Friday, February 26, 2010

Belated Post

So, I went to Dianne's on Tuesday to work Moss, and had a fabulous time! I had a lot of stuff to think about after the trial, so it was great to be able to work on our skills with a purpose :). Moss was pushy, but good. I expected him to be a bit amped after I let him be that way at the trial, so it was no big deal :-P.

I feel a lot more confident with driving and stuff after the trial, too. We managed to be very accurate in our drive/cross-drive practice on Tuesday, hitting the "panels" and staying mostly on-line the whole time. His outruns were pretty good... I had to kick him out at the top the first two times, but after that he got the message and did fabulously. He's such a good boy! Sometimes I think he can read my thoughts...

He's back at Dianne's for training for another month or so. I miss my goober head :(

Jody R. and Circle were also out there on Tuesday; they are looking GREAT!!!! They've become quite the team. I'm so proud :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 2... We got the pen!

Subtitle: Moss did everything I asked him to do. Unfortunately, most of what I told him to do was wrong :D

It was day two of the trial today and like yesterday, we had to wait forever and day for Novice to get started. We ran third, and didn't get to go until about an hour before dark.

Earlier in the day, Dianne used Moss to bring out fresh sheep to the set-out pens. It was his first time working such a large number of sheep, and he did great! He listened well to her and was kind to the sheep. He's such a good boy. I really wish I would have brought my camera out.

My goals for today's run:

1) Have a nice outrun, and remember to correct Moss if he started to cut in too soon.
2) Finish the pen on time.
3) Don't trip and fall and accidentally moon the judge.

We achieved all three of these goals today. We had a decent run (other than me totally forgetting my flanks at the pen... making the sheep circle around a few times unnecessarily) and ended up getting seven more points than yesterday so that was good. I was still pretty uncoordinated and nervous, but at least I didn't fall down today :). There were some issues with the drive again... but I just need more practice. I also forgot which way I was supposed to go around the post... but I think I got it right so that's no biggie :)

Overall, I had a great time this weekend and can't wait to do it again! My dog worked well for me and did what I asked him to do, which is all I can really ask for at this point. We did about exactly as well as we should be doing at this point in our "education." I definitely learned a ton/have some new "tools" in my mental toolbox, and hopefully my nerves won't be so bad next time now that our first trial is out of the way :)

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures this weekend :( Oh well, maybe next time. Here's one I took on Thursday at Dianne's.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 1.... Our Big Debut

Subtitle: We got a score! :-P

After waiting around aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllll day for Open, Nursery, and Pro-Novice to end, I finally got to run Moss. We ran in Novice (obviously), and it was the first USBCHA trial for both of us. Considering the long wait and our combined inexperience quotient, it went quite well actually.

I decided to send him on the come-bye side, after a lot of thinking about the best way to, well, not lose the sheep. There was a very strong draw to the exhaust on the left, and many dogs were unable to turn them. I decided that even though come bye is his weaker direction, we had a better chance of getting the sheep going in somewhat of the right direction. :) Because it was allowed, I left him at the post and walked about halfway down the field to send him. The first part of the outrun was good. He started pretty wide, but came down too early off the hill (the sheep were at the bottom of a little ridge-type thing) and I didn't tell him to "get back" or stop soon enough so he went too far in and started to cross over. I got him stopped and was able to eventually re-direct him around the right way. The lift was all right... he was a little jazzed up so went to fast but I was so relieved that he actually took my commands that I didn't get after him too much.

The fetch was okay, too... until I slow-motion fell backwards into a ditch and showed the entire audience about half of my butt. Joy.

We then proceeded to actually make it around the post all right; the sheep were in pretty good control the whole way 'round. We had a little problem at the drive... it was a really short distance and the sheep kept coming to me so I couldn't get far enough away from Moss to really make it work. But we got it done eventually, got them turned pretty well, and went to the pen, which we didn't complete on time (totally my fault... I didn't give the sheep enough time to settle. At least I learned, eh? :D). We ended up with a score (low, though, haha.... like a 23 or something?) and third place.

I'm pretty excited for tomorrow, actually. Overall it was a really good experience and I learned a lot. I am hoping to not make so many mistakes next time. I was pretty pleased with Moss, too. I just love my puppy boy. I think we'll be great together someday :)

All righty... I'm exhausted--time for some chicken caesar salad and bedtime!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Warning: my head may in fact explode.

Today I went out to Dianne's with the intention of running a few "practice" courses in preparation for the trial this weekend. I know it sounds crazy, but I've never really done a lot of work like this before.... driving to exact locations and penning and whatnot. It was definitely a learning experience. Moss did great... I did pretty well, better as I got more practice.

We covered a heck of a lot of ground today, and I learned a ton. Hopefully I can process all this stuff!

Can I mention again how freaking awesome it is to have a dog that knows inside flanks?!? It makes my job a lot easier. Plus, it's cool.

Our first go actually went pretty well. We drove the sheep out into the field, did an outrun, drove around a bucket (fake "panel," LOL) and then went to the pen. The second run, driving in a different direction to a "panel" of baggies on the wheel line, was a complete cluster. I was all turned around backwards, the sheep were hopelessly off line, and I had no idea what I was doing :D Dianne soon got me sorted out, though. Turns out that I was giving him too many commands and not letting the sheep settle and drift. They were zig-zagging all over the place, as you can imagine. After I had that "oh, duh!" moment, our lines got much straighter.

We did all right with penning, but will need a lot more finesse on more difficult sheep. Hopefully we can practice that sometime.

I think we're pretty ready for the trial this weekend. I just need to keep my cool and not get too nervous. I wish that I cared less :-P I really need to take Don Blazer's advice (loosely paraphrased): Nothing is good or bad, it just is. Everything is happening exactly how it's supposed to.

Now I just need to get my ego to shut up :D

I have a good feeling about this weekend, though. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Trial Countdown: 5 Days...

I went out to Dianne's today and worked Moss for the first time in a week or so. We need to get in some good practice this week before our first trial :)

Moss did awesome. It sure is fun having a dog that does inside flanks! Not that I know how to work him very well, though. We practiced lifting sheep off of Dianne (he didn't even seem to notice her, which was GREAT!)and did a lot of driving. Driving back and forth across the field, driving to different places in the field, working on inside flanks... lots of stuff like that.

At first, I felt totally lost. It took me awhile to get my head on straight and figure out what I was doing. I was depending on Dianne to tell me what to do too much, and it showed. Thankfully, by our second work I had figured out what I was supposed to do and it all went much better. I think I might be starting to figure this stuff out. I guess we'll find out this weekend!

I feel like such an idiot most of the time when working Moss. Somewhere along the line, my goober-headed puppy boy has turned into a grown-up sheepdog with real skills. When did this happen? :D Hopefully I can catch up to his ability level soon.

On a side note, I've been watching this show online over the weekend, and am completely addicted:

Come Bye 2007

If you ever have fifteen hours to kill, check it out. It chronicles the 2007 Irish, English, Scottish, and Welsh National Sheepdog Championships and the International Championships as well. Great stuff.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Whoa, Nelly!

Needless to say, after today's agility class, I no longer have worries about Cedar's ability to do the teeter. I was worried that she wouldn't be able to transfer her confidence on the tippy board to the full-sized see saw, but she was GREAT! By the end of the session, she was driving confidently to the teeter, riding it down a significant "tip" (not full height, obviously, but about half way) and going into 2 on/2 off position. There was none of the panic, scrambling, or avoidance behavior that she expressed a few weeks ago when we first tried this obstacle.

I am so proud!

Now I just have to work on getting her to stop being such a tunnel sucker.... that's our homework for the next few weeks until the next set of classes start :) I also have the lofty goal of training her through at least 6 straight poles by then, too. We'll see how that goes. I've got a lot on my plate right now!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Well, I've Finally Done It.

I've officially taken the cutest picture of Cedar, ever.


Isn't she darling? <3

I spent a good part of the afternoon messing around with the settings on my camera. It was fun and interesting for sure... and I got some pretty good pictures out of it, too :). Cedar is a great subject to photograph... maybe because she's had a camera shoved in her face almost every day for 2 1/2 years? :D

Oh, and she's beautiful, too. That helps <3

If I learned anything today, it's that thus far I certainly haven't been doing my camera justice in any way. Now to get a few better lenses... hmmmmmmmm.

Sometimes I got nice pictures like this...

Sometimes the results were a little less, er, impressive ;)


Of course, no photography session would be complete without a little senseless dog torture. At least, according to Cedar.

Good thing for her, she got plenty of this as payment for her modeling services:

This picture makes me happy, even though it sucks.

Why, you ask? Well, two weeks ago, Cedar wouldn't have set foot anywhere near the tippy board. Now, she runs to a 2 on/2 off position with one command of "spot"... and will rock the board with her front OR back feet. Good girl, Cedar!