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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Starting Echo

Well, it didn't take but a couple of working sessions to get Echo kicked out. The first time I brought her over to Janie's, she was very tight, and was splitting sheep all over the place. I got on her, she bent off me, and respected my pressure. I make it sound very simple ... it was. I made myself as clear as possible in what I expected from her, made right easy, and wrong hard, and she picked it up very quicly. Once she kicked herself out, I think she felt more comfortable out there. I was deliberately using existing panels for her to go around to artificially kick her out and it worked perfectly. She's very responsive, afraid of nothing, but oh so willing to please. I don't think I've ever owned a more sensible dog ... and to think she's only 8 months old. She's blowing my socks off.

While I was shopping for sheep tags with Janie, I found a riding crop similar to the one Ted was using when he was here. I thought, "What the heck?" and I bought one. It didn't take long to get the nice "whoosh, snap" sound out of it, and I quickly started using it with Echo. She'd come in tight, and I could snap that in the air, and out she goes, and we continue on. It's also a great tool for "making the ground dangerous." You don't get the same sound by hitting the ground with a stock wand. The "snap" sound is very effective.

I've worked her a couple of times now, and she is really starting to understand that she is to get around all of her stock and bring them to me. She's lying down on balance readily, and is beginning some very nice fetch work. She is seeming to me to be the type of dog that holds a line on their own. She's starting to rate herself already, too. I have a hard time remembering how young she is. Woo hoo!

Happy tails,

A Different Perspective

I realized I never wrote up a wrap-up on the Shannahan clinic. Amazing! Worth every dime! There were about 18 working spots, and I learned something from watching each and every dog. The two major things for me were 1) my own body pressure, where it is, and how to affects not only the dog, but the sheep as well; and 2) working looser eyed dogs. My comfort zone has always been the dogs with a lot of eye, lots of style, real slinky that give me time to think. Zip was like that when he was younger, and his daughter Skar is very much the same. We worked Skar a couple of times on Saturday, and for right now, the main idea was that we need to keep her on her feet so as to not give her eye time to lock in and make her sticky. Keep her moving. Keep changing the point of balance without putting any pressure on her. She's very trustworthy, and is kind to her stock, so there is no danger in doing this. It seems to free her up little by little.

We worked Echo the following day. That was one of the very first times I've worked her. (I had her in the round pen a time or two before that.) Echo doesn't have near as much eye, is very fast, tight and intense. Way out of my comfort zone. Although working with Patrick gave me the confidence to tackle this. He basically told me that once I have her kicked out, she'll be much easier to work. He showed me that, despite the fact that she's only eight months old, she can handle the pressure, and in fact, encouraged me to get a handle on her now before her body catches up to her.

There were other dogs there that were at different levels in their training ... from very novice all the way to shedding. Saw some very nice dogs, and added several new tricks to my bag. Loved it!

Happy tails!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Some Days ...

I moved up here to be able to have sheep, work my dogs, and enjoy my life. And, for the most part, that's exactly what is happening. I like having the sheep, and sharing them with my friends, and giving others the opportunity to learn about something that still, to this day, blows my doors off -- a dog's natural instinct to gather livestock.

However ... there are those days where I wonder if my efforts are worth it, or whether I should just pack it up and move to a duplex that would be far less expensive, and much less work.

When I give to someone, I give my everything. I'll teach you everything I think I know, I'll provide you with all the resources I have, and you're welcome at my house any time -- until -- you breach my trust. The minute you start acting like I owe you something, I have no desire to deal with you. The second you start yammering on a public forum about how my intentions are less than genuine, don't expect me to be nice. And the day you show up at my house, unannounced, and accuse me of being a liar because I denied involvement in your paranoid schizophrenic conspiracy theory, I'd say we're no longer friends.

It's days like this where I question why I am so generous to people. It's days like this that make me wonder if going out in 10 degree weather to warm up a lamb that was just dropped in the middle of the night is worth it. When all my "spare" cash goes towards the sheep, and I'm struggling just to keep the bills paid for the house, and charging a minimal fee, if any fee at all, for everyone to come work dogs only for someone to turn around and stab me in the back and accuse me of "taking the money and running," I wonder if this is all worth it.

Then I remember all the good things that have come from this -- all the very close friends I've made, all the support the good people have given me; being there for me through my surgery; coming over and feeding me and taking care of the dogs and the stock and whatever else needed taken care of; the people who come over and work dogs and are in as much awe as I am; the dogs -- none of this would have happened if it weren't for the dogs ... and I don't know what I would have done without them these last few years; and the sheep ... oh the cute little lambies; all the quiet, warm nights hanging out with a handful of people out in the pasture watching the sheep chew their cud and letting the silence do the talking; watching the lambie races; being out in the middle of the pasture working a dog, and not having a care in the world ... but the most important thing being my friends -- my true friends -- and you all know who you are. Thank you!

DK: I am not going anywhere. Like I have asked you many many times, please leave me alone.

MM: Please get help.

Happy herding!

Jodi ... "Darling"

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Skar's Eye ... or My Stupidity?

No need to answer that. I know, I know, I know. I saw it happen. Ugh.

Took Skar out to the round pen where the small set of Katahdin mixes were. The first thing she did was rip right past me and blast through the set. I gave her a "what for," took her by the collar, and dragged her back out of the round pen. Things settled, I let her back in, told her to lie down, and she took it. From there, it was ok... her eye was locking her up a bit, but nothing major.

I opened the gate to the round pen and we had a nice exit, she gathered them nicely, lied down, and then it started. I couldn't get her back on her feet. The sheep took off back to the square pen where the rest of the herd was. Now without seeing my place, it's hard to explain ... but the spot around the square pen is tricky. I got very frustrated with her, as she was locking up when all I was asking her to do was go down the race (it's about 15' wide), pick up the sheep and bring them to me. She would go in there, and hold them to the far corner. I would have to go help her, take her by the collar, show her how to get between the fence and the sheep, then lay her down. The sheep would cling to the side of the square pen, and go around the front of it and get caught in the "dip" between the square pen and the round pen. So I would try to have her walk up and get them out of the dip. She needed to go away to me, but insisted on going come bye, where the sheep would run back to the race. I kept blaming her, and kept getting more and more pissed off.

Then it hit me.

When I was asking her to pull them out of the "dip," I was blocking her and I needed to move back (and away from the race) about 10'. As soon as I did, she went in away to me and picked them up and brought them to me, and off into the field we went.

The sheep then drew to another corner. She would put them in there, and be content just holding them to the corner. I was frustrated that I had to go help her ... yet again ... and pull them out of the corner. Once we did that, I just started walking. I kept changing the point of balance for her in an effort to keep her on her feet. I didn't realize until now just exactly how uncomfortable she is on her away side. So while doing "walkabouts," I changed my position quite often where it would require an away to balance to me. And she was doing it without knowing it. The slicing and dicing started to mellow as she got more and more comfortable. I decided this was a good place to end. I then thought, what the heck, let's see if she can pen them. So we did! And she was pleased as punch with herself.

And I felt like such a heel.

Humbled again ...

Fun Day at Ohadi!

Well, the fun day was at Janie & Kirk's house yesterday. The weather was awful ... cold cold cold, the wind was blowing like crazy, there was ice and mud in the arenas, the sheep were being weird, and the dogs weirder.

So we went in the house and ate. Like kings! Kirk made a Bobby Flay dish called Kentucky Hot Browns. ttp:// Let me tell you ... that was incredible!!

I wussied out and didn't work Skar.

So last night and today, it's been snowing like crazy. We've got about 3 or 4" on the ground, and it's just gorgeous out in the pasture. I will work Skar today before Janie & Kirk pick me up to go watch the Superbowl (go GIANTS!) Will post more later...

Happy Herding!

Jodi ... "Darling"

Friday, February 1, 2008

Yeah, yeah ...

I was reading this blog, and I noticed that I didn't mention (and if you didn't already figure it out) that I changed Grace's name to Skar. There was no edge to Grace, and even growled, it wasn't sharp enough. She took to Skar right away, and it gets the point across when need be. :-)

I've worked her a time or two in between the snowings. She's getting more comfortable on her away side. She's proving to be loaded with eye, just like her dad, so I am trying to keep her on her feet as much as possible. She falls right into balance, and I love that about her. She gathers very nicely. It's squaring up the first few steps of those flanks that's going to be the bear. But we have the Shannahan clinic coming up next weekend ... woo hoo! I can't wait!

GSH is planning their next AHBA trial. It's set for May 3rd and 4th. We're going to have a really cool ranch course, HTAD (courses 1 & 3, I think...), JHD and HCT. Hopefully, the weather will be perfect! I will have to see if I can get Skar ready to run. :-)

The snow is getting old now. Getting to work is nothing short of a chore. The cloudy skies feel like a weight sitting on top of your head. I am ready for a nice chilly day with blue skies and no snow or mud. No wind, either, please. (Can we order weather? I guess we'll find out! LOL)

The fun day at Janie's is tomorrow. Her husband, Kirk, bought a new digital SLR ... so hopefully he will be kind enough to take more photos so I can post them here. :-)

Happy herding!
Jodi ... "Darling"