Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The RUSH is on.....

I can't believe it is already Wednesday.  Wayne, Kilt, and Trouble should arrive Sunday night or Monday some time.  Of course he wants to drive the 20 hours straight through.  That drives me CRAZY.  I am trying to get him to stop at our daughter-in-laws home in Roseburg for the night.  They have plenty of room for him and the dogs will have a backyard.  Whether he will or not remains to be seen.... Men!

I have been trying to get as much done as possible, so he can rest, but without a man here for the last year, this place is a lot of work.  And, people ask me when I am going to get sheep?  You have to be kidding!  The weeding alone is killing me.  The old vehicles are falling apart.  Maintenance for the house and for myself is a full time job.  LOL

I hope he will have time to put a new refrigerator in my RV.  That would be a great anniversary present since he can't possibly stay a couple of extra days for our 31st anniversary.  Hey, he's an engineer and he has work to do.  Ugh.  Better than being a husband that doesn't like to work.  That's for sure.  I'm not complaining.  Just whimpering a little.

I have a feeling it is going to be colder and wetter this winter.  There is so much to do, but I guess I can do it myself....Mud-proofing, that is.  I surely have enough firewood.  Besides the refrigerator in the RV, I am hoping he will get my 4 wheel drive Rhino working again.  It would be really nice to have front brakes on the old truck, but that might be pushing it.  He probably needs a BREAK in the action, too.

I have him set up with the breakfast club.  He went out to eat with them on one of his trips up here.  They all loved him and I think it was lunch time before they got up from breakfast because my husband is all yak, yak, yak, yak.  They are looking forward to his return.

I hate to stick him with Champ, but that's how the turn of events has gone.  Champ will be 4-5 days post-op from being neutered.  Hoping I am doing us (me and Champ) both a favor.  Praying for no more drooling, chattering or sniffing at the trials.  It's hard on both of us.  Maybe I will get lucky and it will give us both some piece of mind.  As soon as he goes to the post, he is all about sheep, but I think getting there and the mental part of the puzzle has us both fried.

He will also get to attend Terry and Phil's sing along outside of her Local Yarn Shop in Sequim on one of the Fridays he is here.  He can take Trouble with him :0)  Wayne is one of those people who knows every song and who sang it.  He always asks me, "Who sang this?"  I say, "Give me the first letter of their last name....the second letter?"  Haha  Not my high point.  He has a long term memory and I have a short term memory.  He can tell me what we did 20 years ago and where and I can tell him where his keys are. In that respect, we are compatible.  Plus, we both have a deep love of animals.  After that, I'm not sure what attracted us to each other than sex.  :0)

Hopefully, he and Terry's husband, Phil, will get to go out on Phil's boat and do some crabbing.  Plus, my neighbors all know when he is coming and I am sure they will invite him up to visit if not for dinner.  I am making a list of neighbors names and telephone numbers, plus a calendar of things he can go to if he feels like it when he is here.

Now, it's time for me to PACK.  I have had my two days of rest from the trials.  My girlfriend, Mary has been planning this Alaskan trip for over a year.  The cool thing about traveling with Mary is that I never have to do anything.  I pay for my excursions and air fare and she does the rest.  Plus, she likes to gamble, I like to watch, and we both like to play Bingo and drink martini's aboard.  This is the only time anyone will see me drink a martini.  Must be something about cruising or just the fancy bartenders at the martini bar on the ship.

Sometimes we even go on different excursions.  We just get along.  I don't think in all of the years I have known Mary that we ever have had a cross word.  We both have spent our lives in healthcare and know that each day is a gift.  So I am really looking forward to cruising the inside passage (which Wayne and I did 21 years ago) plus we are taking a train for a few days around Denali. We both love Vancouver and Stanley Park so we are staying two nights at the Westin there.  Fancy Schmancy :)

Well, that's about it for now.  I am meeting up with Patricia Pedersen for dinner tonight.  We have about 6 weeks of girl chat, catch-up, to yak about.

There is no place like home

Monday, July 20, 2015

Two weeks felt like Two months

Actually we lucked out at the Sheep Thrillz trial in Scio.  The weather was quite nice.  But, then Mother Nature decided to turn on her after burners for the Palm Cottage trial.  This is a brief synopsis of the two trials with my dogs.

I brought home all letters, no numbers at the first trial.  That was disappointing.  Champ got DQ'ed in the shed ring.  He had a psychotic sheep that he and I couldn't get near.  The other four stayed in the ring while this one sheep ran this way and that way.  I'm not sure why Champ was DQ'ed other than failure to progress.  Another handler got the same sheep the next morning and had the same scenario.  The judge came out to the shed ring and said that sheep should have been marked last night and gave her a rerun.  Go figure.
The next run he ran through all my "steadies" and I retired him.  Champ was pretty easy for me to handle at 2 yrs. of age.  But, now that he is 3 yrs. he is a pushy you know what.  That is exactly what Patrick said would happen.  We talked and it is time to screw him down.  Maggi is nicer saying he is figuring out the unbroken lambs.  Cut him some slack.  Well, maybe a little slack, but then, I am reeling him in!

Yoko was the strangest ever at Scio, but the sets at this trial/field always bring out the worst in your dog.  They have people setting in little low lawn chairs, dogs tied to trees, and people at 3 and 9 o'clock and one standing at high noon.  If you are lucky you may even get a guardian dog on the field, too.  Oh yeah, plus the neighbors fenced ranch above the set-out, you might be fortunate enough to have their Akita running the fence.  Yoko was not a happy girl.  I can only surmise that the high noon person bothered her, maybe or maybe not.  The first day she stopped short, sniffed (STRESS) and then crossed over.  I have never seen this dog cross over EVER and she is 7 yrs. old.  She refuse to go around the set out and actually started back to me.  I called her in.  I sent her the other way on day two.  She stopped at about 2 o clock and would not go to 12 o'clock with a whistle and drove her sheep into the woods.  Then the cluster you know what started.  Set out dogs ran into the woods hanging off of sheep wool and the exhaust dog came, also.  I pleaded with all of the people to please call the hounds off!  Yoko picked them up with another set out dog trying to hang on sheep pushing them in her face.  I might have said an ugly word or two at that point. Finally everyone collected their dogs and Yoko drove brought them through the fetch panels and took them to the exhaust.  Heck, I needed a drink!

The pen wasn't a "gimme" at Scio.  Pictured above, Laura Vishoot

Ron Green was the BIG winner of the double lift with Kiki

Champs full sister, Jojo, Owner:  Carol Wiggins

I expect my dogs to pick up sheep under any type of circumstances, so no whining from me about the above.  I just have to put on my thinking cap as to what is bothering Yoko (the over thinker) and help her through it.  I have come up with 3 possibilities.  #1) Yoko always has been my over-thinker and is sensitive to strange situations.  I remember the time in Nursery on Whidbey island when Sue MacDonald was setting in rain gear with a huge yellow rain hat.  Yoko got to noon, stopped, and started barking her fool head off at Sue. Sue remained quiet and Yoko eventually came down the field with her sheep.  She qualified for the nursery finals that year.  #2)  I have been working both Champ and Yoko as a brace.  In brace it is permissible for the dogs to cross at the top of their outrun keeping their sides, but both my dogs stop short and stay on their respective sides.  Stopping short.  NOT good.  I think I will forgo the brace work.  LOL   #3) I need to work her with lawn chairs and a person standing in her way at the very top.  #4)  I almost forgot number 4.  Fido Farms has quite a few trials and they set those big Cheviot gals on grain.  It is hard to ENGAGE on the lift with butts staring at the dog and their heads in a grain pan.  Yoko used to heel them off the grain pan and eat all of their grain before bringing them on the fetch.  I'm sure Yoko thinks,  kill two birds with one stone.  God love her. No one said this sheep dog trialling was easy.  Faansie told me, "Nothing is for FREE."  Yeah, you ain't a kidding!

Between the trials I took Champ who turned up a bit gimpy and Yoko over to the Scio field for about 30 minutes of work.  Sandra Milberg and Ian set for me.  Yoko did 5 outruns.  I had to whistle her a bit on the away side, but other than that she wasn't too disturbed about anything.  I ran Champ once through the course and of course he took every soft peep from my whistle.  How exasperating.

Carol's pretty pasture

What a great place to camp at Carol Wiggin's Ewetopia.

I was staying with Carol Wiggins at her Ewetopia farm while trialling at Scio.  Thankfully she has a couple gates into another pasture area.  I got to work my dogs through her gates.  They did fine.  I love staying at Carol's because it is QUIET, scenic, and we go out to dinner to do some fine dining in the town of Lebanon.  Well, we actually went outside of Lebanon and had a great dinner one night, too.  One night we watched an old movie and another night we watched Alasdair's shedding tape.  Nice to have company.  Usually I am all by myself.  The other great thing about Scio was Brett Cody, the photographer.  He let me borrow his BIG lenses with my little Rebel camera.  He is a fun person to be around and I enjoyed trying out a few things and learning more about cameras other than shooting on just AUTO :0)

Brett (photographer)

The was my first time trialling at Palm Cottage.  And, the weather was HOT, high 90's on Saturday.  My refrigerator in my RV stopped working for once and for all :0(  I dropped a block of ice from 18 inches up that landed on my left ankle.  That's when you wish you had someone other than wagging dogs to travel with.  There was no one to console me.  I have a huge swollen, black and blue foot this morning as I write this.  Oh well, I'm sure Sandra would tell me it is a long way from my heart.  LOL
Palm Cottage has a hawaiian theme and it's okay to dress accordingly.

Me having bit of fun at the shed.  Looks like I am leading a sheep philharmonic.  LOL
I think Faansie forgot to give me my "style" points.  Girls just wanna have fun :)

Champ from the pool says, "Hold on a moment.  It's only 99 degrees.  We still have time for the pen."

First day Yoko went to the post at Palm Cottage.  She started to cross at the bottom of the first pasture.  I gave her a look back which all of my dogs know and she took it beautifully.  She hit the gate and refused to stay to the right with my Away whistle.  I can't blame her.  That was probably only one of the 3 sets all weekend that took off running.  They were running before she hit the gate to the next pasture. They took off to the set out, so off she went to catch them to the left where the set out was.  I had no problem with that.  Faansie, the judge told me to call her in.  She would get a rerun.  But, she would still lose all of her points and I would still need to send her to the right.  I called and called.  No Yoko.  Faansie laughed.  I have taken a clinic with he and Yoko.  He looked at me and said, "She is probably holding them on the fence."  That made me laugh out loud.  I'm sure he was probably right, but she finally came.

The judges stand and post are off to the left.  You can just see the tips of the fetch panels.  They go down through the 12 foot gate and then pick up their sheep in the next pasture.  The set out pens are way left behind the big fir trees.  Jorgen and Bill Swan set for the whole trial, two of the best.

In two more dogs, we got our rerun.  Yoko's outrun was BEAUTIFUL.  I was worried she would want to go left at the gate, but since the sheep weren't running she took my whistle to the right.  She brought her sheep right through the gate, up through the fetch panels.  Her drive was a bit wonky and she stopped to stress sniff once.  But, she got around the course and timed out n the shed ring.  Some success, I'd say.  It must be fun for Faansie to watch dogs run that he has worked with at clinics.  And, let me tell you, no favoritism with him.  He is a tough judge that calls it as he sees it.  Gotta love that.

Champ was amped.  Bitches in heat reduced his brain size to a "pea."  Champ is a very 'studly' dog.  He has been that way from the get-go.  I am going to do him a favor and neuter him next week.  All his chattering, fretting, etc. I hope will be cut in half for him, so he can think more clearly. He's a nice dog, but I don't want to do any breeding, plus there are Buzz male dogs all over the country to breed from.  There was only one dog that I wanted a pup from and that was Jet's son Moses and he is neutered.  Oh well.

Champ came to the post in his usual style, tense, but he is a fabulous spotter.  I never worry about him spotting his sheep.  People say I am too casual because I don't stand up by the post several dogs ahead of his run.  Quite frankly, I expect both of my dogs to know sheep are directly in front of where I am standing.  They both tell me when they have seen them :0)

His outrun was beautiful.  He got hold of them and wore them to the gate at warp speed disregarding any whistling from the top.  That always makes my brain fry.  Hard to relax when I know he isn't taking any of my whistles.  He brought them too fast through the fetch panels and then proceeded to only take one long blast of a steady at the post.  Wing-wagged his way around the course.  I could have killed him.

Day two.  Yoko's sheep ran to set-out.  She was deep, but short and that's what you get.  I whistled her, but she was in the "blind" zone.  Yoko has teeth and will use them.  She has been very good of late at the trials, though.  She is the best farm dog, because she is always bringing you the worst of characters :0)  Anyway, I couldn't see her so I hoped she wasn't holding them on the fence.  I gave her an away and a few small walk-ups.  Lo and behold here comes my girlfriend through the gates with her sheep.  Can you say thrilled?  Yoko is like the little train that could.  I adore her even though she has embarrassed me a zillion times at the post.   At the gate, the sheep did their hair pin turn for the shaded large firs.  But Yoko got ahead of them with encouragement from me and put them through her fetch panels. I have learned tons from Yoko, especially "humility." Yo's drive was a tremendous hill climb to one set of panels.  She pushed them through it.  Down she came to the pen.  We were already to pen, it was set up perfectly, plus Yoko is a fabulous pen dog.  Bingbaddabing,...she made a dive for the black lamb.  She obviously had a score to settle.  I said, "Shame on you and then laughed."  She didn't grip; just gave him a piece of her mind. Who knows what went on by the set-out on her fetch.  LOL  She regathered everyone, penned them and timed out at the shed for a single.

Yoko eyeing up the high headed black lamb

Champers came back for his second run.  Maggi gave me a bit of a pep talk.  She said to try for steady's, not stops.  She named off about 5 superior handlers with great dogs telling me none of their dogs were taking any of their stops on the un dog-broke lambs.  Champ's outrun through the gate was gorgeous.  Faansie later told me what a beautiful outrun it was.  So did set-out.  They have the perfect view. As soon as he stopped on top he lost his sheep.  He wasn't fast enough or in thinking mode to cover.  This was Saturday afternoon, running second to last in about 97 degree heat.  I wasn't too worried, because Champ doesn't over think stuff.  He probably was thinking about breeding the bitch in heat he saw just before his run and just merrily trotted his sheep away from set-out through the gate.  He made ALL three sets of his panels and took his steady commands.  But, by the time he got to the pen, he was mentally fried.  Sloppy pen with some missed attempts.  Lots of time for the shed, but by the time a hole presented itself, we ran out of time.  We need to work on staying out (off of) the pen and shed.  He is still too close when mentally fried and not flanking as pretty as he can.

The Luau

The luau was short and sweet on Saturday night.  I met some new people I hadn't really talked to before and of course, saw lots of old people I knew.  I heard a Californian say that she hardly knew anyone at the trial.  Now, coming from California, living in Washington, and trialling in Oregon I  pretty much know who EVERYONE is....that makes it fun :0)  Lots of work ahead for me and the dogs.  I didn't enter Yoko in Vashon sheep trial.  My ego got the best of me again.  I need to get over it.  Because, one of these days my little white faced marshmallow is going to be queen for a day AGAIN and win another open class.  So, keep an eye on her.  hahahaha

Dang, it felt good to get home on Sunday night, put the trash out, take a hot shower, and sleep in my own bed.  This morning a heavy drizzle is covering Happy Valley with a temperature of 62 degrees.  Life is good.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Time to raise the bar!

I pretty much know what I am doing with working my dogs, but since I was almost on my own in California for years, what I thought looked good to me, really wasn't correct.  What the hell!  LOL

I have lots of options for training here in the PNW, for lessons and clinics (as long as the funds hold out).  I am now working with Maggi McClure.  Oh my gosh, I came away with NEW knowledge after our first lesson.  Today I had my 2nd lesson on Vashon Island.  I learned that I need to RAISE the BAR on what I expect from my dogs.  But, first you have to SEE it:  whether they are correct or not.  That's half my problem.  I'm always so happy that they try to do what I TELL them to do,  I don't require above and beyond mediocre.  I haven't been allowing them to THINK on their own.  Now, we are training Suzanne to SEE more clearly, EXPECT more, and ASK (not order) my dogs to figure it out, correcting them only when they are wrong.

I am going to try to train my dogs at least 3 times a week.  They have been getting into the top third of the placings at most the trials with some well known handlers and dogs.  I would guess most of these handlers work their dogs daily and sometimes twice daily.  I am pleased with my dog's work, but I know they can do even better!  You just don't stop LEARNING in this sport;  that's what makes it so addictive.

Muscle memory (CORRECT muscle memory) plays a big part of them being able to be consistent at the trials.  So, they need more training time than I have been giving them.  Time and money....hahaha.
The partnership with my dogs when we go to the post is the highlight of my retired years now.  They can't wait to work.  Plus, the fun and social aspect is the BEST.  So many different walks of life accompany their dogs to the post.  It is really intriguing to say the least to get to know the stories, the lives, of those that are involved in sheep trials.

So, that's where I am today.  Traveling up and down the coast trialling.  In 2 weeks I will be in Scio, Oregon and a week later, in Cottage Grove, Oregon.  It's possible that Champ may have enough points to attend the National Finals in Alturas, California, but I really don't think he and I are ready.  I'm still mulling it over.  Hate to miss a finals almost in your backyard :0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mohawk Valley runs

I was fairly pleased with both Yoko's and Champ's runs.  I trust Champ completely, but Yoko makes me a bit nervous.  But, now I am over my ego of being embarrassed by her, I think we are moving on.  I think Jeanne said she is, "quirky."  I think that is a good adjective to use.  It's like people.  Mensa (high IQ) type people are usually a little OCD with quirky type personalities.  That's the class I would put Yoko in.  She is brilliant, but very quirky.  If a fly lands on her or if she even hears someone mention a fly, she almost has a seizure.  A stockdog that can't handle flies?  Oh my.  She is a "food-a-holic."  She will eat anything.  No way can we use anything toxic around here (not that I would want to) but you never know what Yoko will eat.  Many times she has heeled the sheep away from their set out pan of grain to gobble it down for herself (on her outrun, no less).  Now, she is having a little phobia about the top and lift.  I think she understands I don't want her to grip at the top if the sheep don't move immediately off of her.  But, she is worried.  She is 7 years old now.  I haven't seen her use her teeth of late.  But, I'm not sure what she was doing up at the top at the Mohawk Valley trial on day one.  I think she got to the lift and took a crap.  Now you laugh, but I don't think anyone could see that far.  She probably thought WTH, I'll give them some time to make their move.  Oh Yoko!  Day two, she was tentative at the top and they blew off into the trees to the left.  Instead of quickly balancing them to me, she followed them along the tree line.  I couldn't see her or them but after about 4 rather FAST away whistles she appeared with the sheep.  At least she didn't eye them up or bite them.  But, if I can get the top fixed, she would probably be in the money.  Sheep like her and she is listening to all of her whistles quite well now.  She is a brilliant farm dog.  At the pen, I don't have to give any flank commands.  I just use a low shhh shhh and let her decide what she needs to do.  She knows the job.  Same on the shed.  I expect my dogs to know where to put themselves as far as the pen and the shed are concerned.  Champ still needs some assist at the pen to stay off of them.  He's still too pushy.  Yoko had a moment on Fido's big field where she was queen for a day with a 94 out of 100.  It was a smoker run.  I know she has it in her.

So maybe this why I have a problem with some of the replies on the Novice and Beyond list when I mentioned Champ is a cheating SOB on his stops just like his mother.  I got all of this, "He doesn't understand his job" answers.  Sorry, NOT believing that for a minute.  He knows his job.  If I asked him to pick up a quarter off the sidewalk, he would know what I was asking.  Jet came with a stop on the dime.  Part of it is the dog, I'm pretty sure.  Yes, handling plays into it, too.  I'm not a tough handler.  Probably not tough enough.  Plus, I don't have livestock.  We only work in a 4 acre field a few times a week and he takes his stops quite fine there :0)  He would not take my down whistles 50% of the time or he cheated on them at Mohawk Valley.  He did take some "Take time" whistles though and he is not hard to handle.  He's a team player....just need a better stop.  Plus, he needs to square up his flanks on the fly.  I was very happy with his Saturday run.  He was first up and his score didn't reflect his nice run.  C'est la vie.  Sunday he had a bit of an easier time at the top.  I stopped him on Sat. at the top which I never should have done.  Sunday I let him pick them up how he thought was best.  He is a bit too mechanical at the top. He is pretty darn trustworthy to treat the sheep nicely.  He DQ'ed on Sunday in the shed ring after a respectable run.  He had a psychotic black face that wanted to go home.  He finally got pissed off and popped her one on the nose.  The judge and I both thought it was warranted.  He is very patient, and thankfully, he has his mother's moxey.  But, I should have known that his endorphins were running on high after the grip.  I juggled the sheep around in the shed ring so the psychotic one was with the group I didn't want.  I brought him in on the two white faced sheep.  But, I wasn't on my toes.  He shot in like a rocket and grabbed a Not-So-Nice grip as close to the head as he could get and hung on.  He deserved a thank-you.  It only made me laugh.  Hey, he is 3 yrs. old and I better sharpen up my handling skills!

Long ass drives, but necessary to get both of dogs out to the trials for experience.  I have heard some people complain about so and so trial has bad sheep, etc.  This is my take on it.  I expect my dogs to work anything in almost any type of condition.  I don't want perfect conditions.  The great thing about Mohawk Valley is that it was challenging.  We are always looking for a good time and when we can get into the winner's circle or with some placings, or even just get around nicely without any drama, hip hip hooray!  Onward and upward!

The fur kids having fun at Mohawk Valley