Monday, August 31, 2009

Somebody call 911...

... because I might actually die of sheer awesomeness. :D

As you know, Dianne let me work Moss myself at our lesson today. He was beyond great. Man, I can't tell you how much fun it was to actually get in there with him and try him out. I'm so proud of my boy! I think that his only major issue will be dealing with ME and my short bus tendencies.

I put him in a few situations/ "oh shit!" moments (got too far away from the sheep or some other stupid thing) that I thought would end badly, but I guess I really didn't need to worry because he picked up my slack pretty well. I'm pretty blown away. It's one thing to watch someone else work your puppy, it's a whole 'nother thing to be in there with him. We circled a little bit and them did some fetching in the big arena. He pushed on me a little bit but I think I did an all right job of backing him off. Probably not enough, though. Oh well, something to work on, right? He was rating himself really nicely, and Dianne says he's a natural outrunner.

I know it's pretty "small potatoes" stuff, but to a newb like me, it was really fun. Moss is so relaxing to work because he's so natural and doesn't seem to have the tendency to get pushy, fast, or slicey like Cedar does. With him I was able to actually enjoy myself a bit.

I know I will get to that point with Cedar eventually, but right now it just seems like we are playing catch up a bit. Mainly, I'm having to re-teach her that she actually CAN do stuff without me babysitting or setting things up for her like I have in the past. I think we got some good stuff done today.

I really had to get after her hard for shutting down and running off today (grr, she hasn't done that in awhile!), but when we came back, it was like a lightbulb had turned on for her and, after some maneuvering, was able to get her to do what I asked. It doesn't seem like she has much faith tin her ability to do the harder stuff I'm asking.

Thinking about it a little more, it seems like now that I know enough to have raised the bar for our work together, Cedar really doesn't know what to do or how to react because I haven't expected her to be so precise in the past. I guess all I can do is just keep working with her (Dianne isn't letting me quit with Cedar after Moss gets going more... dang! hehe) and doing our best.

I do think our partnership is getting more towards the place that it should be, now that I'm being more proactive. Her driving was, I thought, pretty excellent today and she is getting more comfortable with being further away from me. This is kind of a big deal for her since she tends to seek out my bubble as a security thing. Maybe there's hope for us yet!

Real Quick Like

I don't have much time because I have to get to class, but I just wanted to brag that I got to work Moss myself today for the first time, and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

Will write more later,


Friday, August 28, 2009

Under Pressure

*cue Queen*

Okay, so as y'all know, this was my first week in grad school, and my first week of teaching first-year writing (English 101) at Boise State. It is now Friday, and I am completely, utterly exhausted. My students seem all right, for the most part, but I am I am, all at once, totally overwhelmed, excited, scared... and sad at the same time.

Most of you know that Joe (the hubby) leaves for his new job in Washington state on Sunday. I will be joining him after I complete my studies down here. Don't judge; it's complicated. Logically I know that it's for the best for both of us (he has a GREAT opportunity to start a real career at this job, and I really need to do the grad school thing for myself), but I am really having a hard time with everything. I don't know if the stress of everything is finally just... getting to me, but I feel like I am a hair's distance from total meltdown mode. And it's only the first week! Hopefully, for my sanity, I'll settle into some kind of routine soon, and stop feeling like a huge FRAUD in front of my students! Blah.

On a lighter note, I took Cedar and Moss out to Dianne's again today for a group lesson with Jody R and Circle. That team is doing AWESOME! Circle is starting to learn her inside flanks, and they have both made a ton of progress. I'm so proud of both of them!

Cedar did... pretty good. Dianne keeps telling me that we're in the midst of a learning curve, but on the up side, so I guess that's a good thing. I have had a difficult time lately keeping my cool with her, and I feel bad about it... but it's just so damned FRUSTRATING that we are still working on the same shit we were 6 months ago (albeit with a lot more finesse, and knowledge on my part). I get so pissed off that she still doesn't respect me, even though she does a good job of faking me out most of the time.

I suppose I need to get over my bad attitude. We got some good stuff done today. One thing that is different about her now than 6 months ago is that she will take my direction. If she starts to slice at the top of her outrun, I am usually able to stop her or kick her out in some other way. Her lie down is excellent. I don't ever have to have her on leash. But she still doesn't completely believe me, I think, when I really get after her for misbehaving. I just don't know how much more I can do! Or want to do, for that matter. I don't have enough experience to tell all the time whether she is being bad, or she really doesn't know what I'm asking of her. That's a huge part of our problem. It doesn't help that I'm at the point in my herding education where I know enough to be pissed off at what she's doing... but don't really know how to fix it!

I guess all we can do is try our best, and do what Dianne tells us! :D

I'm sure I'll look back on this entry a few years down the line and laugh, but today I don't feel much like laughing. Blame it on lack of sleep. I feel like I could sleep for a couple days.

Dianne worked Moss today, too. As usual, he did great. He is so fun to watch; he really does think about what he's doing, and learns from his mistakes. He is incredibly natural. I don't know how much more I can say about him other than the boy simply rocks! He has such a great outlook on life, too. I really should take lessons from him! :)

Back to the short bus...

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Beginnings

Today is my first day of grad school. I went to my first class this afternoon, ENGL 530: The Age of Chivalry. It seems like a fun class; the instructor is an expert on the period and speaks/sings fluent Early Modern English (think of a cross between Chaucer and Shakespeare). She also plays period musical instruments. I know a bunch of people in the class, too, so I'm really looking forward to it. Plus it's a period that I've never studied before, so that should be interesting. I like learning new things.... guess that's why I'm in grad school, eh?

Of course, since my class didn't start until 1:40, I decided to go out to Dianne's this morning. :-P I brought Cedar and Moss. Ann and Levi also came out and worked. It was great to see them! I took a few photos of Levi as well.

Dianne worked Moss in the indoor arena. He did great! He really is a thinking dog; he tries to figure out what you want. I was really pleased to see him take Dianne's corrections and work through his insecurities about going around the sheep on his "bad" side (Away). By the end of the lesson, Dianne was able to get him kicked out and relaxed on that side. She's going to take him in for training after she gets back from the Finals in September. I can't wait to see how he does with more consistent work.

I worked Cedar in the outdoor arena (again!) because the hay field is still growing. I wasn't going to work her because of my knee, but I felt bad that she was just sitting in the truck, and decided to brave the pain :-P. It was worth it! For having three weeks off, she did pretty great. I had to chase her down and back her off a couple times (no bueno for the knee), but for the most part she held it together. I think that all this "respect" work has really helped us to become a better team. We are acting more like partners... as opposed to me always being on the defensive and trying to block her from making mistakes (or running any sheep into the wall). She is much more comfortable with getting sheep off the fence, except when I block her (bah! I can't stop!) of course. Her driving is getting better, and she's showing a lot more control and actually letting me "handle" her a bit; i.e. she will take my commands and listen well. Maybe she's starting to see me as less of an idiot? At the very least, I think my presence means more to her now, which is great. Sure makes things much easier.

I think I'm going to enter her in the GSH Halloween AHBA trial. Depending on how she goes, I'll probably do more than one class with her, especially since they allow assisted outruns and pen-work in Level One (at least to my understanding). It should be a good time :)

We have another lesson with Dianne on Friday morning, so I'm sure I will have more to say then. In between, I have a full week of grad classes and...

*gulp* ... I teach my first college course in the morning... 7:40 AM ... Wish me luck! I hope that my students will actually interact with me and not just stare blankly at the clock hoping for it all to be over.

At least I know what I'm going to wear, have all my shit together, and my lessons prepared. Agh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I am so unobservant.... or maybe just busy. BUT...

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of me and Cedar's first lesson with Dianne. No, it wasn't our first herding lesson, but I mark that date as the beginning of the 'real' journey that is the heart of this blog. I guess some reflection is in order...

So here I sit on the couch, the close memory of some delicious pecan baklava still resonating on my tongue, thinking about herding. It seems that all I do (when I'm not thinking about grad school or teaching)is think about Border Collies and herding. This has morphed from something that I wanted to "try just for fun" to a full blown passion. I knew pretty much right away that this was something I wanted to do. Even though our first lesson was, erm, a bit "exciting"... I was "hooked."

My blog post after our first lesson:

...and a picture ;)

I started out a hardcore conformation and obedience person with little understanding of the amount of time/talent/dedication/whatever that it takes to really succeed at this sport. No, Cedar and I are still not very good at all. Yes, I am DAMNED proud of our ASCA Started title. It represents almost a year of hard work and struggle. We have come such a long way, even since the ASCA trial, that my optimism outweighs the negative aspects of this.

Cedar has taught me SO much about training, handling, humility, etc etc... and although it has not been easy most of the time, I feel very fortunate to have had this experience. I am a better handler because of her... and frankly, no matter how good of a sheepdog she turns out to be, she will always be my baby girl :)

I have had a BLAST going to trials and watched some truly amazing dogs (and handlers!) work. It takes my breath away to watch a good Open team complete a course. The amount of teamwork, training, preparation, and improvision just boggles my mind. There is no other sport like this in the world.

I know that this is just the beginning...

Moss is my future.

He's so fabulous! I don't know what else to say about him. Moss has such a great personality, and so far has shown some real promise on sheep. I am so thankful that Dianne let me have such an amazing puppy. I can't wait to see how he turns out!

Before I run out of sappy things to say, I really do want to thank everyone who has helped me this year. I have made some wonderful friends and had some great times. I can't wait to spend more time with all of you!

Well, I'd better stop writing before I truly go off the deep end of sap! I start grad school next week... which means I will be teaching also. I just finished my syllabus and lesson plans for the freshman English course I'll be teaching at BSU. It's a HELL of a lot of work and I am really overwhelmed right now.

Time for another cocktail...


Sunday, August 2, 2009

I've been slacking, I'm sorry!

I've been meaning to write a new blog post for a couple days now, and just haven't gotten around to it. I guess I've just not been in the writing mood lately. School starts in about three weeks.... and I feel totally unprepared. I don't have my books yet, and I haven't gotten as much reading done this summer as I wanted to. Teaching orientation starts next week.... eep!

Needless to say, I don't have much brain space right now for other stuff.

I worked Cedar earlier this week out at Dianne's, and she did pretty well. We are both continuing to improve (albeit SLOWLY), and it's really nice to be able to successfully do exercises that we never could have attempted a few months ago. I still have a long ways to go before she completely respects me, though. For such a meek little thing, she's awfully pushy!

I bathed both of the dogs today, here's a few pix:


Moss Man...

Moss is almost 7 1/2 months old now, and getting HUGE! His legs are still really long and he still looks gawky, so I know he still has a ways to go. He is slowly losing his "puppy" look, and turning into quite the handsome young gentleman :) I love him to bits, although he does leave a bit to be desired in the manners department. I really need to buckle down and work on his recall before he starts serious sheepdog training.