Friday, May 29, 2009

Sheepdog Special Ed

Well, it's official: Cedar and I should be riding the short bus.


I was reinforced more than once today that I really, really have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know enough even to help Cedar out when she starts to get frantic. I feel like we need to take a class in remedial shepherding. Or maybe just me. I should get into cat agility or has to be easier than this.

I actually got to the shrieking point today. My voice makes this funny strangled yodeling sound that is even scary to me, so I can only imagine what it does to Cedar. I really do try not to lose my cool but it was hot and we just weren't getting anywhere. Plus it was about a billion degrees outside. Not that I'm one to make excuses, but it made it especially miserable.

There were some good moments, though. We did some nice driving; she is really gaining confidence with it and I think I am, too. And as a bonus, I finally got her to work with me and pick sheep up off of Dianne, which is something we never could have done even a month ago. I am extremely proud of her for that. I think there might be hope for us after all.

Working Cedar has taught me a lot, patience being the most important. That, and how to run really fast through deep sand, yell like a dying banshee, and walk backwards whilst watching the sheep, my dog, and trying not to trip. Add some poorly aimed stick chucking and that's about the extent of my skills so far. Bah!

Not really related to dogs, but I think it sort of explains a lot about why I am how I am... Joe sent me a link to a page that goes into detail about my Chinese astrology sign. I was born in the year of the Tiger. Scary how much it sounds like me:

"Often, failing at a given task or being unproductive in his personal or professional life can cause a Tiger to experience a depression. Criticism from loved ones can also generate this type of Tiger reaction. Still, like all felines, Tigers always land on their feet, ready for their next act in life, pursuing it with unyielding energy and hunting it infallibly."

Other highlights:

"...incorrigibly competitive"

"may appear cool, but they have the Big Cat's instincts to pounce at a moment's warning"


"Tigers Dislike: Not getting enough recognition for their efforts. Being inferior to others at work, impolite people"

"Good strategists and tacticians"

Apparently I'm a "Scorpio Tiger" too..... which is the most "intense" of all the Tigers. Great.

I wonder if I can apply this information to working my dog?

Moving to our new place this weekend; we have lots to do so I should probably get to packing/loading boxes into my car and stuff... or something. I'm out!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Insert witty blog title here

We're moving in three days!!!!!!!!!

... and yet, we still have a ton of stuff to do before we're actually all packed and ready and stuff. I think we'll have it done in time, though. We went and did a final walk-through today and I think we have a tentative plan of where the main furniture and stuff is going to go... but we'll see what happens once we actually get moved in. it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I haven't worked Cedar on stock since the ASCA trial. I think we're going to go out to the desert on Wednesday with Dianne. I need to call her and make sure, though. I can't wait to get back out there! Now that our first trial is under our belt, I have some things I want to work on with her. It would be soooo nice if I had sheep closer to me to work so we could practice more than once or twice a week. Maybe someday....

I've been working on her obedience with the intent of getting her CD and maybe her CDX this year. I'd like to try her in rally this summer sometime just to see how she does. I really like what I've been seeing out of her. Her broad jump is coming along very nice. However, I'm having some issues with her hold on the dumbell. She doesn't really mouth it, but she just holds it really loose. I got a few ideas from my friend, Laurie about what to do, so I'll have to give those a shot. She suggested to build the "value" of the dumbell and get her prey drive to kick in. I don't want to force break her to retrieve, but she needs to understand that we're not just playing fetch. I'm not quite sure how it will all end up coming together, but I'm hoping to have her ready for competition by the end of summer/early fall. My goal is to have her trained through CDX by the time we start competing in obedience, so we can go straight through two levels and start training for our UD.

Marley went to his new home last week. I still miss him.

A few new photos of the gang:





Sunday, May 17, 2009

We're gonna need some antibiotics...

because we got our first STD! ;)

Er... our first title, the ASCA program's STDs (Started Trial Dog-Sheep) title.

After a truly horrific two runs on Saturday (to be brief: couldn't get 'em out of the pen), Cedar and I managed to come back and have a nice, fluid run today to finish our title. She was still a little bit weird, but we managed to get the sheep off the fence fairly quickly, got all the sheep through both panels, and had a nice, controlled walk to the pen and a good re-pen.


We also got 1st place with a 92/100 and Most Promising Young Dog... got some pretty ribbons (LOL) and a really nice leather lead. The judge told us that he rarely gives Started dogs such a high score and that he would love to take her home with him. Hahaha.... if only he knew!


Cedar and I stayed out in Greenleaf at Katy's place (The Leaf on the Green, LOL) with Jodi D., Jaenne, and Katy on Saturday night. We went and had really good Mexican food in Wilder and then went to the Wilder Bar to hang out and drink a few Coronas. It was a lot of fun, although we all were probably WAY too tired and sunburned to truly enjoy the night to its fullest, LOL.


Overall, it was a good experience for us, I think. We both got over a lot of our nervousness and managed to get some good things done. It was a well-run trial with a lot of nice, supportive people and I think we all had a great time! Hopefully we'll be ready to try for Open at the fall trial.


Anyways, I am really tired and not really in the writing mood, but I wanted to let ya'll know how we did!

P.S. GREAT job to Jody R. and Circle who also got their STDs title after only a few lessons on sheep! Way to go, girls! Also, high fives to Katy, Jaenne, and Lindy for your wins :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

ASCA Trial Day 1

Cedar and I qualified for our first Started leg today at the trial. She was... pretty good. She really didn't like the pressure of the fences in the arena, and in the take pen. We did get the sheep out okay, and she picked them up off the fence rather nicely. We were both nervous so I think we were both a little amped up... but we made both of the panels and didn't have problems re-penning the sheep. In retrospect, I was a lot more nervous than I thought I was... I made some stupid mistakes that I wouldn't do otherwise and didn't make Cedar back off the sheep enough. Hopefully now that we got our first one out of the way, the rest of the weekend will be better.

We did a practice run after the trial, and I wish we hadn't. It was pretty horrid and sort of blew my confidence a little bit. I think we were both tired and our heads weren't in the game... so it was a mistake on my part to push her. She busted the sheep out of the pen and singled one off, gripped, and was a general bitch. However, we did get it together in the end and I practiced driving them down the fence. She seemed more comfortable w/ that so I may try it tomorrow. We just need to figure out a better strategy for the take pen! Blah. I wish I had more confidence in that area but Cedar freaks out and so do I. She freezes, and I freeze.

Yet again, I am reminded that I don't know what the hell I'm doing... and if I was smart, would probably pursue other dog sports. But I'm too far gone now!

We have three more trials to go (2 tomorrow, 1 Sunday)... so cross your fingers that we continue to keep things under control for the rest of the weekend :)

Congrats to Katy and Jen who won 1st place in Started and High Scoring Non-Aussie!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We should have our own reality show

I'd call it "Ellie and Joe + Fo' "

Yep, that's right.... we have four dogs now... unexpectedly. There's a "new" rescue dog in the house. A few days ago, I came across an ad on Craigslist listing a rather... familiar... dog available: my first Border Collie, Marley! Marley is the one dog that I've ever really regretted placing. He's a really neat guy.


Aside from a little bit of anger that his old owner didn't even try and contact me when she realized she couldn't keep him, everything went pretty smoothly with getting him back. She dropped him off at my house on Monday night and he's been doing great ever since. All the dogs seem to accept him well except for Moss who is jealous. It's a bit of "but I'M the baby!" syndrome. But, it's great to have Marley back. I missed him.

Sooo.... Marley is available to a good, active home. He needs to lose about 5-8 lbs and get on some better food, but otherwise he's the picture of health. Nice, clean teeth, has basic obedience (sit, down, shake, walks on a leash), is crate trained and housebroken, and gets along with people and other dogs. If you are interested, or know of anyone looking for a great pet, please don't hesitate to email me at


The trial this weekend is looming over my head in a big way. I'm hoping that I can keep my head on straight and that Cedar and I don't nerve each other out :D

As long as we can work together and get the sheep out of the pen at the start of the run, we'll be fine. Everything else should be pretty easy, barring bad sheep or bad weather or the big one, NERVES. I think we are ready, though.

Worked Cedar at Dianne's yesterday... she was really good. Her driving was excellent and we practiced some fetching just because we hadn't done it in awhile, LOL. I just need to figure out how to set her up for success in the holding pen. Of course, Dianne can go in and get her to do it right away.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Workin' In The Desert Pt. 2

Here are Carolynn's photos she took of Cedar and I out at the desert last week! Enjoy!

Friday, May 8, 2009


So in addition to stockdogging stuff, I'm also training Cedar in obedience. She is really good at most things like heeling, stays, whatever... but we've been having trouble with the dumbbell retrieve. I always thought that that would be the easiest exercise to teach her because she is CRAZY about fetching and toys and stuff. However, I've had a hard time getting her to understand that she can't mouth or drop the dumbbell like she would a toy. I talked to my friend Ariel--an excellent obedience trainer-- about it, and she recommended just having Cedar carry it around instead of trying to teach her "hold" "drop it" "take it" and all that stuff mechanically. So the day before yesterday I took the dumbbell and my clicker outside with Cedar and decided to give it a try.


It's working GREAT so far. Cedar seems to be understanding everything better, and we've even done some actual retrieves with her coming to front and sitting... without her dropping the dumbbell at my feet. She's been showing steady improvement over the past three days so I'm encouraged. Maybe we could even be ready for her CDX by fall... hmm...


And yes, she doesn't even have her CD yet. LOL. But I'd like to have her trained at least through CDX before we start trialing so we can whiz through instead of having to take another year off to train new exercises. width="420" Seems like a good plan...?


Moss is doing really well, too. I took him to the park yesterday by himself to work on his recall and ended up taking a ton of photos. Here's a couple:

In other news, we got a house!!!! It has a huge yard and is 3x as big as the one we are living in now, so that will be fantastic. The neighborhood is miles above the one we are in now and is pretty close to Boise State, too.

The view up the street:

I'm really excited to move in and get more furniture and stuff. I think Cedar especially will appreciate the extra room. She feels really claustrophobic in here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The world's best "worst" sheepdog

My friend at Wannabe wrote a great post about her dog, Soda, the "world's best WORST sheepdog." It was a wonderful entry, and I really loved that term... :D

My Cedar may not be the most talented dog to ever see a sheep, but she has taught me SO much. She may not be THE best dog, but she is MY best dog. I am a much better handler because of her and I really do think that she will eventually become more than just a "useful" dog. We're becoming a better team now that Cedar is starting to realize that I *do* factor into the equation. Of course, I think that it helps that I'm less of a clueless freak now. I still have more than my share of "special moments," though.


I just hope that Cedar won't have to teach me a hard lesson in humility (or, how to deal with horrifyingly awful stockwork in public) at our first trials this month.

I... am... nervous!!!

Keep your fingers crossed for us.... :D

P.S. And Cedar is NOT a f#@*ing "Barbie Collie"... thank you very much! Argh. In fact, I really like Carolynn's description of her as the "Anti-Barbie."

That will be all.

"Ummm... maybe we should call Dianne..."

Auditing the Patrick clinic this weekend was really interesting. It was cool to see how differently all the dogs worked, and really neat to watch them improve from one work to the next. I learned a lot for sure! Good mac n' cheese, too :)


This morning, I rode out to the desert with Deb Sussman to go work dogs with Dianne, Patrick, and a couple people from the clinic (Jeanne Boudrieau and Carloynn/BCx4). Deb and I were in one car and were following Dianne and Patrick. We were going (or SUPPOSED to go) about 15 miles or so, over the Oregon border, to Succor Creek State Park. Sounds easy, right? Well, we didn't take into account that Dianne drives like a bat outta hell... she quickly got so far out ahead of us that we lost sight of her truck. We just kept driving, thinking we'd go around a turn and her truck would be in front of us. Wrong!

About fifteen minutes pass since we've seen Dianne, and we come to realize that we don't really know where we're going. We pass through a small town (Adrian? I think?) and I start to think that maybe we've missed a turn or something. I say, "Umm.... maybe we should call Dianne..."

Turns out that Dianne had tried to call me but I didn't hear my phone ring, dammit! We had gone almost 9 MILES past our turn to the park. Great. We turn around and set Deb's GPS (maybe that would have been a good idea to begin with?) and find our way back there in spite of our little detour through Eastern Oregon.

What a BEAUTIFUL place! It was really neat to go somewhere other than Dianne or Patrick's to work. I brought my camera and took a lot of pics of everyone's dogs... Carolyn took some photos of Cedar but they are on her camera so I'll have to wait until she posts them to post them on here.

I haven't worked Cedar in over a week, so I was not expecting much of her. I was terrified that she would blow me off, single off a sheep, and chase it into the sunset. Agh. Thankfully, we managed to keep it decently under control. We kept it pretty safe the first time... a little circling, fetches, and a little bit of driving though I didn't feel too comfortable with it. Cedar was pretty good, other than being too pushy (which I expected) and sending the sheep up quite a steep hill. I need to get in better shape! She kept her head pretty well and didn't single anyone off, and even though I know she was really nervous, listened well after about five minutes, took my commands, and stayed off her sheep. The sheep were pretty light which was good for her because they wouldn't tolerate her pushing on them.

Our second work was a billion times better than the first, and I was very proud of Cedar. This time out I think we were both more prepared and in a better mental place. We picked the sheep up and after one "talking to," Cedar backed off nicely for the rest of the time. We worked on a couple outruns as we haven't done many of those lately (focusing on driving instead) and then did some driving. Cedar did really well and we did some "rectangles" around the desert. I also mixed in some more outruns and other stuff. I think I've been doing better lately about making her feel my "bubble" and understanding that my corrections carry some value.

Here are some of my photos:

Carolynn's Beth and Bonnie, givin' their mom some sass :)

Beth...driving, yay! (Carolynn, I have a TON more photos of Beth, email me!):

Carolynn's freakin' adorable puppy, Brynn:

Robin, a dog Dianne is training:

True, who is Moss's full sibling from last year's Riggs x Peg breeding:

Riggs (Moss's dad... see the resemblance?):

Dianne's good dog, Pat:

Pat's daughter, Perk... whom Deb will be running in Big Willow next weekend (Good luck!!!):

(Awww... Deb and Perk :) )

Deb's young dog, Trace:

Jeanne's dog, Moses:

...and her other dog, Rocky:

I reckon that's enough photos for one post.... :)

An aside... after watching so many great dogs work over the past year, I've really changed my mind about a lot of things. Most importantly, that not everything can be trained. Some things a dog has to just know... or have in his/her genetic toolbox prior to training. Watching the advanced dogs run up the side of the mountain on an outrun to pick up the sheep today was just... awesome.

Do you see the sheep? (Deb and Perk) :)

In my opinion, this is the most amazing sport in the world and I hope to always be involved with sheepdogs in some capacity. But I have no interest whatsoever in working cattle... eeep!

I'll leave that to Huck (Riggs x Rose)...

Friday, May 1, 2009

April Showers bring.... May Showers.

It's raining here. Bleh. I thought it was supposed to be spring! In one month it will be June. JUNE!!! I can't believe it. I was supposed to go out to Dianne's today, but she has too much going on. I want to work Cedar, but it's okay... I have stuff to do here. Like make brownies for the clinic tomorrow! I got a Ghirardelli mix that looks delicious. Hopefully it turns out all right.

I'm excited to go work Cedar in the desert with Dianne next week :)

Moss is four months old now. He is growing like a weed and is turning into quite the intelligent, funny, handsome young man. He learns really fast and tries hard to please me... most of the time. ;) I think he'll be a lot of fun on sheep, too. I can't wait until he's old enough to start!

Some recent photos:

Look at how long his legs are!


My pretty boy :)

Looking more like his daddy every day, IMO...

Creepy teeth!



Fail... :D



I can haz sillyz :D