Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another trial, lots to learn

Lucy and I ran at a usbcha trial this weekend- novice classes. We ran Sat and Sun. On Sat, when I walked out to the field I paid attention to which side Lucy set herself up for. It was come by. So, I sent her. It was a stunning outrun. Seriously, it was very nice. She got behind the sheep- they jumped, and she CIRCLED them. DAGNABIT!!!!!! But, then she was calm, got them to my feet, and we made it through the rest of the course. We got a horrible score- mainly because all but 5 points were taken off the outrun for her shenanigans on the top, and completely screwed up the turn at the post. But, we did pen them, and I was happy with the run. On Sunday, again I sent her come by, and it was a good outrun, and this time no circling. She brought them true, and for SOME FREAKIN' reason I messed up at the post turn- the judge said that we didn't make a full turn. Anyway, we did (I thought) decent on the drive. The pen, was, however, a different story. We could not get them penned, and she was just crazy. Still, I thought we had a good run until then. Nope, just as bad a score as yesterday. We only came away with 9 points on the fetch and 6 on the drive. I guess we can't win for losing. I have no real idea what costs us so many points, and it is very frustrating. I KNOW Lucy to be a better worker than this, and it hurts me to see her score so low. I couldn't care about placements, or ribbons or the like- I just want others to see what my girl can do. The upside is that Lucy did get full points for her outrun and lift this time. I am a bit defeated. I think from now on I will have someone video our runs, so that I can see just WHAT is going wrong, and work to fix it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to normal

Well, now that things have settled back to normal, life is some how much nicer! I do enjoy visiting, but I *really* enjoy routine, and I lost that for a couple of weeks. Lucy who did some odd stuff last time I worked her, so I have given her some time off, seems back to normal energy. She really seemed just plain tired- sleeping a lot, and well, just not herself. But, yesterday when swimming after some geese, I could see she was really pumping her legs hard, and she looked good. Today we go to another golf course. We are entered in three trials this weekend- yes three. I had entered one, forgot about it, and then entered another that is a two dayer. Not sure what I will do. On Sat we head up to Peter V's for a novice usbcha trial, and on Sun, there is an asta trial and also the second of Peter's. Not sure what to do about that. I may try and do both... Hee hee hee! After these trials though, we have a bit of a break. I need another dog to work, because I see myself drilling Lucy too much, and I hate myself for it. I have come to the realization that training a dog isn't so much about perfecting the work, it's about perfecting the interaction between handler/dog/sheep. That just can't be rushed, or squished into small dots of time. I am so torn between breeding Lucy, and getting a nice BC pup. After the clinic, I was set on a BC pup, but dang I love everything about Lucy. Just everything.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Working dogs, why? What for?

Well, I finally feel like the honeymoon is over. I am at the point where I finally see what all this business about working sheep with my dog is really about. It isn't about getting out there occasionally, and letting my dog have at it- though I never really felt that way; perhaps I was ambivalent about it. I knew that wasn't right, but what IS it all about? It's simply about using your dog to move sheep in the least stressful way possible- with your dog. I recently saw a friend of mine's dog move sheep in such a way that these sheep were completely happy to go where he asked, and they moved calmly, and happily. It is the picture we all should strive for. Keeping your dog off- clean flanks- it isn't for show- it's to keep the sheep settled. Calm lifts- again, for the sheep's benefit. ALL of this is for the SHEEP. The sheep dutifully help us achieve this with our dogs, and in the end, sheep benefit. Lucy is now just over 2 years old and is coming to the realization that she has to be calm for our work to be good- not just clean, but settled- then the sheep are settled. I have come to realize, at the same time, that my dog is bored. Truly, with the same work, repeated over and over. She needs, and loves real work. Lucy is so wonderful to live with- when off sheep, she is a model pet. When on sheep, she is all focus. But, the last two times I worked her she balked when I sent her on one of our practice outruns. I think she isn't feeling well, but it made me reflect on what I am doing with her, and what I need to do to fix it- I need to lay off on the drilling and put her to real work. I would even lease her out to someone at this point if I could. I am going to approach my brother about keeping sheep at his place, and removing some trees, so we could work the dog(s). I see my life changing, and it is unavoidable- we need to change, fundamentally, they way we live. There should be some changes coming- stay tuned in- I will keep you posted!