Thursday, October 23, 2008

As the cold wind blows...

I went out to Dianne's on Tuesday for a lesson, but before I tell you about that...

Last weekend Joe and I (and the crew) drove up to Idaho City for the day. It was a lot of fun! The leaves were just beautiful and the weather was about perfect. I wanted to find a ghost town and explore it, but that didn't really come together. But we did get to see some gorgeous mountain scenery and play Chuckit with the girls.

The only bad part was the two times that Ivy (the Brittany) got violently carsick... ugh. But overall it was a great day.

Okay, now time for some photos!

The drive there:

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Some scenery:

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And, knowing me, the end of the trip turned into a Cedar photo-op :D

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So anyways, back to my lesson with Dianne :)

First of all, it was FREEZING! The season has definitely changed now, that's for sure. Because of the new colder weather, both the sheep AND the dogs were feeling friskier. The sheep were much lighter than on previous days, and Cedar was extremely full of piss and vinegar. At first, she was not respecting my bubble at all. I was using the stick as a crutch instead of as a proper tool, and Cedar was getting desensitized to it. I also have this thing with flailing my arms around too much... LOL. Thank god Dianne is there to watch me and let me know when my body language gets too out of control! :D.

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Like usual, we were working on getting Cedar out more, and to get her to stay comfortable behind her sheep. When she gets too close she gets nervous and goes back and forth with increasing speed. Her "lay down" is very unreliable at this point, which makes things a bit tougher. But we worked on that, too. I was getting wayyy too flustered with her at first, but thankfully was able to get things under control by the time our second work came around. I finally was able to get Cedar to settle down without too much yelling. My timing has improved soooooo much lately, it sure does make things easier!

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After working Cedar, Dianne let me mess around with Nikki. She is am awesome dog! I really love working with her. Too bad she's not for sale.... j/k :) Dianne let me work her alone, which was neat. I think she was watching me from afar, though... hehe.

After doing a few outrun/fetch exercises like I used to do with Rob, I got brave/bored (haha) and decided to mess around with driving. Mind you, I don't know the first thing about driving and how to do it, but thankfully Nikki does :). It was very cool. I drove her around the field with a decent amount of success. At least, nothing bad happened and I didn't get the feeling that Nikki thought I was a complete idiot. I hope I didn't mess her up too badly ;) I am not yet whistle-proficient (haha) so I had to give her all voice commands, which was pretty tiring. I can definitely see the appeal and usefulness of whistle training.

Thanks Dianne for another great lesson!

Friday, October 17, 2008

After the break...

So Cedar, Joe and I went out to Dianne's this morning for a lesson. I was expecting Cedar and I to be complete idiots; I thought Cedar would be wild and grippy, and me to be bumbling and stupid. But...

WOW!!!!

I think we both did great! I guess the 3 week "break" did us both good. Cedar was much calmer and focused, and I was (aside from a few novice blunders) much better with my timing. We are really starting to "get" the concepts of pressure and how it relates to keeping off our stock.

Here are a few (bad quality) video stills from our lesson:

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But yeah... I am SO proud of my girly! She only got wayyy too tight once, and it was my fault. I was so excited when a sheep split off, and Cedar just brought her back to the flock instead of gripping and chasing her down the field ;).

I love my dog! For a young, inexperienced girl, she is so forgiving of my mistakes. She is really starting to listen to me better, too.

She is also getting more comfortable with staying off her stock (and I'm getting better at reading when she wants to go too tight). I am becoming a stick-chucking master!

Now I just need to master the whistle....

Monday, October 6, 2008

2008 Western States Regional Sheepdog Championship

Boys and girls, get ready for a marathon blog!

Last weekend, I went with Jodi and Katy to the Western States Regional Sheepdog Championship trial in Pendleton, Oregon. I apologize for the lack of editing in some of the photos, I don't have access to Photoshop right now but I wanted to get them up here.

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The trial was held near the Wildhorse Casino, and had some GORGEOUS views of the surrounding mountains. I have never really been a fan of the Pendleton area, but there was just something about the way the storm clouds framed the mountains, the bright silver quality of the sunlight breaking through those clouds, and wide open fields that really made it into a gorgeous spot. The rain, even though it was sort of a pain to stand in, made everything prettier somehow. (Except, of course, for my hair. At least we weren't at a fashion show, and I doubt anyone cared that I looked like crap except for me :D.)

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This was the second USBCHA trial I've attended, and the competition was pretty fierce. The sheep were extremely wild and hard to manage, and there were no really high scores because they were so hard to move. They did not respect the dogs or handlers whatsoever. There were three days of competition, and the top 12 teams from the first two days competed on Sunday in the finals. Only one team, Karen Child and her amazing dog, Jim, managed to complete the entire Double Lift course on the final day. They ended up tying with Patrick and Riggs, and winning the runoff. I'm not sure how they decided who won. But it goes without saying that all of the teams competing were outstanding. A few of my favorites were Francis Child and Belle, Karen Child and Jim, Elizabeth Baker and Rye (her dog is SO photogenic), and of course Patrick Shannahan and Dianne Deal with Riggs and Pat :). It was SO amazing getting to see a lot of handlers and dogs I had heard about.

Here are two photos of Riggs:

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This was the first time I ever got to see Riggs run in person, and I am completely in love with him now! I also got to meet his gorgeous 1 year old son, Jesse:

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Isn't he cute?

Here are couple photos of Dianne and Pat:

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And a few random pictures:

Elizabeth Baker's Rye... he was quivering with excitement watching a run:
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Rye again, on top of an ATV:
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A kind of crappy photo of the winner, Karen Child's Jim:
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After the trial was over, a woman (later identified as Lana Rowley), a kid, and a dog went out and collected the pumpkins that marked the shedding ring:

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An obligatory photo of some sheep:
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All the sheep, after the trial was over on Sunday:
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We stayed at the Red Lion hotel in Pendleton. It was a pretty decent room. Aside from a few awkward moments with the hotel maintenance staff, resulting in us being moved to a "dog friendly" room. But we did look pretty conspicuous traipsing down the hallway with like 6 Border Collies and 3 crates. Such is life.

Saturday night, Jodi, Katy, and I hung out with Katy's daughter, Cienna, and her boyfriend Preston. We went to an absurdly expensive, but more than halfway decent steak restaurant in downtown Pendleton, and then went to an awesome bar that clearly hadn't been updated since the 90's.... at least according to the sign on the door. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it. Now, by the time we got to the bar I was already 5 beers and 1 vodka and cran into my drunken cache. I don't really remember all I drank at the bar, but I know I started off with a double rum and diet. I was just drunk enough to think I needed a double :D. Several rounds of shots and a couple of hilarious games of pool later, we went back to the hotel to try and get some sleep before the finals that started at 8 AM Sunday morning.

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All in all it was a really fun experience. I learned a TON this weekend, and want to do this more than ever! It's pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen. I highly admire the amount of training and work that goes into becoming a strong Open competitor. I would love to be there someday.

I guess it's a good goal...

P.S. Dolphin sex.