Wednesday, December 31, 2008


And, it's SNOW. Yes. more. snow. We JUST got rid of it. It has been snowing like crazy for a few hours. Driving in this was bad- not just because the roads were not plowed, but because I got behind at least one idiot who STOPPED while going UP HILL, in a VAN. He was the leader of our train, and EVERYONE started to skid. Please GOD, if you can't drive in it, pull over and park. Some how I made it up, with doing some fancy slalom steering. I have an medical appt today, but I won't be going unless they plow. Right now it looks like the snow is starting to slow down. Good. This (a small amount) I can take. Mr Chips thinks the snow falling down is very cool to watch. I wished I had gotten a pic of him just standing between the vertical blinds, and looking up up up into the sky.

Other than the weather irritation, everything is good. Lucy/Kylie got that new Nylabone I showed you all. I say both of them, because they seem to share that pretty well.

Here's to a fast melting of this stuff.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Little of this, little of that

We're WAITING!!!!

Digging in!

Lucy likes her Nylabones

A major favorite of the dogs. They are on sale now, at your local grocer :) Do you like how they have mimicked candy bars?

Isn't Mr Chips handsome with this backdrop?

Here's Lucy and Ricky. Ricky's the blue one, and Lucy the yellow. I acquired Ricky years ago in an effort to stave off my need for another dog (major failure). Sadly, Lucy the first died unexpectedly a few years ago, so I got Ricky a new friend. They do love eachother- he loves her more than she loves him....

Monday, December 29, 2008

That's my girl

Worked sheep (thank GOD). It could have been better weather, but we went ahead. There were sections of deep snow- which, me being creative, made good use of. It was funny, when we first went into the field, they all came running- thinking that I was going to feed them- then they slammed on the breaks- I can just see the bubble over their heads saying "OH CRAP, not THEM again". So, I penned the K's, and put the lambs in the smaller paddock. Then I got the K's out and we worked that group of about 6? I don't know- a passel anyway. The lambs in that group were wonky. They just ran. It wasn't Lucy's fault, they just were very freaked (maybe the steak Lucy had earlier was still on her breath?). I finally took a couple of the lambs out, and the group (ewes and lambs) stayed much calmer. I want to note that the mere presence of a dog in pen with them made one lamb leap very close to me- the dog was not moving- and she was not "on" them. Yikes. They need a chill pill.

So, I decided to utilize that deep snow- it was about up to their knees, and the sheep were avoiding it. So, I had Lucy pick up the sheep where it was just grass, and then she had to push them through the snow. They really considered their options, but Lucy never hesitated, and we didn't have any problems. We also worked on that business where they are standing along their other friends, and had her get between them/the fence, and she needed to go calmly between the fence, but speed up to cover the heads- and turn pretty much 90 degrees. Happy to say, she did- every time. I have always said Kelpies are latent learners- I have to remember that.

Later it was time to move the lambs back into the big pasture. When I was adjusting the gates, I wasn't watching Lucy. I looked up to see her walking in on these 10 lambs with such calmness and authority. I think she knew that I needed a bit of help to keep them OFF me. Well, probably not- she was just working that authoritative attitude she has been cultivating. It was so nice though. Just like a big girl. Well, I called her back, and we got them put into the small pen- I had left the K's we were working at the bottom of the hill. I then sent Lucy for those girls. We got them into the small paddock, and they *really* didn't want to be in there. They did that classic sheep thing when they want to leave where you put them- they went about 10 feet in, all turned around, and positively didn't notice the dog. They just kept looking for their friends. I called Lucy to me, and to walk up. I have never seen her look mad, but I think this is what it looks like. She was very tight, leaning forward, moving up on them and ready for the charge- which never came. They then just decided it wasn't worth it, and turned and left.

Lucy is really beginning to "get" that we are out here doing something for real. It is so gratifying after all the work I have put in to becoming a team with her. Just extraordinarily cool.

Later, when I was chatting with my friend, Lucy had the zoomies- yeah, just like a pup- tail tucked, head down, smile on her face, wiggling- just extremely happy. I can't help but think that our earlier work helped with her mood. What a great little lass she is- happy as can be, serious as a heart attack when needed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The seige is almost over

This week we will work sheep. Lucy has taken to playing with the cat, wrestling with Kylie (and me), and just plain wondering what the HECK is up. It is supposed to hit 60 degrees today, so the rest of the snow should go BYE BYE!!!! YEAH!!!!!
Then, in keeping with trends, it will get colder again, but should stay above freezing for a bit. Wish I had gotten the property at my brothers set up for the sheep. This spring, for sure. It will be small at first, and add linear feet as we can afford. I may even have just e-net until my ship comes in...

Today will be a "chill" day. I lifted a heavy piece of furniture (sold it), yesterday, so I am sore as H.E. double tooth pics. I have to get this stupid neck/back looked at. I feel like a 90 year old person, anytime I lift anything remotely heavy.

I hope that everyone reading is gradually recovering from all the hoopla of the holidays. New Years day for us will be one of quiet enjoyment- unless I go to that trial.... hee hee hee....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Do you remember this?

I have ALWAYS loved Tom Selleck in the Magnum PI series. When I had a bad car accident in the 80's and was laid up for months, I watched re-run after re-run of this. Watch the end of the intro- ah HUH!

Reflections on 2008, and looking ahead to 2009

They say as you get older, time seems to fly. I have to say I agree with that. I believe it was John Lennon who said "Life is what happens when you are making other plans". Truer words have not been spoken.

2008 was a good year. I started it with high hopes for my Lucy on the trial scene. High hopes, that is, and severe trepidation. Not being one who loves competition, I got through it, somewhat unscathed. Lucy placed in most trials she entered, and she even took a second place (she was tied, but broke the tie on better outwork). Some trials went better than others. Some got the better of me, and left me a wailing heap. Lucy stuck by me though. Never quit, never took over. She showed me that it isn't necessarily HOW you do the job, it's getting it done that matters.

As time went on though, I realized that we needed more time as a team, and to grow a bit. And, most importantly, why we do this. Because a) she was born to, and b) it is the only thing that I 100% look forward to, and enjoy in life. Something about being out in that field, asking your dog to do things that they may not have done- but some how, they know how to already. It's that feeling of accomplishment when you have finished working, that look in your dog's eye, as they wait, and look up at you at the field gate. I don't know, it's not something I can accurately put down on "paper", but it's there.

Besides sheep work, things were pretty good, except for one very very sad thing. I lost my Cori. Cori was my almost 15 year old Beagle Springer mix. Cori was a "no trouble" dog. She loved people- especially kids. She was kind to everyone and everything. I don't know what made her so sick, but in the end, the kindest thing to do was let her go. It was the hardest, but most worthy thing I have ever done- to be with her, on her final journey. It is still hard to talk about, but every single life ends the same way, and if we can make that passing just a bit more loving.... it's what makes us human, right? I miss you Cori. I will never forget you, and will see you again.

On to 2009. I don't have any huge plans, other than to just enjoy each day, attend clinics with my sheepdogs, and try and make this world a little better by example- you know, give a little, help a lot, and look at the positive side.

Well, that's my reflections, and my aspirations- what are yours?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Part II

On Christmas day I headed back to my parent's place to partake of a wonderful Christmas dinner. It was all very good, and a nice quiet time. It was an early to bed day. Today, the 26th, is when the animals and I celebrated Christmas at home. Each dog got a Bully stick- Lucy made fast work of hers. The cats got a new card board scratching pad, and I gave the girls their BIG stuffed fake lambswool bone. Oh, and they also got some steak with their dinners.

Here are some pics. Please note that on the pic with Mr Chips, I left my foot in there as a reference, just to show you all how big he is now. Ginger has not left that bed she is in, except for basic necessities.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Part 1

Last night was a special night- not just because it was Christmas Eve, a time when my family gets together and enjoys one another's company, it's a time to reflect, and realize just how wonderful it is to have family. My nephews are growing so fast. Every year they do a small skit for our family- each nephew recites some prose, and then they all sing together. They have been doing this now for 9 years. It started with everyone in matching pajamas, but now, as they are getting much older, it's just their normal duds. This year was special. One of my nephews did a solo on his clarinet. And, the oldest nephew led the group in song, instead of my mother cuing them. When the kids FINALLY got to open their gifts, it was the just a little calmer- the boys are bigger now, and they enjoy each gift because of the fact that someone thought of them, and not just that they GOT something. Hugs abounded. It was so lovely. I love my family, and I am so grateful that I have them all so close to me.

When I returned home, the dogs were very happy to see me (no gifts for them yet, because it was late- will do that later today). My cats too were happy, but just because I am the person who feeds them, and gives them a nice pillow to sleep on. I did pull out the bed I bought for the cats, and put it on the bed next to my pillow. Both cats sniffed it with some suspicion. I thought it was a dud gift, until this morning, when I awoke to find Ms. Ginger sound asleep, all curled up in it. It is a perfect size for her, and she is cozy warm in it. She stirred at one point, and stretched her leg out to touch me- I think she wanted to give me props for such a great gift... Anyway, it is a big hit. She deserves it, let me tell you.

This is part one in a two, or three part series. I will be back....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Still alive...

Wow, what a cold. The entire weekend was lost. Didn't do a blessed thing. Made it to work today, and after work was able to finish my Christmas shopping (Hallelujah).
I made a few different stops, and one was to JC Penney to return something that I bought that did not work. I noticed LOTS of men shopping, I assume for their wives. The stuff they were buying!!!! YICK! I think it would behoove the men out there to bring a woman with them when they shop. These two guys each had a pair of bright pink slippers (bright is not nearly adequate to describe the eye squinting effect emanating off them). One of them also had this cheap sweater with a built in tie/belt. Double ick. It was the cheap stuff too. I feel for these wives...

Okay, so I got my shopping finished, and headed home- but on the way I stopped by Rite Aid for some cough medicine. Of course I shopped a bit, and found a HUGE stuffed bone for the dogs, and a bed for the cats- 50% off :) Cool.

When I got home I went through the mail. In there is my annual Christmas package from Lucy's breeder in Australia :))) She sent me this awesome calendar with Lucy's mum, brother and her brother's daughter, which is the spitting image of Lucy. Her name is Possum (LOVE the name!). Lucy's breeder is one of the nicest people I will ever meet. We have remained very good friends since we "met" regarding me getting a pup from her litter. She is a real salt of the earth lady, and I am fortunate to call her my friend.

So, not much more time now. My family gets together on Christmas eve to open presents and eat tons of finger foods (we celebrate Norwegian style), and just relax. Christmas eve is very special in our family. Christmas day is a wonderful dinner (fresh ham) and it rocks, every single time. I am so lucky to live near my family.

Well, off to chill out for a bit, and then take my Nyquil :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Couple more shots

Winter wonderland

I am taking the opportunity now to post those pics- in between coughing jags- Mr Chips is not happy with my lap shaking so much, so he gave me a look, and left. Lucy has eyed me a few times with a concerned look, and the other dogs are just chilling- good dogs. I was able to re-shovel the front, and started on the back deck when a wave of feeling like I was going to lose it came over me. We are supposed to get up to 6 more inches today. Grand.

Anyway, here are some pics

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ode to a sheepdog

She's just a slip of a thing.

Nothing remarkable in her looks.
When she comes up to you, she has this way of showing you that she is your friend.

She doesn't ask for much- just a bit of warmth on a cold day, a scratch behind the ears, and to work for her master.

When you see her work the sheep, you first notice her diminutive size. You wonder how she will cover the ground fast enough to to her work, and, also, God forbid, handle sheep who are having a "bad hair day".

Just before her master sends her, she looks into his eyes, which can only be described as complete adoration- ANYTHING he asks, she will do.

When he sends her she brings her sheep, nothing very fancy, but she does so- and she does it with cool forward focus. Where this dog excels is in true work- work in the direst of circumstances- where she could be in danger. Work where many dogs would just quit, because they don't trust their master to protect them. Not so this little lass. She would go to hell and back for her master, for she trusts him implicitly, and it is her duty. Her master would never put her in danger, that goes without saying, but how does a dog truly know that? To a bystander, it is very nerve wracking- watching sheep come at that wee lass, with hatred in their eyes. But, a good sheep dog knows their sheep- knows how to avoid the hits, and to back up the request. To get the work done at all costs.

You can take this little Border Collie anywhere, and she will get it done. She will move un-broken stock, and angry stock. She will move youngsters with a calm, authoritative manner, she will do anything she is asked- just the right way for the animals she works, just because she is a good sheepdog.

But, there really is more to a "good sheepdog". Just as important, I believe, as the inborn ability, is the dogs willingness to do things that he/she wouldn't do, unless they implicitly trusted their master. This is where true mountains are moved. If you have that bond, your dog will do anything her little body can physically do, and will work in situations where many dogs would fear to tread. Once that job is done, your heart is warmed. You know that this indeed, is your best dog ever. No, she may not be the top trialer, and she may not be the most stunning dog (but in your eyes- and the others who realize her true quality, she is), but damn it, she will do whatever you ask and get any job done- and she will do it with such cool confidence, it pretty much makes you wonder why you were lucky enough to have a dog like this.

Well, I believe that once in our lives, a dog comes into our lives, who was meant to be with us; meant to be our soul mate, and one who makes us a better person.

Sheepdogs sometimes get the raw end of the deal. If they don't trial well, or they don't work a certain way, they get shuffled to the back of the line- only brought out for farm work. We, my friends have it backward. The true winning sheepdogs are the ones who get the work done, no matter where, no matter when, and no matter the stock to be worked. To have that in a dog, you have it all. The dog does the work for you, just because you asked- even if they are unsure. You can't quantify what that is worth, until you lose it.

So, those of you who have some good trial dogs, and also some "just farm dogs", please ask yourself- which dog, if you could only have one, would you want. I dare to say it's the latter.

They work simply because we ask them, they fear nothing, because there isn't time to do so, and in return, all they ask is that we allow them to stay, and do our bidding. Is there any better dog that that? I think not.

A wee update

Sick, sick as a dog. About 12" of snow. 3-6" more forecasted for tonight. Am working on an "ode" inspired by a special sheepdog I know. I also have to finish my annual Kelpie Christmas ditty.
Hope everyone is well, and finishing their holiday travails. Oh- and bcx4- I will get some winter wonderland shots just for you :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now THAT'S a working dog!

Waaaa is me (and Kylie)

So, I felt a bit stuffy yesterday morning. As of last night, full blown cold. YUCK. I blame this on work- everyone was sick, and now this bug has mutated enough to smack me down. I don't usually GET sick. I was always my mother's shining example of how healthy her kids could be (my sibs not so lucky). I will be fine, but it annoys me.

I watched Top Chef last night; it was the episode with Martha Stewart. I love Martha, well, no, I don't love her, but I do really like her strength, and that she came from meager beginnings, and is quite talented in all things home-ec. It was good. She was one of the judges on the quick fire challenge, and she was as tough as you would expect. Cool. They didn't send anyone packing last night, since pretty much everyone's food stunk, and it was the holiday season of giving....

The night before last I noticed my Kelpie Kylie would not get on the bed. Lucy always growls when she does, and I was hoping nothing had happened between those two to make it more tense. Anyway, she stayed off. Last night, she did get on the bed- carefully.

This morning she did not want to come up the stairs of the deck to come in. She would go up to the base of the steps, circle a few times, and then finally did it. As I got ready for work this morning, I felt her back- actually, held my hand a few inches from her (this is a Reiki thing I was taught, and is very effective). Anyway, she has a lot of heat on her left flank. YEARS ago when she had to have emergency surgery for some inedible dog bones/cotton batting stuck in her stomach/intestines, the vet said then, that she had arthritis in her back- which I dismissed because she doesn't show any issue. Well, I suppose it's problem now. I am going to give her a Rimadyl when I get home today, and hope that helps.

They are forecasting 12-16" of snow today into tomorrow. YUCK. I still have some more Christmas shopping to do, so I am not sure when that will happen. After we get this snow, it's not supposed to warm up any time soon, so we won't be working sheep for a long time. Oh well. I am sure the sheep won't mind :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This is my dog....

After spending lots of time working in crusty snow, and cold temperatures, and then sitting in a cold car. Yes, Lucy was tired, sore and needed her beauty rest.

When I worked her before this, I didn't know that the snow was hard/crusty at all. All I noticed was that she had a funny Hackney gait, and seemed to carefully place her feet. Then, at the end of our work, I saw the blood on her feet. OUCH. She never limped, and never seemed bothered by it, but I suspect she will maybe be a wee bit sore later. We worked doing lots of boring stuff, I won't go into detail- except for one thing...

I had separated out the lambs and gave them some feed. When I was finished working the others, I decided to put the lambs back with the others I had worked. So, I had Lucy fetch them through the gate, and dang it- they ran into the shed I forgot to shut the gate to. So, I sent Lucy from the far pasture to get them out. I didn't know what exactly would happen because a) they are not dog broke b) this is a very small area and the opening to the shed is blocked by a hay manger- which means there are about 3 feet? to maneuver? Anyway, I don't know exact amounts, but it means that when you send your dog in, they sheep inevitably bottle up behind that manger, and the dog has to give them room to get out, while still getting them out- if you know what I mean ;) So, anyway, I sent her from the far paddock, she knew exactly what I wanted- headed in, and I see the initial 1-2 second bottleneck, and then all the lambs came out, no muss no fuss :) Good job Lucy!!! That's the sort of dog I want. :)

Later I watched some other dogs work some unbroke sheep and goats. This was extremely cool to watch. These dogs had to navigate LGD's, and a Llama, all of whom were not happy about a strange black and white dog entering their pasture. The older of the two BCs, who I have always loved was a complete star. Man- if I could have one just like her... She got run at by the aforementioned creatures, and she got challenged by the goats- never missed a step. Seriously- that's what a sheepdog is incarnate. It was great. During all this, my dogs stayed in the car- where it was a tad bit chilly. When I got home and finished chores, Lucy took up her position in the bed, and that's her pic.

It was a great time. Well worth the chilly toes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How a Kelpie saved our Christmas

How a Kelpie saved our Christmas
Copyright Julie Williams

Many years ago, I’d say about 1970, my family had a big farm. On that
farm we raised all sorts of animals- cows, sheep, goats, chickens,
ducks, you name it, at one time we had it. We got our eggs from the
chickens, meat from the cows, milk from the goats and cows, and my mom
spun sweaters from the wool we got from our sheep. We had a tv that
got one channel. We would play hide and seek in the barn, go on walks
in the woods, and sometimes stay up late telling ghost stories. Yep,
life for us kids was good then.

Mom would make us breakfast every morning before school- we always had
eggs and toast and cereal- this was the BEST breakfast, and we loved
it. Dad would always eat after he fed the animals, he always said
“animals get fed first, we eat after they are fed”. He got up real
early to feed the animals and clean their pens. He also milked the
cows and goats. Mom collected the eggs, and washed them, weighed them,
and put some in containers to sell, and kept some aside for us. When
we finished breakfast we high tailed it to school. We walked to the
bus stop, which really was a mile away. School was boring; we always
longed to get home and play our games. When we got home from school,
we had chores to do. Us kids had to feed the animals, which I loved. I
always loved taking care of animals. One time dad caught me walking on
the goat’s hay, and asked me if I would like him to walk on my food? I
said no, and never did that again. The goats were my favorite- they
all knew just when to come out of the pen to get milked, and they were
really cute babies. We had French Alpines. My brothers and sisters
and I had a ball playing with the babies. We even had big rocks
brought in so the goats could climb on them.

My parents always had dogs. I loved dogs since I could remember. I
used to play with them, teach them tricks, feed them, brush them. I
guess my love for them started when I grew up on that farm. Dad never
saw the need for a herding dog- like one of them Border Collies- he
didn’t understand why you would need one when a bucket of feed could
get the work done just as fast. Well, in time we all learned.

Round about September, my parents and me were in town, we had just left
church, and dad was talking with a friend named Mr. Wilkerson. Mr.
Wilkerson had a farm not far away from us, and he had dogs. He had a
kind of dog I only saw once at his place, but I always remembered it.
It had big ears, and a short coat and was red and brown. Dog’s name
was Coot. Coot was what Mr. Wilkerson called a workin’ dog. Mr.
Wilkerson used Coot to bring in the cattle and sheep at night. I
remember my dad smiling when he heard this, and telling me he thought
it was “interesting” with a little snicker. On that day after church
though, Mr. Wilkerson asked my dad to come by after church and see his
dog work the cattle and sheep. My dad checked with mom, and off we
went on our adventure. Gosh it was fun. We even got to have lunch
there! Well, when it was time to see Coot work, Mr. Wilkerson showed
my dad where the cows were. These were beef cattle- Herefords, and
some Angus. All Mr. Wilkerson had to say to Coot was “Coot, bring
‘em”. We watched, my dad with a smile, thinking I guess that this was
going to end up bad. Well, Coot ran out, and brought those cows down
at a steady clip, and once they got to Mr. Wilkerson, Mr. Wilkerson
offered to show dad how Coot could single one off that needed foot
trimming. Mr. Wilkerson said “Coot, that one” and pointed at one of
the cows. Coot came up smooth as day and cut that cow off, and held
him off. Dad wasn’t smiling anymore. Dad asked to see Coot work the
sheep. Coot did a real nice job with the sheep too. Dad liked that he
could get the sheep and cows in without having to go out in the field,
and the dog was a willing partner. This got dad to thinking. When we
were ready to leave, my dad told Mr Wilkerson to let him know if he
might sell that dog to him.

Some weeks later, we saw Mr Wilkerson out in town again, and he told my
dad that he knew of a Kelpie not far from our place. This was a
purebred Kelpie who had experience on cattle and sheep. Dad and mom
talked a long time, and much to my delight, they decided to take a look
at this dog. We all went out to the farm. Out came this little red
and brown female Kelpie. She was small with ears way to big for her
body, and moved quick, real quick. Dad was not impressed- didn’t
believe she had the size to do the work. We kids begged that we be
allowed to try her- she had what Mr. Wilkerson called “good breeding”
and had already been working stock. Dad decided to buy her, on one
condition- she worked as well as Coot.

When we got her home, we had to name her- she came with the name “Amy”,
but we thought she should have a more fitting name. We decided to name
her Risk- my dad liked the name because that is what she was, and I
like the name because we could call her Risky, which rhymed with Nifty.
I thought she was really nifty. The first few days at our place dad
was the only one to spend time with her- Mr. Wilkerson told him that he
should get to know her, and so-call “bond” with her. So, dad took her
with him on chores, and tied her up, while he worked. She always laid
there calm as can be, and always watching dad’s every move. When the
day finally came to try Risk out on the sheep, it was a cold, rainy
day, and dad decided today was as good as any to try the dog, because
maybe he could stay dry, and let the dog do the work. So, dad brought
Risk to the pasture. He said “Go get ‘em Risk”. Risk looked up to
him, quizzically, and sat down. Dad repeated “Go get ‘em Risk”. Risk
stayed there, glued to my dad’s side. Dad started to lose his temper.
I said “Dad, maybe she doesn’t know what you mean” Dad replied “ she
should know what I want anyway. Dad called the guy he bought Risk from
and asked what commands he used with the dog. “Weeeelll, let’s see”
the guy said. When I want her to fetch the sheep I tell her “Sheep”,
when I want her to get the cattle, I tell her “Cows”. When I need her
to find whatever is in the field I just say “Go” “Okay, sounds easy
enough” dad said, and hung up the phone. Dad went back out with Risk.
Dad said “Sheep!” Risk shot out into the pasture, going real wide,
and met up with the sheep. These sheep had never been worked with a
dog before, so they got real upset. As one sheep tried to bolt off,
she brought it back to the flock. As another sheep tried to butt her,
she darted out of the way, and stood her ground. Soon, all the sheep
were together and calmly coming toward my dad. I will never forget
dad’s face that day. It was a mix of utter astonishment, and pride. I
think I may have even seen a tear in his eye.

Over the next few weeks dad and Risky as he called her did everything
together. Risky was always there, ready to help, even with the bull.
When dad went off the farm without Risky, she stayed on her rug in the
barn, waiting for his return.

Soon the holidays were coming, and we had lots to do. Every winter we
sold off a few head of cattle to pay winter feed bills, and I think,
though mom never admitted it, to try and get some Christmas presents
for us kids. Everything was going as planned, and Risky and dad had
separated off a few cows to go to market. These were our best Angus.
Angus meat dad told us was the best, and people paid the most for it.
We had four to go that year. Dad was guaranteed a good price when the
butcher came and took a look at them. Three days before the butcher
was coming to pick up the cows, we went out in the morning, and the
fence of the pen was down. The cows had some how either spooked, or
just wanted out. They were gone. Dad was beside himself. We had no
other Angus cows to sell (the others were pregnant, and we needed those
calves, and we couldn’t sell our prize bull). All of us kids went
looking. We saw tracks, but no cows. Dad looked all over and even
told Risky “Cows”, and she went all over the pastures looking. After
a full day of looking dad said “Kids, I think those cows are gone, and
maybe dead by now, I am not sure we can afford much of a Christmas this
year” To us kids that was a big blow- every Christmas we look forward
to opening few small presents, eating lots of food, and dad and mom
being so proud of their kids and their farm. It seemed this year, we
wouldn’t have that.

We all went to bed that night very very sad. The next morning it was
raining very hard, and dad went to the butcher and told him what
happened. The butcher told him he still had a couple of days, and that
maybe they are hiding somewhere close. We went home and looked, still
no luck.

The last day before the butcher was going to come it was snowing- HARD.
You could barely see ten feet in front of your face, and it was very
cold. All the animals were huddling together, and their breath was
small puffs of tiny icicles. Dad wasn’t able to get a hold of the
butcher to tell him not to come. That night, dad went down to the barn
with Risky and stood in front of the cows that we still had. He then
walked past them and said one last “Cows, Risky”. Risky looked up at
him with the same look she did when he first worked her, and said
“bring em”. Dad was about to give up hope, but then thought to do one
more thing. He said “Risky, GO COWS”. Risky jumped up, and ran out
into the pasture. Dad waited, and waited. Finally an hour went by and
no Risky. He came in the house, and told us that now Risky was gone
too. I remember being so upset. How could he do that- send her out in
such bad weather. She could freeze. Dad sat at the kitchen table that
night, looking out the window at the barn for any sign of Risky or the
cows. Finally, I guess, he went to bed. The next morning can only be
described as surreal. We all got up and did our chores, and washed up
for breakfast. Dad was still in bed. Mom was at the kitchen sink
looking out the window as she washed up eggs and got our breakfast
ready, when she saw it. A COW. Yes, a COW walking by the window.
Mom screamed- which I remember clearly, because she never yelled or
screamed. She yelled for me to get dad, which I did, even though I
wanted to see what was happening. I ran in the bedroom and told dad to
get up- a cow was walking by the kitchen. Dad told me I must be
kidding. I told him no- go and look. He got dressed, and walked into
the kitchen. Mom pointed to the cows, and dad told us kids to stay put
as he hurried outside.

Dad threw open the door, and there they were, all four cows. They were
standing under the big maple tree next to our bench in the front yard.
Dad couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought they were gone forever.
“But”, he said, “Where is Risky?” Quickly, looked around and no dog.
But why would they stay near the house? Why not head for the pasture
where they know there will be hay? Then he thought he saw it- just a
small tinge of red hair. There was Risky- laying to the other side of
the big tree, keeping those cows to where she knew dad would be. Dad
wanted to rush out to praise her, but he wanted to make sure that these
cattle wouldn’t get away. He walked down to the barn, and opened the
door to the inside corral, and told Risky “Cows”. Risky moved those
cows into the barn, dad closed the door, fed the cattle, called Risky
over to him, tears in his eyes, and told her that SHE was his Christmas
miracle. Later that day the butcher came over to pick up the cows,
and dad told him what had happened. The butcher said, “somehow, I knew
with that little Kelpie of yours, if anyone could find them, she would”.

To this day, every time I see a Kelpie, I thank God for creating such a
wonderful dog, and for letting me share my life with so noble a creature.

Based loosely on a true story.

Lucy would have died and gone to heaven

How freakin' cool is this? Only one dog that looked like a FAT BC- but maybe even not, and a couple of Maremmas, and one GP. That's a whole lotta sheep. Lucy would have been a great help- that's after she picked herself up off the ground in sheer shock and awe. I think a trip out west is quite warranted.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Explosion Averted

Phew. Glad I dodged THAT bullet. Truthfully, I doubt I would have exploded, but I seriously a bit buggared up. So, now everything is okay again. Yes, we worked sheep.
We worked for a fairly long time, and at the end of it, Lucy was beat.

We worked a group where one ewe just wasn't interested in playing the game. Now, in all fairness, we did take a group of lambs out of that pasture, and the ewe who shall remain nameless, really wanted to be with them- and another group off to the side. Since a big majority of our work is not pulling off really strong draws, this was to be done today.

But, first, let me go back to the lambs- I LOVE lambs. Seriously fun to work. We got everyone gathered in the field, and then separated out the "to be worked" sheep. I then had to move the lambs into the other paddock, er, well, Lucy had to :)
So, when I first send her (they were against the gate to their friends), a couple ran up to Lucy to see what she was? I don't know, but it was sort of funny. Lucy took it in stride, and brought them to, and into the other paddock.

So, then we get the "to be worked" sheep out of the shed, no problems there. They then ran to their friends at the fence line. So, after all that was done we worked on outruns, and pulling off that fence. Here's the visual:

Top of field is a fence line. Lambs are on the other side. To the right top of the hill is a shed- with more sheep. The sheep we are fetching are either on the fence line, or at the shed. When you send away, the sheep move off the shed, and start trotting alongside the fence line. Lucy had some trouble a few times with one ewe who got her number, but after asking her on, she did so. We need more miles on this.
After a couple of tries she was properly heading them around, so she got them turned a bit faster. This is *really* good practice- the more the better, as far as I am concerned.

We then worked a bit on driving, and then we called it a day- wait, before then, we had to get those lambs back with their friends. So, I sent in Lucy, and she got behind them, and I was standing at the gate, expecting them to come through. Nope, they had no idea I wanted that. So, they made a quick attempt at exiting stage right real fast, and Lucy covered, and got them pushed through. That was a nice reward for her.

It was all in all a good working day for her (and me). We've lots to work on, but I think every time we work together, we get a little bit better as a team.

Anyway, here are some vids of her working. In the one walking up video, you can see one sheep that turns away from the others, and then, as they move off, she is on the left, and Lucy goes to cover her. Dogs seem to really know which ones to watch.

Okay, after a long day of working, I then decided I should reward Lucy by getting her new reindeer antlers on, so she could make her impression of "Max" the dog in the "Grinch that Stole Christmas"

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

This is a clip from the movie "Rush Hour". Just after Jackie Chan comes down the ramp, Chris Tucker tries to communicate with him. One of my most FAVORITE movie scenes is when Chris gets frustrated at no response from Jackie, and he says, loudly "Do YOU understand the words that are coming out of my mouth??" Then, look at Jackie Chan's response. The rest of the scene is extremely funny!

What's really funny about that to me, is that is a phrase I think we probably all have had occasion to use when working our dogs- you know, when you ask for something, and they ignore you, like they don't speak your language :) Go ahead, watch it- it's right at the beginning of the clip, and yes, I think you will agree- apropos for sheep dog work :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why I hate discussion groups

The first and foremost reason is that people who post can do so with impunity. They can say anything they like, be it hurtful, nasty, or even a complete fabrication. Of course they can, it's the Internet, and they don't have to stand face to face with the person, and back up their claims. They can just spew rhetoric (ad nauseum) and know that they have a captive audience. It sure must be an ego booster.

There are usually only about 10% of the discussion group members who a) have the chutzpa to post, or b) just like to hear themselves "talk". The other 90% lurk, as they just don't want to get into it with the other 10%.

Then there are the topics, OH MY LORD, can there EVER be an evolution? Does the same topic have to be brought up day in day out? The WORST part about all of this is that the same 10% that always preach, preach the SAME THING. At this point many of us can tell you what person A will say before they get a chance to type it.

The sub-groups within the 10%, consist of 7% nice, decent folks who just like to chat, and then there's those 3% who are downright abrasive. You know, the ones who like to write rude, terse retorts, with an air of superiority, or, the ones who like to write really short very insulting one sentence retorts. Again, back to the bravery on the internet illustration.

Please do the silent majority a favor preachers by sticking to these wonderful little suggestions

1) if you find yourself writing something for the 100000 time (or more), please just stop, the other members do NOT need to read it AGAIN- it's a waste of electrons

2) if you find yourself being nasty, and terse, then please don't type it

3) if all you can do are use cute little acronyms, or one sentence retorts- don't waste the page space

4) if you find that your critical posts are far outweighing your positive, then, please examine your motivation for being on the boards.

5) this is to the silent majority, and the 7% who do post, don't accept rude, nasty treatment. Discussion boards are for enjoyment, and if they aren't enjoyable, then get away, FAST. And, please, don't argue with someone who is Jonesing to get back on the pulpit, PLEASE! The rest of us folks just may DIE of boredom.

6) this is the most important rule- life is to be lived, and enjoyed. Preaching is for Church. Unless you are ordained, please refrain.

Here's my 6/6

This is our 6th pic of the 6th file. This is a shirt I made for some Kelpie folks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going to EXPLODE

We haven't worked sheep in what seems like EONS. Seriously, I think Lucy is falling into a depression. Sometimes I find her just sitting there. Not looking at anything, just looking gloomy. The weather this week was bad, and now it's REALLY bad. Looking to get a decent accumulation between today and tomorrow. Today, when I walked out on my front step, with my hands full- one hand with my coffee travel mug, and the other with the first of several loads of stuff to go to the Salvation Army, I landed on a skating rink- that's what it felt like. I literally had to crouch down and lower my center of gravity, so I didn't go WHOOSH, and land on my considerable butt. Well, nothing was broken, and the roads were okay, but it is only going to get worse because of dropping temps. Some schools were closed today.

Back to Lucy- she knows that the house is not a play area- well, not with me anyway. She will wrestle with Mr. Chips, but with me, she waits for me to initiate. The last time we played Frisbee she yelped on her way back to me- see, she isn't the most graceful thing when playing this game. So, I really don't want to play it much, if Lucy gets hurt and can't work sheep, well, I think I would die- not her, but I would!

When I think of this weather, I think of the poor horses up the road from me. COUNTLESS calls to the SPCA from several different people, yet NOTHING is done. They have DIRT to eat. I have only ever seen tiny bits of hay out there, and 99% of the time they are just standing in the rain, heads held low, sometimes looking longingly at the cruddy little barn that is on the property. It absolutely GALLS me to see horses left with no hay, or grazing. Rain rot? OF COURSE they have it. The had a run in shed, but all the walls rotted off, and it is held in place by some 2x4s.

I spent so many years taking care of animals- horses mainly, and never EVER did I put horses out in a paddock until after I put some hay out there. It is horsemanship 101.
I even offered to help these people out for no charge. Foot care? Are you KIDDING? Oh, I better get off this topic, I am too tweaked.

So, back to sheep, hopefully in the next few days. Maybe it's good I am not driving anywhere for now- save money for Christmas.....

How many Border Collies, How many Kelpies....

Does it take to change a light bulb?

Border Collie: One, only one, and they can do it 5000 times, PERFECTLY.

Kelpie: I don't know, they just take care of it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Interview with Erin Caterson

Copyright Julie Williams

At long last, I have finally sat down, and put this together. A while back I contacted Erin about her giving me, and other readers some insight into her life with Kelpies. Erin and her twin Perina Giles have been in Kelpies longer than I have been alive, and thusly, I think they may know a thing or two that we wet behind the ears youngsters don't. Here are some excerpts from that interview- with more to come later.

When did you get your first Kelpie?

After I got married and left home and moved to Illawong where we had three acres of land. I bought some sheep.
Before I bought my first Kelpie I had a female German Shepherd, three Cattle Dogs two red and one blue plus my Kelpies. Cattle dogs are very good watch dogs and Kelpies are excellent watch dogs as well. The dogs would let me know if anyone was around.
I bought my first Kelpie female in 1961 it was a red show Kelpie she was supposed to be a good worker, and I tried working her on the sheep but I found out she could not work very well.

I tried breeding working strain over show strain. It was an improvement in working ability. I decided to get rid of her and her offspring and get some pure working strain Kelpies that could work.
Bought my first working kelpie in 1965. Then I bought others in 1966 1967 1968

How did you come up with the name Spinifex?

Spinifex is a name of a very strong hardy grass that grows in arid land, I liked the name and thought that would be a good name for a Kelpie stud.

What were your early stud dogs like?

My first stud dog was Karrawarra Nap he was black and tan a very handy dog. I used him a few times and sold him to Tasmania.
My next stud dog was a black and tan Doonans Boss. He was a very good dog and a lot of people used him as a sire and he produced very good pups that were good workers.
The next dog was a red and tan Cudgee Dodger used him a few times and he produced good pups. I bred I bred a lot of stud dogs and used them. To name a few- Spinifex Big Ben. Spinifex Quicksand, Spinifex Loch. Spinifex Dereck, Spinifex Paddy, Spinifex Doc, I had good results from these stud dogs.

Spinifex Big Ben, I should have used him more than I did he was such good dog. Big Ben used to love to go fishing with me and the family and we used to fish with a rod and float to catch blackfish (luderick) and Spinifex Big Ben would watch the float floating down the river and when you would get a bit of a bite and the float bobbed up and down he would stamp his front feet. The more bites you got the faster his feet would stamp, I never had to watch the float Big Ben would let you know if the fish were biting and we caught a lot of fish. One day we were fishing and there was a boat anchored out in the river off the rocks where we were fishing and the blokes in the boat were watching Big Ben and they yelled out to me and said “Why don’t you buy your dog a fishing rod?’

The last lot of stud dogs I have used are Spinifex Paddy black & tan, Potters Clyde red & Tan, and Meson Punch red and tan.
When I wanted a particular bloodline to breed into my Kelpies I would go to various studs and buy a good pup.
I also used outside stud dogs as well, I will name some, Rockybar Rusty, Rockybar Joe, Elgovers Casey, Joes Tau, Kanbara Merlin, Meson Glint, Meson Otto, Wyvelloe Silver, Kanbara Brandy, Meson Minder. Lundavara Tarboy. These dogs are all dead now.
I also bought female Kelpies from other working kelpie studs, Doonans Stormy, Karrawarra Lisa, Mudu Gwin, Mudu Sal, LeCliffe Wendy, Wooton Sue, Croakes Ruby, Karrawarra Patch, Karrawarra Lisa, Meson Thistle, Strathblane Fler, Rockybar Star 11, Webbs Mega-Watt, Rockybar Bessy. Cudgee Bunty. These dogs have all died.
I bred a lot of female kelpies, which I bred from over the years. I think it is too many to list, they would all be in the WKC Stud Books. I have bred about 350 Kelpies may be more.

When did you start competing in sheepdog trials?

I first trialled a kelpie about 1962 got a fourth place.
Worked some Kelpies in the first WKC trial at Linnanes place.
Trialled Doonans Boss at Goondiwindi
Have worked Kelpies ducks in ducks trials and given demonstrations of Kelpies working ducks.
Put some of my Kelpies in the Dog Olympics and won a number of medals
I have entered in a few trials over the years but don't seem to have time to work my dogs in trials.

Why do you prefer a Kelpie over any other breed?

Kelpies rarely get sick, and are so clever they can outsmart any breed. A lot of people do not know how to handle them. You have to be a couple of steps ahead of them all the time because they think for themselves and you do not have to keep telling them what to do.

What problems do you see with respect to working, in today's Kelpies?

I don't think its a good idea to breed yard dog bloodlines into paddock dogs, because you can lose distance and you may get barking that you do not want in paddock work. If you need yard dogs to bark and back the sheep just breed to yard dog bloodlines

What are your plans with respect to Kelpies and sheep herding?

I will train my young kelpies to work in the paddock and do some obstacle work with them. I will let them do yard work as well but they do not bark like the yard dog bloodlines do. My present day Kelpies have to bring the sheep from the paddocks and into the yards for drenching, worming etc. I might put them in a trial one day if I get them going good enough to trial.

I now live in Manildra. Manildra is in the central west slopes of NSW. I have a property of 73 acres and run merino whethers on the land. I have a trial ground set up for Herding trials and three sheep trial work, also yards for yard work. People come here to learn how to work their dogs on sheep. My sister Perina and I hold clinics and instruct them how to do obstacle work and yard work with their dogs.

Skidboot, need I say more?

A wonderful tribute, to a wonderful dog and his master.

Looking ahead

Was just thinking this morning, that in another month, we will be past the holiday season, and back to normal. Goody :) Not that I don't enjoy the holidays, but it is a lot of falderall, all NOT geared around working sheepdogs. I still have all my shopping to do, and this year I want to get something for the dogs/cats. I may make home made dog cookies (I just found my dog bone shaped cutter), and then I will make human cookies. Will be lots of work, but I am finding myself enjoying the whole baking thing.

I recently took out some Christmas decorations and my fiber optic tree. Gotta love a fake tree with lights built in. Yep :) I put out my nativity scene- which has NO animals! YIKES. My mother's has tons of sheep, a shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders and even a sheepdog. That's the kind I want!

Lots to do....

But, after all that, comes a new year filled with great possibilities, and big plans for Lucy and I. So, I guess a little Holiday is worth it, if we can start the new year gung-ho for some good times!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The first shot is of Lucy the first week at home. Was she not CUTE??? OH MY.
The second shot is a good spooning pic- even their smiles match!

Stolen Kelpie Pup

Everyone, keep your eyes out for this pup- near the Davenport WA area.

From: wilsons

Date: Monday, December 8, 2008, 8:58 PM

A lady that got one of my red and tan pups born 8/16/08 had the pup tied in
the back of her truck while she ran in the store for a moment. When she
came out she realized that someone had stolen her puppy. It was around the
Davenport area. If someone hears something or sees a listing for a kelpie
pup for sale, can they please let me know. The owner is heartbroken

Molly Wilson
Seth Creek Ranch

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cattle killed by virus carried by sheep

Virus caught at fair kills cows
Fever poses no danger to humans


A rare outbreak of a disease called malignant catarrhal fever killed 19 cows that were housed with sheep in a Puyallup Fair barn in September, officials announced this week.


# If you showed cattle at the Puyallup Fair this year and have questions, or your animals are showing fever symptoms, call the state Agriculture Department at 360-902-1878.

# Fact sheets about the virus and fever can be found at and .

State agriculture officials believe a herpes virus carried by the sheep was transmitted to the cows and attacked blood vessels in their organs, possibly causing the largest outbreak of its kind involving cattle in the country.

But the fever, officials stressed, cannot spread to other cows, other animals or humans, and no quarantine is needed.

"It has never had a history of jumping to humans. Science tells us that it's not a virus that transmits from animals to humans," said Leonard Eldridge, a veterinarian with the state Agriculture Department.

For the future, fair officials are considering housing cows and sheep in barns at different times, spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said.

"We are working very diligently with the state veterinarian's office to find out what happened," she said. "It is a big concern to us."

One problem, she said, is that not much research about the virus exists. And researchers have not been able to re-create it in a laboratory to study it.

Formally known as ovine herpes 2, which most sheep carry and transmit through their noses, the virus also can infect deer, bison, pigs and water buffalo. It usually has an incubation period of 30 to 60 days.

The end result is the fever. Symptoms in livestock include sudden death, high fever, seizures, diarrhea and eye and nasal discharge, said Mike Louisell, a state agriculture spokesman.

State officials learned of some deaths Nov. 13 after a private veterinarian in Lynden notified them. An FFA member owned the cows and told the veterinarian that they had been at the fair.

This year's fair ran from Sept. 5 to 21, and the cattle that died were housed in the barn with sheep during the last five days, LaFlamme said.

The barn had 33 Highland Beef cattle, 88 cows of various breeds owned by FFA members and a dozen cattle owned by the fair, she said.

It remains unknown why some cows lived and why this happened this year, given that cows and sheep have shared barn space for years.

The dead cows ranged in age from 4 months to several years and came from Lynden, Arlington, Fife, Sequim, Centralia and other areas.

The International Association of Fairs and Expositions reported that its members have not had this type of loss in at least 100 years.

LaFlamme speculated that some cows might be more susceptible than others. "So much is unknown at this time," she said.

Because there is no vaccine or treatment to stop the fever, officials have managed the virus by making sheep free of it. This process is done at zoos.

In 2003, the fever killed half of a bison herd at a ranch in Twin Falls, Idaho. A year earlier, a bison ranch in Colorado reported virus-related deaths.
P-I reporter Brad Wong can be reached at 206-448-8137 or

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Still here

The Pheasant is still here- though now not on my property. He is actively foraging. It's so odd. I hope he stays away from the gomers up the road- they will shoot him for yuk-yuks.

This morning I awoke pretty early, delusional about working sheep. It didn't seem that bad, but when I returned home from my trip to the grocery store, I noted that the roads were slick, and it was getting windier and windier. They forecast 50 mph winds. That is a real no go for working sheep. So, I elected to stay home.

Before I left for the grocery store, I made my signature pancakes. I wasn't going to, but then, I felt like, what the heck! I need some nutrition... Might as well be something I like! I am not ashamed to say that they come from a mix. My mother always said that there's no shame using a mix, if it tastes better than what you could make- so, I live by that ideology :)

It's Aunt Jemima Original. Do yourself a favor and go and get a box and try it. One cup of the mix makes about 12 pancakes- which is 8 more than I can eat :) Suffice to say the dogs make out well on pancake day.

I just through some seed/nuts out for Mr Pheasant- let's hope he stays safe.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What have we here?

This morning I awoke with a MONDO headache. This is from me doing lots of physical work during the day, and all the driving I did this week. My neck is just toast after some surgeries, and I am a chiro's dream- we won't go there. Anyway, it all causes me to get massive headaches as well as just painful in the upper back. So, I took a long hot shower this morning, and then two Aleve. No working sheep today- can't handle the drive. So, I did the next best thing- ran errands - wahoo.

I first headed out to Tractor Supply for sheep feed and bird seed. I forgot to tell them, but their infestation with grain beetles, is almost biblical in proportion. GROSS. I shook off the bags the best I could. Since the sheep feed was 50 lbs- and I got two of them, BAM comes on the headache- ahh, the good old days- NOT.

Then I dashed over to the MALL. It wasn't too busy, and I was able to find and buy some new jeans in record time. Then I went to a few other places, and finally got home a couple hours later.

What do I see when I get home? This. I can't believe it. Actually, I can. I saw this guy roaming near a horse farm just the other side of a field from my house. It was odd. When I drove in, he was leaning against my fence, and then, when I went out to check (and take the pic) he had squished himself down to hide. But, when he saw the flash he bolted and looked rather like the Road Runner in form. Hmmm. So, last weekend the Cooper's Hawk, and this weekend a Ring Neck Pheasant. I hope he isn't some one's pet- if he is still around tomorrow, I may try and catch the big guy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gitalong chicklet, or you will meet my pearly whites

So, Lucy, my wee lass has finally grown into her skirt. Yeah, she is one tough little cracker when needed. It is just amazing. This last time we worked, we had one of the CW sisters, who on the first seconds of working, thought she would stop and not leave her friends on the other side of the gate. Lucy got her moving and then we drove and we drove over the hill and dale. It was nice. Then we stopped for a bit, and helped some other eager beavers by setting out, well, almost, but not quite- I didn't want to raise my voice on the lie down, so we held, until I called her when the dog came close. Lucy LOVES this game of ping pong fetching. I think it reminds her of long ago days when she was just a wee pup.

After helping out, we took another short break. Then we did some corner pulls and pulls off draws. Lucy is getting very solid on sheep that turn on her, she is getting to the point where she doesn't hesitate a step, and doesn't rush in, she just wills the thing to move off, and if not, she will grip- and let go, and stay behind, while allowing the sheep room to move (many dogs will not let up on that pressure- that's when you get that all too familiar back up across the field by the sheep business).

Okay, then to wind things down we drove and I had her driving further than ever before. Lucy did pretty well at first, just driving straight along, but flanks- she was, well, shall we say, turning them all into a fetch. Too hard for her for now. But, we will get there. When I whistle for a down on a flank, and then direct her and then ask her to walk up, MAN has she got that. How? I don't even know.

Lucy did lots of work, but never seemed to tire, even after many outruns, and lots of driving. When she runs on her outrun, her stride really covers ground. They sure did make these Kelpies athletic.

Wow, this is a bit of a braggard post. Well, if the shoe fits?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's getting scary out there

There are TONS of dogs/cats/animals being dumped. With the failing economy, people who may have waited to, are doing so in droves now. Take a look at any of the online classifieds, or petfinder. They are also dumping long term animals. Maybe us folks need to help out in our own ways- start up a pet pantry, where we can donate some sort of food. I think now, more than EVER, people just can't afford food. Even the cheap food has gone up so drastically, it is a very reasonable statement to say you can't feed your pet. Perhaps in my home town, I will start doing just this.

This dog needs help

He's at the Monterey County Animal Services in Salinas California: 831.769.8850.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lucy et al

Lucy and I worked sheep again. It was good. I kept one CW sister in there just to keep things interesting. Lucy did very well. Every outrun was spot on, and every lift was just right. She came in right- even corrected herself once. She came in with force, but finesse- this yielded nice fetching. Still have to work on her pace- getting up slower, but, alas, I suspect this will be long term home work... But, there are worse things. We also held out for a few other dogs. Lucy is starting to get good at this, and I trust her. It's nice to help out others.

I took a couple of videos. The one is of Lucy doing a simple pick up off the draw. What I like about this video, is that one of the CW sisters makes a quick appearance at the end. Interesting eh ;) I picked that music, because I like Warren Zevon :)
The other video is of a nice red BC girl, who is in for training. She is a nice outrunner, and has pretty good listening ears. She is also quite a sweety off sheep. You will see Lucy setting out just at the beginning of the video. Oh, I picked THAT song because I thought it fit well with the scene :)

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lucy has a TWIN!!!!!!!!!

This dog is Lucy's twin. Really, I can't believe the similarities. Well, except for maybe letting the calves lick her all over, and suck her ears. I don't know what to make of that behaviour! I wonder what Lucy would do....

Monday, December 1, 2008

And, the Hawk is..........

A Cooper's Hawk! Yep, that's what it is. I was able to enlarge the photos enough, to be able to identify the little blighter. Thank GOD. I should be able to do this VERY easily, I mean, it's what I do, right? Cool though. We have had Broad Shouldered and Red Tailed hawks around my place, but haven't seen the Cooper's until now. I guess this is bad news for the songbirds who eat at my feeder... since that's their favorite prey.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, day of eating, I mean, rest...

This morning I awoke well refreshed after a pretty good night of sleep. I say "pretty well" because Ginger has been snoring really loudly lately, and it wakes me up. I have to give her a nudge, so she will stop.

Anyway, I hit the grocery store, dropped off my purchases, and headed out to watch more agility. I wasn't there too awful long, but they sent me home with a bunch of eggs, and a giant pan of apple crisp. I LOVE apple crisp.

When I got home, I made my what is turning out to be, signature Sunday meal- steak, potato, veggie. Then I had some apple crisp for desert. Oooooh, it's so good!

Oh, one interesting thing- when I got home from the trial, I heard a commotion in the ivy bed in my front yard. I look over, and there is a hawk with something in it's clutches. I ran in and got my point and shoot camera, and here are a few pics.
I for the LIFE of me can't identify it. It is not a very small hawk (so that rules out things like the Sharp Shinned, or Cooper's) and it is basically slate blue in the wing, crown of the head (rules out the Red Tailed). I took my Field Biology class with none other than Heinz Meng, who was named the Audubon Man of the Year- he is internationally recognized for single handedly re-introducing the Peregrine Falcon back to the North East after having almost lost it completely due to the use of DDT. He knows more than any other person I know about Falcons and Accipiters. He also does Raptor re-hab, and for one class we were brought along on a release. Cool eh?

Anyway, if you can identify this bird, please let me know. I know they are bad, but I didn't want to scare him into releasing his hard earned prey (a red squirrel). As it was, when the darn thing finally died (I think he squished it, and at one point bit it's head), he flew off with it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aaaah, Agility

Today I went to an agility trial held at a horse farm 5 mins from my house. I wasn't entered, but since it was so close, I thought I would re-connect with old friends. It was a very nice time, and I got a bit wistful, remembering all the fun times I have had running my girls in agility. I actually think I may get back into it as a sort of side line. First thing in the morning I ended up scribing for masters pairs- no biggy, but I forgot what the hand signals were, so I had to use the crib sheet (that's embarrassing). After that we chatted with some friends, and then I ended up grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for the attendees. After that I brought Lucy in to watch a bit. She was mildly interested when she saw a dog run up the teeter, but not like Kylie or Nikke are. I think she was wondering where the FREAKIN' sheep are??? Well, Ms Lucy, no sheep today! We have to broaden our horizons! It was a bit chilly, but we had blankets and propane heaters to keep us warm.

I think I will get back into it.... Maybe sign Lucy up for a winter class somewhere... But, I won't run her on concrete with matts, so that may limit us. I am sure Kylie would love to play again- and maybe if I can keep Nikke sound- she can do it too :) I am really glad I took the break. I needed it. I am not ultra-competitive, and when things start becoming all about the "Q" I am SO outa there!

Weather forecast calls for snow tomorrow (BAH HUMBUG). I may go back and help at the trial tomorrow, or I may just stay home and veg.. We shall see :)

Hope you are all having a nice weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Paste this link into your browser- I don't know how to link this here. Warning, these are graphic photos. This person starved several dogs to death, including a Border Collie, Rottweilers, and others. He ran a boarding/training facility.

Sick. Twisted. Just evil.

At cruelty pretrial, dog owner in gallery shows his disdain

Published:Friday, November 14, 2008

Gallery: GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Kennel Raid

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Steve Croley

Tom Siesto and his wife, Liz Raab with a tin containing Nitro’s ashes. The Rottweiler weighed 50 pounds when cremated; he weighed 105 pounds when taken to High Caliber K-9 in late June for obedience training. His owners said they paid more than $2,000 up front for the training and dropped him off with more than three months’ food and vitamins.

By Patricia Meade

Defendant Steve Croley must come to trial next month with a financial statement.

YOUNGSTOWN — A New York man whose dog, Nitro, starved to death at High Caliber K-9 held up a small decorative tin in municipal court and shouted, “Here’s Nitro!”

The tin contains Nitro’s ashes. The Rottweiler weighed 50 pounds when cremated; he weighed 105 pounds when taken to High Caliber K-9 in late June for obedience training. His owners said they paid more than $2,000 up front for the training and dropped him off with more than three months’ food and vitamins.

Steve Croley, who is accused of starving dogs at the Coitsville-Hubbard Road business, didn’t turn around at the outburst in the court’s gallery Thursday. He stared straight ahead during the commotion.

Judge Robert A. Douglas ordered Nitro’s owners, Tom Siesto and his wife, Liz Raab, who was crying loudly, to leave the courtroom. The judge warned those who remained to keep quiet.

Croley, 37, who resided at the business he operated, was in court for a pretrial hearing. He is charged with noxious odors, an exterior property violation and four counts of animal cruelty.

Two security guards were positioned in court out of concern that the proceeding might be disrupted. Several animal lovers who came to support Nitro’s owners cried softly but there were no further outbursts.

Judge Douglas set the trial for Dec. 18. He ordered that Croley come with a financial statement.

When taken into custody Oct. 22, Croley told a representative of Animal Charity, a humane agency on South Avenue, that he could not afford to feed the animals. Seven dead and 12 starving dogs were found at the business.

High Caliber K-9 offered kenneling, obedience and guard dog training. Since the arrest, dog owners have come forward to say they paid Croley in advance.

After court, Siesto and Raab, both 50, said they will be back for Croley’s trial. The couple lives in Queens, N.Y.

Holding the tin, Siesto said he wants to let people know how the poor animals at High Caliber K-9 suffered.

“This man did this,” Siesto said of Croley. “I’m very disappointed today. I thought this monster would have admitted what he did — he’s a coward.”

Of the dead dogs, Raab said: “We’re their voices.”

Croley was kept in a back room next to Judge Douglas’ court until the hallway cleared. Guards directed people away from the elevator, reserving it for Croley and his attorney, Heidi Hanni.

A red SUV picked Croley and Hanni up in front of the courts’ building on Boardman Street.

Croley was originally arrested on 19 counts of animal cruelty, but only four were actually filed. City Prosecutor Jay Macejko determined that the High Caliber K-9 property was illegally entered by representatives of Animal Charity, who used bolt cutters to cut a fence. The four counts relate to dogs seen before the fence was breached. The prosecutor said had he been called, he would have obtained a search warrant.


Those were the words we used to describe our Thanksgiving Feast. Seriously, I knew it would be good, but this was almost dangerous. The Sweet Potatoes were more than delicious. The stuffing was stupendous. The Turkey was TO DIE FOR. The mashed potatoes were marvellous. It was just all so extremely great. Then there were the pies. I don't know if there are appropriate adjectives to describe them. The crust of the apple pie was flaky and light, the apples had just the right amount of spices. The Pumpkin pie, again, was just wonderful. What a distinctly wonderful Thanksgiving.

Later today Lucy and I worked sheep. Seemed like the only thing to do when I know I needed exercise, and Lucy surely (always) wants to work.

We worked those odd-ball Cotswolds. They are just funky. The don't just move off a dog. No, not these ladies. They are lazy. They wait to see what the dog has before they move off. We worked for a good while, with breaks. The Cotswold sisters were getting perturbed. Now, the other sheep were fine. No dog was slicing, or gripping, but they just were not "into" it. For the first time that I can remember, Lucy sped the sheep up, using just her presence/eye. The cool thing is that she did it when I asked, and another time, one CW decided to challenge her- that's when she pushed slowly forward and got her going. All nice and calmly.

Later we worked on some practice for penning, and then we worked on pulling off the fence. Now, Lucy has had trouble getting between sheep and a fence- you know, squishing through. Corners not so much, as she has space, but when they run along a fence, Lucy quite literally has to smoosh up into their butts/flanks. So, today she did.

Toward the end of the work, we worked on pulling off of their friends in another pen. This is when the CW sisters are at their worst. They will stop, they will stand, they will stomp and they will hit. They don't want to leave there. I had Lucy going both directions. At one point she pulled them off, and the CW sisters turned and stared at her. You know, I can't imagine what I would do, as I am a lover, not a hater, somewhat like Lucy... Anyway, Lucy held her ground, and when one went to hit her, she nailed her right in the nose,pushed her back and stayed her ground. Then they ewes turned away. They seriously needed that.

Lucy wishes the sheep would just please move along. She is one of those dogs who can and will grip, but she would like to try for diplomacy first. The CW sisters don't know from Diplomacy. I wish I had gotten a picture of her handling that ewe who charged her. I used to worry about Lucy's confidence when working sheep like this, but I think at this point, her confidence is upped each time she wins- which is every time now. She's old enough to really have to work the sheep she has, and she's smart, and fit enough to do it. I hope that having gone through the work of this, Lucy will have the power just emit from her, and there won't be any hesitation by the CW sisters :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well, tomorrow's the big day. Turkey day, eat too much day, do lots of washing of pots and pans and china and crystal day. Basically, a day filled with lots of stuff, and most importantly, getting some good down time in with my family. Can't wait! I shall bring my point and shoot, and therefore, you can all see what I have been talking about!

Today we worked sheep. Something about a Holiday coming- it's good to get it off on the right start. It wasn't too chilly, and no precipitation- that's good for this time of year! I worked Lucy with a mix of sheep, and things went well :) We have been working on lots of straight on walk ups, using her eye, remaining steady. It's something that she does well, most of the time, but sometimes she doesn't, and we need 100% correctness on this, because when sheep see dogs take their eyes off them, and flank, that signifies to the sheep that either that dog is a) weak, or b) has something nefarious planned, or c) is nuts. None of the above is conducive to moving sheep effectively. I am somewhat to blame for this, because it's something I didn't really ever focus on, because the sheep moved off so easy. Well, maybe SOME sheep will, but not all.

After a bit we worked some lambs. Now, I was filled with apprehension. They hadn't been worked by dogs. Lucy handled them very well. She didn't zip them, she did some great covering, and basically, just handled them like she would other sheep- just a bit more carefully, because lambs you know, don't always know WHERE they want to go. There is also something extremely cool about sending a dog to fetch sheep, and having the sheep just look at the dog, honestly not knowing what they are supposed to do, and the dog taking their hands, so to speak, and teaching them that they should move off, and go where needed. It is very very cool. She had no troubles at all with these wonderful lambs. Good for you Luce!

I took a couple of pics of Lucy today.

This first shot is Lucy on her perch, trying to see the action, the best she can.

This shot I have decided to call "At the Ready"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We were Country When Country wasn't cool

Yeah, that's us, our family. This little ditty by Barbara Mandrell (with a little help from George Jones). The town we grew up in is now considered "Cool". Back then, it was known as the dead zone. Nothing going on. One light, one grocery store, one Pharmacy, and one family restaurant. Now there are several Pharmacies, the A&P is out of business, and the family restaurant has been replaced by an Indian restaurant. Cripes, I think there is even a Sushi restaurant now. People remark how they LOVE that town. OH MY. So, it's a cool town. Big whoop.

Things sure have changed, for the better? I don't know, but I certainly know, my family and I were country, when country wasn't cool.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday before a Holiday :)

Thanksgiving is finally just about here. It's my favorite (and my dog's) Holiday. The food has always been good. Yep, my entire life I have eaten at the same place, same time, and the same food, and every single year I look forward to it with extreme anticipation, mixed with a major need for sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and apple and pumpkin pie (among other items). I help out each year, along with my sister, and now my nephews have gotten their hands in too, by pulling the bread apart for stuffing, and helping with rolling out the dough for the pies, as well as peeling those apples. It's really a lovely affair. Some how my mother puts it together each year so that everything is ready at the same time, and everything tastes perfect. I think I may have gotten some of her good cooking genes, but she really is unsurpassed in the cooking/baking department. She also makes some KICK BUTT Norwegian cookies- which take real skill, and patience (I don't have that gene). I shall have to get pics of the spread this year just so you all can see what I am talking about...

Yesterday I decided to shoot some pics of November at my place. In the tree shot, can you spy the Mourning Dove? Every year about this time, they start hanging around my house, sitting on that branch, willing me to put the bird feeder out.

The next shot is just an obligatory of Lucy chewing her new Nylabone

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Down time

Today we didn't work any ovines. Just worked in the house, hit the market and chilled. Made a nice dinner for myself, with leftovers for the dogs. I did get a call from a friend who is concerned about her dog being afraid of the teeter totter in agility class. Apparently the trainer who is running the class believes it appropriate to drag said dog over the teeter totter and force him to face his fears. Yeah, THAT will work. Now she has a dog who hides under chairs in the room- won't do agility at all. Great. Nice job "trainer". When a dog is afraid of something you need to gradually work up to the dog accepting this new object in his life. Lucy was afraid of the teeter at first (she ran off the end when it was in the air). I simply employed my tried and true techniques for teaching her that the teeter is not scary, and that all good things come from it. This was AFTER I took the pressure off, and allowed her to realize that agility was still fun, and we could ignore that scary teeter. This dog could very well be soured to agility now. My suggestion to her was to ix nay on the teeter for now, and if the trainer tries to bully her, then leave the class. I will teach her what she needs in agility. Sheesh.

Had a bad night last night. I saw a tumor on my old kitty's gum- right where her upper canine sits when the mouth is closed on her lower jaw. Majority of these are cancerous, and I just So, I cried for about an hour, then pulled myself together. Will call the vet tomorrow. Wish I could get a vet to come here- she hates the car ride so much. Maybe I will try that.

Ginger is my heart and soul. Crying just typing this. Well, no sense in borrowing trouble, will get to the bottom of it this week...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A cooooooool day

Okay, what is happening?! It was SIXTEEN degrees this morning when I left to go work sheep. Some times I wish my car didn't have an outside thermometer built in. It's sort of nice not knowing how COLD it is when you are heading to a place that's normally cooler than your own....

Today I gave Lucy a break from the ewes that are a bit vexing to her. They are a bit different from that she is used to, and that means training her on them can be fraught with stops and starts- as she figures them out. In other words, I just wanted to take away one difficulty for her. I also brought out my penny bottle- to reinforce my "you will take the downs" mode.

Lucy worked very very well. I was especially happy with how I had her fetch the length of the field, she brought them up, took the downs I asked, we turned the imaginary post, and she drove them a good distance away- the longest ever- almost out of hearing range, and I was able to ask for and get good clean driving flanks. Wow. That is so nice to see.

Later I worked with my friend. We had her pull of a person, which we haven't done in a bit. The first time I sent her was PERFECT. No, not exaggerating, just simply 100% correct, and without me needing to whistle once. So, I moved a bit, and sent her again- this time not so good. She didn't come straight on to them, and then they couldn't get where she wanted them to go- she flanked side to side. That wasn't good at all Ms Lucy! But, it goes back to her concern I think of the holding out person. We just simply have to work me downing her nice and deep at the top and not allowing any flanking as she comes in, period. Sort of like the down requirements. Lucy is not afraid of the sheep- anyone who has seen her deal with a charging sheep, or raring to get in with ornery sheep know that- she simply has to build up the technique of using a bit more eye, and less side to side motion. Derek said this in our critique, and I have been working on it. It is coming along well, just need more work.

Then, as we chatted, the sheep ran up the field to the top of the hill where their buddies are. The easy way to send is to the left, as there is lots of room to come in, and then scoop off the fence, and bring to me. Well, upon instruction, I sent her the hard way- away to me. The sheep were all near the gate where their friends were ensconced safely away. Lucy took off with good speed/confidence, stayed along the fence, and as she got closer, the sheep all turned to look at her. Now, she is coming up a hill, sheep are staring and she has to move right into them, along the fence, stay calm as they move off to the left, cover, but not over flank, and bring them to me calmly. That's just what she did. Wow. My how she has matured. It pretty well made my day.

On the way home it took some time to warm up a bit. I stopped and got a sandwich for my meal for the day, and am still trying to get completely warm. It may take until tomorrow, I am afraid.

So, in closing, it was a very cooool day- both in temperature and sheep work :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

YIKES it's cold!

Sixteen degrees this morning. WOW. That's EXTREMELY cold for November. Me thinks my plan of using much less oil may have a fly in the proverbial ointment... Darn.
Well, one thing, is the dogs complete their morning constitutionals in record time, no lolly-gagging around for them! I would like to work Lucy on sheep this weekend, but man, it's cold out there. She is fine, but I get chilly- especially if their is wind.
We'll see.

I cannot WAIT for that movie "Australia" to hit the screens this Thanksgiving- I am SO there. I LOVE epic movies, and this has gotten very good reviews, as well as teaching me a bit about Australian history, so, right up my alley!

Today I would love to walk around the mall, and shop- hee hee- if I had any $$ I would :) I will have to do as usual, and ear mark items in catalogs to "some day" buy, which means never. Oh well. Some day, maybe three years from now? Things will be much better. Just gotta hang on until then.

I have purchased a more affordable food for the Kelpies (not Tucker, he gets Taste of the Wild- it's the only thing he does extremely well on), and they seem to be doing well. I can get 35 lbs of this food for $27.00, and that's a HECK of a lot better than the 20 lbs for $26+ for the California Natural I was buying. PLUS they seem to look very good on it.

Kitten was FUNNY last night. He was being bad and scratching at my lazy boy chair (which Ginger started, so I can't blame him). Anyway, I yelled at him to stop, and Kylie, my enforcer ran up and stopped him- she's helpful that way :) Anyway, he stopped, and body blocked her. As if to say "Oh, you don't scare me- take That!". Then, he ran into the bedroom; ran right up to Nikke, and rolled on his back and started pawing her feet. He's one Cheeky fellow that kitten. To top off this antics last night, as I walked into the spare room to check something, he was sitting on a dog crate- saw me, leaped off, and came right to in front of me, and rolled onto his back and flailed about- it's his usual game (see previous post). He purred along as he did this flailing. Too funny. When we were all settling in for the night, he got right between Kylie and Lucy and curled up and went to sleep, sleeping with his pack. Someone forgot to tell him that he is a cat.