Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family Updates

Jet has had a bit of a set back :0(  He is walking around with his back roached…guessing from belly pain.  I started him on low dose Gabapentin with his Tramadol.  His renal function is marginal.  It is what I call chronic renal insufficiency, so I have to be careful with what medications I give him to keep him comfortable.  I think I brought on his new discomfort :0(  I have a ramp for him to get into the truck and RV.  I didn't use the ramp the other day because the truck was on an incline.  I lifted him into the truck.  I'm afraid that his vascular abdominal mass may have bled a bit.  His gums still look good.  So if it isn't his tummy, he hurt his back.  But, my gut feeling is the pain is coming from his abdomen :0(  I do the best I can…watch and wait.  He got up on his own this morning like clockwork which is a good sign.  Plus, he is eating well.  I will keep him home this week.  No riding in the truck for him.

Champ is doing GREAT in agility and on sheep.  All of a sudden we have turned another corner in our sheep work.  He is softening and thinking.  I'm loving what I am seeing.  His pen work is improving to the point, that I hardly need to utter a word.  He's working it by himself.  I have been working him with mostly voice inflections, little to no voice or whistle commands.  I am letting him figure out how to handle the sheep instead of me telling him how I think he should handle the sheep!  This is a huge cornerstone for both of us.  Plus, I am trying to continue with lessons very other week.  I have never been close enough (living wise) to be able to take lessons on a regular basis.  Sure, it's a 5 hour RT, but well worth it to me.  Now we are getting to the fun part.  Is he getting up too quickly, is he mindful, is he feeling his sheep, and so forth.

Yoko is having fun just being Yoko,  funniest little dog ever.  She is coming 7 yrs. of age in January.  I wish I had money to take sheep lessons with her, too, but alas, I don't.  I think I may have taken 5 lessons during the course of her lifetime.  It shows.  But, we still have fun together.  She wants to do right.  It's just that she stresses easily if I get stressed.  She is not the 'steady eddie' that Champ is.  She is not a good jumper, but absolutely loves agility.  She loves the socialization.  She adores the people and knows every individual dog.  Plus, she is a crack up, because she is so damn SMART.  The other day she even picked up a bar she knocked because both the instructor and I said "Oops." When the instructor says, "Get it" with a target plate, Yoko always delivers the target plate to her.  Well, she did say, "Get it."  Too smart for her own good, but it amuses everyone :0)

Back in California Kilt and Trouble are on DIETS.  Trouble weighed in at 12# and Kilt at #40.  My Vet jotted me a little note to let me know they were both a bit wide around the middle.  Wayne has put them on diets.  Kilt should weigh maybe 36# and Trouble, no more than 11#.  That is one thing we are very careful around here with our dogs (not ourselves so much) is with their weights.  Jet weighs 35#, Yoko at 37# and Champ weighs in at 39#.  Even though, Champ is a 'Slim Jim' he should weigh the most because he has not an ounce of fat on him.  In fact, it would be fine if he gains another pound.
Plus, Kilt and Trouble just finished up their Lepto boosters before visiting for the Holidays.  Taking no chances.

After the Russian guardian dog attack on Champ and myself, I got a new protection device.  I bought myself a walking stick that is also a stun gun.  It looks like a regular walking stick with a molded rubber handle.  The only difference is it has a LED flashlight and can deliver an almost million volts of electricity at the flip of a switch.  I am not placing myself in jeopardy again.  I like to hike and do lots of walking.  I am usually, if not always, by MYSELF with a dog or two.

I know some people who feel it is unnecessary to own a weapon of any sorts.  And, that's okay, for them.  But, I have been burglarized and I have felt my life on the line before.  I will be prepared.  I just went over to the Sheriff station and applied for a concealed weapon permit.  I do lots of traveling by myself, too.  i might as well be legal.  Thankfully, it is easy to get a permit to carry in Washington.  As long as you are not a felon, you pay them $50, and you get a permit good for 5 years.

I have a trial coming up on Sunday (after Thanksgiving) in Olympia.  Then, I have a Jack Knox clinic/trial coming up in mid December.  Family returning from overseas and husband ands dogs coming for the holidays.  Lots going on.  I also had another interview with a critical access hospital in Port Townsend.  I'm sure I can get a job there, but first I have to figure out who is going to care for Jet, etc.  It's a 60 mile RT commute and long hours.  I'd really like to get my (nursing) foot back in the door.  I may see about finding a roommate.  We'll see.  I don't see Wayne looking like he will be moving this way in the next year.  I think he plans to stay in Ca. until his retirement in 2 years.  Lots of decisions to make. Think I will sit this out for the holidays and just enjoy myself.

You all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have been invited to my neighbors home that overlooks Sequim bay for Turkey day.  Lucky me!

                                                      HAPPY TUKEY DAY

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hocus Pocus, you need some Focus!

Champ is a bit of an ADD kid, so I started him in an agility class.  Holy Moly, he's doing GREAT.  He loves it.  At first he was sneaky on his stays.  Also, he didn't like wobbly things.  He couldn't seem to find any comfort in getting his back feet where he wanted them to go.  Five weeks later, he is doing wonderfully.  His stays are 90 percent better.  He still wants to do his favorite obstacles over and over again, but we are working on that.  Can you say…weave, weave, and weave  LOL  I found some Schutzhund obstacles at the dog park, so we borrowed their A-frame and some balance beam work for Champ :0)  We did some ladder work at home and now we are going up the stairs backwards.
All I have is 12 weaves, a kiddie tunnel, and one jump that Jeanne gave me, but it's a start.  I use a couple of trees in the front yard for "go outs."  I use the path to the pond for a "go on."

Yoko is in the advanced class (smarty pants).  It didn't take her but about a month to catch up to everyone in the class.  She loves it, too.  She wants to do her obstacles from afar.  If I'm in her bubble she gets nervous.  I can't move an inch until she is committed to an obstacle because she is so responsive.

I just started a Susan Salo jump class with both of them.  Champ had never even seen a jump other than Yoko's which he would duck under.  But, on week one, he already was doing 5 jumps at different jump heights.   We have been teaching Yoko to "go on" with a target and a "get it."  We may have to think of another word.  Yoko is used to 'take it' and 'get it' at home which means go pick up that object and bring it to me.  All my dogs do that.  So Yoko would do her five jumps and 'get it.'  She would pick up the target, jog back to me and give it to me.  Too cute!  Such a ham-bone!

Yoko works for treats, but Champ would rather work for a tug toy, but he will take a treat if offered.  I am having so much fun with them.  Champ is really learning to FOCUS.  We have been missing that piece of the puzzle.  This is the type of dog that can independently play with his toys all day.  Now, he is having to interact with me.  

I have only worked him on sheep twice since my lessons and trial in Arlington.  I can tell you that he worked like butter this afternoon.  Hot damn.  I think he is really starting to understand his part of the job.  In fact, he was rocking back almost too much on his steady, so I was able to give him some fast walk-up whistles.  He really liked that :0)  We still have lots of work to do at the pen.  I have a sort pen I can use at Patricia's where I open the gate only 3 feet.  This is what I have been using to pen sheep.  It will just take more time since we don't have a daily regimen of working sheep.  A couple of times a week seems to be doing okay for us.  We just won't get there as fast as those with their own stock.  That is fine by me.  No rush.

I'm glad the dogs are having fun.  I'm having fun with them.  Jet is having fun as the mascot.  Life is good until the money runs out.  LOL  I have to remind myself to sign up for Medicare within the next month.  Time flies when you are having fun!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mind boggling

Learning my away around Washington in the rain, the fog, and sometimes during the night has really been okay thus far as long as I get my head into a meditative mode.  I didn't know the 104 went two directions,  East and West after the Hood Canal. Neither did I know that they both circle around and come back into the Poulsbo Kingston area.  I do now.  Port Gamble on the tip of the Hood Canal looks like a lovely place.  I will definitely check it out this week on a sunny day. It reminded me of a small New England type of community on the water.

Friday afternoon I visited with Bonnie Block at the Art Walk in the Woods in Poulsbo. They really had some fine art work there and I enjoyed getting a chance to visit and also, going to dinner with the other artists and Bonnie that night.

 I had my dogs in my RV camper van so after dinner I spent the night at Bonnie's house. We played around with the Gullster while having spiced apple cider and a few cookies. It was really cold that night because my my propane heater came on quite a few times.
I got an early start in the morning to get to the ferry but in the fog I got confused and went the wrong way, of course. Finally I got myself turned around. I was the last car to get on the 7 AM ferry. Yea. The sunrise was gorgeous.

I made it to the Haynes new farm in Arlington without any difficulty. No one was there when I arrived.  Patrick was working a dog at another ranch.  Joe and Heather were trialing their dogs 15 minutes away at the Kirchgessner trial.   Their farm is gorgeous. Such a very pastoral scene with the sheep out in the green meadows. The house is very modern looking with a huge fire pit and raised porches to view the fields. They also have a very large barn that can house their horses, sheep and dog kennels etc. They have a second home that Joe's parents are living in.  I love that.  Harvey Creek runs next to their property giving birth to many different types of wildlife, flora, and fauna. Of course, I didn't have my good camera with me, but I managed to take some fairly decent pictures with my iPad.  I didn't bring my Canon camera because I knew it was going to rain. And rain it did on Sunday.

First field upon entering the driveway

Great barn

House with porches and tiled walkways

next to Harvey Creek

Second field taken from their elevated porch.  Beautiful fire pit :0)

It was great to work Champ with Patrick again. We had worked in February at Bonnie Richardson's clinic with him. He reiterated everything my new instructor has been telling me. So, we are all on the same page. Lots of work needs to be done. Patrick told me the third year is the hardest year.  If I think Champ is pushing too much this year, he will be even more confident in his third year and really start to push.  So I have my work cut out for me.  It was much easier for me to communicate with my horse on top of his back versus standing next to a sheepdog trying to communicate to him what I want him to do.  Champ is waiting for me to tell him what to do instead of holding up his part and being responsible for what he should be doing on his own. We are trying to make Champ understand this.

Champ is a very keen dog just like his mother. At the trials I need him to be responsible holding up his end of the partnership.  He needs to think more, pace himself self better, and start learning some finesse type moves.  Pace is starting to become a word in his vocabulary, but he needs to start developing some finesse.  My lessons taught me to help Champ think about working a little more independently. He would like to work like a robot. He is a good partner, but I would like a great partner.  To have a great partner, I need Champ to be responsible for his part in teaming up.  My goodness, this is such a complicated sport.  And, some dogs are just more complicated than others.

I learned to use more inflection in my voice. If I'm not getting the correct response, I need to do something else. The hard part is finding something else to do to make a difference in how he is working.  A couple of times Patrick took off his jacket and whacked it on the ground and Champ immediately started to think.  Champ is able to take any type of correction, but we find the most useful correction is kind of shaming him or embarrassing him in a high soft tone.
We also worked on his sneaky stops. He Is just like his mother in that respect. For every couple of steps he takes after I tell him to stop, I am to push him back twice as many stops. The hard part is being consistent about this.  One would think that a person that trains sheepdogs would make an excellent parent. The reason I think this is probably true is because we have to be so consistent in our training.  We can't give them an inch or they will take a mile. LOL

After my lesson I went over Kirchgessner trial to trial Champ in pro novice. It was a rather small field to me and he worked so-so. He did not handle like butter and he was an idiot in a few places. He still managed to win the class. But that showed me exactly what I needed to work on with the Patrick for the next morning.  Losing four points at the pen on dog broke sheep was embarrassing to me.  The guardian dog incident didn't seem to phase Champ much.  His wanting to work took over any mental repercussions. He's a pretty 'steady eddie'  type of boy.

It rained throughout my Sunday morning lesson. I barely even noticed because I was so intent on learning new aspects of training Champ.  We worked on his stops. We also worked on short wide   flanks up against a fence.  It's time for me to teach Champ and 'out' and a 'get' for his come by and away short wide flanks.  We had no pen so used a 6 x 6  dog kennel that was 4 feet high topped and with a sliding gate that opened up about 3 feet. After a little practice Champ was able to get all 5 sheep stuffed in the dog kennel. The only way we could get the sheep out of the dog kennel was for Patrick to roll the kennel up on its side. It was pretty funny. We also worked on shedding, taking two, and also a single. Patrick was very helpful showing me how to show Champ exactly which sheep I wanted him to help me with.  Champ loves to shed so by me showing him which sheep I want, we are hoping he will get a little more finesse-full holding them before he comes through.

The other thing I have to be so careful about is that Champ pattern trains so easily.  If he patterns "wrong," it becomes very hard to undo.  So lots of sheds, I will set him up, but not call him through (to keep him from anticipating) and go do something else.  At the pen, he is not to go behind the pen (to keep him from anticipating)  to bring them out.  He has to wait at the side.  Lots of waiting around for Champ.  It's like working a kid with ADD.

Oh, and the constant looking back at me while driving was starting to bother me.  Patrick told me to forget about it.  It will all work itself out in the long run down the road.  He is just trying to figure stuff out, wants to be right, yarda yadda yadda. Jet was the same way.  But, Jet was the KING of finesse. But, Jet was also, soft and could be wimpy when I needed power.  I guess it's all about give and takes, eh?

Champ wants to be a good partner.  He has his own method; just not enough finesse and feel yet.  He has presence.  He has a lovely personality even if he wants to breed and pee on everything (I may take care of that early next year). :0)  He's keen. He is a ranch dog extraordinaire like his mother.  I haven't seen anything or any type of correction that makes him want to quit. We just need to keep doing some fine tuning, more on MY part than his :0)

Champ will be 3 yrs. old Decemeber 19th.  We are moving up to open.

Jet says I don't really care.  I'm with my mama and I'm all warm and toasty.  Let the other idiots live in the garage in their crates.  Old dogs RULE :0)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Three Waters

My day started really about noon after I finished breakfast, cleaning, and doing some agility things with Champ.  Back in the woods where my truck was, the dogs surprised this little guy who was somewhere on the under side of my truck.  He scurried up the tree and gave us holy hell for about a full minute!  I think I will  make hims little feeder of suet and peanuts.  Maybe, he will stay out of my truck.  This tree he is in is a dead tree full of holes for him to hide in and hide his food, so he should be pretty happy.

On our way down Elk Heights Trail I glanced at our driveway thankful that our new carport was up.  We have had several inches of rain and it has only been up a couple of weeks, if that!

I went over to Patricia's to work Champ and Yoko on sheep.  Afterwards as I was driving out her road I saw a flock of geese that haven't moved on.  I decided that I need to hike, walk, and explore more over the next 6 weeks before the holidays.  I had directions to an 8 acre County park called Three Waters.  I looked everywhere for it.  I couldn't find it :0(  I did find the Dungeness Fish hatchery.

Then, I saw parked next to the Dungeness River this particular truck.  I memorized where he was fishing.  The pros know :0)

Father/son fly fishing.

I promised Jet a hike after working the other two dogs on sheep.  We decided to do a couple miles of the Discovery trail which is over 100 miles.  A lady I met on the trail said this used to train tracks that they paved over.  She told me I probably didn't have time to walk clear to Port Townshend.  Ha.  I told her doubtful neither Jet nor I could make that long a hike (some 25 miles)  LOL

Jet was pretty funny carrying a large leaf he found.  It must have been a substitute for his lunchbox.  He was just being silly :0)

He has been feeling pretty good of late.  Thank God he can see, because he hears next to nothing.

Mushrooms EVERYWHERE.  Every day I pick about 100 new mushrooms from my lawn at home.  I don't know if they are good or bad.  But, I do know I have seen Champ pick a few.  He has received a few stern "Outs" any time I see him even think about it.

An old truck along the Discovery trail.  It looked like a painting.

A clearing on the trail gave us some beautiful views.

An old van on private property that we could see from the trail.

I don't think I could afford to live here, but what a great place right on Sequim Bay.

Jet did well for a two miler.  We had to get home so I could feed them and shower since I was invited for dinner at a new friend's home.  I sure have been blessed with lots of lovely new friends.  I now have a pre Thanksgiving dinner invite (one week before Turkey day) and a real Thanksgiving dinner invite.  I don't know how I am going to lose weight!

Monday I will stop by the Visitor Center and find out why I couldn't find Three Waters park.  I haven't stopped in the Visitor Center there yet and some of my neighbors volunteer there.
Anyway you look at it, I am having a wonderful time in Sequim.  Wayne is trying to get 17 days off at Christmas.  Of course, some 5 days for driving and he will be here shy of a couple of weeks.  Something is better than nothing, that's for sure!

It's going to be a BIG week.   I need to get the van ready for another long weekend trip.  I have lessons in Arlington Sat/Sun with Patrick Shannahan plus I am trailing Champ 20 min. away from where I am taking my lesson on Sunday.

Can you say busy!!!!!  That's the way I like it :0)  (Most of the time)