Tuesday, September 30, 2008
So, it's been a while since Lucy has gone off to learn the Zen of sheep herding. It's odd. I do miss her, but I see in my other dogs, that things are more relaxed around the house for them. She is a bossy girl. Always putting her nose in things. The only one that misses her, I can see, is Mr. Chips, my young cat. He is positively annoying to my older cat now, and he is ambushing Kylie. He sleeps right where Lucy would, so even though I thought I would have lots of room in bed, he is in her spot. I also wonder what she will think about coming home to no sheep. I mean, she gets to work every day. What if when I bring her home she is miserable? I never thought of this...
I don't know. It's really been an roller coaster of emotions for me lately. I think Lucy will at least, when all is said and done, be a better sheep dog (that's for sure), and I hope that as she matures, less will be more in terms of work, and we can progress a bit and enjoy each other out there.
I also wonder about how much time I will be spending working sheep in general. Gas is still so expensive, and money is as tight as it can be. I think my life is changing like so many others. Changing to not spending unless necessary (sheep work isn't necessary), and basically battening down the hatches. Oh to win the lottery. So, who knows. I think in the end, we get what we need, not what we want. And, sometimes what we THINK we want, isn't IT at all.
Yeah, weird feelings- I told you!
Monday, September 29, 2008
My door is not road sign green. See, I painted it some time ago, and it came out, shall we say, more primary in colour than I would like. I kept hoping it would grow on me, but I ended up growing to hate it. So, I got a darker paint and put on the first coat. Looks much better already. It is so hard to pick a good paint colour...
I will have to put another coat on it soon, but for now, MUCH improved.
Finally, the weather seems to have cleared up! YEAH! I love fall, but not fall rain. We need it though- my lawn is pretty sparse in areas.
Well, this is a pretty boring installment, but, hey, life can BE boring! Maybe the next post I can regale you with something exciting like, um, watching paint dry ;)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Okay, now that old business has been taken care of..
"I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam"- you know that song? Well, this morning I got up and made my traditional toast and jam with a nice cup of java, and that song came into my mind. The toast was perfect, the coffer superb- how better to start a day I ask you? Truth be told, it was a great start, because I slept in a bit. It is really odd with less dogs in the house these days. Everyone seems more relaxed except for Mr. Chips- he runs around grabbing this and that, and just can't settle. He must miss Lucy- even if the other dogs don't!
Don't expect to get much done today. I just sort of want to lay low. I haven't done that in so long. A weekend of rest, now, THAT'S a novel idea! I miss working sheep a bit, but I think a break is needed here and there, and I am sure the sheep won't mind!
Last night the dogs all got sirloin steak with their dinners. Can you say HAPPY DOGS!? Yes, the steak was way too big for me, and I figured, why not spoil them a bit. I seem to have a certain level at which meat not only is too filling, but I end up saying NO! to anymore, that happened yesterday with my/our meal.
I want to take this time to thank everyone for their condolences on my loss of Cori. Though I know it was the right decision, it makes it no easier. It has put things into perspective for me. I have decided that I need to reassess why I have dogs. I don't have them to compete with, I don't have them to show off, I have them because they enrich my life. That's pretty much it. When a dog becomes just a tool, something that has only one purpose, then, when things go south with that purpose, what do you have left? I may always be that girl with "that" dog out there on the trial field, or I may not. We will work hard to improve, but at the end of the day, what you really have is your friend, near you, adoring your every move- the least we can do is to return the favor by enjoying them for WHO THEY ARE, not WHAT WE WANT THEM TO BE. I guess the same could be said for ourselves. If we spend our time wishing/wanting for things, and never just notice, and be thankful for all we have, what do we have? A lifetime of misery. Nothing will ever be enough. Funny, the lessons our dogs teach us.
You may have noticed that I have changed my blog title. I think it just fits some how, much better :)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Sure has been odd not having Cori around. She always lay in the same place in the living room. The dogs at home have been doing well. They don't miss Ms Lucy. She is quite the bossy bitch, and I swear they are singing "ding dong the witch is gone!" But, they WILL know next month when she comes back.
I got some cleaning done today, but nothing major. It feels good doing pretty much not much of anything, exvcept watching tv. The cats are good company for that ;0)
Tomorrow, probably a repeat of today. I've no discretionary funds right now, so staying home and not spending money is my best "bet".
Friday, September 26, 2008
Lucy and I ran at the Nebca Novice finals. Ran, yes. Did well? No. But, we were there, and a professional photographer, by the name of Alicia Gwozsz took some great pics of Lucy. I have put them up here for you all to check out. All photographs are copywright: Alicia Growodz
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Cori passed away peacefully in my arms last night. Sometime early in the evening, Cori started crying again. I found her on her side, her legs outstretched in front of her, unable to get up. I tried to help her up, but she didn't want to. It was then that I knew I had to do something. I brought her to the emergency vet and the vet gave me my options. My gut, my heart knew that Cori just was not able to fight this anymore. I have never been present for one of my own animals being put to sleep. I was light headed when I agreed. For a fleeting moment, I almost changed my mind. When it was time, and the sedative was administered, Corl started to fall asleep, and as she did I kissed her forehead, and told her I loved her over and over. Words can't describe how my heart aches. She's gone. I will never see her again. I have uploaded some pics to show my girl. I don't know if it will get easier. Right now my heart is broken.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
My old dog Cori is sick. She presented with just looking ill to me on Monday. Brought her to the vet- she had a fever. Vet did not offer anything in the way of treatment. I requested blood work, and he gave me Dermaxx for her. That night Cori was in a bad way- laying under the table crying in pain.
When I got home yesterday, Cori could not get up. I brought her to the vet. Vet asks if other vet tested for Lyme disease- no, of course not- you know, he wasn't worried. She still had a fever- well, no kidding, because there was no treatment. So, this vet gave me tramadol for her pain, and doxy for infection (lyme?). Cori hid under the deck this morning, and only ate 1/2 of her breakfast. I think Cori is not long for this world. It is very hard. All I can do is keep her relatively pain free, and treat what we can. I am very upset, but I keep thinking that she may rally.
I have dropped Lucy off to sheep boot camp. So far she seems to have adjusted well.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So, first, he worked on the downs with her, and then me. She seems to get it rather quickly. But, we've much more to go. Worked on driving a fair bit yesterday- she likes that- and the sheep were good for that. It was all in all a successful day. One little bobble or two though. At one point I sent her, and she had a nice outrun, but the sheep started walking off exit stage left. Well, we had been doing lots of driving there, and I think she actually thought "hmm, feels like we should be driving", so I had to tell her to walk/wake up ;) Then she brought them- and now, even though they are slow, she is able, when I ask to push them a little faster- she stays more behind them, and not so much wearing- that is good girl!
Another time I sent her to pull off, and there was a lagger- she sort of hung by the set out person, and Lucy neglected to get her- that's bad- but you know what, she looked at me, and I didn't see the sheep there... Sort of both of our faults!
The best part of the day though, was when I went clear to the opposite end of the field from where they sheep were glued to the pen area where their friends were, and sent Lucy. Now, a couple times there recently, Lucy was a bit confused when at one point a lamb, and then an adult wouldn't move off, but they wouldn't stand to her either. Oh, and then another time, a ewe came at her. So, given that she could use more confidence in these situations, I didn't know what I would see. So, anyway, now that I have digressed (sorry!), I sent her, and that little lass came up so nice and deep, walked up confidently, the sheep turned off quick, and Lucy stayed settled, and finished her moving between them and the fence and she brought them to me with me not saying a word. VERY good work Lucy! I try and not say a lot to her, because I think it's important that she figures out what is right, instead of me teaching her everything. I will be there to tell her if she is wrong, but otherwise, I will let her instinct guide her.
On another front, I gave my old dog Cori a bath last night- MAN did she need it. She has these cysts that sometimes weep, and she just has some serious old dog smell. I think she felt better right away.
Oh, and joy- someone (I think Nikke) peed in the living room this morning. Great fun to clean the lake up before I go to work- NOT.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Are YOU a problem thinker?
It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.
I began to think alone - "to relax," I told myself. But I knew it wasn't true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.
I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don't mix, but I couldn't stop myself.
I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"
Things weren't going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother's. I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, "Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don't stop thinking on the job, you'll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.
I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I've been thinking..."
"I know you've been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"
"But Honey, surely it's not that serious."
"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don't make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won't have any money!"
"That's a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I'd had enough. "I'm going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.
I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with NPR on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors... they didn't open. The library was closed.
To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.
As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker's Anonymous poster.
Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky's." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.
I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed... easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
So, then we had our second run for the day. This time I vowed to try and finish the run- not leave my post- if they didn't bolt for the black hole. I have been doing that a lot lately- just giving up, and it hasn't helped much, so...
Anyway, we go up to the post, and I send her left again. She came around and in nice, and this time got them to the post for me- this is no easy feet with these sheep, and a high test, instinctual girl (dog, not me). So, we turn the post and begin our drive. Sheep were being bumped by Lucy, and this causes them to run ahead, and then she runs to cover- can you hear the adding machine MINUS button being pressed? I could. OH JEEZ Lucy, please just COOL IT. I said a lot of that. I even had someone comment that they liked that term ;) So, we finally got to the pen, and no, no freakin' WAY these sheep were penning for that dog. Don't blame them- well, except that they could have saved a lot of running if they did ;) So, we ended our run, and exhausted our sheep.
Now, this second run was tough in other ways. Now that the sheep had been run once, they knew where the exhaust was... Some dogs were left having to cover once the sheep were near the gate. Lucy was smart enough never to let them get that close- even if it WAS ugly- she ran in right and headed. Some dogs really had to walk up and then walk up more- the sheep were getting a bit ornery. ******** Our score was pretty bad, because, well, when you only get 1 point on the drive, and no pen, even with very good other stuff, you still suck pond water. But, at least we finished the course, right?
The trial was run really well, and the sheep sorted out the dogs, as it should be. There were some very good runs, and many not so good. Basically, what you expect. I don't begrudge the sheep anything. They are sheep- we have to deal. I should say LUCY has to deal- did you hear that Lucy?
So, after the trial, we had some fun runs. Well, not runs, but you were basically able to work the sheep, and work on anything you liked. Well, Lucy and I went out there, and had 4 fresh sheep to work. We picked them up nicely, and Lucy fetched, and was getting a bit high. I tried to do basic flank work with her, but she would not take a single down. She was too busy trying to cover them. They were high, and so was she. That's bad, in case you didn't know. So, at one point my friend had come into the gate that was part of the exhaust and the sheep were all crowding him. Lucy didn't know how to get them all off, but once my friend moved off the wall, she was able to get them to me. Lucy's brains had all but fallen out by now- she was hot, instead of downing she was leaving me, and looking for shade. It was time to quit. We headed toward the exhaust, and were leaving, and someone said we should exhaust those sheep. No big deal right? I sent Lucy on an away- and that was to bring them to the draw- do you see where a high/spent dog might go astray? Well, I didn't. What happened was, I sent her- the sheep came running full speed to the exhaust, and Lucy, at the last minute decided to run in front and stop the leader. Now, they are running FULL TILT. The leader jumps up in the air as some jumpy sheep do, to leap over Lucy. Lucy at that same moment jumps up to stop her, and they SLAM together in mid air. BOOM!!!! The sheep was thrown a over tea kettle, and landed on her back, legs flailing, and Lucy also on her back/side, and let out a yelp. MY LORD Lucy, what were you thinking? Anyway, the sheep got up unscathed, though, maybe she won't try and jump over a dog again? No, she probably won't have learned a thing. Lucy got up okay too. At that point since it was SUCH a hit, I wanted to make sure she was okay with the sheep. I walked her up to them where they were squished against the exhaust gate, and she moved them off no problem. Wow. Seriously. I have seen dogs hit a LOT less than that, and been cowed. Not her. I was though. Another friend of mine and I had less than good times with those sheep, so we asked if we could use the sheep in the other smaller paddock. We did. It went way better. Lucy took her flanks, and downs and was generally calmer- good way to end the day.
On the whole, it was a good weekend with sheep, but we've lots of mileage to put on to be able to handle sheep like this well...
Friday, September 12, 2008
The following graphic is something I put together, rather hastily, of my Lucy. I thought the "Evolution of a Sheepdog" caption was quite apropos. The first picture is Lucy at her first ever clinic. The second picture is of Lucy at her first lesson. You can see she is a bit happy :) The third picture is Lucy working nice and steady. I may put this on a t-shirt, not sure, but I do rather like it.
Today I have to decide if I will head up to work sheep tonight, or just try and work them a bit in the morning before the trial... I don't know. If I felt better, I would be more decided. My main goal for the trial is to use a calm quiet voice. That is really the most important thing for Lucy. If I get hyped, so does she. I wonder when the googlies will stop, and I can stay calm at trials... Hope soon!
To everyone who popped on over here from my other blog, thanks for stopping by. It's nice to have you :)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Today is not a good day for me. I woke up this morning feeling pretty crappy- like I have a cold. This is not good. Have a trial this weekend, and am still working flat out like a lizard drinking- so I've no time to be sick. Not surprised though- been WAY too busy. Bad part about all of this is that I need to work Lucy again before the trial, and to do that, I have to feel un-crappy. The other bad part of today, is that it is essentially a cry day for me. It's 9/11 anniversary. I have never been the same since that day. NEVER. I cry at things I never cried over, I find myself a much more empathetic person, and I regard with distaste, those that say we should "get over it". I have a list of every single person who died on the two airplanes that smashed into the towers. I will keep it always. Great, now I am crying again. Those people went into work that day, minding their own business, and never came out of that building. They left their families with giant holes in their hearts, never to be repaired. Some people say we should go on and forget, I say never ever forget. It is our duty to our fallen countrymen that we NEVER forget them, as they would never forget us.
I remember being notified about this at work- "A plane just hit the twin towers". I stood in silence in the admin office. I then called my mother who had heard, but didn't know what was going on. We listened to the radio, and got updates about another plane hitting the Pentagon. Then I went to the community room where they had a television set up, and I watched it all unfold. I was surprised how few people were in there watching... On the way home, I saw a woman driving the other direction crying hysterically. For weeks/months afterward, I would duck ever so slightly when planes flew over. I had nightmares about Bin Laden. To this day, I do not want to go see ground zero. I don't think I ever will. It would rip my heart out. Maybe some day, when I have grandchildren....
So, today is a get through it day. 9/11 is a day I look greatly forward to being over.
God Bless all the families who lost loved ones.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
What I think is funny about all of this, is that I was told that all of this behaviour (working other dogs/animals) would stop once I put Lucy on sheep. Just the opposite occurred. Lucy never really bothered trying to work Lucy before sheep, and pretty much took a passing interest in the cat. Now, she is all about working something on down time from sheep. I am able to call her off from doing this stuff, but clearly, it sure isn't be extinguished merely by working the appropriate animals ;)
A few other random observations: Lucy loves loves loves when someone else comes into the field to work with us. It's almost like she likes the other people more than me ;) No, just kidding, but clearly, she is so keyed/focused on the sheep when they come into the field- she knows what's up. Lucy also likes it when the odd Border Collie arrives, because THEY may be holding sheep for us - GOODY! or, they may be working on shedding, which Lucy LOVES to "help" by preventing escaping. The other thing Lucy really relishes is when we approach the small shed/pen. She *really* wants to go in there, and move those sheep around- even the mean ones. I don't know why, but it is really the highlight of her day. I guess that's good.
On the whole, there isn't much Lucy doesn't like about sheep work, except, maybe for stopping....
Monday, September 8, 2008
We didn't work too too much, and when I saw her eyes glaze over a bit toward the end (well, not really glaze over, but I can see when enough's enough) of our driving and flanking, we ended there. Lucy just simply never wants to leave her sheep. Talk about work ethic. It's not a crazy thing either, it's just a need to work for me, PLEASE!
We did one route around a "course" but, as my trainer so eloquently put- we will lose BIG time if I let her bump the sheep like she did. Just because these are plodding sheep, doesn't mean that the trial sheep will be- they WON'T! Got to keep her honest.
So, good work my Lucy Lou. I love you.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
we only played a short time- we were both tired. Lucy is such a good girl. Sometimes I circle things to DEATH when I drive home from working her on sheep- and I am glad I get it all out by the time I get home. See, there are some things I need to teach her, and I don't know how, all the time, and I feel like maybe she should know them, or more truthfully, I should be a better handler. I just hope that my mistakes don't etch away at her ability. That is probably why I am sending her out more than anything- so I don't mess her up. Right now, she is just absorbing so much, it is the perfect time to send her out. I know if I keep saying it, I will believe it... Right Luce?
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
ETA: Well, shoot, the vid is too long to embed, so here's the youtube link:
(just copy/paste; clearly I am too dumb to make a link!)
When we worked sheep this last time, it was HOT. These sheep apparently, either don't like the heat, or aren't adjusted to it. They were very very slow- even on the fetch, to the point of stopping. This is so alien to Lucy. WHAT? the sheep aren't RUNNING to mom?? What to do- how to hurry them along??? There are some good things that come from working sheep like this- the dog has to think about what will work to move them. The dog also has to have a good strong lift. All very good things in dogs who sometimes aren't thoughtful- though, I will say, Lucy has gotten so much more thoughtful- I think she is finally growing up! Anyway, the sheep were under a tree, and I sent Lucy. She came in nicely, and got them lifted, and then it was work work work for her to move them. They just didn't want to move a lot. So, she had to wear them- go from eye to eye of the outside sheep, and keeping them on line was HARD. I said nothing as she did this. The sheep weren't drawn to me either, so it was hard going. Lucy did get them to me though ;) I should have stopped there, but again, I am stupid... So, I did a few more of these fetches, and twice she got so frustrated at their non- moving ways, that she zipped around them- NO NO Lucy, can't do that. Then we ended with short fetches to under a tree, and that went well. This all taught Lucy that it ain't all fun and games when fetching sheep!
I also worked on some driving with Lucy, though she wasn't as good as last time- it was VERY hot, but she did pretty well, and is taking her downs, and starting to get her inside flanks better. We still have a ways to go, but I do believe she likes this driving stuff- because SHE is at the steering wheel :)
All in all it was good work, I never once had to lie her down at the lift, because she needed the walk in power. That's good. Fair to midland I would say, but not bad, for a day's work!