Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sure is quiet around here.....

Well, Stella went to hang with her possible new owner this morning. We met at a neutral place (Raven Rock Park) so that the dogs could all meet, and things went off without a hitch. All seemed interested but not overly interested in each other, and sniffed cordially, and then it was off for walkies. Stella found the creek, and that was when Lyn realized the weight of what I mean when I say Stella LOVES water. She jumped in with all 4 feet, and splashed and dove and rolled in the water till she was soaked, all with a huge grin on her face. I gave Lyn Stella's leash so she could walk with her. Stella seemed responsive to her and walked nicely and did what Lyn asked of her in so far as coming, heeling and sitting. True to her nature, Stella was happy to comply. We enjoyed our walk down the Nature trail, and then it was time to load up. Stella was happy to once again jump in Lyn's truck, and stake out her position in the back seat. As they drove off, Stella was looking out the back window watching me as they drove away, and it tugged at my heart strings. Lyn has a really good handle on dog ownership and training. I liked her ideas and how she handles her other dogs, they are very close to my own ways so I feel pretty sure that Stella will understand Lyn pretty easily. I had to go over with Lyn Stella's commands, and it was difficult for Lyn to quit saying "Come" as opposed to "That'll Do" but one of two things will happen there. Either Lyn will remember, or she will teach Stella a new command. We decided to give Stella 30 days with Lyn before any monies, spaying or paper work (besides rabies cert and shot records) changes hands. I want them both to feel as if this is a good placement, and if not, Stella will come back home. I really had no pressure on myself, to place her, but if a good home happen to come along, it wasn't some thing I was adverse to considering, so, here we are. If they work out, great, if not, no biggie there either. Though I will most definitely enjoy the quiet. Stella has never had a problem letting us know when she was unhappy with being either in the kennel or crate, and there is a reason she wears a bark collar all the time. I sent the bark collar home with Lyn, and she had no problem understanding its purpose and putting it on Stella if it became necessary.
While writing this, I got a call from Lyn, she and Stella got home just fine, and she decided to take Stella out for a walk on the back 40 of her property. (Lyn lives on 25 acres) and Stella went wiggy on her. She was obviously scared and insecure in her new surrounding. Lyn asked if Stella had ever been away from me.....Hmmmm, now that I think about it, nope, she hadn't. So again I reiterated for her to keep a long line on Stella, and just begin the bonding process with her. Oh, and if you really want to be her new best friend, bring along a toy and play with her. Stella cant resist anyone who will play with her. As of this writing, she and Stella were laying on Lyn's living room floor together, watching TV, and the cats, whom Ive been told so far Stella hasn't paid a bit of mind to other than a mild interest in watching them when they strut in and out of the room. That's a good thing, as I told Lyn, I really couldn't say how she will react to the cats, and that if I had any concerns about this placement, that was the only one. I hope it all works out well for the both of them, Stella is a fun little dog, and Lyn has lots of fun plans for her, including getting her enrolled eventually in agility with Bon-Clyde training facility. Ive always thought Stella missed her calling as an agility dog, so maybe she will get that chance to try her paw at it now. I'm sure she would not only love it, but excel at it as well. So, end of chapter one in the placement of Stella. I will keep her progress updated throughout the 30 days, and hope it works out for the best for all concerned. Now, maybe Chris can have a nice game of ball without having Stella constantly trying to stop her every move. Especially now, since Hank has finally learned the purpose of a game of ball, and that is to get the ball, and bring it back to me, and not get the dog with the ball, and stop it from coming back to me. I think Chris will not miss Stella as much as I.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back Among the Living

Well, we all survived the food poisoning incident. Thank God. A few times I'm sure we all felt as if we'd have to die to feel better. I'm am sooooo sad that I missed the trial at Robin's, it looks and sounds as if a good time was had by all. Just my luck. But this month is full of trials and I'm sure I'll be able to hit a few here and there.
Chris has been working so nice lately. I am pleased with her progress. She has gone from being a dog I didn't even want to put back on sheep because of her sheep killer ways, to being a much more trustworthy and confident dog. The work has definitely paid off and I couldn't be happier with her progress. I really like this little dog, she is loads of fun to work with. Last night I was doing a little work on her inside flanks, and had to stop myself. I was starting to get back into the frustrated mode and about lost my temper. It showed in her work, as my tone changed and she started to get nervous and took a couple of grips. Old habits die hard. At this point, I think it would be a good idea to start getting her whistles on her., I think it would help us both a lot. I have been practicing whistles in the truck, as doing it around the house has been outlawed for obvious reasons, and now that I can be consistent with blowing it, its time to figure out a set of whistles for her. I'm not very creative that way, so I may just copy the some from the Kent K. CD I have. I had to laugh back in January, I was at a Jack Knox clinic and I was talking to a friend of mine Laura and discussing whistles. I had always been under the impression that you had to use a certain set of whistles for every dog so the judges knew what commands you were whistling so the judge knew what you were telling the dog to do, so they could see that the handler knew where to send the dog and that the dog was taking its whistles. Apparently, that is not the case, as Laura put it, hell, you can whistle Dixie if you want to! Well, I am quite proficient at several Christmas carols and a couple of Old McDonald and Mary had a little lamb type aria's and so perhaps today I will tape a set of whistles for Chris and get them down pat good and start her on whistles later in the week, or next week, Depending on my Constancy of blowing them. Stella is still on the back burner as far as work goes, It is certainly not her idea of a good idea as she asks me daily to go to work. Still, I remain stubborn. She just turned two this month, so maybe soon I will give her another go. She seems to want to listen and do the right thing, I just would like to see her more enthusiastic about more than just getting on the field. Once she is out there on sheep, she tends to loose the happy enthusiasm after a few minuets, and becomes worried and stressed. Hank is really been a lot of fun lately. He is definitely a mommas boy, and loves to be right with me everywhere all the time. Except when he is chasing Chris, which we are still working on. I have been giving Lex glucosimine for several weeks now, and the improvements are obvious. Could be that she is healing from an injury, or the glucosimine, or both, but she is gaining back her strength in her hind quarters and I am very pleased to see that.
Chris and I did a little "real" work last night, and brought up the ewes to be looked at. They are sure getting fat, and a few are starting to bag up just a little. We should be having fall lambs in a month or so. This lambing, I am really going to do some hard culling. Early this year I was hanging on to everything, wethering the ram lambs and hanging on to all ewe lambs, to build the herd back up. I would like to see the herd back up to 20 head again, but am now, as I have enough sheep to work dogs on, and use more than one set if need be, going for a particular type of lamb to hang onto. Those that exhibit more St. Croix attributes than the katahdin. I like the St. Criox. They are a more level headed sheep, are a bit bigger in size (yield more meat)and very hardy. Not that the katahdin aren't a hardy sheep, which in fact they seem to be, but they are a really light sheep, small, gazelle like and prone to acting stupid and have no sense of self preservation. They are the first to run into a fence or some other stupid sheep trick. The St. Croix, seem to have the better brain.
The weather recently has just been fantastic for working dogs! I have been so pleased to be able to get out there and work more than 5 minutes at a time. Last night, Chris and I worked well up to dark, and no one was any worse for the wear. At one point I almost though I may need a light jacket it was so nice and cool. After that thought though, I figured I just needed to get my but in gear and move my arse around a bit more. Remembering Robin telling me to quit standing around, and get my butt in gear! It works! Smaggin' that! So, now with the fall coming in so beautifully, ( I just love the falls here in NC) cant say much for the rest of the seasons, but fall has to be my favorite, we will be getting out a lot more and working the dogs and having some fun!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I think I know what it feels like now....

To have Food poisoning!
Yesterday after work, I was taking Kyle over to his sisters to spend the night so that I could drive out to a dog trial on Saturday. I was running late, per as my usual, (Darci Standard time) and hadn't eaten anything yet that day and had told my daughter that I was getting hungry. Since I had decided not to leave Friday night to go to the trial, as I didn't want to drive after dark in unfamiliar territory, my directionally challenged self decided to just get up early on Saturday morning and drive out then instead. So my daughter asks that I stay for supper. Whats on the stove I ask. Pork chops, mashed potatoes, (the real ones, no boxed stuff) gravy, and corn, with warm brownies for desert. Ummmmm, do I even have to think about it?? YEA! I'm staying for supper! So in between playing with grand kids and the new pet chinchilla, I helped mash the taters and stir the gravy and before long, dinner is served. I was famished, and ate heartily. After supper, my daughter and I spent an hour or so just talking junk around the kitchen table and finished up the dishes and then I figured Id best get a move on towards the house. I still had some things to pack and get ready for my early trip out in the morning. So, Tam escorted me out to my truck, and it was then that I remembered that I needed to pick up some toilet paper on the way home, and mentioned it to Tam. Being the thoughtful daughter she saves me a stop and gets me a roll from her bathroom, and then we argue about whether I should pick Kyle up or will she bring him back home. Both, whining about time constraints and prices of diesel and gas for our respective vehicles. She ends up talking me out of a twenty, (damn expensive TP if ya ask me!) and says she will bring Kyle home on Sunday. So with hugs and waves, I drive away feeling full and content, and happy that I will be getting out to the trial for a weekend of fun. I cranked the tunes on the radio and sang my lungs out all the way home. I got home about 10:30pm and start to get things put together for the trip. I planed on getting up around 4am and be out of the house and on the road by
5am. You know, best laid plan and all. So I get to bed about midnight, and fall hard and fast asleep. Alarm is set for 4am and I look forward to sheep and dog dreams till it wakes me. I was feeling a bit queasy and light headed while getting my shower, but put it off as a full stomach and being tired. Id had a pretty full day at work, and it seemed that from the time Id awoke Friday morning till I was getting ready for bed Friday night, I hadn't had to much time throughout the day where I wasn't rushed in one form or another.
About 1:30am I was awakened, by a gut wrenching pain that made me sit straight up in the bed. Once I became fully awake, which didn't take long because my body was becoming awashed with agony, I felt the need to throw up. Easier said than done. It took awhile, but things finally started progressing, from both ends. You know, the old trick, sit on the toilet while holding the waste basket between your legs. Anyone that has had food poisoning knows this routine. I however have never had food poisoning, and it was the furthest thing from my mind at the moment. I didn't know what was wrong with me, and the cramps and pain in my stomach wasn't giving me much time to think about it. I woke DH with my whining and he got me a cold rag, and went back to bed. What a guy eh? Any way, after what felt like an eternity of sitting in the bathroom feeling like I was going to die, I hear my phone ringing. 2am and my phone is ringing?? OMG Some one must have died! Why else would the phone ring at that hour? Well, low and behold, no one has died, though I'm sure if the person on the other end of the line was feeling as I was at that moment, we'd both felt as if we'd have to die to feel better! It was my daughter, crying her eyeballs out, (she is such a drama queen) and telling me that she and Kyle are both sick as dogs and thank God she has two bathrooms in her house or he'd just be SOL and would have to go outside, because she isn't leaving her spot in the bathroom. OK. All three of us sick about the same time and with the same symptoms, I'm getting the picture now. Glad too, cause I was seriously thinking I was having an attack of appendicitis and was thinking it would probably be a good idea to visit the emergency room. Luckily, non of the babies ate any pork chops, as through our discussion in between puking and dry heaves, we had ascertained that those who didn't eat pork chops were happily sleeping like logs. With Tam crying like a baby I asked where her bro was at and asked to talk to him. Worst part about poor Kyle having gotten sick, was that he doesn't care to eat meat, especially meat with a bone in it. As Tam had cooked boneless chops, together we had talked him into having one. He ate about a half of one and that was better than nothing, and we felt we had attained our goal of getting the boy to eat some meat. I and Tam on the other hand, had had 2 chops each! Kyle was sick fer sure, and was letting me know under no uncertain terms now, that it was all my fault! OK, I can agree to let him vent, as it was our idea to have him eat what he had tried to turn down. At this point, I am very concerned as to what we should do in a case of food poisoning. Enter the computer. I wont go into detail, lets just say that I'm glad the phone cord reaches into the bathroom, cause I don't think I could have left there long enough to wait for dial up to do all that it has to do in the time it takes to do it to get the info I was looking for. Type in "Food poisoning, symptoms and cures. Wala! Do we all need to load up and meet at the ER or can we find ourselves some relief through a home remedy. What I found was that yes, it was most likely and very probable that we were suffering from food poisoning, no, the symptoms we were all showing wasn't enough to warrant a trip to the ER. At least not unless the symptoms escalated or some one passed out. Throughout the next several hours and even as I write this now, I still wonder if going wouldn't have proved the better idea, cause I still feel like warmed over shit, but I really didn't want to have to put any of us through that, being as we were all sooooo comfortable in our respective bathrooms. The web page I found and decided would be my food poisoning bible, said that we should take a table spoon of apple cider vinegar. Oh yea, like the boy who wont even eat meat is going to drink that!! It didn't sound very appealing to me either, but at that point, I was game even for a stomach pump! I called Tam back and yes, she did have some on hand. I read her the page I had on the computer, and told her what to do and call me back in half an hour. A couple of things the page had said would work to alleviate the cramps, one, apple cider vinegar, and the other. Charcoal. I remembered I had some charcoal, and I know your going to laugh, but dammit, I was in dire straights, I had some charcoal dog treats. Yes, I did. 2 tables spoons of apple cider vinegar, and 3 charcoal dog treats. I have to admit, the vinegar was a lot worse going down than the dog treats. Miraculously, within a half and hour, my stomach felt much better, not the greatest, but the cramps had subsided to a much lesser degree. Tam called back and I told her what I had done, taking the charcoal dog treats, and she said she had some too! I remembered I had bought some for her awhile back because she had complained that one of her dogs had real bad breath, and so I had gotten 2 for the price of one at Walmart, kept one box and told her to try the other on her bad breath dog. Luckily for us both, neither had tried them out on our dogs. I don't know if the amount of charcoal in them really helped all that much, but since eating them, I'm hoping it did, and that I hadn't eaten them and got my family to eat them if they didn't. She and Kyle had taken their vinegar, though it was no easy feat getting Kyle to take his, until another episode of puking and dry heaves convinced him otherwise, and he got it down, and was feeling a little better. They too had some and ate some charcoal dog treats, Kyle would only eat one, per what his sister told me, and I'm not convinced of it, but OK. Oh, and I'm not supposed to tell ANYONE!! The web page advised to take another dose of vinegar within 30 minuets of the first, so I told Tam, yer gonna have to take some more, and Kyle too. I could hear him in the back ground as she hollered from her bathroom to his and was shocked at the amount of strength he was able to muster at a protest. But it had to be done. Just think, if the first dose made such a difference, just think of how you;ll feel after the second!! It was the best I could do given the circumstances, and he wasn't in any position to argue, as it was that, or the ER. Not any of ours favorite place.
By 4am my alarm clock goes off. At this point, Ive been able to retire from from the bathroom for short intervals, and see that there is nothing on TV at that hour of the morning. I get up and turn the alarm clock off and try to lay down for a bit and get some rest. The phone wakes me back up at about 10:30am. It is my daughter, feeling sorry for herself and to let me know that Kyle is still alive, though not so well, and still feeling a bit nauseated, and shaky. I talked to him, and during the course of our short conversation, I am again hit with waves of nausea, slight cramps and my own shakiness. More cider?? No, I'll hold off and wait it out. Tam has arranged for her BF to bring Kyle home so that he may convalesce in the comfort of his own bathroom, and so I get up and attempt to make myself presentable for company. My head hurt to the point where I didn't even want to comb my hair! So, I didn't, and ask me if I cared. Kyle got home pale faced and as pitiful looking as I felt, and went straight to bed. He was still blaming me for insisting that he eat some pork chop against his better judgment. I must admit, it was the first time the child has walked in the house in years that he didn't make his first stop the fridge. After weakly thanking Tam's BF for bringing Kyle home and inquiring about her, I gladly shut the door in his face and retired to my own miserableness and bedroom. Ive slept on and off for most of the day and evening, and am feeling.....less sick at the moment. Both Kyle and I tried to split a can of chicken noodle soup this evening, but neither of us managed to get it all down. Still having bouts of nausea, but keeping down mostly water and what little chicken broth we sipped. I don't think I'll ever eat another pork chop as long as I live, and I doubt Kyle will ever eat meat of any kind ever again. As far as accepting any more invites to supper at my daughters, I'll take my chances at McDonalds thankyouverymuch. She says as she starts to turn green at the thought of food.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An Open Gate, Scattered Sheep,Scattered Dogs and a Runaway LGD

Well here's a little LOL for ya'll.
Being as hurricane Hanna,that was at the last minuet down graded to a tropical storm was headed for us here in Central NC. I got home Friday evening, and proceeded to pick up and batten down anything in the yard that could blow away, as we were said to be getting 50 to 70 mph winds that evening. Including, bringing Bruin inside for the brunt of the storm. I felt he would be safer inside especially since his last storm was such a bad experience for him and he has been doing so well, I didn't want to open up opportunity for set backs. Well, we weathered the storm pretty well, the winds wernt half as bad as had been predicted, though we did get over 5 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. Here it is Sunday, and we are still in standing water in some places.
Enter Saturday morning. I had taken Bruin back outside and put him back in the pasture with the sheep. It was still raining and pretty windy, but I was in a hurry and getting soaked and he wasn't finished piddling around and so I went to work and left him out there. About 2 miles down the road, it was beginning to rain even worse,(if that was possible) and I thought about Bru out there and called the house and asked Bobby to have Kyle go out and get Bru and bring him back inside, as I didn't know how long the rain was going to last, and didn't know how much worse it might get. So, outside of struggling to see the road and navigating the flooding across hwy 421, I felt much better while driving on to work. Needless to say, because of the weather, my 5 dog grooming day tuned into a 2 dog grooming day.Jeez! The chicken sh*t so and so's who couldn't be bothered to get up and drive out there....OK so what if I had 4 wheel drive, if its any consolation, I did even lock in my hubs, and I made it!
Anyway, I did my 2 whole grooms ( I shouldn't have drove into work for such a piss poor money day, but such is the life of a groomer) and by the time I was through, the day had turned bright, clear and sunny. I get home and as soon as I drive into the yard, I see the gate to the sheep pasture standing wide open. Huh? Whats up with this?? OMG!! Wheres the sheep! I jump out of the truck in a state of panic, only to find them standing down in the bottom of the pasture. Phew, good sheep. As I'm sure the gate had been standing open since that morning when Kyle had gone out to get Bruin. The child has been raised around live stock,and lock the gate has been en grained into his tiny brain since he was a toddler, so as far as I'm concerned, there is absolutely no excuse for this, rain or no rain. I understand the wind was bad, I was the one standing out there in it earlier that morning trying to run 6 dogs, feeling like Mary Poppins every time the wind gusted and either flattened my umbrella or threatened to pull me up into the black abyss that was the sky if I held on to it! At any rate, I went and closed and locked the gate, and went inside for awhile. Later, several hours later, Hank needed to go outside to potty. I took him and Cain out and that's when I realized that even though it "looked" like all the sheep were in the pasture, as it turned out, they were in fact NOT all in the pasture. Some were on one side of the fence and some only looked like they were and were actually on the opposite side of the fence. Well,it didn't take but a second for me to realize this, but at the same time I came to this realization, Cain and Hank did as well. Cain has always liked working the sheep,but has just never quite be able to get the sheep to trust him, and when 110lbs of GSD comes running full on at a handful of already scared sheep, I'm afraid the out come isn't very pretty. But Cain saw that the sheep were not where they were suppose to be, and aimed to correct the situation, and off he went like a freight train.
Cain however has been trained to a level of OB that I can be 500 yards away, yell a command and he will happily and even in full prey drive flight, take it. I love that dog! Never has he ever failed me, and I'm happy to report that he didn't pick this time to prove my trust was misplaced, and promptly downed, then returned to me.
Little turned on and nothing but sheep in his eyes Hank however, who hasn't even begun any formal training, is not, nor was he then even remotely reliable, much less concerned with my yelling pitifully for
him to return to me, going to miss this opportunity to get to those sheep. Luckily for me, he was taking the long way around to get to the sheep, so I grabbed Cain, and hollered for Kyle to come out, put Cain in a kennel, and I went in to get Lex while Kyle ran down to rescue Hank. Kyle got Hank, and brought him back up and put him in the kennel with Cain, and I sent Lex to go pick up the sheep. I asked Kyle to open the gate, and hold it open for the sheep to go in, while I went over to flush out two of them out of the lower pasture for Lex, (as she wont go under the electric wire) and holy shit!! What the....!!! Here comes Hank and Cain again running straight at the sheep Lex is bringing up so nicely and calmly to the pasture gate. Kyle, again hadn't taken the time to close and lock yet another gate, the one on the kennel this time, and guess who figured that out real quick. Needless to say, Lex is trying very hard to keep her sheep together while Hank and Cain are trying to "help her" and things are going to hell in a hand basket real quick. Again, I call off Cain, and again he shows me that he is a good dog, and does what he is told, I'm down in the bottom pasture, and I look over at kyle and see that Bruin has now noticed the wide open gate to freedom and is making his way fast up the pasture and and out. I holler at Kyle repeatedly, "DON'T LET BRUIN OUT! DON'T LET BRUIN OUT!! Kyle, is so enthralled with watching the fiasco with Hank and Lex, that he thinks I'm hollering at the dogs, and away goes Bruin to scout out the neighborhood right under his nose! I left the sheep, ran up the field, and asked him "Why the Heck??!! Why did you let the dog get out??!!" His reply?? You really are going to make me relive this moment aren't you? His reply was...."I didn't see him" Uh?? How the heck does 100lb great white hairy dog just slip by under your nose and you don't see him??!! So, I don't have time to read the boy the riot act, so I tell him to just go get Bruin, who, in mere seconds had become part of the landscape and was no where in sight. I prop the gate open and am off to rescue poor Lex who is just about beside her self trying to keep the sheep together while Hank is trying to... um,, I'm not really sure what Hank was trying to do, I'm not even sure Hank was sure about what he was trying to do, but what ever it was I can assure you, he was giving it one hell of a shot! Enter the act of trying to catch a young keen pup who's out of his gourd with excitement, and doesn't really want to be caught and knows Im after him, and well, I hope you get the picture, cause to be truthful, he's lucky to alive right now after the game of catch me if you can ensued for about 5 minuets. Which doesn't seem that long, unless you were me at that very moment in time. So finally, I catch Hank, by a slight screw up on his part, he zigged when he should have zagged, and I tackled him and away back to the kennel he goes, and this time I am locking the gate. I almost think he was grateful that I stopped him, as he was pretty tired. Lex, by this time, has regrouped her sheep, and has put them back in the pasture and is standing at the gate, not allowing any escapees by her. I thought Id give her a moment to cool off and jump in the stock tank, but she had other ideas. There were still two sheep out down in the lower pasture and she wasn't going to rest until they were put away too. So I dropped the wires at the top of the horse pasture so she could go in and get the other 2 sheep from the lower pasture, and away she goes. Ah, how nice is this. Just me and the dog, and a couple of way ward sheep. Pleasant after what we had just both been through. She promptly picks up the last two, and brings them up to where I'm waiting to re-open the gate. About this time, I see Kyle coming up the drive way with his shirt wrapped around Bru's neck, as the dog has no collar on and he didn't think to grab a leash before he went off after him, and I had to laugh. Bruin had this big ole happy faced panting grin on his face, and Kyle was red faced and panting too, although he didn't even look very happy. Perhaps this was just the chase he needed to remember to close a gate the next time he opens one. If not, the next time he is so careless, I think I'll just have him go get the sheep and put them back in the pasture all by himself.