Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Starting to organize

Three days of work (instructing nursing students) and one day of traveling to Olympia to work dogs.  Today is a day of rest....clean house, wash clothes, maybe, a bit of gardening, start to clean the RV AGAIN, AND take a look at my travel plans which start NEXT week.  Whoa.  Time really has flown by quickly.

Tomorrow night I am having dinner with Bonnie Block and she is going to share her slide show of Africa.  I am just so excited.  Bonnie is the most awesome photographer and friend.  Plus, she has printed up this most awesome photo of Champ that she took randomly on a cloudy, muddy day while we were working dogs together.  She also, just came back from Montana where she took another batch of brilliant photos.  One in particular I loved of a Timber wolf.

Friday is yard, garden day, and give the two house keys I made to my neighbors above and the handyman who will be keeping an eye on the place while I am gone for a month.  Thankfully, the handyman used to watch the house for the previous owners while they traveled and lives less than a mile away!  

Sat/Sun/Mon I am back in the nursing facility instructing a new set of students.  Oh yeah...time change on Saturday.  I'm so ready for that!  I will have earned just enough money for all of my travels.  This job came exactly at the right moment!  Funny how that happened.  Well, I made it happen, but the dates worked out perfectly.  Love it when a plan comes together.

Tuesday I will have no wifi or cable until April 10th when I return.  I just chose the 10th to the 10th for ease of remembering.  I may not leave until later in the week, but that will give me much free time  to get stuff done (HAHAHA) without a TV or iMac to view.

As far as working dogs, it's a wrap I believe.  I think I was trying too hard.  I have designated all of us for a vacation :)  Maybe a little balance work and shushing for a little exercise...that's it.  I think I was pushing him too much.  Maybe, because I was worried about the Calif. trials.  It's very different to me,  trialing in the PNW versus California.  Everyone in the PNW is so supportive regardless of how you perform.  It truly has been a wonderful experience for me.  I love it here.  Great camaraderie.

Heppner, Oregon to Sonoma and Rio Vista Calif. and then back to SoCal, Green Valley, Ca.  That's a lot of MILES!  I'm guessing about 2,500 miles of traveling.  A week of rest when I get home, then I am judging an AKC trial in Arlington, Wa. and the week after, going to a Don Helsley handling clinic.

No rest for the weary, eh?

Friday, February 27, 2015

The beat goes on...

One has to take input to inquiries with a grain of salt.  It's difficult to ask a question pertaining to an individual dog, because most don't know the dog.  They are giving input from their experiences with their dogs.  Why ask, because many of the tips are excellent.

I'm giving Champ a break.  He needs a break from "Take Time."  He is sick of it.  I am sick of saying it to him.   He is pretty happy with everything else about his work, outruns, fetching, penning and shedding.  Maybe, a little too geared up, but that's his mode of operand.  He's just an excitable boy.

He has done well for his first 5 open trials, yes, small fields, dogged sheep....remains to be seen how he will do on bigger fields and range sheep.  Don't know until you try.  And, that's what this year is all about....gaining experience.

Happy to report I got into Sedona and McCormack's trial. Still waiting to see if I get into Heppner.  It's okay if I don't.  It just means I will be traveling to Green Valley "first" before Sedona.  Just going with the flow.  I made a reservation with my 20 ft RV at Sedona and will camp on the grounds in Rio Vista.

Now, I need to plan what to do with my "extra" days in-between the trials.  It depends on the weather, etc.  But, I might as well try to get some sight seeing in while I'm in the area.  I have a man who will be keeping an eye and care-taking my house in Sequim while I am gone.  He used to work for the previous owners and has done work for me while I have been here.

Since I will be gone close to a month, I have to make sure I have all of Jet's medicines ready to travel.  My last day of work with my new (temporary) job is March 9th.  I will probably leave on the10th or 11th and be home a month later.  The RV has had a tune-up and oil change. It seems to be running well.  Knock on wood.  I will put my Rhino in the garage and leave the Avalanche under the carport.

There are lots of logistics when you are living by yourself and traveling by yourself.  My handyman will have a key to my place as well as my neighbors above me with the chickens.  I think the only services I have to stop are the mail, wi-fi, cable, and the trash.  Maybe, by the time I get back in April, the daisies will be blooming.  This photo was taken the end of May, I believe :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sheepdog community

I posted an ongoing problems I was having with Champ and the reply on To Novice and Beyond was staggering.  So much input.  Love the sheepdog community.  And, then they got into sheepdog quotes.  Now, that was really hilarious.  I'm sure it made even the most novice of handlers see that we all have problems.

When you are first starting out, you are scared, nervous, and feel that "all" eyes are upon you, you and your dog.  It really is quite nerve wracking.  When, in fact, we all have our own suitcase of problems and are concentrating on our turn to the post.  Sometimes you just have to get out there and just do it.  We all RT at some time and we all get DQ'ed at another time.  You won't be the first, you won't be the last.

I am my own biggest critic.  "They don't do that at home."  LOL  Well, it's the truth.  Really.  More laughter....  Lately, I'm thinking they need to move the handler's post far away from the judges stand because on the fetch I have been thinking out loud.  And, it's not purty.  I'm like, "Oh my God, what the heck are you doing?"  That usually is in reference to "Slow down you sneaky SOB."  "STOP, for God's sake!"

I am missing TASK ranch where I used to work my dogs 15 min away.  I am lucky that I have a small field here to work in Sequim, but the dogs are getting a bit sour and really need some practical work.  I try to change up what they do all of the time, but there is only so much you can do with a 4 acre field and a pen.

The good news is that their precision work is better and in more control.  I usually  never watch them with an eagle eye doing their ranch work.  I just trust them to get the job done no matter what we are doing.  And, sometimes I'm sure their flanks, stops, etc. aren't coinciding with control and precision trial work.  A little of this can't be a BAD thing, but a lot of that will bite you in the arse on the trial field.

I'm hoping when I get on the road in March that I can call upon my sheepdog friends and find some places to work while I am on the road.  I can't make any plans yet, because it will be kind of like a last minute notice IF I even get in the trials I entered.  I know I got into McCormack, but not sure about Hepner or Sonoma.  Remains to be seen.  My husband keeps asking, "When are you coming home to Green Valley?"  Heck, if I know.  At least, not yet.

I'm a firm believer that it will all work out :0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Too much, Too little?

This is hard for me to much pressure is too much and if my pressure is too little when working my dogs.  Especially since they are working nicely at home.  But, after our last trial, I'm thinking I can be a little harder on them.  We may have to take two steps back to get three steps ahead.

Champ is 3 yrs. old now.  I pretty much didn't put a whole lot of pressure on him at 2 yrs. worrying about stressing him.  But, now, after our last trial, I think he is taking advantage of my good nature.

Champ has always gone to the post with his focus on his sheep.  But, we are changing up things now. I want him focusing on me, too.  I want to know he is "thinking."  I am really putting some pressure on him to stay with me or behind me at the post.  None of this going forward without me.  I'm also starting to "open" him out a bit now.  I haven't done anything with his outrun in over a year.  It's time for him to widen up if he is going to be running long distances.

He needs to open up and square his flanks better.  I have been letting him slide on this because I think, well, that looks okay.  I can't accept "marginal" anymore.  I need to accept only excellence from him.  

Photos by Bonnie Block

So why is this a difficult concept, too much or too little?  Well, because I see some young dogs sniffing, eating, etc. on course.  They appear to be succumbing to too much pressure.  Trialing is difficult.  It requires precision.   Precision equals pressure.

I am trying to keep Champ on his feet, because he is NOT happy about his take time command and is now dropping and wants to stay down when he hears my walk-up whistle.  I think this is his two steps backwards to get 3 steps ahead.  I have been giving him lots of shhhh's interspersed with the pressure on him to steady up.  I can see he hates to be grinded on, so I'm trying to let him feel the release when he is right.  And, I'm trying to keep our sessions short when I have to grind a bit on him.

When he doesn't listen to me as well as I would like, I just put him up and work Yoko.  I give Yoko lots of praise and then, Champ comes back with a better thinking attitude.  I know this concept does work.  I have rings that the dogs put on a pole.  Yoko can do them at warp speed with 99% accuracy.  Champ knows how to do the rings, too.  But, he takes after his mother and throws the ring in the air, catching it while being silly.  I take the ring away from him and lie him down. I give the ring to Yoko who immediately places the ring accurately on the pole.  I come back to Champ, give him a ring and he runs over putting it on the pole.  He knew how to do it the whole time.  He just is putting his Mother's twist on it.  I think he playing me working sheep, too.  I just need to be able to tell him that I'm on to his game.  You don't work right, no sheep.

The good news is I got into McCormack's trial and I have a couple of lessons with Faansie.  Champ hasn't run over 400 yds and has been working in small fields.  That is the bad news.  But, I'm just looking at this year as experience for both of us.

Sometimes you have to venture out (take some chances) to get ahead.