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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Full of Hot Air

Ok ... here's something I've been wanting to post. At the trial last weekend, I got there early both days, and on both days, there were hot air balloons in the air. I LOVE to watch them. On Sunday, one landed right on the racetrack that we were using for the trial. I was able to catch some video of it. Enjoy!

Happy tails!

All kinds of stuff

Ok ... tons has happened since the trial, but I haven't had time to sit and blog it all. There's a new dog here ... and I'll tell you about "Rob" in another post soon. Today, though, was very very cool. A little graphic, but no photos, so no worries.

Katy came over to support me today. A Bosnian gentleman, his wife and their lovely, young daughter contacted me last week to see if they could come out, pick out a lamb and slaughter it on my property. They live in an apartment and have no place to dress it out. Not having any idea what it entailed, I said, "Sure, that would be fine." I immediately was asking my rancher friends what, if anything, I needed to know. A couple of tips and I was good to go. So we set the date for today.

So the family comes out. What nice people! Zip and I held the lambs while they picked one out. I caught it and handed it over to him, and then moved all the rest of my lambs out of the round pen and set them out to pasture. He needed some twine to tie the legs together, so I gave him some and quickly skedaddled out of there. Not being able to stand not watching, and being the big weenie that I am, I watched the slaughter from the window. It was very unremarkable. He cut what I am guessing would be the jugular, and then quickly cut the twine and freed the legs. He'd obviously done this before. I helped him carry the lamb to the spot under the tree, and watched him peel back the skin off the hocks, and hang the lamb up by the "ankles." He allowed me to hang out and watch him and ask all kinds of questions. He explained himself as well as he could in his broken English, and his daughter would occasionally translate. He skinned it all out, took all the intestines out, showed me what's good and what isn't with the intestines, emptied the stomach, etc. Apparently they also use the head, so he cut the head off and then sawed the entire lamb right down the middle. Bagged it all up and put it in his truck.

When I gave him the lamb for free for allowing me to watch and learn, you could see that his wife was very touched by the gesture. The man offered to come back tomorrow morning and slaughter and butcher a lamb for a friend of mine who showed up right as he was finishing. I think it will take a few times of me watching to build up the hootzpah to try it myself. Tomorrow, though, now that I am more comfortable with him, I will stick right by him as he does the slaughter and have him show me how. Simply fascinating.

Happy tails,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 2

Zip: Crash and burn.

Echo: Crash and burn.

Common Denominator: Handler.

I've never worked so hard at something to suck so bad.

I give up. I'm going to get into something much more exciting, like whittling cane tops out of driftwood shaped like elephants.

Happy tails,

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 1

Zip - Crash and burn.

Echo - Crash and burn.

Common Denominator: Handler.

Hmmmm ...

More tomorrow.

Happy tails!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Echo ... Monster

Had a couple of instinct tests last night (Jill with her blue merle Cardi ... awesome!) and Katy and Valerie came over to practice, and Ann came by to entertain us all!

After the tests, Ann and I worked Rio. She still quite young, and her attention span isn't all on yet, but it gets better each time. She is really understanding that "lie down" doesn't mean she will quit working, and she's starting to down pretty readily on command, and starting to figure out when she should down on her own to take the pressure off the stock. Her balance point was better last night than it's ever been. She is not feeling her stock much yet, but that will come in time.

Next up, I worked Echo. I figured I should try penning with her since we haven't done that yet, and the trial is this weekend!

I send her on an away outrun, and I notice that she ran very wide ... too wide really ... so that's something I'll need to pay more attention to. I'm not sure what I'll do about it, because I haven't been doing anything to kick her out. Anyway, she gathered them up very nicely, bought them to me, I opened the pen, and we had a bit of squirreliness for a minute, and then they went in and she went around back and pushed them right back out again. (I'm glad I tried this at home first.)

I set it up again. I sent her on a come bye outrun. Again, way wider than it needed to be. I'll bet a dollar that at the trial she runs straight up the middle like she did at the Canyon County Fair. (If she does, I am just calling the run. Period.)

She brought me the sheep, I walked to the pen, opened it up, swung her around, sheep went right in, I laid her down and closed the gate. Woo hoo! Yes, dog broke sheep comfortable in the pen. Great for teaching the dogs what we want, and a great ego boost for the handler.

I'm sure it won't be this easy this weekend ... but at least I can say she's penned before! (Or maybe it would be better - after it all goes to hell - to say "no no ... we've never tried penning ... this was her first time!")

In any event, I am looking forward to hanging out and relaxing and enjoying the weekend with my friends, eating fair food, and talkin' sparkly beads! ;-)

Happy tails,


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Driving, driving, driving ...

And more driving.

Well, the trial is coming up this weekend, and I'm way out of my league. Let's see ... since the last update, I've worked the dogs a couple of times ... once on ducks. Zip does pretty well on ducks when he decides not to be too pushy. Echo didn't know what to make of them at first, but quickly figured it out. She is such a fun dog to work with.

I took Zip out into the pasture tonight to work on just driving. And driving. And more driving. The last time I worked him, he seemed to have lost confidence driving. I came to the realization tonight that it doesn't have anything to do with his confidence, but has everything to do with my lousy handling. I notice that when he's driving, he's anticipating me telling him to do something other than "walk up." For instance, he walks up and then stops and cocks his ears back ... waiting for me to flank him or call him off or lie him down or some such thing. If I flank him, he goes readily, then I can "there" him and walk him right up again ... only to have him stop and wait again.

So tonight, I changed it all up on him. I kept had him walking up ... walk up ... flanked him, walked him up, crossdrive, walk up, flank, flank the other way, walk up, walk up, walk up, walk up, fetch them to me, oh wait flank back around and drive them away, keep driving, walk up, go go go, get up, take time, etc. Seemed to loosen him up a bit. So I think this is what i will do with him on Friday night in hopes of it helping.

My whistles suck. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of yelling.

Echo, I hope I don't put you through all the shit I've put my poor Zipster through. Zippy, thank you, buddy, for putting up with me and teaching me all you have taught me over the years. You're awesome, dude!

Happy tails,
"Dude" (with lots of shiny beads)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Took Echo and Zip out to Janie's on Sunday to practice with them for the trial. First up was Echo. Kirk took some photos for me. Thank you, Kirk! Echo worked lovely. Her outrun on the away side is nice and wide and she's quite confident doing it. The come bye side needs some work. But she is staying off her sheep nicely and pacing herself. I love working this little dog.

Echo fetching dust

Echo driving

Echo one foot on the floor

All butts

Echo flank

Echo flank again

Echo walk up

Zip's outruns were looking very nice, as usual. He's not very fast, but he's correct, so I don't mind. His fetch is too fast for my taste but that's because I never knew how work him so that he learned pace. I think we've developed too many bad habits at this point to fix them. And it's ok. He's not eating anything.

He seemed to have lost confidence driving, so that's where my focus was. Janie and I chatted while we walked with Zip as he drove the sheep around her pasture for a while. He did a very nice job.

Thank you, Janie & Kirk, for having us out! It's nice to practice elsewhere.

Happy tails,

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sheep and Dogs and Stuff

(Boy, now there's a creative title!)

Sunday morning, a couple of people came out to practice, and then in the afternoon, a woman came by and bought a lamb from me. Zip did a nice job of handling the whole flock while we picked out lambs. Later, I worked Rio in the round pen and Skar out in the field for a bit. Once again, poor Echo. I need to work her tonight.

I finally finished my first wire-wrapped lanyard. It took a few hours, once I finally sat down and worked on it. It's fun and easy to do. I think my next one will be black and white beads. I am also going to make one with a Halloween theme, and maybe one for winter. We'll see.


I am sending off my entry today for the Western Idaho Fair. Echo is not ready, but isn't that the joy of it all? LOL! I also need to get Zip out in bigger pastures and open his outrun up and work on distance driving. Yeah yeah ...

Happy tails,

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lamb Ho!

Well, I got up this morning, did my thing, cleaned up a bit, posted a message on the GSH board to let people know I'd be working dogs, and if they wanted to come join me, to give me a call, and then set out to go sort sheep into the different paddocks for people to work.

I take Echo to help me with the sorting (first time ever ... a very bold move ...), and quickly realized, even before we got to the sheep, that I wouldn't be able to use her. I had a lamb running back and forth outside my fenceline in one of the irrigation alleyways, complaining as usual. The tricky thing is ... there's no gate to just open and let the lamb back in. I am not sure how it even got where it did. So I trade Echo for Zip and walk down there and investigate. I will have to cut the fence. My neighbor comes out ... who DOES have a gate that opens to that alleyway, so with good timing, I started the lamb right into the neighbor's backyard. So I told the neighbor I would hop in the truck and drive around to his house and come get my lamb.

I get to the neighbor's house with Zip and he lets me in the yard. The yard ... well ... there's quite a few obstacles back there. First off, he likes to go up to the mountains and chop wood. So there's a giant wood pile and big miscellaneous pieces of wood scattered all over, amongst many other things. So around and around we go ... Zip worked beautifully shoving the freaked out lamb through the wood pile and back around holding it in the corner for me, etc. The problem was ... the lamb wouldn't let me within 5 feet of it. Rrrrggghh...

So I cut the fence. I was none too pleased.

Loaded Zip back up and went back home. Went down and grabbed breakfast.

I had an instinct test scheduled for 10:00 a.m. for a fellow geocacher ... and she showed up promptly (I love that!) and her dog was lovely! Was a bit grippy, but took my pressure well, and really settled in nicely. I think she may start taking lessons with us.

Sue and Lindy came by. Lindy brought and worked Rave, and Sue helped me pull the rebar posts out of the pasture (they used to hold up my panels). The ex buried them so far in the ground that we had to use a t-post puller to get them out. But we got it. Woo hoo! I've been wanting to get those out of the ground for a while. They are hard to see when you're walking backwards, and several times, I've almost made a lollipop out of myself on them. Yikes!

Sue also brought her Aussie pup (whose name is escaping me at the moment.) We all thought he was going to be a large pup, but he has matured beautifully and looks to be very majestic. He's got very nice bone and good leg length. I can't wait to watch him work!

I worked Rio. She does very well while I am in there with her. She's going around both directions very comfortably, and is lying down on balance. I am trying not to put too much pressure on her yet, as I am not sure she'd be able to handle it. Later on, she snuck away from me and got into the round pen on her own. Sheep looked like popcorn and dust was a'flyin'! Needless to say, she got in big trouble. ;-)

Skar worked very nicely. She is moving pretty fluidly now and I think I will start working on her outrun ... or trying. We'll see how that goes.

Colleen had a brief stay at home amidst her crazy work schedule, so after working all the dogs today, and taking a snooze, I took my son out for lunch, and then met Colleen to take the dogs on a good dog run. We went to Lucky Peak on the back side of the river. We took Reena, Roy, Echo and Zip. Echo found the water pretty quickly and of course had to go play in it. At the far end of the walk, Colleen and I found a good spot and took a dip ourselves. Man was that water cold!! But it was quite refreshing. Took a few pics of the dogs.



Reena (showing me what she thinks of my photo-taking abilities):


Have I told you how much I love this dog?
I just love you, little boy...

As usual, a good time was had by all!

Happy tails!

(Wrote an email to the person referred to in my last blog asking a bunch of why's. I haven't gotten a response. Imagine that.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

A few rotten apples ...

Spoil it for the whole bunch ...

Wednesday night we went out to the trainers and worked dogs. I took Echo with me. When we worked in the field in the big wide open space, with an incredible draw, she was beautiful! She worked the draw very well, paced herself wonderfully, etc. We don't have a prayer with her outrun for the trial yet, but we're working on it.

Second go round, I worked her in the arena with the other trainer. She was just being weird in there. The trainer thought it was a battle of wills, and he may be right. I don't normally have to fight her that hard, so I tend to think it was something else going on, but I'm going to keep a close eye on it now that I know what to look for.

Met Terri who has a littermate to Betty's Stella out of Rodney's breeding. Awesome dog, and Terri was over the moon with him. Those two will make a great team! Also met Joy S-H from Roux Crew and saw her work a couple of her dogs.

Afterwards, we tailgated, had a couple of beers, hung out. Steve and his wife and their Belgian were there, and Jaenne, Phyllis, Katy and I. A good time was had by all ... as usual.

Now for the sucky part. I hate it when stuff like this happens. You know when you do something that requires you to put your complete trust into a stranger, and they take that trust and throw it out the window? I placed a dog with a woman a couple of years ago. I told her that if she ever bred her, that I would like the option of a pup back. If she spayed her, that was fine. Also told her that if there was ever a time where she no longer wanted her or couldn't keep her, that she was to come back to me. Over the last couple of years, I kept in touch with her as best I could ... as little as she would respond to me. Would check on the dog, how's she doing, how are things going, got any plans to breed her? Was always told everything was fine, and no, no plans to breed. Cool. Well, I decided to check with the registry. Unfortunately, I was told by them that there was a litter registered out of this female. It sucks that I wasn't told and/or offered a pup per the verbal agreement. So I contacted this person and again asked how the dog was (who finally responded but only after a mutual friend intervened). She now tells me that the dog couldn't handle the pressures of driving, so she spayed her and found her a home. Still never mention to me the fact that she had a litter at some point. Still never offered me a pup. And never acknowledged that the dog was supposed to come back to me if she didn't want her! Nothing! I only hope that what she tells me is true and that she DID spay and place the dog in a pet home. I'm sure it's better than the home I placed her in.

I'm so sorry, little girl. I hope you're ok.

Never again. I'm done with verbal contracts. Now I am starting to understand why the sport breeders have contract 14 miles long and charge 16 bazillion dollars for their puppies.

Tails ...