Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #6

Crooks and Crazies

Sorry for the delay today. I had these great intentions that involved getting this up at like 7:30 am, EST. Clearly that's not happening. While I'm thinking of it - if you have questions you want me to ask, or questions you'd like to answer shoot me a quick email (it is enabled on my profile page). See? I'm even giving you all an opportunity to shamelessly promote yourselves. You don't even have to be playing, I'm all ears for anyone who emails.

Ok. Questions for today:

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?
2. What is your favorite Restaurant or type of food? Clearly I have food on the brain much of the time.
3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?
4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now! (For example, how did you get from Novice to Open? How long did it take? Train dogs? Buy dogs? I'll take answers for any sort of discipline, or even how did you go from wild dog that didn't listen to well behaved dog - interpret this however you like.) This question was suggested by Pippin.
5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently? Question posed by Jodi.

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?

Uh... well... pretty much I start by calling the big dogs and usually the puppy comes too (as a side note, I have found that this method does NOT work as well for dogs that don't start out with me from the beginning). I've found that for some dogs this is pretty much enough, but others (Linc) not so much. When I start teaching them by themselves I make a big deal over them when they come in difficult situations. With Pia I've actually set out with a treat to specifically teach her what I am asking. I find that usually at some point I wind up having to walk a dog down, and then usually after that they are solid. Gah, I'll never forget Nick at 16 weeks at a Jack Knox clinic up in VA... he ran away from me and I spent 20 minutes walking him down. I'm pretty sure my head was about to explode off of my shoulders.

So I'm trying to circumvent public humiliation by paying closer attention to recalls with Pia.

2. What is your favorite Restaurant or type of food?

Mmmm. Ham's. Bacon Cheese Fries. 'Nuff said. Second to that is probably Outback or Lone Star Steakhouse. But really I love a good Italian or Japanese place too. Oh, or Mexican. Ok, pretty much anywhere is my favorite.

3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?

Zumba! It is my new love. I'm nursing an angry knee at the moment, though, so no Zumba for me in the last two weeks. Boo! This is probably one of the few things I do that is just for me and doesn't involve dogs.

4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now! This question was suggested by Pippin.

I got June in 2005. April 2nd, actually. I started taking lessons with her (on stock) and though I took her to two trials we never got past the lift and it occurred to me that I'd need another dog. I bought my right hand man, Nick, as a puppy from Julie Poudrier out of her Twist by Roy Johnson's Sonny in mid-2006. He pretty much hit the ground working, and then I gave him a whirl in Novice/Novice in December of 2007 (or was it Jan 2008??). I ran him in Nursery, and managed to get Nursery leg but then he had a soft tissue injury. Anyway, I moved him up to Open in Sept. of 2009, just past three years old. We've done pretty well for ourselves given how little we've trialed in the last year or so.

How did we get there? Lessons with Robin French, for starters. I also bought a handful of well broke hair sheep from Robin, and kept them out at Julie's (for both of us to work).

The short answer is... it's the dog.

5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently? Question posed by Jodi.

There are a few things I would have done differently with Linc (things that I am making sure to do with Pia after learning this lesson with Linc). I found myself typically only correcting him for not coming when called (too much redirection when a correction would have sufficed). I have really struggled with the fact that for a while every time I corrected him on stock he'd leave them and come to me. I don't know that he's EVER actually understood correction on stock, though I've worked hard to teach him (remedially) what corrections mean off of stock.

Another thing I'd do differently is send him to stay with friends overnight at a much younger age. This was hard for him to fathom, and as a result he has been a bit of a punk about it. I probably would also have done more ridiculous trick training with him. Read that more as a "more team building" sort of thing with him. I think he would have benefited.

Here's your code for the button:

So please link up, and share some comment love!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Letters to a Small Dog

Dear Small Dog,

Though we've only been together for six years now, sometimes it feels like a lifetime. At 17.5 years old I often wonder just how much longer you'll be with me. Then somehow you do things to make me think that you might be like a parrot; that you might outlive your human. So if we're going to make it for a while longer yet, we have a few matters to discuss.

First premise: swimming is bad. Do not try it again. Ponds are not your friend. Because of this new obsession of yours I can no longer trust you to not go wading into water and then drown. This is both hysterically funny and frustrating at the same time. I have no desire to have to retrieve you from Robin's pond, so when we go out there next you will find yourself on a leash. This is really too bad because I KNOW how much you love walkabouts there.

Secondly, please stop launching yourself off of the back steps. For that matter, please do not launch yourself off of anything anymore. Last time at Julie's you launched yourself off of her front porch. It was distressing. Don't do it.

Please do your best to not face plant onto the sidewalk. I'd appreciate it if you'd try also to not chin plant into the steps going back up. Maybe it would be best to just not even go near the steps. Besides, you've already declared the doggie door a no-fly zone, so this is really the next logical step.

Since you don't see very well anymore and your body hurts, much of the time I find it necessary to carry you up and down the (two) steps, in order to avoid the above-mentioned face plant scenario. Seeing as to how we don't have much choice in this - at least not until I can build you a tiny little ramp - is it REALLY necessary to growl at me? Every time? Your displeasure has been duly noted. Truly.

Thirdly, please note that jerking your feet and bucking like a bronco when I'm trying to trim your toenails results in blood. Jerking your feet while I'm trying to stop the bleeding only results in the bloodstop stuff smeared all over both of us, and very little of it actually winding up on your toes. While I'm on the subject, please also refrain from howling like a banshee in my ear. Oh, and holster the teeth, OK? I don't know how we did toes for 5.5years with no complaint and now this is where we are. It's just no good.

Lastly, please stop enticing Pia to play. Every time I convince her that she shouldn't pounce on you because you're old, doddery, arthritic and cantankerous you blow it by going over there and play bowing to her. I don't even know how you CAN play bow since everything ELSE seems to hurt. I understand that playing with her makes you feel like a young buck again. I get it! But please... when I've intervened on your behalf be the bigger dog and walk away. Ok?

In return, I promise to take you to the groomer next time your bloomers need a trim. I am truly sorry for the butcher job I did to your tiny little hiney.

Clearly I won't be quitting my day job to become a groomer.

I AM sorry about the bloody toes, so next time I'll do it when you're sleeping (like I did last time).

If you will do these things for me I will give you extra sardines on fish night. I'll also stop offering you up free to a good home to every person I meet. Probably.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pia and Jade

I took dogs out to Denise's last weekend, mostly so that Pia and Jade could visit, and so that Denise and I could visit. Denise got some lovely shots of them both - and as always all photos belong to her and please do not use without permission.

Now that THAT is out of the way, the pups are now 16 weeks old. I was a bit dismayed last week as one of Pia's ears had deflated. But they're back up - either tipped:

or completely pricked:

She's teething right now, so I'll be interested to see how they wind up. When I weighed Pia a couple of days ago she clocked in at 15 pounds - though she'd not yet pooped so lets call it 14.5.

Jade has great ears too!

Both pups seem to just, as Denise puts it, have good intentions.

At home right now mostly Pia is just learning to have general manners. She's learning that while Zippy likes to play with her she's too big and too rough for him now. She's learning that yes, she has to come when I call her, and that my socks and flip flops are not for puppies.

She did have her first exposure to sheep this past weekend. She showed some glimmers of interest - and even at one point was going to head them. I could see her checking in and flaring out. Very cool.

It's always interesting to me to see how each new dog reacts to the first exposure to sheep. Linc? He followed me around hopping up and down going "Hi Mom! Hi Mom! Hi Mom!". Nick took off the second his little (or not so little) feet hit the ground, went around, and brought me the sheep. Pia showed some interest and instinct - and almost went around a couple of times, but wasn't completely turned on yet. Very neat. Can't wait to see what she does next time!

I think this is my favorite part - the first few times on sheep. It's all so fresh, free and exciting... yet timeless.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #5

Crooks and Crazies

It's that time again! Time to tell me what I want to know. And hey, don't forget to go give some comment love on each other's blogs.

Today I'd like to know:

1. Who is your newest dog? Where is he/she from, and why did you choose this particular dog/breeding? This question posted by Jodi.
2. What traits drew you to this dog or breeding? (also by Jodi)
3. What's on your feet right now?
4. What are you reading right now?
5. What upcoming trials are you looking forward to? If you don't trial dogs I'll take whatever activity that you're looking forward to.

1. Who is your newest dog? Where is he/she from, and why did you choose this particular dog/breeding? This question posted by Jodi.

My newest dog is Pia (aka Pia Maria Anna Lucia). She is from Denise Wall - she is out of Denise's May, by Lyle Lad's Shep. She is 15.5 weeks old. The more dogs I work/use the more I get a feel for what I do and don't like in a dog. I had decided that I didn't really want another puppy any time soon, but I just couldn't pass this one up. I chose this particular breeding because I think that they will turn out to be the types of dogs I find myself drawn to. Though I don't know Shep personally I've heard tremendous things about him. I sure do like May, and I know Denise and felt like if this wouldn't be a good cross for me she'd let me know. See Tuesday night's post for a few updated Pia pics. :)

2. What traits drew you to this dog or breeding? (also by Jodi)

For starters I loves me a natural dog. I'm still in a place where I need a dog to have a lot of stock sense, and to know what to do. I'm not always fast enough, and it helps me to have a dog that does what needs doing without a ton of input from me. Not only that, but I just plain old flat out don't like to have to tell my dog everything to do. I like a dog that is somewhat easy to train, and nice to handle. Plenty under the hood, but inclined to partner up. These were all important decision makers for me. I also was looking for a dog that didn't need to be worked down. With my limited stock access situation at the moment I don't have room for a dog that needs to be worked down first, and I need a dog that's good in the house. I expect this to all be the case for Pia. So far she's been a very good puppy.

Uh... can I also hope for prick ears and a stylish dog?

3. What's on your feet right now?

Pia thinks they need to be bitten. I don't blame her. I need some more little clog type slippers.

Adding: those were on my feet earlier, now I'm in dress shoes at work.

4. What are you reading right now?

I am reading two books: "The Laughing Corpse" by Laurell Hamilton, and "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver.

"The Laughing Corpse" by Laurell Hamilton is a fiction book about Anita Blake, the vampire slayer. This is the second one in that particular series and I'm enjoying it. Hamilton is very witty, and really engages the imagination right away. There's plenty of dialogue and vivid detail in the books to keep me entertained.

"Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" addresses how to sit at the feet of Jesus (how to rest in Him, and develop a relationship with Him) in a world where we as women are so crazy busy. One of the ladies at work passed it over for me to read. I thought she was trying to "save me" but now that I've started the book I realize that she actually pegged it right on. The book has been exactly what I've needed to get my relationship with God started back on the right track. Not so much doing, but more BEING with Him.

5. What upcoming trials are you looking forward to? If you don't trial dogs I'll take whatever activity that you're looking forward to.

Well... none for me this year. There's the slightest (and I do mean slightest) of possibilities that I might manage to make it for a day or so of Rural Hill, but as of right now I'm pretty much homeward bound (due to finances). However, I AM looking forward to farm-sitting for a friend during an upcoming trial. I loves me some farm sitting.

And not dog or trial related, but I'm also looking forward to getting my Zumba instructor's license. I've got the money scraped together, and I'm just waiting for a class close enough to open up. WooHOO!

Don't forget - on the day that we reach 20 folks linking up I'm going to enter everyone on the list into a drawing for a lanyard. I was going to pick either the first person or the 20th person, but decided a drawing seemed more fun. So there it is!

So here's your code for the button (and by the way, I'm having a new button designed - should be ready here before too long):

If you have questions about how to join in I'll give a description in the comments.

And here's the spot where you link up:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wordless (almost) Wednesday

I know, I know. Hard to imagine me wordless. I was trying to get updated Pia pics (she's fifteen weeks) and she was not cooperative. Nick, on the other hand, was feeling quite photogenic today.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #4

Crooks and Crazies

Yay! It's Friday Eve. I'm not entirely sure how I got here this week without imploding or exploding, but I made it. Hope the rest of you did too.

Before I pop the questions, I've got a couple of little things to tell you. On the week that we hit 20 people linking up, I'm going to make and give that person either a beaded lanyard or knitted scarf (their choice, and choice of color). I'm also going to give variations to some of the questions so that people without working dogs can play too.


Ginger, you're such a good model. :)

Questions for today:

1. In sheepdog training (or lets call it *any* type of training), how do you keep from taking yourself, your dog, your lack of progress too seriously? posed by Ann
2. How many crates do you have? For reals.
3. How do you keep your dogs in shape?
4. Who is your favorite movie/tv star eye candy at the moment?
5. What is your livestock situation? Have your own? Borrow? Herd the cats? (You can subsitute other equipment for livestock if you don't work stock with your dogs).

1. In sheepdog training (or lets call it *any* type of training), how do you keep from taking yourself, your dog, your lack of progress too seriously? posed by Ann

Uh... well... I can't say that I've figured this out yet really. I've learned to relax just a little, but quite frankly I hold my dogs and myself to a very high standard. I'm dealing with some lack of progress as we have very limited access to stock at the moment. I'm pretty sure I would have Linc in open by now if I got him to sheep more than once every few weeks. But I've accepted that this is my situation for now. And... lets be honest... I can't afford to trial at the moment either, so our lack of progress isn't smacking me in the face. When I was trialing them more often I was frustrated with some things that popped up (like Nick crossing at my feet at Rural Hill grrr).

I'm pretty emotionally invested in how my dogs work sometimes. I've actually had to work hard to become somewhat more circumspect. I've had to learn to work Linc as if I were someone else, and it has made a difference. When I work to separate my dogs and my value from how they're working it helps me to be more objective. I'm not always able to do this, but I'm able to more and more, and they benefit from it. It takes some undue pressure off.

2. How many crates do you have? For reals.

I'm down to 20 now. WOOT! I actually MADE myself throw away a partially broken crate a few weeks ago. I actually went down to the trash and brought it back up twice before I finally convinced myself to leave it. I think this is probably some sort of sign of illness, but whatever. 6 dogs, 20 crates... not an awful ratio if you ask me. Relatively speaking.

Hi. My name is Laura. I have a crate problem.

3. How do you keep your dogs in shape?

Right now? Hah! When I can I take the working dogs out for a trail run, and some swimming. It's been so ridiculously hot this summer that mostly we all just try not to suffocate. I long for the day when I have enough property to be able to get them out and *really* run them.

4. Who is your favorite movie/tv star eye candy at the moment?

Kenny Johnson - plays Ham in Saving Grace. Yum. Yum yum yum.

5. What is your livestock situation? Have your own? Borrow? Herd the cats? (You can subsitute other equipment for livestock if you don't work stock with your dogs).

At one time I kept some sheep out at Julie P's. After my divorce I had to sell them, so since then I've been mostly bumming sheep time off of friends. But I'm a good worker, and try to earn my keep as much as I can. I'll say, though, with friends further away, gas expensive, and no sheep of my own I find myself in regular sheep withdrawal. Farm withdrawal. Friend withdrawal (though I do have other non-farm owning friends). On the other hand, it makes me even more motivated to get my own farm. Not that I wasn't already motivated.

To my friends who share so generously with me, thank you. I always hope they know it, but it doesn't hurt to be told every now and then that you're appreciated. They are.

Don't tell them this, but I'd go out there and help with sheep and chores even if I couldn't ever work my dogs again... even if I didn't have a dog at all. I enjoy the sheep that much. They're even better than horses cuz you can eat them. If you ride them (which I wouldn't recommend) then you don't even have as far to fall.

Kidding. Kidding about riding. Not kidding about how much I appreciate my friends, and not kidding about eating them. Sheep, not friends.

So, link up, and tell me!

Here's your code:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tell Me Thursday #3

Crooks and Crazies

Time for Tell Me Thursday again! I'm not even sure how Thursday rolled around so fast. But here it is, and here are your questions for Thursday (code for the button is at the bottom this time):

(1) How did you get into border collies (or whatever your dogs of choice are)? What started it all?
(2) How many dogs do you have? All dog math variations accepted.
(3) What do you do for a day job?
(4) What questions would you like to answer (or ask)?
(5) What was for dinner last night?

(1) How did you get into border collies (or whatever your dogs of choice are)? What started it all?

On my honeymoon my ex-husband and I were wandering around downtown in Mt. Airy, NC. We came upon a candle shop that had a sign on the door that said "Free Christmas Puppies". We went in, and ahhhhhd over this tiny little ragamuffin puppy that they said was a blue tick hound mix. When questioned they also admitted that they had an intact male border collie.

We got this little lice infested pup home and wound up realizing quickly that most likely it was the border collie who'd gotten in with the female, and turned to the BC Boards for help. To make a long story short I made friends on the Boards, and then one day was invited out to help Becca with some lambing chores. I was sunk from that moment on. I fell in love that day when her old dog, Ben, went out and brought in the sheep. It was a magical moment for me.

Bree is no longer with me (she went with the ex-hubs when he went) but here's a grown up photo of her taken by Julie Poudrier at our one and only agility trial:

Like our little blue tick hound? Hah. Thank you Bree for sending me down the magical path.

Coincidently, on the same day I first saw Becca's dogs I also met June. She was already promised to someone else, but fate would have it that she eventually came back to me.
I started taking lessons with June, and began to learn more about sheep and stockdogs.

She had a lot of baggage on board, and it wasn't long before I figured out that I was going to need another dog. Thus entered Nick as a puppy, who took us all the way to Open.

(2) How many dogs do you have? All dog math variations accepted.

I have six dogs that actually only equal four. Nick, Linc, and Pia all get one dog slot. June gets a half of a dog slot because she's retired. Ginger and Zippy each get only 1/4 of a dog slot because they're old. And small. See? Four.

(3) What do you do for a day job?

I babysit.


Ok, I'm an Executive Assistant who desperately wants to move on to doing HR. Anything in HR. I don't really even care what.

(4) What questions would you like to answer (or ask)?

Yep. I want to know what you want to know.

(5) What was for dinner last night?

I'm uninspired this week. I had broiled cajun spiced tilapia, whole wheat rotini pasta tossed in olive oil and spices, and stir fried broccoli and mushrooms. Oh, and two dove miniatures. Dark. But I'm nosey and bored, and want to know what YOU had for dinner. So there.

Here's your code for the button:

So, link up! I'd love for you to Tell Me Thursday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Random Things That Crack Me Up Today

For today's installment of Random Things that Crack Me Up I present you with... a Noodle Shedding moment:

This was his look when the sheep parted and we were there with a camera. Julie and I get a giggle out of this picture, a lot. Seems like she was on the ground waiting. For some reason I find this hysterical.

The fact that my puppy runs around with my flip flop in her mouth. It's probably really bad that I laugh like a hyena when she does it. I'm guessing that I'm going to spend the rest of her life removing my flip flop from her mouth because I've laughed at her for it. Yes, I'm hard core. No, not really, and I won't apologize for it.

Eyeherdewe. Her zany and sometimes off beat posts make me laugh out loud.

The movie "Life As We Know It". I watched this last night, and laughed pretty hard. Good stuff. It was somewhat predictable, but then when you have a romantic comedy fetish and watch so many of them they almost all become predictable.

That I have multitudes of cell phone pics of Pia that look like this:

and this:

I can't seem to stop taking them; for some reason she can't just jump down, she has to LAUNCH herself off of things.

Books by Laurell Hamilton. I am on #2 of her Anita Blake books, and she totally cracks me up. Thanks to Liz for turning me on to her.

That I had another of my bored late night weekend moments and signed up for e-harmony. Here's the kicker... they keep matching me up with dudes who want to be missionaries and move to Uganda. Or they're pastors. Don't get me wrong, I'm down with some Jesus love. But really? Uganda?

This one dude in his "can't stand" list had "overweight" and "foul mouth". I'm guessing I won't be moving to Uganda with him. Works in progress, baby.

That even as I've signed up for e-harmony I realize that I *still* (just like with, and am not all that terribly inclined to date or have a romantic relationship right now. So why do I do this? I don't know, but it's definitely the definition of something, though I can't remember the word. Insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Yeah, that's me.

I think I'll ban myself from my computer after 9pm. Clearly I can't be trusted.

That I had a hankering for prunes again last night. I loves me some prunes. I need to stop loving them. Forever. Fortunately for me I kept my love down to only two.

The last random thing that cracks me up today... is this picture I ran across of a train wreck with June and Nick:

Have a cracked up kind of day!