Thursday, January 29, 2015

Take Time

This is kind of a "slide through" for Champ just like the "down."  I haven't been consistent in enforcing it.  It's up to me to be consistent and to find a way to tell him what I'd like to see from him.
My downs have improved on the home turf.  But, Champ still crawls up their wooly butts and still (on occasion) takes his first several steps too rapidly.

So, I am trying to enforce the "take time."  When I blow that whistle or verbally tell him that command, I am looking for him to cut his speed in half so at least I can notice he has gone into a low gear.  I need to be able to SEE that he understands.  I know he does.  He is just blowing me off. I need to make myself clearer. I don't think I will take the push out of him.

Champ wants to be right and he is always checking in. A bomb could go off and his mother at his age would never have looked back at me.  Patrick says it is a good thing in the that Champ wants to be right and not to get too hung up on it.

I'm thinking if Champ can give me a "steady" or "take time" I can let up on stopping him so much.  He usually looks back at me when I stop him.  So I have been trying at home to have him cut his speed and just let him go.  I'm hoping he will like not having to stop so much and that he will like me not having to nag him so much.

I'm crossing my fingers this rings a bell with him :0)  It really isn't anything Dave can help me with him.  I need to find out what works for us.  I'm getting a pretty good idea what doesn't work.  And, I'm well aware a lot of what we are doing on the home turf will go out the window on new turf and new sheep at the upcoming trials.  But, If I stay consistent with him at home and other places I get to work him, sooner or later (I hope sooner) he is going to get the picture.

These aren't overnight fixes.  At least not for me.  It takes time and practice.  We will continue on with our quest.  I'm happy that we are making progress, slowly, but surely.

I am off to visit my family in Roseburg next week.  I entered the Scio sheep dog trial which is on the way home.  I don't know if I am in it yet, but maybe.  The more places I can get Champ out to, the better for him.

The week after that, is the Faansie Basson clinic at Dave Imas' place.  I worked with Faansie last year at Joe and Heather Haynes old farm.  I'm hoping Faansie can see that we have made "progress."
I have a private lesson with Champ and Yoko.  Plus, Champ has a working spot in the clinic and we signed up for the shedding clinic, too.

I've had more instruction here in WA. than all of the years in Calif.  I am very grateful for this.  It's a great group of people here.  I'm loving it :0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mount Mother F'er

What I meant to say is Mount Walker :0)

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  Sometimes I don't know what possesses me.  I do know that I like to decompress after trialing and what better way than a little hike. haha

On the way home from the trial Sunday I stopped at my favorite restaurant The Timberhouse.  I over heard a couple talking about their hike up Mount Walker.  Since it has been on my to do list, I butted in and asked them about it.  They said it would take a couple of hours for me to get to the top.  They also, said, coming down was way worse than going up.  I said, "Well, that sounds doable for me."  Lordy, Suzanne.  :0)

I got to the trail head late, close to noon.  Reason being, the fog had socked our little valley in and I wasn't sure how clear it would be on Mount Walker.  But, I did know the temperature was moderate (in the upper 40's, low 50's).  That's much better than in the 20's/30's.  So, I took care of the chickens at the neighbors, pottied Jet, made sure he had lots of water and left him comfy in the house as I gathered Yoko and Champ for the trek.

I saw about 5-6 cars / trucks at the trail head.  Mount Walker is open during the summer to DRIVE up it with a mild hike after you get out of your car at the top.  In the winter the road is closed and there is a "strenuous" trail of switchbacks up to the top.  I should have thought about that word "STRENUOUS" a little longer.  I like to hike, but I'm not really into strenuous.  But, of course I overlooked that.  I did see it said bring lots of water.  I had one bottle of water and a cup to put it in for my dogs along with 3 tangerines.  Ready to roll.

I had a sweatshirt on with a rubberized type vest over it with lots of pockets to stuff things in.  Not a good idea for a strenuous hike in the low 50's.  I must have sweat off 10 pounds going up and down.

About one third of the way up I started questioning myself, "What were you thinking?"  Thankfully, Champ and Yoko helped by keeping their brace leash taught almost pulling me along to keep going.  The trail started to get steeper after the first third.  As the sweat was running down my face, I kept a trucking.  I ran into a man coming down about my age.  I stopped and asked him, "How far am I from the top?"  He said, "You have a few more switchbacks to the half way point." I told him, "Couldn't you have LIED to me?"  He said, "I'm not accustomed to doing that."  I told him, "This would have been a good time to lie a bit."  LOL  He told me he just couldn't do it today and stopped at the half way point.  Now I'm thinking, well, I'm thinking, 'Not GOOD thoughts.'

Come on guys....PANT....look tired :0(

I continue on looking for the half way point.  He told me there was a place you could sit down.  I don't see anyplace I can sit down after about 10 more helatious switchbacks.  I keep trudging, stopping to catch my breath every 100 feet or less.  I'm trying to keep my butt tucked under me to relieve the pressure on my lower back.  I keep looking up to see if the tree tops look like they are getting closer.  Like I might be nearing the top.  Didn't matter, just more and more trees.  I see I am level with snow capped mountains on the other side of the Quilcene Valley.  I stop to offer the dogs a little water and Yoko and I share one of my tangerines.  Champ would have to suffer a low blood sugar since he refused to eat any fruit with us.  Stupid Champ.  Smart Yoko.  Champ, the first half, kept peeing on everything.  It was driving me crazy.  So I amused myself with goosing him with my walking sick each time he tried to lift his leg.  It gave me something to think about other than my pain and he was finally catching on to my game (not so funny in his book).

Then, I heard something.  I heard a distinctive 'growl' in one of the tree tops on the trail.  Holy shit Batman.  Yoko stopped and looked upwards. There were enough cougar signs at the trail head everywhere.  I had my walking stick with me.  I'm not about to get caught with my pants down again like I did with Champ getting chewed on by the guardian dogs.  After that incident, I purchased the perfect hiking companion. With a flip of a switch, my walking stick can deliver 1 million volts.  Yes, I said ONE MILLION volts of electricity.  A walking stick stun gun :0)

I look up in the trees, only to make myself dizzy.  I flip the switch to 'on' and get moving up the trail.  I never heard the growl again nor did I see anything.  But, I was on my toes (literally)...walking on my toes, leaning forward because of the steepness of the trail.  I checked my iPhone (no cellular data) but at least, the time.  I had been on the trail for an hour and a half.  Surely, I must be getting close to the top.

I finally run into another hiker, a lady about my age, I think.  She has walking sticks and looks in much better condition than I.  I ask her, "How far am I from the top?"  She said, "You are too close to quit now.  Maybe a few switchbacks But, it gets a bit steeper."  God love her.  She LIED, all but the STEEPER part.   My type of woman.  We had nearly another 30 switchbacks that got steeper and steeper with every step.

Last couple I ran into before nearing the top said, "You are almost there."  They could see I was dying on the vine. :0)  "But, when you get to the top, be sure to walk the extra half mile to the north so you can see Seattle and Rainier.  It will be way worth it."  I thanked them and was secretly thinking, SCREW that.  LOL

FINALLY, I could see light at the end of the tunnel.  We made it.  It took us about two hours plus a little.  Felt like we were on top of the world.  Yoko, Champ and I shared another little drink plus Yo and I shared another tangerine.

At the top...southern view

Ten minute rest....Not for you guys, but for the old lady.

Now after a little rest, I'm thinking I really should do that extra half mile.  LOL  I ran into a couple arranging their backpacks on a picnic table and asked them if I was on the right trail and how far was it to the next view point.  They gave me directions and said it was worth my effort.  Thankfully it was a fairly flat walk.  Good thing, because my legs were tired. Somewhere along the trail I dropped my favorite wolf hat.  Ugh.  This was the hat Derek Fisher spilled coffee on years ago.  He took it to have it cleaned and I was amazed, crazed and dazed that a year later he gave it to a friend to give back to me when he was at the Nationals.  Now, I was going to lose it again.  So I start back tracking the trail.  Finally I see a young man carrying it.  He held it high over his head.  "I bet you are looking for this!"  We got to chatting and I walked to the northern viewpoint with him.

This was his first time hiking Mount Walker, too.  We arrived at the Northern view point and soaked up the quietness, the vastness, and the beauty silently.  Then, after giving myself one last sip of water and the mutts the last of it, Yoko and I shared our last tangerine.  He laughed.  He said, "I didn't know dogs ate fruit."  Champ again refused, grabbing the cup of the last few precious sips of water for himself and Yoko throwing it into the air and catching it.  Idiot Champ, I'm thinking.  Pups will be pups.  My new friend was laughing. You could see Seattle clearly, a good portion of the Hood Canal and Mount Rainier in the distance.  I had picked a good day for this trek.  I had brought little binoculars, but never even took them out of my fanny bag.  It was that clear.

Close up zoom...Seattle
Just need poppies instead of water in front of it and it would look like "OZ."

My hiking buddy told me about his spectacular drive on the 101 yesterday with the fog clinging to the land while being still and clear over the Hood Canal.  I told him I was coming from the other direction and had to keep pulling off the road to look at the magnificent views.  He related that he planned on kayaking from Port Townsend all the way down the Hood Canal.  Good on you, I said (with no wanting to do that particular trek) But, he did tell me to stop at the Oyster house by Hamma Hamma next time on the way up.  He said he had some fabulous oysters, just seasoned perfectly.  Okay then, I WILL do that.

Fog clinging to the landside on the 101

He did tell me that I could save my knees and hike the road down versus the switchbacks.  But, it would add an extra half mile, so he was told.  Well, hell, not me.  I'm not adding an extra half mile.  I will go down the trail I came up.  Then we parted ways.  About 100 feet down the trail I was saying to myself, "What was I THINKING?"  I looked at my swollen fingers from the pressure differential, and my tiring legs and kept on going.  I stopped, taking the dogs off their brace leash, asking them to follow.  They both were wonderful.  I only needed to hold my walking stick out in front of Champ a few times to tell him to get behind me on the trail.

I kept looking for the half way point that I never found on the way up :0(  I kept telling myself, 'This must be it.'  My toes were screaming from being stuffed into the front of my Ariat boots with each step.  I had on heavy padded merino wool socks.  That is the only thing that saved me from blisters, I am sure.  My hips were hurting, more than my knees, and my legs were like a bowl of jello.  Though, I was making better time coming down than going up.  I finally had to stop to sit on a rock for awhile.  A couple of ladies were coming down with their hiking sticks, separated by about 100 feet between each other.  The last lady said, "This coming down is way tougher."  I'm thinking 'No shit, Sherlock,' as her legs gave out with her almost falling into my lap.  'Sorry, she says,' uprighting herself with her walking poles.  I tell her as she continues on down, "Now, I wonder why I wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail?"  "Maybe because I was 35 years younger."  haha  Then, I yell to her even louder as she was making her descent, "Now I know what Reese Witherspoon felt like in the movie WILD."  I heard a faint laugh echo back my way.

Okay, enough rest, onward and downward.  Finally, by the grace of God, I could see the trails end.  I was worried I wouldn't make it back down by dark.  It took me 5 hours roundtrip with lots of stops to rest and a long stop to bask in the beauty at the top.  My legs were quivering and all I could think of was a hot bath, 800mg of Motrin, and a cold beer, and not necessarily in that order. :0)

On the ride home, I made a call to my neighbors (the chicken sitting neighbors) to see if they were home. Kitty answered the phone and said all was good with the chickens.  I told her I was making the drive home from hiking Mount Walker wanting to be sure that Rooster Cogburn and the ladies were taken care of for the evening.  She said, "Hey, Mark and I had to do that hike 3 times before being able to get a clear day."  Holy SHIT.  I told her I was impressed, because it will be a cold day in Hell before I think about making that trek again.  Lordy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Thankful for my family and friends.  Thankful for my dogs.  Thankful that I was able to buy and settle in a home in Sequim.  Thankful for each new day I get to enjoy.  Thankful to be alive!

I have always been a "positive" person.  Depression just isn't in my vocabulary.  I take after my father in that respect.  He always told me "Life goes by too fast, so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!"  I had great folks, but my father truly was my hero.  He allowed me to paint in water colors on my walls.  We would write poems, words of encouragement, etc. in different colors all around my bed :0)  He was an avid supporter of me, my animals and horse competitions.  Our love was so deep.

So, I guess that's where I get my optimistic outlook no matter what is going on in my life.  And, life hasn't always been a bowl of cherries for me.  That's why I have always said, "Don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in their moccasins."  I'm having some cancer related health problems now (from past radiation) that has been difficult for me to endure. I'm working with some Docs and will see some specialists in Seattle to see if they can help me.

Meanwhile, I try to keep healthy.  If I can't keep myself healthy physically; I certainly can give it my best shot mentally.  Hence, the Buddha apps, the zen apps, the self help books, and now my newest endeavor, self hypnosis.

I bought a self-hypnosis book with audio sessions for my Kindle for $2.99.  The first couple of sessions I was so relaxed, I fell asleep.  Next time I had a cup of coffee, stayed awake, but still was very relaxed.  I have been hypnotized in the past, so I know I can be easily put under with the power of suggestion.  So why not, use my own power of suggestion for my health, mental outlook, and even dog competitions.

Today I went to an open trial at Fido Farms.  Their trials are tricky to say the least.  The last one I attended had a huge dog leg fetch,  I was lucky that both of my dogs did the dog leg and made the turn around the cone and the fetch panels.  Today's trial was a straight fetch but with a bit of a wicked drive.  The handlers cone was about 25 yds or more from the cone that ended the drive by the shed ring.  To make things even more confusing, they kept the pro-novice panels up on the course from the day before that they were going to use for the nursery class after open.  There were 5 sets of panels on the field.  A little difficult for us gray haired ones!  The first leg of the drive had a wicked exhaust pull as did the fetch, too.  The 2nd leg of the drive was an awkward angle that was difficult to see because of the pro-novice panels in the way.  The 3rd leg of the drive, many of the dogs wanted to drive/fetch to the handler's cone, but they were to go to the cone some 25 yds. away from the handler's cone.  Tricky.

But, I used my self hypnosis to relax myself and walk myself through the course before my runs.  Kind of what I might do before running an agility course.  Thankfully, I didn't fall asleep and I was pleased with both of my dog's runs.  More so with Yoko than Champ, but Champ won the class and Yoko tied for 5th taking 6th.  I really think it helped me get a handle on the course and the sheep.  These big Cheviots can be difficult at times.  It is pretty much 'luck of the draw.'  Some will stand off your dog and they look rather intimidating because their ginormous size.  Let's say you wouldn't want one to step on your toes :0)

Yoko after the fetch ran fairly easily taking quiet whistles.  Champ, not so much.  I think we had a moment of about 50 yds where I didn't have to say anything on the cross drive, since that is his favorite part of the course.  But, I still had to screech multiple times, "CHAMP!"  At home he is using the softest of whistles.  We are just not there yet at the trials.  Plus, he still gets up too quickly coming on to his sheep.  We will be working on this for awhile.  But, he was way more thoughtful around the other dogs (not wanting to breed everything in sight)...well, he still might have wanted to, but he keep checking in with me to see what I was thinking.  He got lots of praise.  Normally he would want to pull me to the post.  I refuse to have a dog go out on leash, so now he is learning to follow me and remain at my my side before launching off into his fetch.  And, it is a "launch."  Nothing half way with The Champster. :0)  So, if at each trial both dogs make a little more headway, I'm happy.  At least I am not going backwards.

Oh by the way, I wore a watch for the very first time.  I told a few friends I was going to "Up my Game" and look professional.  Hahahaha  I set my watch, turned it on as the dogs left on their outruns, and never looked at it again,  This may take awhile.  Maybe, a little more hypnosis :0)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Too much, too little, too late

This goes along with my previous blog.  Knowing what is the right correction for each individual dog.  Today I worked sheep and then less than a half mile away I have an agility Susan Salo jump class for the puppers. Yoko has a little agility background.  This is all new for the Champers.  But, teaching him to FOCUS in agility around people and dogs has been fabulous for him.  Mr. Studly loves all dogs and wants to breed anything near him.  He has been a PITA for me to keep his attention and focus.  This is my first male dog like this and it has kept me on my toes!  I refuse to neuter him just over his testosterone levels, but let me tell you, it has crossed my mind more than once!

I have been having difficulty with Yoko on the start line keeping her stays.  I'm sorry if this is repeating myself, but I find it very fascinating how we finally corrected the problem.  See...even Yoko knows i am a wimp :0) No amount of me going back and correcting her helped.  I went back and dragged her back a couple of feet where I originally put her.  I scruffed her fur on her neck.  I would try high fives to get her out of her "falcon" start line position.  Nada.   Nothing worked for me.

That is UNTIL my instructor decided enough is enough.  When Yo started creeping, she went out to her and very gently put her back into position.  I saw Yoko ponder that move.  Next time she sat like a falcon, my teacher walked to the start line and manipulated her to sit up tall.  I could tell that Yoko was quite peeved at someone other than her mother correcting her.  The 3rd time was the charm.  I almost thought Yoko was going to bite my instructor she was so bent out of shape.

Today, Yoko only broke her start line once.  Every sit was perfect and NOT in the falcon position.  Basically, she doesn't want my instructor to come to her and correct her when I lead out.  LOL

Champ broke his start line and I immediately walked into him like I would do on sheep with intent.  Even my instructor said, "Great correction."  When the only time I had to correct Yoko I was leading out and she left the start line.  Before i saw her she was on the last jump.  I walked into her face like I did with Champ.  I set her back up.  I released her and she did all of the jumps EXCEPT the last jump where I corrected her.  She stopped and looked at me.  Ha!  You big softie.  Obviously what i can use for Champ, I can't use for her!

I reved her up at the start line with a few tricks and she did the jump line the next time perfectly including the last jump.  Just goes to show you, not all corrections mean the same thing for each individual dog.  My instructor is quite intuitive.  She has already spotted Yoko as the "Thinker."  Champ isn't at the "thinking" stage yet, but he is getting more "thoughtful."

I haven't decided if I will trial the dogs in agility.  I am just doing the classes for socialization, training, fun, and focus.  Today I asked the owner of the property we were on (who has a sweet agility course with all of the obstacles set up) if he would rent me some agility time.  He said, "No."  He said, "Call me when you want to practice and come on out for free." What a pleasant surprise.
 I have weaves and a few jumps, but my property is so NOT level and with holes, so it is a bit dangerous to work the dogs on it.  His agility arena is like ours in Green Valley, level plus it has a nice dry bark surface.  They also do seminars there :0)

After my lesson with Dave on sheep the other day  I was depressed.  Happy that the longer outruns were fine for Champ, but he just wasn't in tune and listening to my stops. I went over to Fidos and worked him in ankle deep mud and put the screws to him.  Today, he worked like a top at Patricias.  I think we are getting there.  Gosh, this sheepdog training thing takes forever!  I was impressed with Yoko at Dave's (just trading outruns/no lesson) so I put her with a lesson with Faansie.  I already figure he won't like her, but he might be able to give me some suggestions for her wideness and off contact work.  Doesn't really matter.  I love her :0)