Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let it Snow

It's snowing outside, which may thwart my plans for today. Oh well! I may or may not make the trek out to Dianne's like I'd planned... I don't know how the roads will be. :-\

I've been fortunate to be able to get out to Dianne's three times in the past week. Both Cedar and Moss are working really well. With Cedar, I've been trying to take a lot of the pressure off her; going back to easier stuff but making it PERFECT this time around.

I've insisted that she stay backed off and slow, which has helped curb some of her frantic behaviors that have been the bane of my existence for so long. Of course, it helps that I at least know what "good" is supposed to look like, now. I am getting better at correcting her because I am beginning to have to knowledge to do so. That's pretty cool... Even though I still feel like a dumb-ass a lot of the time. :) By the end of Monday's work, Cedar was nicely backed off and doing really wide (for her, anyway) outruns and was actually pacing herself on the fetch and drive.

See? :)

I just really wish that I was able to work her more consistently. Working Cedar has definitely been an exercise in "love/appreciate the dog you have." It has been very difficult for me to appreciate what she's teaching me when at least 99% of her lessons are of the "hard knocks" variety :). Reflecting on our 'journey' so far, though, I've learned a lot from her. One of these days I'll have to write about it.

Moss was his usual awesome self. I really don't have much to report other than I can practically send him on an outrun from my feet, his driving is kick-ass, and he continues to amaze me with his intelligence, maturity, and feel for the sheep.

His problems w/ covering at the top of the outrun seems to be fixing itself...on Monday, his last outrun was spot-on perfect, and I didn't have to say a word to him. It gave me the chills.

I love the look of joy on his face when I send him...

It's been fun having him back at home, too. He seems to have grown up a bit mentally during his month and a half with Dianne. He's been great around the house.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Moss!

From this...

To this!

Happy Birthday, my Mossimo... aka Captain Fabulous! I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you :). You make me smile.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Workin dogs, puppy breath, and jingle bells

I must admit that I have a fondness for torturing my dogs with wearing clothes, especially around the holidays. I bought the dogs Christmas collars today at PetsMart ($2.99 each, woot!) and managed to get a pretty cute picture of the three of them by our Christmas tree with my new iPhone (double woot!)

It's amazing what a little mozzarella cheese can do to motivate three wiggly dogs to sit still long enough to snap a photo ;)

Anyways... I went out to Dianne's today and worked Moss; I also picked him up to take him home for a few weeks as I've been missing him terribly. I know he's doing great at training, but I miss his little (well, not so little anymore) face around the house. He's such a good boy. As he gets older, I've noticed just how much he looks like his mama, Peg. He has Riggs' markings (other than the tricolor points), but his muzzle and eyes are all Peg. He is big and rangy like Riggs, though, which I like. I love the big, masculine-looking boys. His head is starting to broaden and he's really filling out. Part of me is a little (okay, a lot) sad that Moss is looking less and less like a puppy every day. But he is getting so handsome!

There was some snow on the ground today, and it was BITTER cold..... it settled down for awhile but picked up again about halfway through our second work.

He was pretty good today. Dianne had mentioned that he was having some trouble with covering fully on the outrun; that he was coming up short a lot of the time. I definitely noticed it today, and spent a lot of my time forcing him to cover. His driving is really coming along, and he has gained a lot of confidence. He pretty much just lets me put him wherever I want to, takes my commands and listens well, and is generally really easygoing about this whole process.

He is such a thinking dog.... Dianne and I were talking, and she said something that really struck me. She said (this is obviously a loose paraphrase, lol) that even when Moss is wrong, he learns from the sheep. That comment made a lot of sense in light of how he behaved today. When he was "wrong" and didn't cover on the top of his outruns, the sheep would go the wrong way and he'd be forced to correct himself. By the end he was doing a lot better.

We did a lot of the same stuff that we have been doing; driving around the field etc... but during our second work I got a little bit brave and did a sort of mini "course" without panels (I hope that was okay, Dianne!). I had him do a short-ish outrun, fetch the sheep to me, and drive in a little triangle-shaped pattern thingy. I picked different spots on the field and tried to get him to take the sheep there with as little input/interference from me as possible. He did awesome! We even did a pretty smooth turn around the "post." It's really fun messing with him because he is so laid back.... he never gets me in much trouble. That is really great.

I just love this boy... can ya tell? :)

I also took a few pictures of the pups that Dianne has right now. Here are a few of the True x Riggs boys:


(This little guy was quite photogenic)

And some of the Peg x Riggs litter, which are a few weeks younger than True's pups. They are Moss's full siblings, born a year later:

("Mini Moss")

(I love this girl!)

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/holidays :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quick Update

Well, I made it!

I got through my first semester of grad school and teaching. What a ride! I just submitted my grades for my ENGL 101 students yesterday afternoon. I'm officially FREE until January 19th! Woot!

Unfortunately, I haven't had much time for my dogs over the past few months, but I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with them over my break. I'm going to take Mossy home for a few weeks over Christmas, too. I sure miss that little bugger. :( He's doing really great in training, though. I'm so proud of him. Cedar's doing awesome in agility; she really loves it. Maybe I'll actually have the time to finish training her 2x2 weaves over break. That would be awesome!

Things are going pretty well here. My house looks like it was hit by a Brit Lit tornado, but I'm hoping to get it cleaned up over the weekend and maybe even decorated for Christmas. My friend Mollie and I did get in a car accident a few days ago. Her car, unfortunately, is pretty beat up. Thankfully, it runs fine still, but the back end is all crunched up.

Sorry for the lack of any profound "doggie" thoughts in this post. I'm hoping to go out to Dianne's soon so maybe I'll have something interesting to say then :)


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

John Lennon Death-day Redux

Well, I'm officially a tool. Every year since I was maybe twelve or so, I've done something on December 8th to remember John Lennon, my favorite musician of all time. This year, I forgot.

Me= fail.

I know this post is diverging very far from dog training, but I can connect it back.... Cedar's registered name is BonniDune Norwegian Wood.... "Norwegian Wood" being the name of an (awesome!) Beatles song.

So there. Ziiiiiinnng!

In fact, I think I can break up the last decade or so of my life into a soundtrack composed solely of Beatles songs (and solo work). The Beatles and John Lennon got me through a lot of bad times. The power of music to change your mood is amazing. When I was about fourteen or so, I wished every night before I went to sleep that I would wake up in the sixties. I felt like I'd been born in the wrong time. Obviously, it didn't work... but I wrote some pretty horrible poetry about it at the time. Hopefully I can find it sometime, but I remember one poem in particular that began, "I'm an eggman living in a material world".... in a not-so-subtle homage to "I Am The Walrus."

Yes, I own Magic Mystery Tour on DVD. Along with every other Beatles movie, and all the Anthology DVD's. And every Beatles album on vinyl and CD.

It's funny to think back at what I listened to when I became obsessed with the Beatles again as a teenager (I listened to them when I was a kid, too... but had a several year long digression to horrible stuff like NSync, Britney Spears, and Good Charlotte). What the Beatles had to say was like exactly what I was feeling. Their music carries real emotional truth, something which is extremely difficult to do well. And they were seamless. This "emotional truth" is what makes this music so resonant--and relevant, still--to millions of people.

"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see. It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out; it doesn't matter much to me."

I used to listen to this song and cry. Now it makes me smile.

This clip is pretty great. It's of Paul McCartney (after John's death) listening to some old Beatles songs, and then he plays John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy." If you don't watch any of the other vids I've posted, you should watch this one. It's very moving.... breaks my heart a little bit.

Below, I've embedded some other songs I like.... both with the Beatles and some of John's solo work. Enjoy!

Maybe I'll go watch Help! today :)

I am sad that you are no longer around, John. I hope you have found some peace...

"Love is real, real is love."

Shit, now I'm crying.

Monday, December 7, 2009


On Saturday, Cedar and I had our first agility class in over a year. It was awesome! Cedar did really well. Since it's just a beginning class, we worked on a lot of stuff that Cedar already knows, like jump training and 2x2 weaves. The one thing that we really need to work on is contacts... I think they kind of freak Cedar out ;). I wish that I had my own A-frame or something. She's never really been on contact equipment before, so I'm not really surprised that it made her nervous. Everything is such a process with her... it's a good think I love my Cedar girl so much!

Cedar was pretty distracted/over stimulated at first, but she settled down pretty quickly. It was fun working with her in an environment where she isn't constantly worried or stressed out like she is on sheep (even though she's doing tons better in that area). I think that--knock on wood--we could be ready to trial by Spring or summer sometime :) That would be pretty awesome. There's usually a few trials in the Boise area in the Spring/early Summer... so I'm going to shoot for one of those.

I need to really commit to training her on 2x2 weaves and get her weaving 12 straight poles. She is doing 4 pretty well right now, but I haven't been nearly consistent enough with her.

Some more pix of her in the snow today <3

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flank Me Baby, One More Time

On Monday, Cedar did her first inside flank.

......It may or may not have been an accident on my part :D

I know that I should have written this post earlier in the week (say, Monday afternoon?) but with all the holiday-family craziness--not to mention a hellacious amount of grading--I didn't get to it until now.

So anyways.... I went out to Dianne's on Monday. Katie was there working Pat, and Jody R was there as well working Circle. It was really nice to see everyone, as I haven't been able to go out much lately. I worked Cedar once, and Moss twice (well, Dianne worked him once, and I took him out the second time). They both were awesome!

Since Cedar hadn't been worked in a week and a half, it took me awhile to get her settled down and thinking. We did a lot of work on keeping her backed off and wide, working on her outruns and pace on the fetch. Her outruns are REALLY coming along; she is beginning to go wider on her own (i.e. I don't have to correct her as much), and I've started to send her with me not so close to the sheep. So far, she's doing well with that. I wish I could just let the past go and trust her, though... I am always on the defensive with her, and that is not exactly the right--or most constructive--place to be. It's one thing to realize you're doing something, but a whole 'nother thing to actually change it when the pressure is on :).

I really, really wish I had my own sheep and a place to work my dogs every day!!! Blah!

Towards the end of the first work, we worked on driving. Again, I was working really hard at getting Cedar to loosen up and relax. I corrected her every time she moved faster than a slow, relaxed walk. She will do this thing where she is walking slowly, but really stiff and tense, so I corrected her for doing that, too. We've kind of lost our "lie down" in recent weeks, so I worked on that, too. She was driving really well (I was having her drive the sheep in a square around me) so I decided to try something different/brave/whatever. She was on my left, driving the sheep away from me. I walked behind her to the other side, and then gave her an quiet "away" command with her in front of me. Lo and behold, she took it, and went wide and soft in a beautiful inside flank! I had her drive the sheep a little closer to home and then quit.

I consider that a victory :D ... she's finally getting it!

Dianne worked Moss for me the first time; I was interested to see how he was doing with his training. He is AMAZING!!! I just love this dog, everything just comes so naturally for him. Dianne is having him do some pretty advanced stuff; his driving is awesome, and she is starting him on inside flanks already. He just turned 11 months old.

After a break, Dianne let me work him :). The sheep had ran back to the pens, so we had to pick them up off the fence and drive them out to the pasture. After a few naughty moments (he forgot what "stay" meant.... and let his excitement get the better of him), we were able to get the job done. He drove the sheep from the pens to halfway across the pasture, which is at least 500 yards or so, without incident. It seems like he is learning how to hold a line, too; I didn't have to correct or flank him much to keep the sheep going straight. That was pretty cool. We did a few outruns and then drove the rest of the time. He kept his head the whole time, and listened very well. I certainly miss having him at home, but obviously he's doing great at Dianne's. There's a possibility that we might compete in Novice/Novice at the December Sleddin' and Sheddin' trial... I'm not sure yet, though.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

First snow

Woke up this morning to this outside my door:

SO pretty! Of course, this meant a photo opp for Cedar, as usual :-P

As I was uploading these photos, I looked outside my window to find Moss's nemesis (aka Larry [or Loretta] the Squirrel), playing around in the branches of one of the big trees in our back yard:

He sure is a fat little bugger...