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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where does it end?

As a Working Border Collie owner, I am grateful that we have a registry that is interested, first and foremost, in preserving the working ability in the breed, instead of going the way the rest of the working breeds have gone and only having the AKC to rely on. But really ... I think we need to do more. And I am willing to put my sweat and blood where my mouth is.

I was recently browsing several websites, one of which is in a small town in Oklahoma. On the puppy page to the right of the oh-so-tacky "PAY PAL" button is a bunch of "information" and a self-proclamation about how the pups are able to do it all -- i.e. "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" type -- despite that NONE of the sires and dams are proven in anything, wouldn't know what to do with agility equipment other than to piss on it, the only "box turn" they do is in the whelping box, and "goose control" is something one of the many dogs that have been returned to this kennel once told its buddies about. Yes, the website is very pretty, with all the colors, and the pretty dogs that get to get out of their kennel to get their bi-annual bath and photo shoot when they have a litter coming up. The stud dogs are put on three sheep and if they chase them enough, they are proclaimed as the greatest herding dog ever, and bred over and over again. What color are the pups? Silly you for asking. All different colors, of course! There's a message board connected to this kennel, where all the Kool-Aid drinkers sit around saying "Oh look at all those cute puppies ... so many to choose from!" Umm ... HELLO? But you'll quickly notice that the only repeat customers are collectors themselves, and this particular kennel needs to prey on those who know no better -- because those that do wouldn't go anywhere near this place. They are very few competing in the stockdog world, and those that are often drop the kennel prefix and call the dog a rescue, already knowing how the stockdog world views this operation.

So other than the above, what is the problem? Well, currently there are SIX litters -- for a total of FORTY puppies on the ground.

Is the ABCA registering all of these puppies? I'd imagine so.

Why? I don't have a clue.

Yes, I'm sure it's great revenue for them, but really ... where do we draw the line? How is this type of breeding beneficial to the breed? If these dogs have any real working ability, it's by sheer luck of the numbers. I'm sorry, but even if there are big hats that are breeding THESE kinds of numbers, I am not sure even THAT would be good for the breed as a whole.

So what do we do about it? I have all kinds of ideas, but none that the ABCA would even want to consider because it would mean loss of revenue. Can we put a limit to the number of puppies put out annually? Oh I am sure that would cause nothing short of an uproar because there are those out there that feel that there are "big hats" out there that should be allowed to breed as many puppies as they want because they walk on water. I'm sorry. I don't feel that way. I have a hard time seeing how one dog could be nice enough to justify breeding more than a couple/three times in its lifetime -- not every year, or every heat if the bitch only comes into season every nine months.

I am still game for banning dual registration altogether so the fence-sitters would have to choose which side of the fence to jump off from. The ABCA says they don't have the manpower to man that type of thing. I would be interested in helping out and I'm sure there's a small army of people who would also. But again, it would be loss of revenue for the ABCA. And yes, there would be details that would need to be worked out about how to enforce it, blah blah blah, and it's stuff I won't even get into here because the ABCA is nowhere close to even considering fully banning dual registration. Same for tiered registration -- another excellent concept, if you ask me.

And would kicking the volume breeders out of the ABCA stop the high volume breeding? No. We know that from the kennel in Tennessee and the one in ... what state is she in today? No idea. Her website with all the "music" and colors and animations fails to mention where she is. Anyway, she and her pal in Tennessee just went ahead and created their own registry with a name very close to that of the ABCA and I am seeing more and more BYBs who have dogs registered through them -- so apparently they are also serving up lots of Kool-Aid. But at least by getting rid of the high-volume breeders, the registry wouldn't be supporting it.

Anyway, this is a topic that always gets me. I cannot stand to watch a dog be bred over and over and over -- until she's had so many litters that she is just re-absorbing her puppies. And people just sit around saying, "Awww. Oh well. So who are you breeding her to next?" WHAT? Those poor dogs. I don't know about you, and I don't normally compare dogs to people, but could you imagine having child after child from the time you're child-bearing to the time you hit menopause and can't have children anymore? Imagine what your body would be like after that. But there are "breeders" out there that don't care. And why should they. Hell, with 40 puppies on the ground -- selling for $1,000 or more a piece (yes, you read that correctly) -- that's $40,000 sitting in that house. And people not only sit on the message board supporting this, they hand over cash and buy those puppies, thereby exacerbating the problem. Proud of yourselves? If no one bought those puppies, would the high-volume breeders be pumping them out as fast? Oh I highly doubt it. Congratulations! Here you go ... have some more Kool-Aid.

Happy tails,


Monday, December 29, 2008

Might as well ...

As long as I've been flooding my blog with non-dog stuff, I may as well just keep on going. With all the snow, I haven't worked the dogs, and of course, I'm a bit distracted with my son's recent health issue. So ... I've been taking care of stuff around the house and doing ... well, not much of anything.

Most of you know, I'm drooling over a new camera. That's been put off for a while due to funds, but that's ok. I still go to Best Buy and play with it just because. I went today, and after I was done, I always ... and I mean always ... go out of my way to walk past the greatest invention ever. This particular thing can turn a guy into a complete idiot faster than a naked woman begging for sex magically appearing in front of them. "Guitar Hero." (There's also "Rock Band.") Ever seen this latest phenomenon? It was meant for teenagers but guys young and old love to think they are rock stars! See?

Attractive, isn't it? It is such a great source of entertainment!

Anyway, I dragged myself out of there and went home and sat around doing nothing for a while, when I came up with the brilliant idea of going to Redneck Rodeo ... I meant, er ... um ... what's the name of that store? Oh. Walmart! I am convinced that the people that work at Walmart definitely just got off the "short bus." Oh and the people shopping there ... what a riot. I was looking at a mom, dad, and kid (not sure if mom and dad were brother and sister, but ...) and between the three of them, I think they would have had one full mouth of teeth.

Once I stopped gawking at my surrounding and got my laughter down to a dull roar, I went about the store to find some hair dye (cause dog knows I can't afford to go have it done at the moment), some hair spray, and some flour/sugar cannisters. The dye I picked up is a rich dark brown color. I dyed it when I got home tonight and I love it! I don't know why I've always dyed it a lighter color. It's naturally pin straight and a medium brown color (without the gray). So having it dark and straight, it looks silky. I think it would be even better black. So that'll be next month. Now if my damn bangs would just grow out before I lose patience and cut them again...

I was going to sign off right here, when I almost forgot to tell you the best part! I was walking to the checkout lines, and what did I pass???? The Rock Band section with the two 40-something guys ... one "playing" guitar and one "playing" drums ... looking like a couple of teenagers, and thinking they are somebody. The conversation I had with the chick at the counter was priceless. It went sorta like this ...

Me: "Did you see that over there?"

Her: Smile. Nod. Eye roll. "A shame, isn't it?"

Me: Shrug. Eye roll. "I know ..."

I laughed all the way home!

Happy tails,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quick Meatball Minestrone

1 12-16 oz. package frozen cooked Italian-sytle meatballs
3 14 oz. cans reduced sodium beef broth
1 15-16 oz. can Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 10 oz. package frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup dried small pasta (such as macaroni, small shell, mini penne, or rotini)
1 teaspoon sugar
Packaged finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, stir together meatballs, broth, beans, undrained tomatoes, and vegetables. Bring to boiling. Stir in pasta. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, or until pasta is tender and meatballs are heated through. Stir in sugar. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(I used fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, carrots, canned corn and frozen peas.)

This is nothing gourmet, but it sure is yummy (I'm eating it while I type this), and it will work well put in small containers, frozen, and taken for lunch to work.


Happy tails,

Fruity Waffle Bowls

Here's a really yummy low fat snack that I initially made for my son because of his upcoming surgery, but they turned out to be really quick, easy and very inexpensive to make! It would be something simple to do as a dessert at a trial that would entice even the careful dieters.

Fruity Waffle Bowls:

1 4-serving-size package of instant lemon or white chocolate pudding mix (I used white chocolate)
1 1/3 cups fat-free milk
1 cup fresh fruit (such as blueberries, sliced kiwifruits, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, or raspberries) (I used a frozen package of mixed fruits considering it's the end of December.)
4 waffle ice cream bowls or large waffle ice cream cones
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Prepare pudding according to package directions, except use the 1 1/3 cups milk. Spoon fruit into waffle bowls or cones. Top with pudding. If desired, garnish with fresh mint. (I garnished with more fruit.)



Happy tails,


Two aliens landed in the Arizona desert near a gas station that was closed for the night.

They approached one of the gas pumps and the younger alien addressed it saying, 'Greetings, Earthling. We come in peace. Take us to your leader.'

The gas pump, of course, didn't respond.

The younger alien became angry at the lack of response.

The older alien said, 'I'd calm down if I were you.'

The younger alien ignored the warning and repeated his greeting. Again, there was no response.

Annoyed by what he perceived to be the pump's haughty attitude, he drew his ray gun and said impatiently, 'Greetings, Earthling. We come in peace. Do not ignore us this way! Take us to your leader or I will fire!'

The older alien again warned his comrade saying, 'You probably don't want to do that! I really don't think you should make him mad.'

'Rubbish,' replied the cocky, young alien. He aimed his weapon at the pump and opened fire. There was a huge explosion. A massive fireball roared towards them and blew the younger alien off his feet and deposited him a burnt, smoking mess about 200 yards away in a cactus patch.

Half an hour passed. When he finally regained consciousness, he refocused his three eyes, straightened his bent antenna, and looked dazedly at the older, wiser alien who was standing over him shaking his big, green head.

'What a ferocious creature!' exclaimed the young, fried alien. 'He damn near killed me! How did you know he was so dangerous?'

The older alien leaned over, placed a friendly feeler on his crispy friend and replied, 'If there's one thing I've learned during my intergalactic travels, you don't want to mess with a guy who can loop his penis over his shoulder twice and then stick it in his ear.'

Friday, December 26, 2008

Barley Vegetable Soup

Here is a soup I am making today. I modified it a little bit (notes below).

Barley Vegetable Soup

1 15 oz. can red beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 oz. package frozen whole kernel corn
½ cup medium pearl barley
1 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion (2 medium)
½ cup coarsely chopped carrot (1 medium) (I used 3.)
½ cup coarsely chopped celery (1 stalk) (I used 3.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed (I don't have any of this, so I used oregano, thyme and basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth

In slow cooker, stir together beans, corn, barley, undrained tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Pour broth over all.

Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Makes 6 servings.

(Photo taken prior to cooking, obviously.)

I'll throw a loaf of bread in the breadmaker and have this for lunch tomorrow. I'll let you know how it is, but I can tell you, my house smells wonderful!

Happy tails,


Well, I guess I am going to reveal Katy's secret to her salsa. Katy, feel free to kick me in the shins if you wish. :-)

Katy makes awesome salsa. I talked to her about it, and she told me she gets chili peppers from New Mexico, roasts them, divides them, and freezes them. She then gave me the rest of the recipe while I stood there and watched her make it. I was hooked. And found myself begging for some chili peppers. She delivered. And ever since then, I have been putting the ingredients in the blender, and it always purees it by the time I get the big chunks chopped up. Today, I finally gave in and bought a food processer. I don't know why I didn't do this months ago!

Here's what I put in it:

Tomatoes - Romas were on sale, and I used about 6
Onion - 1 medium
Roasted chili peppers - 1 baggie
salt to taste
garlic to taste


Happy tails,

'Tis the Season?

I love winter. The only thing that I wish I could change was the length of days in winter. It takes forever to get light out in the morning, and the sun goes down before you know it. I find myself hanging out in the house quite a bit, and when you've "only" got three dogs, it can get kinda boring.

Dogs .... speaking of which ... Jag ... he's 11 years old now. I can't believe it was ten years ago that I hid him in Justin's room and surprised Justin with him when he got home from his dad's house. I remember it like it was yesterday. Jag is slowing down a bit now, and the thought of losing him makes me sick.

I saw on my calendar the other day the notation marking six months from Skar's last season. So it shouldn't be long now, and she'll be bred. I'm so excited! I'm really interested to see what kind of pups she throws. Skar is a lovely lovely girl with many very nice traits. To this day, I still question my decision to sell her.

Off to do some shopping ... am working on a new recipe. :-)

Happy tails,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sausage & Egg Alfredo Skillet

1 7-oz. package sausage links (the recipe actually says something about low fat, slow sodium blah blah blah...)
1/2 cup sliced green onion (2)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup purchased Alfredo sauce (again, something mumbled about "low fat")
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup shredded American cheese (2 oz.)

Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray (or just lather it in butter like I did). Add sausage and green onion; cook and stir over medium heat until sausage is bronw. Pour eggs over sausage mixture in skillet. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on the bottom and around edge. With a spatula, lift and fold the egg mixture so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes more or until egg mixture is cooked through but still moist. Remove from heat; cover and set aside.

In a small saucepan, stir together the Alfredo sauce and mustard. Heat over medium heat until bubbly. Stir in the cheese until melted. Cut egg mixture into wedges and serve with sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Serve with toast.

I forgot to take a picture of it ... but it was yummy! Next time I make it, I will add a photo here.

Happy tails,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Border Collies were, unfortunately, recognized by the AKC effective October 1, 1995. The Border Collie Society of America proposed a re-written standard in 2004. (I'm not sure why the standard would need to be "re-written" ... I mean after all ... don't the show people know everything there is to know about what a Border Collie "should" look like in order to work livestock properly? How did that all of a sudden "change"? Were they *cough* *cough* wrong?) The AKC board approved the new standard effective March 2, 2004. What I would like to know is ... what changed? I'd imagine that any changes would have to be slowly implemented, but it's been a few years. I know what the standard says, and I know what it used to say, but where are all these changes?

Here are your 2005 "top dogs" ... (This is one year after the "changes.")

Here are your 2008 "top dogs" ... (This is four years after the "changes.")

Fact of the matter is ... it makes no difference. There is no way to judge a working dog by the way it looks. What good is a dog who has a beautiful "flying trot" if it doesn't "see" livestock? Oh I know ... all the show people say, "Well what good is a working dog if it isn't built right?" Really people? Are you kidding me?

Form follows function.

The hill proves the dog.

When you work dogs to a very high standard, if the dog's body isn't built right, it will break down. As a stockdog handler, you will know it. If the dog's vision is affected, it will be obvious when the dog is going to gather stock at a distance. If its hearing is affected, the whistles will go unheard. Bad hips won't hold up. In the show ring, however, affected vision (yes, even CEA "affected" dogs get their championships), deafness (bilateral or unilateral), and hip dysplasia can and does go undetected. And working ability is completely unknown, at best.

Honestly, it makes me sad that the AKC ever "recognized" the Border Collie. The public sees the conformation version of these dogs and thinks that's what a Border Collie is. People find out that I own sheep and work my dogs, and they say, "Wow, you mean your dogs actually herd sheep?" Ummm ... yes. If they don't work livestock, are they really Border Collies? Aren't Border Collies, by definition, working dogs? I know what you're going to say. If you breed a nice litter of working Border Collies, and one of them in that litter doesn't work livestock, what do you call it then?

I call it neutered.

Happy tails,

Canon Rebel XSI

Well, I am working on getting myself a Canon Rebel XSI. I've priced them out a bit, and the best deals (other than Amazon) seem to be Best Buy and Costco. I'd like to get the one with the 55mm lens, and then pick up other lenses later. I would rather give the business to the local mom and pop shops, but unfortunately, they have a hard time competing price-wise to the retail giants. Anyone seen any good deals lately?

Happy tails,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gem State Herding Blog Launched!

Go check it out!

Click here ---> Gem State Herding Blog

Happy tails,

Snow Pix

Ann and Levi came over for a bit yesterday. Here's a few photos.

Echo's ready:

Rambo. He's starting to get bossy. His days are numbered.

Here's Pepe (the black one). He will succeed Rambo. Whitey will be donated to a trial for lunch some time next year.

And here's Levi:

Levi again:

Happy tails,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Apple Crisp

I have decided I am going to start categorizing my posts on this blog. I always find myself experimenting with cooking in the wintertime, and I'd love to have a place to look back at some of the recipes for some ideas.

One of the really nice IT guys at work brought me a whole bag of apples when he came to fix my work computer the other day. I thought that was really nice of him. I've never made anything with apples, so I decided to try an apple crisp. Here's the recipe I followed:

- 6 cups sliced Granny Smith apples (approx. 6 med.)
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
Place the sliced apples in the bottom of the baking dish and spread out evenly.
Combine all the remaining ingredients together in another bowl and mix until well blended. The mixture should have a crumbly texture.
Sprinkle the crumbly mixture evenly over the apples. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until apples are tender when poked and the topping is golden brown and crispy.
Remove from the oven and serve while warm. Serve with a scoop of ice cream for an extra delicious treat.

I haven't tried it yet (it's still cooling), but here's a photo of my result:


Happy tails,

To My Dedicated Followers ...

I see I now have 7 fans! Woo hoo! Why don't we all introduce ourselves? You can reply by just posting a comment.

1. Jaenne
2. EllieC
3. Ruby
4. Louanne
5. CAT
6. BCxFour
7. BorderCollie (You don't have any information in your profile, and it looks like my blog is the only one you're following! I'm honored! Do I know you? I think I just might, eh?)

Happy tails!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Goose Poop!

There was an article in the Idaho Statesman recently. It is linked HERE, but just in case that page disappears, I've pasted the ridiculousness in its entirety below:

Zimo: Tired of goose poop? Why not let our dogs chase the birds away

Squissssh. Slip. Squissssh. Slop. Goo. Goozz. Goose poop has to be gooiest, slimiest and grossest stuff around.

I didn't think a simple stroll along the Boise Greenbelt would be such a sloppy mess.

We decided to head off the path and walk through the grass with the dogs so we wouldn't disturb the busy weekend traffic of runners, bicyclists and walkers.

We hadn't gone a few feet when the squishing started. Goose glop sort of matches the grass and is camouflaged. You're toe deep before you know it.

The green stuff molds itself right in the soles of your trail shoes.

You can jump up and down or slam your shoes against tree roots and rocks, and you're not going to get the Super Glue of poop off your shoes.

Canada geese are majestic birds when they are flying in formation across the wilds during a southern Idaho sunrise. But when they're grazing in Ann Morrison Park and other parks and on golf courses throughout town, they're varmints.

Our parks and golf courses are like goose cesspools. You've got to wonder about the health hazards, especially with kids playing in the parks.

The number of geese in Boise averages about 2,000 but has varied over the last 10 years from 1,500 to 8,600.

That's right, up to 8,600!

It drives hunters crazy. They drive 70 miles to hunt geese along the Snake River, and they see more honkers in the parks in town than on secluded islands in the river.

Idaho Fish and Game has trapped geese from Boise parks in the past and taken them 60 miles away to C.J. Strike Reservoir, but the birds are back in town in four days.

Biologists joked that maybe some of the wise ones beat the Fish and Game truck back to Boise.

Canada geese are a problem nationwide because they adapt to urban life. They are grazers, and where can you get better grass than in parks and golf courses?

But as with all wildlife, if you get overcrowding and no thinning of the herds or flocks, you get disease.

Here's a thought that has been suggested around town: Let's make Ann Morrison an off-leash park for dogs in the winter.

With dogs roaming free and harassing the geese, maybe they will leave.

There are Fish and Game laws about harassing wildlife, but in this case, it wouldn't be harassment as much as helping get rid of a public nuisance. Geese are trashing the places where kids kick soccer balls, disc golfers walk and people take a stroll.

However, I know in some cases the geese beat up dogs. They're tough.

Don't laugh about the off-leash idea. It keeps coming up. You may see a proposal in the future.

Making Ann Morrison Park off-leash is a better solution than some of the others I've heard from hunters, like having controlled bow hunts for geese in some Boise parks or on some golf courses.

Another hunter suggested special waterfowl youth hunts in the parks.

Those ideas may not fly as fast as the dog thing. Let the dogs scare the geese to other areas.

Boy, this guy is a regular rocket scientist, isn't he? I'm sorry the Idaho Statesman allowed such an irresponsible piece to be published.

There are many things wrong with this article, but first I want to start by posting the Federal Regulations on Migratory Birds.

But let's assume that somehow, some way, someone can get the Federal Regulation amended to include turning a park into an off-leash dog park and allowing dogs of any breed to harrass the geese, please show me the draft legislation you have that will need to be introduced in order to enforce the rules of people picking up Fido's shit after Fido is done chasing the geese. You think geese shit is offensive? You think all these oh-so-responsible people who are going to show up with their dogs to chase the geese without first researching what they are doing are going to pick up their dog shit amongst all that geese shit? Yeah. I'm sure they'll get right on that.

Beyond that, does the rocket scientist who is making this ludicrous suggestion know anything about goose control? Does he know anything about the mating and/or nesting behaviors of the Canada Goose? Would letting any breed/all breeds chase the birds at will solve the goose problem, or would it simply be harrassment? What would determine whether or not it's harrassment of wildlife? I'd imagine that if the method works, it would not be considered harrassment. Will letting Spike and Fluffy and Fido chase the geese work? Maybe for the moment. But does it help in the long run? Does Fido's owner have any idea what to do if Fido catches one of those birds and kills it? What if an amped up Fido decides to tromp over a small child he passes on his way to go chase the birds? Who does the child's parents sue? Fido's owner? What if Fido gets distracted, and instead keeps on running and runs into the street? Now Fido is maimed or dead, and someone has to live with the fact that they just killed a dog. Yes, this sounds like fun. You don't think Fido will run into the street? Isn't that Catherine Albertson Park right across the street? Since Fido is a "goose dog" and is good an amped up now, and he's chased away all the geese at Ann Morrison, doesn't it make sense that he'll go over to CA park and do the same? Oh, the owner has control of Fido? Right.

Enter Spike. Spike is a bully breed. Owned by a 17 year-old kid named Kevin that lives down the street. Kevin doesn't spend any time with Spike unless all of Kevin's friends are out of town and Kevin has nothing to do. Spike comes when called ... sometimes. Spike likes to chase squirrels in the yard. He's not nuts about kids, but since Kevin can call him back sometimes, it's not a problem. Kevin sees in the paper that Ann Morrison is now an off-leash dog park, and heads down there with Spike in tow. Oh, and Kevin didn't bring any poop bags either.

Getting the picture? I know some of this sounds dramatic and extreme to the non-dog owner or someone who just owns a little dog and doesn't hang out with a lot of dog people. Others know this is certainly a realistic scenario.

Border Collies make excellent goose dogs, however, even I wouldn't recommend just any Border Collie owner to head down to the park and try their hand at controlling the goose population. There are goose control companies out there that understand the mating and nesting habits of the birds which is key in controlling the problem. Perhaps the park should hire some professionals if they want to control the geese. Turning the park into an off-leash dog park will leave the park in desperate need of controlling a very different problem, and I don't think they want that.

Happy tails,

Playin' hookey ...

Tuesday, I played hookey and went out to Dianne's with Katy. It was windy and quite cold, and I forgot my jacket. I had a couple of layers of sweatshirts, but it wasn't quite cutting it. But I did my best to snuggle up as much as I could.

Katy said I looked like the Unabomber. I don't see the resemblance.


Didn't take many photos at all.

Here's one of Echo on top of the frozen waterfall.


And just a shot that made me realize that my lil' Echo Monster isn't a puppy anymore. She's growing into such a lovely youngalady.


Happy tails,


We all got together last night to discuss working livestock and what effect the economy is having on the ranching industry in the Treasure Valley.

The conversation was quickly abandoned for something much more fun.

Here's Colleen playing darts.


Here's Katy playing darts.


Jaenne looks drunk. She wasn't.


Ellie looks drunk. She was.


Colleen dancing.


The master at work.


A rare photo of the photographer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


"My ears? There's nothing wrong with my ears."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Yes, this is Jenn ... the dam to Mo, Scout, Rook, Skar, etc.)

Happy tails,

Blogger Tag

Well, I've been tagged by both Deltabluez and BCxFour for a "Sixth Picture Story."

Here is my entry:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is Foxy. He's owned by Kat in Oregon. He lives with his brother Deucey on a large cattle ranch. They are littermates, and both Jenn x Zip pups, a year apart. Foxy is from the 2007 litter -- a littermate to Katy's Scout, Jaenne's Mo and Phyllis' Misty. Foxy is larger than his brother Deucey. Unfortunately, that's about all I know about him.

I think all my blog followers have been picked to do this ... so I don't think I could pick six of them. So, Colleen and Jaenne ... I'm picking you, and I hope you haven't been doubled up on! Here's what you do.

Go to your photo archives and go to the 6th file open that file and post the 6th picture. Then tell the story that goes with this picture.

Happy tails,

Robin Williams on Scotland

As soon as I posted the Scotland video, I saw this one and just had to put it up here. I love Robin Williams, and I thought I'd seen just about everything he'd ever put out. But here's one I missed. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Happy tails,

Scotland - A photographer's dream

What a picturesque country. I will make it there someday ... but not until I have my camera and know exactly how to use it.

Happy tails,

Monday, December 15, 2008


Something I am realizing ...

You know how you have those few people that find reasons to trash you to anyone who will listen? I have a couple. I just noticed ... they both check my blog on (at the very least) a daily basis.


Having fun ladies?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No ... thank YOU!

Katy, Ellie and I headed out to the trial this morning. There was snow on the ground in Boise, but as soon as we passed through Nampa, the snow disappeared. We had a feeling though that we hadn't seen the last of it.

We were right.

The day started out with a light breeze, that turned into a little bit of snow, and then the wind kicked up. It was about 27 degrees for the most part. Everyone dressed warm, braved through it, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite it. The laminated (I keep typing "lambinated") running orders were again a big hit. Katy, thank you again for your help with this. I couldn't have done it without you. Brought some firewood for the burn barrel, and it seemed to last all day.

Met some nice people this weekend, re-acquainted with some I haven't seen in a while, and chatted with some who I was at the clinic with recently. I learned a ton and enjoyed it all.

I worked the pens at setout for open with Susan, while Don set with Blue. Great experience, and very interesting conversation. Went back down to my truck and thawed while watching pro-novice, chatting with Katy and Ann, eating horseradish cheese, and sipping an ice cold Corona.

Then nursery started. I was up second. I slingshot Echo again on the comebye side. Her outrun was nice, she again came up short, and I was able to talk (ok, yell!) her around. And here come the sheep. Full boar. We missed the center panel. Gee really? Echo pushed a bit, and one sheep split off. Bobbled that but was able to recover. The turn around the post was ok ... nothing to write home about. The drive to the first panel was not pretty but effective. The turn into the crossdrive happened! I am absolutely at a loss at this point. My nerves were shot. I didn't know my left from my right, but was able to get the sheep in the same county as the second drive panel, and while we missed the panel entirely, Echo took her away flank nicely and we were headed to the pen. Until ... !!!! That ewe broke off again. I screamed a bunch of commands that wouldn't have meant anything to anyone, and Echo had had enough of me, my shitty handling, and that bitchy ewe, so off she went to show that ewe who was boss. "Thank you!" says the judge. I couldn't have been happier! I know that sounds odd, but one of the things I love about this little dog is her hootzpah. I couldn't help but laugh. I'm sure that was a combination of feelings.

Despite the trainwreck ... so many things Dianne was trying to tell me are now making sense. This was an experience I needed in order to move forward in my training. Trialing is much different than practice ... you only get one shot at it and the pressure is on. I'm glad I have this one under my belt and two more coming up.

I also want to thank Susan for her patience with me in setout in teaching me a ton. I hope I have the opportunity to work with her again. And thanks to Patrick and Rueben for hosting a great trial! Results will be posted soon. In the meantime, here are some photos.

Here are the bleachers. (Note how dark the sky is, and on the left side,
you can see it snowing in the distance.)
The bleachers

When the wind wasn't blowing, here's where you found people.
The other set of bleachers
Ann looking elegant as always...
Here's Echo's sire -- Don Helsley's Blue. This dog is, by far, the hardest dog I have ever tried to photograph. Of the 50 or so photographs I have over the last few months, I do not have one in focus. Here are today's attempts.
Handsome boy

Helsley's Blue

And here's Don and Blue setting out...
Helsley and Blue setting sheep

Coleen and Katy in the pens.
Katy and Coleen in the pens

Here's Lavon's Gus. What a nice dog this is!
Lavon's Gus

Lavon getting ready to go set sheep for pro-novice.

Lavon ...

Gus again

Here's Susan and Vangie bringing the sheep back up to setout.
Need. More. Sheep.

The ladies ... with the Couchs' place in the backdrop.
Couch's place in the distance

Hay ... ewe!

Susan in the pens.
Susan in the pens

The next trial will be called the "Chase and Pace." The panels move randomly through the course.

Chase and Pace

Chase and Pace

Happy tails!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Priceless Information

Went to the trial today. A cold day, but not nearly as cold and miserable as predicted with some "storm" coming in. Yeah, the wind kicked up a bit, and yeah, it was cold ... but we managed.

Ok so ... open ran, then pro-novice. I helped in the pens and bit, observed for the most part, and took a few photos. Nothing exciting. I'll post those tomorrow or something.

Then nursery came up. I was instantly sick to my stomach. Here I am with my 18 month old dog, "competing" against the likes of Patrick Shannahan, Dianne Deal, Don Helsley, Lavon Calzacorta (I'm sure I butchered your name, sorry Lavon), etc. I walk up to Don and asked him, "Does it matter which side of the handler's post I puke on?" He assure me that no, the judge wouldn't take points off either way.

So here I am ... standing there. Got my dog behind me (yes, I'm slingshotting her). I go to open my mouth to send her, and I'm frozen. Something is wrong. Oh! That's right! In order for my lungs to work and my blood to get oxygen, I need to breathe! So I step back a bit and take a breath. I'm dizzy. My knees are going to buckle. The sheep are set. My heart is pounding. I can't see a thing. I meekly say, "Come bye," and off she goes. I am swaying back and forth, praying she will bring me those sheep. I was SO worried about the fetch panels. She has a lovely looking outrun to begin with. Then, as usual, on that come bye side, she comes up short, but this time, for good reason. There is a strong draw that way. She freezes. I'm frozen. She's not moving. I can't speak. I finally re-flank her to get her to give up the pressure. She pushes harder, a sheep tries to make a break for it, and her tail comes up and she starts to squirrel back and forth in front of the flock, and it broke my trance, I left the post, helped her get around them, walked past the fetch panels I was so worried about, thanked the judge and kissed my dog.

It's over! GIVE ME A BEER!

So there. Progess since the fair ... higher class, much longer distance, nice outrun (until the top part), and we didn't chase a sheep to holy heaven. The biggest thing is, I will NEVER feel that way at the post again. Woo hoo! My first run against the big guns is over! Now I can stop worrying about it. Tomorrow it will be old news and Echo and I will go out and kick their collective asses!

So there! Take THAT, Patrick! Don ... did you hear me!?!?! You guys are done for! And Dianne, you might as well just stay home! Lavon, tomorrow might be a good day to take that etiquette class you've been dying to take to master those begging skills. The trial field will just be too painful for ya, ok? Got it?

Happy pills,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sleddin' & Sheddin' Running Order

The running order for the trial this weekend can be found HERE

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wigglin' & Jigglin'

Remember Tess? I ran across this photo today and I still laugh every time I see it. I thought maybe those who hadn't seen it, or met her, would enjoy it, so here it is.


It was published in the Idaho Statesman at some point, and there were a couple of people that contacted me through the Statesman because they loved it so much. LOL

Tess is very happy in her new home and her owner writes to me periodically to tell me what a kick they are getting out of her. She sure is a character.

Happy tails,

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Excuses Abound ...

There have been several discussions floating around, and it's been a recent topic of conversation in some circles, about trainers. I have been thinking a lot about it and have decided to yack more about it here.

As most of you know, I started out in Southern California under a couple of trainers, man and wife, who trained all breeds, held many different types of trials -- from AKC all the way to an annual double-lift International shed ISDS trial. They had many students with all different dogs, many different levels, many different goals and many different results. They themselves trialed quite a bit, from AKC to AHBA to USBCHA. They had quite a bit of success with AKC and AHBA, and did ok in USBCHA. For me, they were Gods. I was a novice and I wanted to be as good as them someday. And even back then, I remember someone telling me (who is now a very successful open handler) that I would do ok under these trainers, but there would come a time when I would reach a plateau and need to move on. That day never came because I moved out of the area before that became an issue, but I think it was spot-on advice. More about that a little later.

Moving up to Idaho ... what an eyeopener. The talent of the handlers, and the quality of the dogs, blew my doors off. It's a whole different world. When I first got here, I had a lot going on, and I would occasionally call one of the big hats for a lesson, and I either got in or I didn't depending on what they were up to. In the meantime, I had a whole list of excuses as to why I wasn't trialing, why i wasn't training, why I was only working dogs in my pasture, etc. I would talk about how hard it is to get a lesson with the big hats, and how expensive the clinics were, etc. I made all kinds of excuses.

So what happened? Echo happened.

I went to a trial at the fair ... it was right about the time Helsley got Blue, and I know he had only worked him a couple of times, if at all, and I was hooked. I watched as a couple of the pups from Blue were growing up and was liking what I saw and decided I wanted a pup from that him. One day, a friend of mine who was taking a lesson with Don, called me up and told me that Blue has pups on the ground. I called Don and told him to pick a female for me and hang on to her, that I would be right over to get her. And I did. That was August of 2007. I had my surgery on my arm in December. In the down time, I had decided that I was not going to start Echo on my own. I was going to forget all I knew, dedicate myself to going to clinics and taking lessons and taking all of this seriously -- and most importantly -- stop making excuses. And that's when this all started falling into place.

It started with the February Shannahan clinic. Got some great advice, went home, worked on it, went back to the May Shannahan clinic. Got some more great homework, went home and worked on it, and then that turned into weekly lessons, and that's what it is today. Dedication. Persistence. The big hats have been around far too long to know a flake when they see one. And a few years ago ... I was a flake. A fly-by-night. And they saw me coming from a mile away. And I had all the material for great excuses -- my mother's dying (and she was), my husband's a drunk (and he was -- and probably still is, although now he's my "ex" husband), etc. I used to say, "I just want to work my dogs." Today, that's not true. I want to compete. I want to challenge myself. I want to challenge my dogs. I want to succeed. Occasionally I find myself coming up with every excuse in the book not to do something, but I think now it's more out of fear of the unknown, my own insecurities, but my trainer sees through that and pushes me to do it, and once I do it once, the fear is gone and I am that much closer. And I'm grateful that she has the hootzpah to be honest with me and tell me like it is. I'll get over it, and be a much better handler for it.

Yes, not everyone is in this to trial. They would just like to go work their dogs, and any trainer could probably help them with that. And what's wonderful.

But for those that really, truly want to trial in ISDS style trials, going to a trainer that is successful in that venue is your best route. If you wanted to learn how to BBQ, would you go to a baker to teach you? Sure, the good trainers are busy people (gee, I wonder why). And one thing that someone on a board recently mentioned was ... do you want to know if the trainer you're going to is a good one? Take a look at his/her trial record. Do they trial ISDS? Are they successful at it consistently? And what about that person's students? Where are they? Are they trialing also? Are they progressing at an acceptable rate? And I don't mean just one or two. I mean enough to prove consistency. Or are they consistently staying at the novice class and never moving up or losing interest and dropping out? Does the trainer even have any students who are trialing? The trainer can be the nicest people in the world, but if they don't have the knowledge and experience themselves, they certainly won't be able to offer that to someone else.

All very good things to look at.

Getting back to my earlier discussion about my old trainers. I was looking at the running order for a big open trial in Southern California, and saw some names of people I used to train along side. Some are trialing pro-novice, some are trialing open, and there are many names I didn't see. So I took a look at some results of a recent AKC trial down in that area, and lo and behold, there were more familiar names, but not the same names as the ones on the running order for the open trial. It would be interesting to make contact and see where everyone is training now, and who with.

Happy tails,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sword Swallowing

I actually slept in until 10:00 a.m. this morning (and it's only 10:00 p.m. now, and I'm yawning!) ... something I never do. Woo hoo!

Ran out to Dianne's for a couple of hours. Worked Zip for a bit. Either he's really rusty, or my expectations of him have changed. Personally, I think it's the latter. I think he's wondering where his old handler went ... poor guy. Now that I am learning how to properly teach inside flanks, I realize how tight Zip's are -- and it's not the dog. He's perfectly capable of doing it, but was just never taught correctly. Now there's a tough pill to swallow ... but I'm swallowing it. We can fix it. I saw a different Zip out there today once I got him to understand what I wanted. I really need to work him more out in the big, wide open spaces, and raise the bar and push him and see how far I can take him ... or him take me or whatever. He doesn't quit on me -- never had -- and he loves to work, so what the hell.

Susan was out there working on outruns with her dogs. She and Dianne traded some outruns and you could really see the progress in Star between the first outrun and the last one. It was fun watching that from a spectator point of view.

Next, Susan grabbed Vangie and I grabbed Echo and we traded some outruns. Vangie is quite a bit further along than Echo, but I think we did pretty well. There was not a lot of lag time between any of the outruns and everything was very calm. Echo showed me some very nice stuff. I am looking forward to seeing how we do in a trial situation.

Came home and Ann came over with Levi for a bit. Ann and Levi are doing really well together, and Ann is just in her glory. Here are a few photos.

Levi doing his thing ...

All she needs is a big crook and she would remind you of
Little Bo Peep!

Remember my ram lambs? Here's Pepe and his brother, Whitey.

And Zip making a cameo appearance.

My camera really sucks in low light conditions. I really need a DSLR. Am keeping my fingers crossed that I can get myself a Canon Rebel XSI here pretty soon.

Happy tails,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holding a line ...

What the hell does that mean? I don't know. I thought I knew, but I don't know. Had my lesson today. I left my patience at home. Sorry, Dianne. Thank you for putting up with my shit. My timing sucks. I am not reading my dog. I'm not reading the sheep. And I completely misread the draw, or forgot about it, or underestimated it or something. If nothing else, this is all good that I get humbled. I have no depth perception, so the trial will be interesting if nothing else. If she does an outrun and brings the sheep to my feet, I will be a happy camper. Everything else is gravy.

Hopefully, all these little bits and pieces will come together with a bit of an "aha" moment soon...

Happy tails,

Sheep Camp Wrap-Up

If you haven't already seen the post on the Stockdogging Blog, go take a look! There are tons of photos and information about the awesome clinic from last month!

Sheep Camp 2008

Happy tails,

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bucket List!

My Bucket List is really short. I would like to go back to my roots. I want to see Scotland.

I've always been a huge fan of bagpipes. In doing the stockdog demos down in Southern California, I was always at a Celtic Music Festival, or some Scottish Games or an Irish Music Festival, and loved it all. My mother's face would always light up when she heard pipes, and it seemed she could hear them a mile away. And old favorite of hers (and probably many people) was Scotland the Brave ...

Now, of course, I can't make it through any version of Amazing Grace without ending up in a pile of tears.

But in my search for different bands to put on my Ipod, I found this guy! What a riot!!!


Happy tails,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Trainers" ...

Finding a Trainer: This is usually one of the most difficult, although most important, areas of stockdogging. Finding the right trainer. A good trainer. A trainer that knows your breed. A trainer with experience doing what you are wanting to accomplish. Someone who can read your dog. Someone who can read you. And someone who is good at communicating to you what you need to know in order to accomplish that goal.

All too often, the person looking for a trainer is way too much of a novice to recognize a poor trainer when they see one. Or they figure that because someone trains, let's say, Corgis, that the person can also train a Border Collie. It's a common novice error and eventually, the person figures it out and moves on.

But I have seen some really scary things out there. There are trainers that take in Border Collies and "train" them even though they don't own one themselves and it's not even their breed of choice, or they will take on students with Border Collies and blow smoke up their ass about how the person has the next great trial dog when, in fact, not only is it too soon to tell, but the "trainer" wouldn't know a good Border Collie if it came up and bit the "trainer" in the ass.

Of all the scary things I have seen, this is by far one of the scariest ones, though. If you ever go to a trainer, and the trainer sends you home with this kind of practice, RUN ... do not walk ... RUN far far away.


(I have written to the owner of the video and asked her to remove it. So if this video disappears, it may be because it was taken down.)

This is what is referred to as "Dry Training," not something you ever want to do. There are many many things wrong with this, but just to mention a couple of real obvious ones:

There is no livestock present. When you are training flank commands, at the very least, when you say "come bye," you want your dog to be looking for livestock and trust you that it is there EVERY time you say it. Could you imagine being at a trial, saying "Come bye" and having your dog run out five feet and turn around waiting for you to throw a little treat for it?

The Clicker. Those of you that know me know that I am a fan of the clicker ... for teaching basic obedience. There are various problems with using a clicker for training stock work. First off, it shifts the "reward" from sheep to you. The dog will continually be looking for its reinforcement from either hearing the click or getting the treat, rather than for being right in relation to the stock, and feeling what right is. Beyond that, what happens when you are training outruns or driving at a distance? Do you need to buy a really big clicker whose sound will go for a long ways?

I could go on and on, but I am sure I don't need to.

Happy tails,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wormin' & Workin'

Yesterday, I met Dianne, Susan and Rueben to worm Patrick's sheep. We set up those great green panels he has -- the ones that just hook into eachother -- into two pens, a large one and a small one. We put all the sheep in the large one, then packed the small one full of volunteers. Then three of us got in there -- one to catch, one to worm, and one to spraypaint the butts as they are done. Worked out real well and we were able to get through all of them pretty quick. There were a couple of technical difficulties with the equipment, but we managed to get through it and get everyone taken care of.

Then we set up a couple of panels and worked dogs. I worked Echo a couple of times, and it was amazing to see how all of the things we've been doing just come together.

Early in training, Patrick told me he didn't want me laying her down. Well, I don't think I ever actually taught her one, and the few times I've been laying her down, I'm just nagging her into it. I hate that. So while she was fetching, and the fetch was all off line, I tried to lie her down so I could get a good square flank off her, and she wouldn't take it. So I ran my fat ass out there and got all over her for it. Her down was much better the rest of the time.

However, later, I lied her down, then asked her to walk up, and she was reluctant to do so, so she got in trouble again.

Yes, not fair. I need to pay more attention to that. I also need to trust her more. I would like to be able to have an "on the dime" down on the fetch, but I need to learn not to lie her down on the drive. And perhaps turn it into a stand. (I keep forgetting to work on that.) She knows what the hell she's doing. I am finding out how different this all is than what I was used to.

Thank you, Dianne, for having the patience with me. I'm trying. Really, I am. Keep on me. I'll get it.

Something that would be really helpful is if I actually sant down and read the rules. I don't think I've ever done that.

Anyway, I have tons of stuff planned for today, so hopefully I will get some of it done.

Happy tails,

Friday, November 28, 2008

A completely different mindset...

Comments welcome.

Happy tails,

Triptophan Hangover

Had to fill the truck up before I left for Janie's house. What a pleasant surprise! (My son hid his head in the truck while I did this ... I'm such an awful mother, aren't I?)

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Across the street:
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Got to Janie's around noon or something. I was so excited ... there was NO wind! (If you know Janie's house, you know this is a rare event!) There were gorgeous clouds, but the sun made it a habit to peek through consistently through the day and would warm your back. Just lovely. I think even the sheep were enjoying it.

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Echo and I worked on her driving ...

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And more driving ...

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Actually, what we were working on was her inside flanks, but the only time I could get photos while working her was when she was just driving ... :-)

Or fetching sheep to me on her outrun ...
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Or peeling sheep off me to start the drive ...
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The sun made snapping photos kinda fun. I love this one:
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And this one (despite the butts):
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Janie worked Roy quite a bit. Worked on his outrun and stuff.
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Is this what people mean by "sheepdog"?
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Colleen worked on Reena picking sheep up off a setout person. If that setout person was Janie, Reena wanted nothing to do with it. Switch out the set out person and she did great! So as long as Janie isn't setting sheep at whatever trial Reena is running, she should have a nice outrun! LOL
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And it looks like I was half asleep as I loaded the edited photos to Photoshop this morning. I am missing a couple of Echo, several of Reena and several of Zip. Will have to fix this when I get home.

But here's Zip helping set. He's gotten so patient in his later years. He's makes a real nice setout dog. I don't have to say much to him.
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Food was wondful! Janie and Kirk cooked all day, and their son Jim and his girlfriend Rin (short for "Katherine") made the yummy potatoes and awesome pies! I can't thank Janie and Kirk enough for welcoming me to their home and sharing their family with me.

Until later,

Happy tails!