Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Everyone who knows me/reads this thing knows by now that Cedar and I have had a constant struggle (for MONTHS!) with working under pressure/in tight spaces/up against the fence. Well.... here's proof that she actually can do it!

Peasants, rejoice!

Ever since I cracked down on being more assertive with her, she has been working SO much better for me. Today, she was (and, as a result, I also was) calm, thoughtful, and not frantic at all. Our whole lesson basically consisted of doing longer and longer outruns in the big arena (Dianne's field is still not cut yet, so we can't work out there), having her pick the sheep up against the fence at the top of the outrun. This was made more difficult (hah! as if it could be more difficult for Cedar than picking sheep up off the fence.... yeesh!) by the fact that there was another group of sheep on the opposite side of the fence. So in order to complete the exercise, Cedar had to go in between two groups of sheep and a fence. Not usually her strong suit. However, I was very pleasantly surprised with how well she did. She only gripped once, and it was my fault because of my crappy timing. But We got in some pretty big outruns and it seems like Cedar is trusting me more to help her out. I've been trying to set the bar higher for her, and not accepting anything less than what I ask, which pretty much means that I have to stop her on her outruns and kick her out a lot. But it seems to all be coming together... albeit very slowly :). But I was very proud of her today.

Moss also got a chance to work today, for Dianne. He did fantastic! Dianne worked on the same sort of stuff that she did last time.... getting him to respect the "bubble," fetching, and other stuff like that.

Waiting in the car for his turn :)

He really has a very natural feel for his sheep; it's amazing to watch.

I think he must be going through a growth spurt... look at those legs!

It really amazes me how much intelligence and maturity he shows, for such a young puppy. It's hard to keep taking things so slow with him, but I know it will be worth it in the end :)

Isn't he looking great? I just love this puppy. He has such a great temperament, too. Here's a photo of him playing tug with his best buddy, our friends' seven year-old son, Jaren:

Anyways... I can't believe I start grad school and teaching next month! Eeep! There are over 20 people signed up for my class.... I can't believe that many people are actually paying BSU to be taught by me. :-P

Monday, July 13, 2009

100th Blog Post..... Meltdown Central

I learned a couple of things today.

1) Cedar doesn't respect me/my bubble/authority nearly enough... or nearly as much as I thought she did.

2) She can actually take my corrections without shutting down.

3) Apparently, my mind thinks that the best reaction to being pissed off and frustrated is to freeze up completely and burst into tears.

4) Right now, Cedar needs to be more worried about me than the sheep.

5) When this happens, she works awesome! And doesn't get quite so frantic.

Our lesson today, like most of the others we've had recently, was both terribly frustrating and incredibly productive. Cedar does not respect my bubble at ALL... well, before today anyways. She has always been tight and pushy and worried about the sheep all the time. Dianne told me that I need to start expecting more from Cedar; that she is capable of doing the things I'm asking without messing up or me needing to babysit her. Rationally, I know this, but I tend to get a little bit lost in negativity...

Our goal today was to make her be more worried about ME. So, I kept using my body pressure to push her out. I *tried* not to use my voice too much.... but that didn't really work. I need to work on talking too much. Every time Cedar would push on me or the sheep, I'd chase her down and back her off. At one point, I even chased her out of the arena.

And then... as the sheep always seem to do, they bolted for the fence. Again. Cedar "helped" them. I think they know that Cedar and I both have a hard time getting them away from the fence, so they gravitate towards there. Or something. Must be self preservation... I dunno. After fighting with it for a few minutes, and getting nowhere, I had a meltdown.


Bursting into angry tears is always SO helpful in these kinds of situations. Jeez.

Nothing like crying, in public, over SHEEP. At one point I remember yelling something along the lines of "isn't this MAGICAL?!?" Funny thing, though... I think my blabbering freaked Cedar out enough that she was so concerned about me and what the hell I was doing, that she forgot to be frantic around the sheep. I sent her on an Away flank to get the sheep off the fence, and she swung out and did it perfectly. She watched my face the whole time, LOL! However, I did need to "remind" her a few times that any sort of pushiness was NOT okay. The last time was when I chased her out of the arena. I think she finally got the message that she works sheep on my terms, not hers. And I think I at least got started in showing her that she could trust me to help and direct her towards something resembling calm and normal stockwork.

After all the drama, Cedar really worked much nicer, paying more attention to me than ever before. She was nice and thoughtful, off her sheep, and listening well. It was night and day from the way she was working before. Dianne promised that I will only need to do this a few more times for her to get the message... at least for awhile. I sure hope that she's right. :) I am certain that we will "get" it eventually. I know that Cedar has the ability... I just need to find the best way to bring it out in her.


I just realized that I never blogged about Moss's work last week!! He did really great. It's interesting to contrast his first real time on sheep with Cedar's. Moss is a completely different type of dog. He is very laid back, methodical, and tries to think things through and problem-solve. Dianne worked him this first time, but I may get to work him myself next week. We'll see. I'm enjoying watching him either way.

At one point towards the end of the lesson, Dianne intentionally created a "mess" for him... splitting two sheep off from the others. Instead of freaking out and chasing the "deserters" all around the arena, he stood there calmly for a minute looking puzzled. You could almost hear his thought progression.

"This isn't right..."

"WHY isn't this right?"

"... what can I do to fix it?"

(The other sheep is to the right of him in the photo)

... He brought the them back to the group (Dianne let him have a little "fun" with this...

...and she got some very good (and cute!) work out of him before putting him up. He was very enthusiastic and wanted to go right back to work. What a good boy.

I'm greatly looking forward to watching him progress in his training. I think Dianne is going to take him for training for awhile this fall... I'm excited to see how he'll do!

Well, I'm sick of writing... more later!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

They say it's yer birthday

My beautiful girl, Cedar, is two years old today. I can't believe it. Cedar is my heart dog and together, we've begun the "journey" into herding and sheepdog trials. Without her, I wouldn't have Moss, nor would I have met all the new friends I have over this past year. I thank her for that. Cedar gets her own can of tuna tonight, and I think we're going to take the dogs down to the creek to play.

Happy Birthday to my ball crazy, water obsessed, balance challenged, wicked smart, incredibly sweet "problem child!"

Seems like just yesterday that she was this tiny...

8 wks


15 wks

5 months

6 months

8 months

Our first, not so great, exposure to stockwork... O.o

She's improved 10000000000000000x since we first started out, though :)...
From Blogger Pictures

From Journeys With Cedar...and Moss!

Happy Birthday, girl!
From OR Coast June 09

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Best" Day Ever

Dianne told me today that Cedar and I had our "best" work ever.


Um, really? Didn't feel so great to me.

Part of me gets it, but part of me wonders a little bit if maybe she was joking. If "best" = smooth and calm, than no.... not our best. But if by "best," she means that we got a lot accomplished, yeah, I can see it.

From Journeys With Cedar...and Moss!

We worked in Dianne's outdoor arena again, since her alfalfa field is too tall to work dogs in right now. The outdoor arena is kind of tricky because the sheep can get under the fence on one side and bolt to their pen. Most of the time we managed to keep things pretty under control. Like last time, we worked on keeping Cedar nice and loosened up, wide off her sheep, and calm.

At least, that was the idea. We did some outruns and a little driving, which looked nice. I had to get after her a bit for pushing too hard and going tight, but other than that it was fairly uneventful. I put her in some bad spots, and she gripped some of the time(and got flipped around by a sheep once, which was scary), but other times she acted smartly and kept her head, working with me to get through it.

Then, the sheep got free. I thought I had Cedar stopped and laying down, but then she took off after them. Muttering expletives under my breath, I ran after her but stopped when Dianne told me to "quit running at her!" (haha) She laid down about a hundred feet or so away, over by the sheep pens, where the sheep were headed. Dianne had Annie working as the backup dog, and sent her around to pick the sheep up. I clucked at Cedar to walk up, and she calmly helped Annie to bring the sheep back into the arena. Pretty big stuff for her, especially considering how little we've worked in the last month or so.

As we all know, Cedar has a tendency to, when things get a little out of her comfort zone, to panic and frantically try to "fix" things to make me happy with her. Her idea of "fixing" the situation is usually to dive in, grab some wool, and go along for the ride. She does NOT like doing this, and she's not being naughty. It's just like she goes into frantic mode and her brain flies out the window. Luckily, our recovery time continues to get shorter and shorter, and I continue to have hope.

But damn it, it's SO freakin' frustrating!!!!!!! AGH! I'm mostly frustrated at myself.... that I seem to constantly put her in bad situations and then don't have any idea how to really help her out. But I'm also frustrated that we seem to be stalling/struggling with the same crap we always have. I wonder if I just have a complex about it now? No wonder Cedar doesn't trust me.

At one point today, when we were having trouble getting the sheep off the fence for the umpteenth time that day, I remember yelling something at Cedar and then saying to Dianne "BUT I'M NOT EVEN MAD AT HER!!!!"

Dianne just laughed. And asked me what good it was doing for me to get so frustrated. After all, Cedar didn't know I was just frustrated and not angry with her. The more upset I got, the harder Cedar tried to make things better.

That was when I realized that I just needed to freaking calm down... and not let Cedar escalate my emotions. I put my one semester of acting class to good use and got control of my voice. Slow, deep breaths. After some squirreling around, we managed to get in a few nice, wide, controlled outruns, and called it good. Cedar was exhausted.

I'm going out to Janie's on Wednesday night with Cedar and Moss. Dianne wants to try Moss in the round pen! I'm pretty excited, should be fun :) I'm going to try and get some pictures and maybe a little bit of video.

I'm sure Moss will be stoked...

From Journeys With Cedar...and Moss!