Monday, December 29, 2008

Yesterday's lesson

Yesterday I went out to Dianne's for a lesson. Patrick was there for awhile, and Susan came too, it was nice to see them. Dianne worked little May for the first time, she did great! Since we were working inside, I didn't get any pictures.

I really think that our lesson at Patrick's really helped Cedar out. I used a lunge whip with a really long "tail" and that really helped to get her to widen out and respect me more. I am slowly working on making my bubble bigger with her but it's slow going as I am still so very new at this and pretty dumbass-ish. Dianne also helped us work on the beginnings of driving which was cool. Yay, something new! Cedar really did NOT like the pressure, though. She didn't want to move which was irritating and I'm not sure how to fix it. Away from sheep she has a very good recall and is usually very obedient. So we will have to work on that. She is still so young, though.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Puppy pictures!

Here's some pictures I took today of the Peg x Riggs pups :)

The whole gang:

Look at the cuteness!






A rather cute little girl:

"My" boy (I have a good feeling about him):D




Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Moss!

Peg had her puppies last night.... 4 males, 3 females!!!


If I can get out to Dianne's tomorrow I will take pictures, so watch the blog for them...

I also really want to work Cedar, it's been a week since we were able to have a lesson.

Monday, December 22, 2008


So I am now the calendar person for the new Gem State Herding blog:

I really like the blog format for the club, it's much more flexible.


Went out to Patrick's on Friday to have a lesson and to have him and Ruben show me how to take care of the place since I'm going to be house sitting for them this week. Since Dianne's ankle was still messed up, Patrick helped me with Cedar. Aside from the first ten minutes of Cedar splitting the sheep to holy hell (this was our first time on non-dog broke sheep)and me being really nervous (with my characteristic bad timing.... x 100) it was great! Patrick stepped in and helped me, and WOW! Because of her balance issues (and me not getting after her enough for it, apparently), she has a tendency to crowd her sheep and not cover them effectively. However, with Patrick's sheep, she was forced to stay really far back off of them because they are so light. I really think she learned a lot about pacing and pressure on Friday. And it was nice that she wasn't hyper-sensitive to Patrick like she is to Dianne, so he could be out there with me... and let's not kid ourselves, work her for me too, as I basically just followed him around asking questions. But I think it was definitely a great day for both of us. It was amazing watching Cedar be 30 feet behind the sheep on the fetch instead of 3 feet.

Baby steps, sure... but I think we're getting closer. I can't wait to work Cedar again and work on the stuff Patrick and I talked about.

In other news, Dianne said that Peg is looking huge and has gone off her food, so she should be getting close to having her puppies, yay! Both Joe and I are very excited for "Moss" to arrive :D

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three months from now, Cedar will be mighty pissed off at me...

Yeah, most of the people that actually read this already know, but we're going to be adding a new Border Collie puppy to the household. He hasn't been born yet, I think the litter's due date is December 29th.

His dad is 2005 National Finals Reserve Nursery Champion Riggs and his mother is Peg.

I'm really excited to get my first working-bred dog. Should be fun, it's always interesting working with different dogs. So far, Joe and I really like the name "Moss," but you never really know what a dog's name is until you meet them. :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One of those days

I swear I must be PMS'ing or some shit because there was really no reason for me to freak out today.

Cedar's first work today was not great, even though Dianne somehow thought it was. Cedar hate hate hates pressure, and is really uncomfortable with Dianne being out there with us. So....... she didn't want to cover or go around the sheep at all to get them off Dianne so we could work by ourselves. I got increasingly more frustrated because I just wasn't doing anything right and again, my timing felt all off and sluggish. I felt like I had never done this before at all. Is that normal?!?

Finally, we got it together and worked a little bit and that was okay, but then the sheep got away. It would have been okay (Cedar wasn't really chasing them too much or anything) but they got pushed back onto the field and Cedar took off. She ran off chasing after them and I had it pretty much together until Dianne mentioned that one could run into the fence and break its neck. Then.............. gosh, I dunno what happened. LOL. Thankfully I was able to get Cedar back and get her to the car before I made a first class fool of myself.

I hate feeling like such an idiot. I feel like my handling has regressed or something. I feel like I will NEVER get this. And most of all, I hate feeling so damned insecure!

I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but I can't help it, it's just how I'm wired! :D

I wish I didn't want this so bad.

Our second work of the day was MUCH better! We worked more on lengthening her outrun and we did a couple of pretty nice ones, our longest yet. I got in a good correction for her blowing me off on the lie down and that seemed to help some. I just don't know what I need to do to make her see that she has to lie down right when I say it. There's lots I wish I knew how to do, though. But she's coming along pretty well.... she's kicking out a lot wider and moving off my body pressure more. Her call off is pretty good, too. I also worked on, at Dianne's suggestion, having her stay behind me when we are walking to and from the field. That seemed to help her mentally. Or maybe it helped me mentally because I didn't have to constantly nag at her with the leash.

Who knows. I certainly don't know anything. And I certainly hope that people don't think that I'm trying to act like I know more than I do. I greatly appreciate all the advice and help. And if I come on strong or over-enthusiastic it's because I really do love this and want to learn all I can.

Monday, December 15, 2008


As the snow falls steadily outside the window, I am sitting under a shitload of blankets and drinking tea. It's nice to be alone once in awhile. I can't help but think about this past weekend and all that I learned. This blog doesn't really involve Cedar directly, but it still applies I think because it affects her.

(I don't have any photos of the trial, so I'll put in some photos I took of Cedar in the snow today :) )


I know I've talked about how the work Cedar and I have been doing lately has helped to give Cedar more of a "purpose" about the whole thing. It's more about WHY and WHERE we are moving the sheep as opposed to just going around in circles or fetching back in forth. There is a reason we need sheepdogs, it's not just a fun game to do with your dog like obedience or agility. I think I knew that before, but didn't really understand it, if that makes sense.


Well, this weekend I sort of had MY purpose defined. Or, at least, clarified. I spent the weekend at the Sleddin' and Sheddin' SDT out at Patrick Shannahan's farm. Thanks, Jodi and Katy, for letting me tag along! First of all, it was cold. Very, VERY cold. Windy, snowy, and bitter. But I didn't really care. I had a blast, and decided that this is something I really want to pursue seriously. I felt that way before but now I am totally hooked!


This weekend, I saw some great dogs run, watched some great handlers in action, met some new people, and learned a TON about how the whole trial scene functions. I especially enjoyed working in the set-out pens with Coleen. I really liked getting to work with the sheep and learning about their behavior; what makes them move, how to sort them, how to get them to move off pressure, how my pressure affects them, etc. I liked getting in the pens with the sheep to sort them off and/or push them through the different parts of the chute. I would love to work the pens again, it was a lot of fun!

I also got the opportunity to scribe for Don Helsley in the Pro-Novice class which was very educational. He was such a nice guy and answered all my questions. And I'd never scribed before so that was a good learning experience, too.


I am so appreciative of everyone who has taken the time to help a newbie learn the ropes! Hopefully Cedar and I will be ready to give Novice a shot at the February trial... I think we could rough our way through most of it right now, except for the outrun. But give us two months and i think we might have a chance of being almost there :)


On a sidenote, I've taken up practicing my whistles again. I've gotten past the "wow you sound like a dying cat" stage to sounding more like a bad American Idol audition. You know, one of the ones that make it on TV just because it's fun to laugh at the less fortunate.

But I suppose I've made some progress.


More later, I am thinking about a billion things at once and it makes it hard to focus, so sorry if this is too fragmented :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


.... to Dianne who won first place in Open, Nursery, and Pro-Novice at the trial today!

And also, great job to Jodi and Jaenne :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You always get the best of me

No matter how much I may bitch and complain, I really am thankful for all that Cedar has taught, and IS teaching me so far. I get frustrated sometimes because I feel like I should know more than I should about this... even though we've only been doing it four months. I am not used to feeling like a bumbling novice training a dog :D. It's something I am sloooooooooooowly coming to terms with and I think I've been more successful at getting over myself as of late.

We're starting to step things up to the next level.

When we first started, I was just excited to see her go around the sheep! Little did I know how much more complicated things would get! I went back and watched my videos from earlier lessons, and WOW... we are in a completely different, new, scarier, and COOLER place than we were even a month ago. It's like we're a completely new handler/dog team than when we started.

I am feeling a lot more competent and like I know what I need to expect from her so I can give her the right corrections. I know I must sound like a broken record by now... I am pretty sure I've said this a billion times before, but by putting more trust in her, she has more trust in herself. She had many opportunities to be really bad both Friday and today, but chose not to.

We are starting to move towards doing real "work." We did our longest outruns ever today, and for the most part she did great, stayed pretty wide, moved off my body pressure, didn't freak out on the sheep. She had a great call-off as well. Her lie down was not at it's best today, it was better on Friday. But her outrun is really coming along. She only split the sheep once today, and it was my fault. She listened better to me and didn't panic, and just gathered them up and brought them back to me. So, we're learning!

(Today didn't start off being great.... Joe came out with the camera and I was more concerned about where he was instead of the sheep... the sheep kept wandering off and Diane had to have Riley go get them a couple times. Dianne got mad at me :D. But we got it together. I felt like a first-class idiot, though... sorry Dianne! I really wasn't think about getting good video... I was concerned that Joe would be in the way!)

Dianne brought Mae out today, wow she is getting SO big!

Why can I never remember people names? Harley's people (haha) were out today and worked her. Apparently this is only her fifth lesson and she did extremely well. I guess I was jealous because the second time I worked Cedar I expected a lot more of her. To my surprise, she took the challenge in stride and responded to what I was asking much better. Instead of asking her to walk up straight, I DEMANDED that she do so. Instead of hoping she would go wide on her outrun, I made sure that she stayed off her sheep and got after her for coming on too fast. I guess I need to stop being so passive-aggressive with her. She has been so pressure sensitive that I have been worried about her quitting on me, but she showed me today that she's made of a little more than I thought. I have been trying really hard to stop worrying about what other people think of me and just focus on training my dog. Like kids, all dogs are different and learn at different speeds. That doesn't necessarily make one dog "better" than another. I just need to keep repeating that to myself...

though it does get hard sometimes, especially watching dogs like Zeus and Harley work that are just so natural.

But I'll get over it. :D

Cedar and I will probably never get to Open but I don't really care. She is special in my eyes no matter what she does. She is making me into a better trainer, and a better dog owner... and also making me more appreciative of "easy" dogs like Annie! I'm looking forward to getting smarter about dogs, sheep, handling, etc. as we progress further.

I read an article today by Robin French, about starting young dogs. Here's a quote from her article, I think it carries a lot of resonance:

"Training a herding dog isn’t so much about teaching him anything. It’s all there in the dog already. You’ve just got to figure out how to ask for it in a way he can understand and listen to him when he’s trying to tell you something. It’s all about teaching you and opening that two-way communication between you and your dog."

Hopefully by the time my Riggs pup is ready to start (he hasn't even been born yet, hehe) I will be a HECK of a lot smarter in general and can do him some justice! :D

I should have video up soon, will post as soon as it's on youtube.