she tried to flank around.
I also took her in to do some practical work - gate sorting, and the like. She looked at me initially like I had lost my mind, but took to it fairly quickly. She didn't want to flank on around the sheep to my feet to push them away (and I don't know if she's done that before) so we worked a little on that, and on just being patient at the gate while I sorted sheep. She did well, very well. She seemed to really like what we were doing, once she relaxed and understood that we had a task to do.
Linc was a wildman, as usual. I worked him out in the 3 acre field, mostly because the roundpen here is uneven ground and wild puppy + uneven ground + somewhat uncoordinated me = me on my behind. He was keen, fast, and furious, and I wasn't making much of an impression on him.
At any rate, my back is a tad iffy today, and second go I just ran out of patience at the getting run over thing. As I said, I wasn't making much of an impression on Linc, and so I finally came through the sheep and got his attention. Whatdoyouknow he looked at me like, "well, why didn't you say so?" and settled RIGHT in behind the sheep and was looking quite amazing. Good boy Linc. When he stopped being a yahoo he settled right onto balance, was reading and feeling his sheep so nicely it was a little like driving a Cadillac.
But anyway, I've been hesitant to do that (and I didn't do much more than come through the sheep, stick in hand, and ask him what he was doing in a quite emphatic, but gruff tone), and I hope it wasn't the wrong thing. I suppose when your first dog is prone to quitting (as June was) sometimes it makes one slightly inclined to soft step around. And he's still quite young...
Tomorrow CR is coming over to lend a hand on fixing my fence, YAY! That thing is a rattletrap, and I've been very disappointed at all of the warping and pulling it's done. Well, you get what you pay for (danged wooden fence) and the folks who did it were the cheapest. Bah.
Sunday we're all headed out to Julie's to take a lesson with Robin. That should be loads of fun as there are lots of folks coming out, and it's going to be a beautiful day! Friends, sun, food, and dog working - sounds perfect to me!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I am 33, live with five dogs, am a member of a big extended family, am a daughter and a sister, and am soon to be divorced. In that order. The divorce thing stinks, but in the long run I think it will prove to be a blessing in disguise in my life. Shoot, it already is. I've always had a burden for people, and believe that each person brings something special - something to be celebrated - to the world.
I've had lots of former lives... as a gymnast, a cheerleader, a softball player (sucked at that - I regrettably throw like a girl), a headbanger in high school, a horse person, a runner, a swimmer, and these days a dog person. I've taught gymnastics and swimming, and I lifeguarded for quite a few years. What can I say... I love the smell of suntan lotion. I love to read and write (although I read mostly fluff, and don't claim to write well) and enjoy a lot of different types of movies. I religiously follow "House" and "CSI" (Las Vegas Only).
What else? Oh, I'm on the tail end of a 97 lb weight loss with Weight Watchers. I hit my goal at Thanksgiving last year, and I'm vaguely struggling with maintaining at the moment. Man has it ever been an amazing ride. I'm figuring this all out, slowly but surely, and have come to realize that it truly is about the journey when it comes to weight managment.
How did I get into border collies and working dogs? I wound up (rather by accident and fate) with a border collie mix, Bree. In figuring out what to do with this wild child that changed my life, I met Becca (see Eirene on the bloglist) and eventually would meet Julie, Rachel, Mary, and Robin too. Anyway, Becca invited me out to see her farm, because a class I was taking at the time required us to do some "commune with nature" type of stuff. I was offering free labor, and Becca was the only one (brave enough) to take me up on it.
From the moment she sent her old Ben dog (run free sweet Ben) for the sheep I was hooked. I had goosebumps up and down my arms, and all I could think was, "I want this", followed closely by, "I wonder if Bree would do this?". The answer to the second question, however, was a resounding no. Not even close, but she was the beginning. Coincidently that was also the day that I met June, but that's a part of June's story, to be told later.
To the snaggletoothed wild child border collie mix...
Thank you, Bree. I think she and I were happiest together when we were running around on an agility course. Some days I miss her. This photo by Julie Poudrier:
So I guess that's the beginning. I work my dogs on sheep and occasionally cattle (although I did a brief stint in agility with both Bree and June). For a while I had my own sheep which I kept out at Julie's place, but with the changes in my life I had to sell them on. For the moment I'm a girl with five dogs living in the city... but trying to get OUT of the city. It's a challenge training dogs on stock without... stock... but I'm having a ball. The plan is to get out of town and find a place big enough to keep my own flock as soon as I'm able. Please, let it be soon.
So. Some references that might pop up here that may not make sense to some new folks would be references to the "Crazies" and "Mad Spaghetti Noodle".
Crazies generally refers to me, my dogs, or any combination thereof. "Carson Crazies" is the name of my old blog, and also my login name on several dog boards. When I was initially starting out with the border collies I was looking for a user name that would reflect something about myself and my dogs, and the "Crazies" part was born. The minvan is the "CrazyMobile" (bless it's little heart), the house is the "CrazyHouse" and so on.
Mad Spaghetti Noodle? Watch this:
This is me working Linc at 6 months old. Julie and I had been at Lowes that day getting these PVC pipes, and they turned out to be too long and unweildly (and quite hysterical actually). If you listen you can hear Julie laughing about it being the "Mad Spaghetti Noodle" somewhere around the middle of the video. After watching the video and giggling (repeatedly), Becca said, "I know! You're the Mad Spaghetti Noodle Lady!" so thus the reference somehow managed to stick.
So bear with me while I figure out the whole title thing for this blog, but I think I'm actually on the edge getting ready to dive in.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
So here I am - looking to see what works and what doesn't. I'm a little concerned about confusing the folks that have been following my other blog for a while, so I'm still on the fence for the switch. But for now I'll just dink around over here and see what's what. Until later... maybe.