Saturday, January 31, 2009

A busy morning

Na, not one lick of sheepherding. Not even any sheepherding on youtube. I awoke early this morning- there is a lot on my mind. I also woke up at my usual 3:00 a.m., as usual. I don't know why that's happening.

Anyway, I was up early, and as I was getting some morning chores done, Kylie had jumped up on the bed, let out some urine, and then, as she realized that and ran to the door, there was a good amount of blood left in the puddle. Great. So, I ran to the store for my weekly trip (and ordered the cake for tomorrow), hit the Pharmacy, and the dog food store, and then zipped up to the Vet's for the appointment I had made for Kylie.

While in the vet's office, some lady was showing a pic of what appeared to be a Yorkie, and told her that her friend bought this dog for $6000.00. ???????
I said "I can't believe anyone ADMITTED to paying that much for a dog". Are people NUTS????

I stupidly let Kylie empty her bladder before we went in, so they couldn't do a UA, but since she is a "spooky lukey" (my term for scared of everyone but me), she let some urine go on the floor- it contained white blood cells and bacteria. So, she's on Clavamox. Poor thing. I wish we could tell sooner when dogs had these things. She hasn't been acting fit as her usual fiddle lately, but I chalked it up to nothing in particular...

So, then I came home and shredded more old documents. Shredders are a great thing. Just don't leave them plugged in when not using- remember Stuart Mah's BC stuck his tongue in one and chopped off/diced up most of his tongue... That was a lesson learned vicariously for me!

So, now I am going to chill and watch Hallmark Channel- or maybe Top Chef?

I am taking a rest, anyhow!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kelpie Snow Removal

Lucy, apparently has decided that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade. I was on the phone with my sister, and had let Lucy outside, where upon I found her doing this: (ps: I am saying "nuts" in response to my sister and I talking about the woman with the octuplets

I'm okay, you're okay

I think it's time to lift spirits. Spirits of those who are trying to make it through not only this time of discontent with respect to the weather, but also, regarding the economy. I little piece of advice here, don't, whatever you do, go to google news and type in "layoffs". That will just shock you, and send you into a bit of a nervous depression. I have never seen the this in my life time. Just about everyone I know is being touched, or nearly touched by this. I can only hope that those who are being layed off have a good support network, and know that their job is not who they are. They were born without it, and will die without it, so life does go on.

There are some things that really make my day better, and here are a few

1) Good coffee in the morning

2) My dog curled up against me at night

3) My cat curled up in her bed next to me at night, purring in response to me telling her I love her.

4) The joy on my dog's faces when they realize that I am feeding them gourmet delights yet again

5) Watching NCIS, and Top Chef

6) Good food

7) Chatting with other sheep dog folks about plans

8) Coming home to a relatively clean house on a Friday, with two days off in a row

9) The prospect of a puppy, coming. soon.

10) Knowing I am loved very much by my family

What about you all?
Come on now, this is our collective AMEN that we are all OKAY!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I don't know what to do

My old boy Tucker has not been doing that well lately. No, he isn't failing miserably, but he seems cold a lot- so is always looking for somewhere warmer to sleep (he now gets piles of blankets next to the heat register). His lymph gland has grown, but he seems totally unaffected by it. The main issue is his peeing in the house. He just seems to go, without knowing it's happening. Then, by the time he realizes it and runs to the door, he's already empty. At least once a day there is a large volume let go. He is weak behind- his back end sinks half way down to the floor when he is just standing. What do I do? Yeah, I know, bring him to the vet, have them test his urine (like they have done myriad times), have it come back "fine", and then what? He should be on prednisone for his gland, but that will really wreak havoc on his urinary system. Any suggestions?

A good day, followed by not so good

Yesterday I was a whirlwind domestic. I got my house cleaned- well, most of it anyway. I did lots of vacuuming (which I should have done on the weekend, but couldn't bring myself to). I spent lots of time going slow. Everything looks great. With the dogs on the better food, lots less hair is being shed, so that's really great. I also went through my filing cabinet and identified what I can shred, and re-organized everything. Now, each dog has their own file. Much neater that way. I was going to throw away Cori's file, but I just couldn't. I don't want to forget her in any way.

When I got home yesterday, I noticed Ginger trotting toward me on the bed, but no Mr. Chips. I figured he must have sneaked out yesterday morning, and that meant he had been out all day. This worried me greatly, because my property is currently under siege by another cat (I believe a Tom), who is spraying my car- apparently, he wants to claim my property. Mr Chips would NOT do well in a fight. I got more and more concerned as I called for him. I finally went inside, and who is there? The lad in the the flesh. Kylie gave him a bit of a grunt/grab for scaring me (she was looking for him too). PHEW. Crisis averted.

So, this morning, I get up, happy with my clean house, grumbling about the snow that is falling YET AGAIN. After morning chores, I take a look at my one fan tail fish. She (I don't know if it is a boy or girl, but I say "she", because she is pretty), is and has been upside down. Her swim bladder is just not right. She used to flip upside down, and then right herself for a few days, and then back upside down. But, recently she is always upside down and at the surface. She can't even get to food. Yesterday morning she was floating near the filter. I knew what should be done, but I had hoped she would go on her own. So, this morning, as I fed the fish, I made the decision to release her from her upside down bobbing prison of a body. I took her out, and put her in a bag, and placed her in the freezer. You know, I actually shed (and am now too) a tear. I had her for about 5 years now. I know that it was the right thing, but still, I hate to lose any of my animals, no matter what they are.

So, that's my "not so good". Bye girl- you were very pretty. I am sorry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Will Bo be your next working partner?

Bo is a rescue dog being fostered by a friend of mine. He used to be a goose dog, but has taken to sheepdog training exceptionally well. He is doing very very well.

This is a video of him working last fall- just getting started

Here is another short video of him working well in the corners, this was filmed in late November.

Bo impresses me greatly with his steadiness. He will maintain his composure when sheep are being treated/held. He will not get in the way, but remains very ready to do what is asked. His flanks are very clean. He will calmly wait his turn to work sheep. All he really wants, is to work for someone. Honestly, I think he would have been a REAL contender had he been started a bit earlier. That is not to say that he couldn't still trial well in pro-novice and/or ranch, maybe even open, but he is almost 6. I think though, that honestly, this dog would do best in a farm situation. One where you needed a dog who was confident and steady. The steady thing is just amazing to me. He can turn on like a flame when needed, but will not be in your way.
Bo is not good with children, and would prefer a home without other male dogs or cats.

We would *really* like to see Bo go to a farm situation. He has been on other properties and works well.

If you are interested in more information, please go to (dogs at the farm) and scroll down to "Bo".

Nothing much

This morning it was 16 degrees F! YEE HAW! Almost a heat wave. I hear that we won't be getting 12 inches tomorrow, just up to 8, with some ice mixed in. I bet the kids are happy about that- this has been a great year for the school kids, you know, all those snow days. Good for them- I still remember how happy I was to have snow days!

The dogs are all going a bit stir crazy... Well, really only Lucy. The others are older now, and thusly don't feel the need to run amok. This morning though, Lucy had to run outside and do some laps before I left. She is a good self exerciser. Oh, and remember the post about the cat and the paper towel roll? Well, he got it again. I had it on top of my tv, and he pulled it down and really did it in. He is fresh I tell you.

This weekend is the super bowl. I am not big into football, well, I do like to watch it, but hate to see my team lose, and since I am a Cowboys fan, well, I haven't watched a lot lately ;) I miss Jimmy Johnson... Anyway, my nephew is a Steelers fan, and has asked if I am coming to watch the game- course I am!! I plan to bring a cake decorated with the Steelers insignia too. Should be fun :)

Well, that's it for now. Maybe something really cool will happen, and I can report- LIKE THIS FREAKIN' WINTER WILL END!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hate it when that happens...

This is what happens when your cat is bored, and there is a nice new roll of paper towels within reach, and, furthermore:

I was making my coffee yesterday morning, and as I poured in the 1/2 and 1/2, it curdled. CRUD. Ruined that coffee. Hate it when that happens. Yesterday was a quiet day. Sheesh, when winters like this hit, you may as well call my wood chuck. I don't come out except when absolutely necessary.

This morning was better- fresh 1/2 and 1/2, great light pancakes, and what will I do today? I don't know. Again, it's in the single digits. Lucy has no extra hair on her feet/body, so she gets cold too. I know when the winter finally starts to release it's death grip, I will be extremely euphoric- along with just about everyone else!

Oh, one other thing. I saw a friend of mine's new BC pup the other day. OH MY. What a nice pup. I am sunk!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our last sheep work

Well, we finally got to work sheep. It had been a very long time. I was prepared this time with my smart wool socks, toe warmers and layers upon layers. It was 31 degrees, so not too cold, but I don't really want to get any more frost bite. Seriously. By the way, those smart wool socks? GET SOME!!!!!!!!! I have never had my feet feel that comfortable in any setting (I got the medium cusion). I was perfectly comfy cosy the whole time. I wish I knew about these earlier.

I worked only on a few outruns/lifts, because the snow is a bit treacherous still. Some of it is high drifts, and some crusty, and some icy. A real mix. Lucy did well. Coming straight in on her lifts, and nice, calm fetches- she also downed when I asked.

We worked on the whole flock for a bit. I have some videos, just like I said I would ;)

This first video is when we first got there, and had to get them out of the pen. You will note that the pen is rather small, and a lot of sheep came out of there ;)
Lucy is very comfortable with this now.

Then, at one point, I just had to get a video of Lucy who, when we were taking a break was just jonesing to see what was going on waaaay down the field...

Then, we pulled some sheep out of a corner. I started working on this not long ago, because Lucy needed to feel comfortable getting in, and around, even when she had to squish in there. It has worked. You will note that after Lucy gets them out, she doubles back to cover, because the draw is up the field, where they were headed. Smart dog.

This last clip is Lucy working a larger group. Lucy LOVES to walk up on sheep- and that's what she will revert to when she thinks I am not watching. Lucy likes to feel her dominion over sheep. I don't know how to put this in slow motion, but I wish I could- I did it on my computer, and watching her turn each sheep, is something of beauty. I am proud of my girl.

Oh, wait! I forgot the NEATEST thing. I was at the bottom of the field, and send Lucy to fetch the sheep- they were in the shed. I was videotaping, but IDIOT me, wasn't even focusing on them, anyway, she ran out, went into the pen, and into the shed, and brought them out and down the field to me. This was seriously cool.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Under Cover Angel

After a positively awesome day working sheep, on the way home, this song came on. I ROCKED to it. I mean I was swingin' and swayin', throwin' my arms up in the air, pointing, and saying "WHAT?? ooohh oooh oooh eee!" It was EXCELLENT. Brought back memories I tell you! Sweet after glow ;0) Then, I looked at my speedometer and was doing 85.... Thankfully I wasn't pulled over, but if I was, do you think I could just play this song for him, and get off?

Then, as if THAT wasn't ENOUGH, THIS came on! I tell you, I am JUICED!!!!! GO 70's!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

40 Things about me

I am a twin
I have blue eyes
My sign is Cancer
I don't like most sea food
I have been over sees three times in my life. (I would live in Norway in a heartbeat)
I used to work on the show jumping circuit
I met Conrad Homefeld and Joe Fargis in our home barn
One time on the way to my job, there was so much snow my fan belt got pushed off, but the snow kept the engine cool
I sing well
I am a decent piano player
I am a decent writer, when the urge strikes
My first dog was a Bouvier, named "Tally"
My first cat's name was "Mittens"
My favorite meals are roast beef and roast chicken- with mashed potatoes of course
My major in college was Biology
I have almost every veterinary text published
I won the dance-a-thon in my high school
My first car was a Chevy Nova
I was almost killed in a car accident when I was 20
I can still remember my high school locker combination
My favorite movies are "Thelma and Louise", "Titanic", "Braveheart", among others
I hate flavored coffee
I love Peanut Butter cups, or should I say, my HIPS love them
I once unloaded a full tractor trailer load of shavings by myself
My friends and I lip synced "Paradise by the Dashboard light" at a lip sync competition when we were in high school
I was in Chorus in school for five years
I bought my own first home at 27
I HATE runny eggs
I am afraid of snow blowers (too many hands chopped off in the ER)
My favorite animals are.... DOGS dummy!
I would love to run a zoo
I have a distaste for oceanariums, where they keep intelligent marine mammals and have them do tricks for us
I do the crossword puzzle every day

That's all I can think of, seriously

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Finally, people get what's coming to them..

People who like to play in Rodeo, or with Bulls, or with un-broken horses, and anything that is well, risky, here's a demonstration of Livestock 1 Cowboys 0. I especially enjoyed the bull that pushed his way through a tube panel. WOW.

Only in New England

COLD still

This morning the thermometer read -1 degree F. No, not wind chill, just straight up temps. What is it with this January. Getting into the 20s would be nice. The dogs all were very fast to come back in this morning. I think they are the best thermometers- their speed in doing their constitutionals is directly relevant to the temps...

I think Friday it is supposed to get into the 30s. Then, for the weekend we drop right back down again. I can't stand this. It's just too cold to work dogs, and there is too much snow, even if we could. We still have all of February to go.

I can just imagine how much hay folks are going through this winter. Not a cheap winter to feed livestock- you even have to grain at these temps. I hope not too many folks had early lambs. That would be bad this year.

It's really a lost winter for working dogs here. I believe the early spring trials may have a few dogs who are, shall we say, a bit "high"?

The Inauguration

I watched, along with many other millions of people worldwide, the Inauguration. I know some folks who went down to watch this in person, but, not unlike watching a sports event in winter, in person, I certainly would not like to freeze the rest of my toes off. Television is oh so much more comfortable.

Here are the memorable things for me. First, I did not like the color of Ms. Obama's dress. Just a weird color- didn't know if it wanted to be green, or yellow, it was sort of pukey. Bad choice- and it looked like upholstery.

It is great seeing the former Presidents and past and present dignitaries, and naming them off as they walk by. Seeing a group of former presidents together is pretty neat.

I did notice the cold shoulder given by Jimmy Carter to the Clintons. It was brrrrr cold. But, not everyone can get along with everyone, right?

The benediction was well, how do I put this? Um, well, it was something that I would imagine a 5th grader could write. If it was supposed to be funny, it missed the mark, and furthermore, I don't believe a benediction should include cutesy rhymes.

The oath? Both the assignor, and assignee bungled it badly. Did either practice this even once? Come on.

I thought the speech was good, but a bit heavy on parroting some statements made by other very well known equal rights orators. I didn't get any sense of WHERE this country is going, save for up, basically, it was an get the vote election speech, that at this time is moot. Devil is in the details, I know.

I did love to see the older folks out there just taken so far aback by this momentous occurrence, and for them I am very happy. This country has done an amazing thing be being the first highly industrialized country to elect a person of color. Let's see if any of the other countries who are so duly impressed by this follow suit.

I was un-impressed, but not surprised by the heckling that George Bush, our President received as he approached the dias, and as he left. Nice, people. The panning of the video of the crowd showed a crowd heckling Mr. Bush, and smiling and laughing. How old are these people? I am embarrassed.

Then of course, the poor folks who had tickets to see this historical day, who were funneled into a subway, and never escorted out to see the event. Sucks to be them, eh? Well, that just goes back to the TV reference I made :)

I fervently hope that our President Mr. Obama can indeed effect change. That a new broom sweeps clean. But, I worry that since he has installed mostly Clinton staffers, that this may not happen. But, that's the pessimist in me, or, is that the realist?

I hope that since both the senate and the house are now Democratic majority, that they can indeed implement good policy changes, and that this wrangling that went on for the past 8 years is finally over. I hope that all the vitriol spewed by the anti-Bush camp can finally be rinsed out of every one's mouths, and that we can now swish a bit of Listerine, and re-set the pH to that of a nice neutral 7. I don't know? Can we?

I am not excited about our New President. I am cautiously optimistic; I am waiting to see what will happen. I never believed any one person (other than Moses) could actually part the waters, and bring peace across the land. Even if he has all the momentum from so many millions of people behind him. He is our President, and he has a job. He is human. Until and unless I see the big changes (for the better- that's the hard part) I will remain a non-believer, reminded of the phrase "Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

sheepdog pup training the trainer... as told by the pup

First, be prepared to feel a lot of pulling on your neck. For some reason these stupid people can't understand that when you see the sheep, the animals you were born with dominion over, you simply need to get as close as you can as fast as you can. It isn't anything personal. You aren't being bad- but these humans just don't get it. They demand that you stop pulling and maybe even stay behind them (what the HECK is THAT about anyway?) All other times you can bound ahead, and pull as hard as you want.

So, okay, you finally acquiesce to their need to be in front. Fine, if that's how they need it to be, just go along. It will get you to the sheep faster.

Finally, you "follow" the human into this place where the sheep are. Thank GOD. FINALLY. You know what to do, so you are ready. You try and try to get to those sheep, but AGAIN with the pulling- What IS IT with this pulling? Have these humans NEVER learned how to use a leash?

At some point, you see another person in with the sheep. Oh GREAT. Another bossy human. I wish they would just let me work. Ho hum. Anyway, so the lady who feeds me, and pets me finally lets the leash drop. Could it be? Am I free? ZOINKS!!!!!!!!! Sheep, HERE I COME!!!!!!

BOOM!!! What the HECK was that? That other human just hit the ground in front of me. Okay, better change direction quick. Done. BOOM! AGAIN with the stick. What is their problem? This is getting old. Hmmmm. What if I make a quick grab at those elusive buggers- HA! got 'em!!! BOOOM BOOOM comes that stick. Now I am very confused. Maybe I will eat some of those lovely raisinets I see everywhere. Mmm... they are good.. What? what's that? You are calling me over? Are you gonna let me near the sheep this time, or are ya gonna whack that darn stick in front of me?

Oh, okay, one more try, but you other human better be nice this time. This time I go in a bit more carefully, and that other human lets me circle the sheep... Hmmm. Maybe that's what they want? Okay, so, I am being real good. I haven't heard the BOOM in a long time, but MAN this is boring...

So, I run up, right into the faces of those sheep. I am just sick of seeing their butts. Hmmm, they don't run... That's weird. Maybe I ought to give them just a little room to move... There, that's it. Soon, the other human is walking backward through this pen we are in. I see that the objective is to get this human to change directions as many times as possible in the shortest amount of time. I learned that if the sheep start to run by that other human, she will change direction, and that means I get to get closer to the heads of those sheep!!! So, my goal now is to push push push those sheep. Always making that other human move around. Sometimes they even fall, and THEN it is HEAVEN. Sheep go running everywhere, and I can work, unencumbered by that stick.

Finally, she makes me stop. But HA! she has to catch me first. This is where it's really fun. I learned that if I lay down nicely, she will come walking up to me. When she is almost in reach, I take off, and she can't catch me!!!! It is way more fun without her, so I practice this evasive measure every day.

I suppose I have come a long way, being that I am only 10 months, but I still don't understand why the human has to always be in my way....

Had a bad dream the other night

I dreamed I woke up, and Lucy had turned blue, like a dilute black, and her ears were big and floppy like a Bloodhound's. But, as I started to do stuff with her, her dark red came back and her ears stood up. What do you all make of that dream??

Monday, January 19, 2009

How many women does it take to change a lightbulb?

My friend has this up on her wall at her desk. Too funny!!!!!!

How many women with PMS does it take to screw in a light bulb?

One. ONE!! And do you know WHY it only takes ONE? Because no one else in this house knows HOW to change a light bulb. They don’t even know the bulb is BURNED OUT. They would sit in this house in the dark for THREE DAYS before they figured it OUT. And once they figured it out they wouldn’t be able to find the light bulbs despite the fact that they’ve been in the SAME CUPBOARD for the past SEVENTEEN YEARS.

But if they did, by some miracle, actually find the light bulbs, TWO DAYS LATER the chair that they dragged from two rooms over to stand on to change the STUPID light bulb would STILL BE IN THE SAME SPOT!! AND UNDERNEATH IT WOULD BE THE CRUMPLED WRAPPER THE STUPID @*!#$% LIGHT BULBS CAME IN! WHY?! BECAUSE NO ONE IN THIS HOUSE EVER CARRIES OUT THE GARBAGE!!




Lucy ponders when the H E double tooth picks she will FINALLY be able to work sheep again. I believe Lucy, that later this week, you will see those woolies again. I know it will be a good day. Because, frankly, any day working sheepdogs is better than any other day doing something else, period!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bounty, the Quicker picker upper....

Yesterday was a lost day. I had just no energy. Today, different story- got up and kept going all day. Weird how one day is so vastly different from another... Anyway, this morning I got and decided to put some coffee on, and start laundry. In the winter, sometimes there is an issue with the pipes freezing, and when the machine goes into drain- it doesn't, and instead, backs up onto my laundry room floor. So, I babysat the wash while the coffee was brewing. After I determined that all would be okay, I came back into the kitchen, and the first thing I noticed is Mr Chips looking intently at something- brown, and liquid....

Well, in my infinite wisdom and distraction this morning, I neglected to place the carafe back into the coffee maker. This meant drip drip drip right onto the counter and flowing onto the floor. What a waste of good coffee. But, I did think to myself "gee, I am glad I got Bounty and not that garbage brand Sparkle". So, Bounty worked very nicely for me this morning.

Later, I decided to clean and go through some filing. When I was vacuuming, I tackled the bathroom fan, with the extension hose. Looks better. Then, later, when I was in that room cleaning the vanity, Lucy comes in and looks up at that fan- now, she has never ever looked at it before. How did she notice? Weird. These sheepdogs and their eyes. They don't miss a thing.

Still later, I made a nice sirloin steak, baked potato, and veggie. There was enough steak that the dogs all had some with their dinner, and they all got some drippings. Hugely popular I am.

Now, it's football. As of this point the Cardinals are schooling the Eagles.

That's it in a nutshell. Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bob the Kelpie :)

This is Don Spencer, an Ozzie:

Okay, enough already

Minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. My car thought twice about starting. This is unbelievable. Friend of mine's oil line froze, which in turn caused one loop of the baseboard to freeze. Lucky she was off work today, so she was able to help mitigate this, until it could be fixed. Now I am worried about my oil line. I have heat tape, but not comfy installing it... Anyway, it made it through last night, so that's good. We are slowly supposed to increase to maybe the 20's by the end of the weekend. I don't feel bad at all about not working sheep in this weather. There is no point to doing even round pen/arena work at this point, so we will just take a break- maybe next week. I will bring the video camera with me- so you can all partake in the after break yee haws that happen.

This weekend I will go to Dick's and get some smart wool socks, and some foot/hand warmers. I may go to the Book store and stock up on more books too. 'Tis a long winter, oh yeah.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Forced Time Off

Isn't such a bad thing, I suppose. Things could be worse. I think it's good for dogs to have some time off (and people). I know I am starting to work really hard on my flank whistles. I have finally decided that my away whistle will sound just like I say it. Come by, I have to differentiate between stop. Some how. When I give my dog verbal flank commands, I use only come or away. This indicates to her that we aren't doing casting. It wasn't my idea, but boy howdy it made extreme sense to Lucy. Lucy moves differently on a flank, versus an outrun. Outrun is after burner speed, keep in contact, check in, and be clean. Flanks- stay clean, move at appropriate speed, and don't be surprised if there is a whistle to down/walk up. So, I will get those whistles set. That would be good home work. There isn't anything really to do outside. It is just too cold. I can throw the ball for Lucy a bit, but being that it's single digits, no one should be out there much. Thankfully, Mr. Chips the cat, or one of the other dogs will oblige Lucy in a game of WWF.

On the foot front, things are not better. I can take those horse pills pretty well now, but this morning it felt like my left food was run over by a truck. Seriously, that's the visual I had- I had to look at it, just to make sure it was in one piece. So, SERIOUSLY no time spent outside willy nilly. Yesterday we chatted about Eskimos, and how they handle the cold weather. I suppose life isn't so boring, when you have to catch your food.... Someone mentioned that they turn their animal pelts inside out, so the fur is on the inside, and that would allow the skin to breathe, and keep them toasty. Apparently, they also use fish for skis. See? it could be worse....

Oh, last night, I looked down and Mr Chips was sleeping on the heat register. He completely occluded it with his chunky body. Yeah, that seals it, he is officially a fatty. Doomed to be on a diet... Sucks, really. Ginger, my old kitty is off her diet, as she is old, and not fat. And, at almost 16, she can do what the heck she likes.

Cat Bloopers

By now you should all know that I do enjoy my two cats. This video is hysterical and chronicles some of the "off the wall" things that cats do. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let me get a big Hell Yeah....

from the redneck girls like me...

I love this song. At the county fair in 2007, a girl was singing this song. I heard her start (we were near the talent tent), and I made my friend come and watch. Now, she is what you would call "artsy", that is, more prone to listening to things like Enya. So, anyway, we went over. This chick singing was very good. We got so into it. A bunch of us where dancing to this, and just jammin out. I look over at my friend and she is totally into it, pointing to the singer as she sings out "let me get a big hell yeah to the red neck girls like me!". I think it may have been somewhat life altering for her... Anyway, I love this song. I like the tone she has- irreverent, and making no excuses. Cheered up my day :) Couldn't embed it, but click the link.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Kelpie is a GATHERING dog

The Kelpie was developed as a gathering dog, not a driving dog. Seriously, I am not kidding, I am not delusional, and I really need to get this out. There is in fact another breed out there was bred to be able to gather sheep from million acre sheep stations- with absolutely no help. The Border Collie and the Kelpie originated from the same dogs, among them the Smithfield Collie.

The Kelpie's phenotype was selected based on the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. They are longer of leg- to cover ground more easily, and they have a short coat, to lower the incidence of over heating. Other than the obvious phenotypical differences, there really should not be a difference in the gathering work you get from a Kelpie and a Border Collie. Ahhh, but you are saying "they look so different- the Border Collie has the eye, and the Kelpie doesn't". Another falsehood. There is a range of the amount of eye, sort of like the eye in the cattle bred Border Collie, versus the sheep bred Border Collie. In the Kelpie, the difference comes from whether the dog is a "yard" bred or "paddock" bred dog. Yard dogs need hard push, grit, and the need for eye isn't very high, because they spend a lot of time either behind the sheep, pushing them, or on top of their backs- again, not a lot of need for eye. The paddock bred dogs are akin to the sheep work bred Border Collies. They need enough eye to move very skittish Merino sheep through very small gates, and to keep them calm.

Did you know that in Australian three sheep trials, there is no driving? Nope, no driving- well, basically an assisted drive, wherein the dog cannot cross a line on the course as you move through with the sheep and dog. The three sheep trials consist of an outrun lift and fetch, then the handler and the dog maneuver the sheep around the course. There are gates, and bridges, and a pen. The dog must pen the sheep by himself. The handler cannot aid the dog (like we do in ISDS trials). That is where the cover and hold of the Kelpie, that I believe is pretty much unparalleled comes into play. The dog simply must get the job done, and you will see many an Ozzie handler with his hands in his pocket, not whistling much, or saying much. It is quite the sight to see.

A well bred Kelpie should have the following built in: Excellent cover, cast, hold and strong walk up. The walk up is another aspect wherein the Kelpie really shines. Kelpies generally have no issues pushing into the space of sheep, when there is purpose to it, that is, there is a job. Say you have a group of sheep that you need to push, but you also need good cover, because too much push means you get scattered sheep. That cover and walk up serves you (the shepherd) quite well. You should not have to urge a Kelpie to get it's job done. Similarly, Kelpies should be able to handle pressure, and even a fight from a recalcitrant ewe, simply because the job must get done. If they get hit, they simply get up, and keep working. A cardinal sin for a Kelpie is to ignore the "hard" sheep. It is the Kelpie's lot in life to handle the sheep, and that means all of them, no matter how tough. You won't see good Kelpies engage in cheap shots- body grips, or the like. Since Kelpies are strong on the walk up (in general) they will face straight on, a threat, and that means a good grip to the nose, or top knot.

There are variations to the Kelpie, just like in the Border Collie, but make no mistake, the Kelpie is a gathering dog, that should always get their sheep.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Smash Mouth

NO, silly, not the group- though I have never heard their music... I did this to me. I was putting water softener crystals into my water softener... I had sliced the bag open, and was lifting it up. It ripped further. The bag weighs 50 lbs. So, my hand that was lifting the bag had lots of potential energy, if you will. SMASH! Gave myself a fat lip. Hurt like Hades.

I was a complete bum today- well, maybe not 100%- I did clean and shovel snow. But, I did watch a lot of Lifetime. Good movies, but really bad on one's motivation. We have two more days of not so cold weather, and then we go into the ice box- single digits for the high. So far the only thing getting a lot of exercise lately, is my furnace.

Been watching youtube lately. I peruse them looking for working videos (sheepdog). I love to watch other dogs work, it's fun, and makes want to get out there even more.
I know, spring will be here soon enough- no, not SOON ENOUGH!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I am so over...

Living in an igloo. Unable to do anything outside. Facing months more of this. So, I am planning a trip out west. I am going to try and schedule some lessons with some of the great trainers, and also, bring a dog home. I am dying to see how Lucy handles the tougher range sheep, and I would surely like to meet some of you folks who read my blog. I am driving, so I can make some stops along the way. Any suggestions about routes/must sees? Looks like maybe next week, or the week after. I have driven out to Colorado before- back in 1997, I think it was. Wasn't a bad trip at all. So, suggestions??? I will be bringing photographic equipment, so I can make a video diary of our trip. I am actually excited. Will rent a small vehicle. Anyone want to come along? :) By the way, the end point looks like Idaho- the mecca, of sorts of sheepdog handlers, and sheep!

Horse pills

There's a picture, just to show you. These are Omega three fish oil capsules. I am supposed to take 4 of these a day. Do I LOOK like a horse? My LORD. They are huge. Had a hard time downing them. I am actually worried about choking on them. Some how, I think that the alternative of opening them up probably won't be a good one. They are supposed to make me feel 100% better, and they are labeled "heart health", so we shall see.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Don't EVER

Buy canned Ravioli- you know, a la Chef Boyardee. OH MY LORD. It is worse than disgusting. It is beyond belief disgusting. The "meat" in it? What IS that? It looks like some sort of crumbly brown substance. Maybe I have been cooking too much lately, or, maybe I am watching Top Chef too often, but nevertheless, I will NEVER taste anything like this again. Right in the trash it went. Another good move for my diet- now I've no appetite. I was thinking of doing a roast chicken with home made stuffing sometime this weekend, or, maybe not. I suppose it depends on what is on sale. But, it will NOT be canned Ravioli. I swear, I won't even LOOK in that direction again. People eat this though, that's scary. I think canned dog or cat food would be better.

I made a big mistake today. I mistook Idaho for Iowa. Getting out there is like, um, waaay further than just Iowa. Iowa I have been to. Idaho- no, because it's too far to drive!!!! I am just stupid.

Supposed to get snow this weekend. Great. Lucy can't run on this glacial-like crust and now, snow on top if it. Well, if the crust stays hard, and the new snow is soft.... Still, her working time is way reduced of late- I know we are not the only ones- everyone in the north east is hatin' it right now. We need a BIG indoor- you know, like the ones that they hold rodeos in. Then we can just trailer some sheep, and voila! back to work.

Bought a new book today, it's called (I think) "We bought a Zoo"- true story about a UK family who bought a zoo in serious dis-repair, and full of Zoo animals. Should be good. I also picked up a copy of "Hobby Farmer". In it, they had plans for building a lamb warm up hut. It's a 55 gallon drum with an opening cut in it, and a heater at the top. Very cool Lambs can come and go. You can also use it in a Chicken coop for small Chickens and chicks.

I have a feeling this weekend will once again be replete with nothing interesting to do. Just like the next 2 months, probably. Great. I need to become a snow bird.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Don't sweat the small stuff

You know, I started the day being irritated. I'd had a blast from the past- a bad one. Someone who I have worked hard on forgetting, as it is a new year, and I just don't want people who have absolutely no impact (and never will) in my life, coming in and irritating me. Life is to short to suffer fools! I had a Dr. appt today to deal with my crazy feet- I for brevity, I won't go into the details, but suffice to say, I had a list of questions. This Dr. was great. He is classically trained, but holistic in his approach. The redness I have on my toes, after working sheep? Frostbite. Plain old frostbite. Cripes, I went to two other Drs, and they were so wishy washy- course, I didn't have photos to show them... Anyway, I don't have good circulation, thusly, I don't feel that my feet are getting cold, because, simply, I don't feel much of anything ;0) So, I have to get either battery operated socks, or those packs- any suggestions? I surely won't stop working dogs. I am also going to start taking high dose efa (fish oil) to deal with all the inflammation I have going on.

I am really glad I found this Dr., and maybe this will be the beginning of some really good health. Oh, also, he suggested I get a rabbit fur bomber hat- you know- the ones with the ear flaps? I found a good place to get them, so that's a done deal. Oh, and a different brand of sneakers. Lots of good information. Made me forget about that inconsequential little gnat.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Taking the Work out of the Dog"

An interesting statement, but something that we should all be cognizant of. In training our dogs for trials, we often times spend all our time making sure the flanks are clean, the lift is correct, the outrun right, and the pace on the fetch/drive is just right. Those things are all very important, to be sure. Just as important, I believe is to not take the work out of the dog. What is meant by that, is by requiring many off balance stops, and not allowing the dog to cover, or repeatedly stopping our dog at the top before the lift, or not allowing any fair grips, we are taking the work out of the dog.

Believe it or not, good dogs are born with the ability to lift sheep Yep, it's true :) Good sheepdogs will grip when the conditions warrant it. Dogs who are repeatedly not allowed to cover, and whom are biddable will begin to hesitate before they cover, awaiting the command to do so. That is a crying shame. If nothing else, if my dog's learning memory was erased today, I want just a few things- always get your sheep, don't let them get away, and get the job done.

I think it's really important for dogs to be used in real work situations- where they have to feel their sheep, and act accordingly. Where they have to move the sheep no matter what, and without urging. The just simply have to do the work, without our interference. Isn't that what we like about them? Their inborn ability to get the job done?

I think many dogs out there who seem to lack in power, or cover, or work ethic (will to get the job done) are a result of not being given the opportunity to just do the work, and in doing so, building their confidence. If we are constantly blathering to our dogs, what does that say about us? Do we not trust them to do what they were born to? Just let them work.

Put some feed bins out and have the dog push them off. Send your dog in a field with sheep in several groups, and let him figure out that his outrun errors will cost him. Let him realize that he has it in him, and yes, you want him to use it. It will mean all the difference to the dog.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It all started out innocently enough....

It is inevitable. When Lucy is bored, and Mr. Chips is nearby, there will be some WWF action going on!

Everyone minding their own business....

Cat looks distinctly frumpy in this photo....

Cat can tell something is up. Lucy always gets that weird turn to her head, and one ear partially back, before the attack...

Just a little love nip from Lucy

Lucy trying her hardest to engage said cat

Face to face!!!!!!!

AACK!! The cat is pinned!!!!

LOOK! A break dancing Kelpie!!!

Oh MY, it's devil dog incarnate!!!

It's a draw!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

How to handle a ram

This video shows a Kelpie handling a ram- well. No where does this dog get fussed. He was asked to get to the back side of the sheep, and the ram wanted no part of it. This is the type of work I look for in my dog.

One of my favorite commercials

I love this commercial. They have truly touched on the essence of sheep, and sheep dogs :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Schooling sheep

Okay, I sitting here eating my Peanut Butter Capt'n Crunch. Dinner of champions... Well, er, no. See, I worked sheep today, and had to rush home to get some dog food before they closed. I figured I would stop by the deli near my house and get some nice hot soup- they do a good job with soup there. I walk in, there is no soup. This pizza looks about 10 hours old. GROSS. I walked out. Then, I thought- wait! I don't have any food at home. So, I trudge back in and order a toasted bagel with cream cheese, a small container of potato salad and a doughnut. Yummy eh? I know, sounds pretty bad. Well, the bagel was good, the potato salad inedible, and the doughnut was, well, a doughnut. I needed something else, so I am having my cereal. Then, that's it, I am tired. Tomorrow is steak day, so I will survive. Besides, I need to lose about 20 lbs, so maybe I should "eat" at the deli every day....

Okay, so back to the fun stuff of the day. Worked Lucy today, AND schooled sheep.
If you are a horse person, you will know what "schooling" is. If not, basically, it's working a horse on the basics of equitation, and teaching it the rules. Some times I hear kids say "we were schooled" when they get beaten by another team.

The snow wasn't a problem- it was powder, but the wind! Ask me- HOW WINDY WAS IT? It was so windy that my whistle blew by itself. Lucy was only cold when we weren't working. I had several layers so I was warm- except for my face, which is now beat red. Wind like that will do that to you...

As usual, I brought the whole group up to be sorted, and got almost every lamb kept out of the pen. I say "almost" because one dummy decided that she wanted to stay with the Ks, and not her compatriots. When she realized that her friends weren't with her, she ran, hell bent for leather to the other pasture, where I had put her friends, and well, was stopped by the fence. I then had Lucy bring her back. Yes, not very bright. Anyway, Lucy and I braved the arctic and worked the Ks. She had some good driving going on, and we also pulled from the draw, no problem. As we were leaving, I had left the K's in the field, and figured, "what the hey", let me see what happens if I ask her to walk up to them from this far away, while I just stand back where I was. So, I ask her for a walk up- immediately she is large and in charge in attitude. She gets to the bubble, and stays forthright, forward, eyeing strongly, and as they turn she doesn't flank, she stays nicely behind and pushing well. YES!!!!!! I wish Derek S could have seen that.

Okay, now it's time for a rest from the wind. Lucy and I sit in the wind break for a bit, but although it's good for me, she's shivering. So, let's go work those lambs, shall we?

First thing I do is when we walk in there, I have Lucy walk up, and since this is a bigger group, she has to keep more on her mind, but still push. She did nicely, and I just can't believe how she's getting this- or did she always get this, and I messed her up somewhere... Anyway, we fetch a few times, and they have some draws, and Lucy covers well. Zips up to cover, turns on a dime, and walks straight up to them. No slicing. Just complete one on 10 push. So, then we take it a step further. I spy a deep snow drift... Hmmm.... So, I have Lucy walk them up to the snow bank. Sheep don't want any part of it. Too bad for you, sheep. "Walk up" I say. Lucy moves forward. Sheep look at Lucy. Lucy moves forward getting very intent. Sheep decide to test her. Lucy bounces at one sheep, but stays where she is, and affects a turn- into the snow, and they move nicely into the drift. Okay, let's try that again. Lucy pushes them further this time. Then one decides to really test her. You could almost see the text bubble over that sheep's head "come on sisters- she ain't all that tough, and that snow is cold!" Lucy immediately notices this trouble maker, lays a bead on her, giving her every bit of dog/sheep warning she can. Lucy sees that if this sheep gets away with this, she will have to do more schooling. Lucy comes forward with a grip for that sheep, and that sheep turns. No more problems after that. They went where ever we asked.

Now, Lucy is feeling extremely good about herself. I figure that we should work on getting the sheep out of the corners- after we get them nicely packed in there. I sent her both ways. When I sent her into their heads, she stayed calm, along the fence, and got them out. When I sent her into their butts, even though there was no room, she pushed through. Never once did she get hyped. Well, she did want to rush to cover them after she got them out, but the work in the corner was spot on.

One other thing- at the end of our time, I decided to have Lucy fetch the whole mob of sheep- but I forgot to close the pen- where the hay is. So, as she fetched them- the older, wiser ewes split from the lambs, and ran into the shed. So, Lucy brings me the sheep- she doesn't see that some are in the pen- we were behind a knoll. So, then, you could see a light bulb go off over Lucy's head, and her text bubble said "Hey! where are the rest of the sheep???" Some how, I SWEAR this dog can count. So, what does she do? She goes all the way down the field again, leaping like a gazelle looking for the stragglers. I let her do this. Then, as she comes up the hill, I point her in the direction of the ewes in the pen, with a smile on my face- well, my lass, you were 1/2 right :) So, we get those girls out of the pen, and back with the rest, and we are done.

Sheep education went well today. I bet Lucy is happy to finally be the one to educate, instead of it always being HER in the hot seat :) It was a great time, and can I please have another Lucy? Maybe a boy, in red and tan? You know, you can never have enough of a good thing!

Busy, aren't I?

ANOTHER post, come ON people, try and keep up with me... :O) LOL!! Here is a video of a run at a trial in Austria. It was a very nice run. Note how the dog settled the sheep, and marched them through the course nicely. Also, LOOK at that SHED. I believe that shed was achieved because 1) Good dog/good handler, 2) Dog handled those sheep right from the start. It's really a nice run to watch.

Snow dogs = Happy dogs

Took the girls out for some much needed horsin' around. The dogs are bored. Can't spend a lot of time outside with the temps the way they are, and the snow, if crusty, means Lucy can't work sheep. So, we make the best with what we have, for now.

Friday, January 2, 2009

THE movie

This is a clip of the movie "One True Thing". Women who are reading this- please rent this movie. Please. It is one of the most profoundly touching movies I have ever seen. The song by Bette Midler "One true friend" is absolutely beautiful. I watched this move when it came out in 1998, and every year, aroundt this time, I think about it.

One of my favorite movies

And, this is my favorite scene (well, among others), of this movie. Enjoy