Friday, February 27, 2009


Cedar's driving is coming along really nicely! We worked in the indoor arena again today, just to kind of get a handle on things in a more controlled environment. I think I'm starting to figure out what I have to do to set her up to succeed.... which is huge for me. I tend to be kind of a dumbass about timing and such things. Cedar is getting a lot more confident and is listening to me, which I am super excited about. She actually will take my corrections without shutting down. Again, huge! She is feeling her stock more and tries to figure out the best way to move them. I usually get in her way. :D She really likes to drive; it's good for her confidence I think. Dianne says it's because SHE is the one in absolute control of the sheep.... for better or worse. But she is learning and I am very proud of her progress.

Moss is doing really well..... getting HUGE and acting more like a real dog as opposed to a baby puppy which is nice. He knows how to sit and lie down, and we are working on "here" and "that'll do." His ears are doing all sorts of crazy things; who knows where they'll end up. Here's a few pictures:




In other (non dog related) news, for those who haven't heard.... I got into the MA in English program at BSU..... and to make it better, was also awarded a teaching assistantship position which gives me free tuition and a pretty sizable stipend! I'll be teaching one ENGL 101 class in the fall and two in the spring, in addition to my graduate coursework. I start in the fall and I am super excited!!!!!!

Hope everyone has a great weekend :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Ellie is...." (a rant)

Okay this post doesn't have anything to do with sheepdog stuff or even dog training, but I am freaking pissed off and need to vent for a little bit, so bear with me. Nothing like a little bit of modern day, slightly dorky drama to start the day, right?

Seriously, what kind of person stops being friends with someone based on political affiliation? I woke up this morning and checked my facebook, only to find a troubling message on my wall. One of my friends asked if I was "the Ellie that ____ unfriended??? LOL"

And I was like, um, what? So I checked to see if said person (who shall remain nameless) was still my friend, and sure enough, she was no longer on my friends list. Okay.... that would be all right, I guess, she has the right to choose who she wants to be affiliated with or whatever. But it gets better. Apparently, she had set her status on facebook to something like "______ is no longer friends with Ellie due to her extreme liberal views."

Um.... okay? I haven't talked to her in months, and never about politics to my knowledge. So it seems pretty random. So I start to think about what I could have done to piss her off if I hadn't talked to her in forever. Then I remembered joining a group about a certain politician last week because I thought it was funny. I like politics and satire, so what? One of her friends (who was my facebook friend also) had commented on my joining that group and seemed kind of pissed off but I didn't really think anything of it. Long story short, she's no longer my friend on facebook either, so I think I know where this whole thing started. Totally lame, right?

However, REGARDLESS of whether or not they were pissed at me, that's no frickin reason to not even talk to me about it, remove me from their friend list, and post a public, nasty message as their status about me, especially if it's not true. I am liberal, sure.... but I'd hardly call myself extreme. LOL. I try to keep politics and friends separate because it's not worth the drama. But apparently some people think that it is.

I am thoroughly disgusted. For now, my facebook status is set as "Ellie is friends with everyone regardless of whether they share all her opinions" ..... and I mean it. To all my friends, I love and appreciate you for who you are, not who you vote for.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hold the wheel and drive

It was windy as hell today, so Dianne decided to have us work in the indoor arena. It was a great opportunity for Dianne to help us with our driving. It's neat to build on the stuff we've learned so far and see it all start to come together. We've worked a bit on driving by ourselves out in the pasture, but I've never really had Dianne "instruct" me on how to teach Cedar to do it properly.... i.e. where I should be when I ask her, my body position, timing, etc etc. Just when I thought things were starting to make sense, a whole new set of skills has to get added into the equation!

Cedar did really well for the most part. We got some really nice drives in, and she took my commands pretty well, especially considering we haven't done much off balance work. I got the chance to really make her kick out wide off the sheep and got in some good corrections for being too tight. We basically drove around the arena in a rectangle (well.... it was a very squiggly rectangle, but that was the idea). She always tries really hard, but doesn't always "get" what the goal of the exercise is, I think. I wonder if she really understands what the purpose of herding is. She gets stressed out when she can't make things happen how she thinks they should, and when she can't figure out what I want. We're sort of codependent.... and she's a needy little bitch :D. But we're getting there. And hell, I don't "get it" most of the time anyways! I mostly just get in her way (but I'm working on that!). Dianne makes it look so easy.

I am beginning to wonder if the progress we've made lately has more to do with her making connections and learning, or if I'm just becoming better at dealing with her when she goes postal; whether she is truly figuring stuff out, or just reacting. She feels everything.... is very sensitive to pressure and all that. Her sensativity has been a major roadblock for us to work through. I wish I had the means to work her more often so we could have a better shot at overcoming that obstacle.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My obedient girly

I haven't worked Cedar in obedience "seriously" for a couple months. This morning, I was bored and decided to take her out and see if we could make it through the Novice (CD) routine. I took my clicker and some treats with the intention of seeing what she could do. To my surprise, she did awesome! Cedar really loves obedience, I think.

Her heeling was, as always, really nice and attentive. Thanks to my friend Dana's excellent article (, her position is pretty much always where it should be, and has been since I began training her. She does have a tendency to lag, though, so I need to do more on-leash work so I have the means to correct her. I did some left and right turns, about turns, Schutzhund about turns, and changes of pace to keep it interesting.

Her recall is excellent, too. Very enthusiastic. She has a pretty nice drop on recall, but I haven't been practicing it because I want to keep her speed and enthusiasm. I need to work on her stopping nice and close to me, as she has a tendency to stop further back. But that's just a minor thing. I need to also teach her the "go around" finish... all she knows really well is the finish left.


I haven't really worked her much with the stand for exam or long sits and downs, but I was pleasantly surprised by her today. I did a couple drills of walking around her in the stand holding a treat in her mouth, but then did a whole drill ("Cedar, stand, stay", walked away from her, walked back and did an exam, then walked around back to heel position) and she didn't move a muscle. What a good girl :)

The best part of the session was probably the long sits and downs. Those of you that know me know about my troubles with Dante in obedience with this particular exercise. (ha...ha...ha.) Not ever having expected Cedar to stay for long periods of time, I was curious to see what she would do in a more "formal" stay exercise. She stayed perfectly still for two minutes on the sit and three minutes on the down, never tried to sniff or get up, and wasn't even incredibly distracted by the squirrel taunting her about ten feet away. Now THAT is something to celebrate! :D

I'm going to start taking her to the building to get her proofed and ready for her CD, and possibly enter her in Utah or Filer this spring/early summer. It's weird having three dogs ready (or near-ready for their CD's at the same time (Dante, Cedar, Scully)!

I really think that all of our training on stock has helped Cedar's obedience and confidence, especially at a distance. Also, it has helped us both trust each other more and become a much stronger team, all of which are useful skills. Cedar is really starting to mature physically, too. Her head is a lot broader and she's losing that "puppyish" look.... makes me a little sad! But she's turned out to be such a great, well behaved, gentle and loving dog. I'm very proud of what I've been able to help her become.

I need to stop being so sappy, I know....... but she's the apple of my eye :D

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Journeys With Cedar...... and Moss

Okay, I'll admit it, I've slacked off on this blog for the past few weeks... but I have a good excuse: on Monday the 9th, I brought Moss home! He has kept us all busy and laughing at his antics, and left me waxing poetic on the merits of ADULT dogs :D I know it sounds cliche but I really had forgotten just how much work puppies are!

He sure is a cute little bugger, though:


...and I am hopelessly in love with him already. He has a great personality and is very sweet, bright, and spunky. I look forward to all the great stuff we will get to do together as he matures.


He is doing better in his crate (i.e. he is screaming less and less :) ) and makes friends with everyone he meets. Thanks so much, Dianne and Patrick, for entrusting him to me.

Sooooo..... on another note, I decided not to run Cedar in the trial this weekend. I know that it was our "goal" and whatnot, but I really don't feel confident enough in Cedar OR me to jump feet first into water wayyyy over our heads. She isn't comfortable enough with picking sheep up off the set-out person, still blows me off too much, and (the biggie!) I am not a confident enough handler for me to even expect her to behave herself on a strange field with flighty sheep :) Oh well, a couple more months of practice can't hurt, right? I still will plan on the April Gem State Herding AHBA trial. I think that'll be a good place for us to start.

I don't want to make it seem like we're not making any progress-- we ARE! And lots of it! Her outrun is really coming together and she is staying off her sheep much better. She is beginning to actually think about her decisions and learn from them which I really like to see. That being said, I just don't think that trialing her at this point in our training would be a good thing. Maybe by the time the Novice trial rolls around in June, we'll be more solid on everything and be able to try for some driving instead of fetching through the whole course. But I'd just be happy with a run where she didn't split the sheep to holy hell or split one off and run it into the fence. Ugh.

Baby steps...

We have a lesson on Thursday, I'm excited to work her after almost two weeks off.

P.S. I love this photo of her: