Friday, January 30, 2009

Resolve verses Persistence who Will Win?

Anyone ever have a dog that just stared at you, I mean REALLY STARED like, ALL THE TIME? Waiting for a word, a sign, that you required them for some task, and is always ready to spring into action no matter how menial the task may be, or, that you might just as well be able to tackle the task all on your own means nothing to said dog, and its not likely to happen, (getting to do things on your own,) if said dog is around?
If you even look in said dogs direction, its obviously an invitation to get sat on by said dog? And definitely, DON'T! lock eyes, because that is a sure sign for said dog, that you MUST want to have a saliva covered toy thrown in your lap. This is what I live with. Blink, that's all I have to do, is blink, and said dog is at the ready. Some times I think the dog is nuts! Why would a creature want to put so much of themselves into every move I make, every word I utter, every breath, every fart, every sneeze??!! And God forbid! Don't scratch your nose! ARRRRG! Well, for the last couple of weeks, I have been working towards changing this. Cause really, I do know how to find and utilize the bathroom all by myself, and really don't need a chaperon or the company in there. I have a book! And I'm quite capable of getting the toilet paper all by myself! Thankyouverymuch! And that cold wet nose poking me in my face at 2 in the morning checking to see if I'm still breathing?....well, I think I can do without the wake up call.....and that's not even the half of it!
If you haven't guessed by now, "said dog" is my beloved Chris.
Chris, my shadow, my confidant, my sheep dog, my best friend, my girl.

Chris, my weirdo.... She can be playing with another dog, though those moments are few and far between, because she is sooo focused on me that she doesn't have the time to play with the other dogs, what with staring at and watching me every single second of every single day! But if and when the rare occasion does occur, Id better not look her way, or the game stops and she is there in an instant, in my face wanting to do my bidding for me. Asking, pleading with her eyes if there is something, anything, I may require of her. PLEASE!!! Just ask me to do SOMETHING!
I'm serious! I'm not exaggerating one single bit! If anything, I think I haven't elaborated enough on the idiosyncrasies that make up my wonderful little Chris. Laugh if you will, tis true, tis allllll true!

Anyway, When a person loves a dog as much as I simply adore my Chris, we tend to "put up" with things that annoy us about the animal. I see it and hear it every day in my job. Clients constantly complain about this or that, that their dogs do. I look at them, and say; "Why don't you just make them stop!? Why don't you just train them!!??" So, its obvious that even though I KNOW what I should do, I am human just like the rest, and so I shouldn't wonder why I fall into the same category as my clients. Putting up with stuff. Because of Chris' predisposition to be constantly in my face, she spends a lot more time in her crate than the other collies do, and every now and then, I start to feel guilty about this, and let her out. It is a punishment I feel deserving of for my guilt. And she does punish me by being even more so diligent about catering to my every move. Not to say I encourage it at all. Matter of fact, I spend quite a bit of our time together trying to discourage it. But Ive finally decided not to spend my time with my dog telling her constantly to LEAVE ME ALONE!! GO AWAY! GO LAY DOWN! GET OUTTA MY FACE! To the point where her presence just starts to piss me off, and then back to her crate she goes. So, for the last couple of weeks, I have granted Chris full, free rein of the house, and she only stays in her crate at night, cause I really do, contrary to her beliefs, need to sleep. The first week, everyone in the house hold had just about had it with her. If she couldn't get attention from one person, she go to the next one, and the next one and then start the vicious cycle all over again, till everyone of us was really starting to dislike this loving little motion machine. Even the other dogs were starting to get pissed at her, as when she ran out of people to bother, she'd start pushing their buttons. Week one was a very trying week for us all, but didn't seem to phase Chris in the least. Everyone had standing orders to not look at her, don't throw that toy, don't acknowledge her existence. Don't talk to her, just pretend she isn't there. The not talking to her was a hard one, for both dogs and humans. Ya see, Chris likes, nay, loves, no, craves attention. It doesn't matter to her if it is positive or negative attention, IE; some one yelling at her to GO AWAY! In her eyes, its still attention and very self reinforcing for her to continue to bother some one enough to get it.

I'm sure it all boils down to the fact that when Chris was a puppy, she was a VERY VERY adorable puppy, to damn cute for her own good and the only puppy in the household. As well, when she was a puppy and growing up, I owned a pet store, with grooming and boarding, and she had the run of the place, ( as a rule, I didn't sell puppies in my store, so she was the only one around) and was mauled, loved, carried around and just plain spoiled and doted on by everyone. Customers, family and employees alike. Sadly, she was lead to believe from a very early age that she was the end all beat all of dogs, and don't you just feel the need to tell me so? Here, if you don't, then by all means, LET ME SHOW YOU HOW ADORABLE I REALLY AM!

Then she would quickly produce a toy from one of many of her hiding spots where she had them stashed for just this very moment, and who could resist a cute little retrieving fool?? Did I say spoiled? Yea, horribly. Little did we know at the time, she had us all sooo charmed by her fun loving good natured sweetness what a little monster we were creating. That was 4 years ago, and her expecting us to fulfill her every waking moment and entertain her, well...... I think my patience has finally run out.
Week two is getting better. Of course, I don't expect habits that have taken up the entire 4 years of her life to fade away over night, but damn! This is hard! She is a persistent little bugger. She has started to be able to relax and control herself to some degree. Though the off switch isn't entirely there yet, but she is having bouts of stillness which is more than we got from her a week ago. Her stamina should be legendary!

As we head into week three, I hope my stamina is as strong. She really knows how to try my patience. And that adorable little pleading face exasperates me! I want so much to let her climb in my lap and hold her beautiful little face in my hands and tell her that yes! I really do think you are as wonderful and awesome as you think you are.
Wish me luck, that my resolve to help this little girl learn to relax and just chill, is stronger than her persistence to get the attention she truly feels she craves and deserves every second of every day. I'm exhausted already.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Twisted Funny Fella!

OK, so I tweaked my back this afternoon, and was just trying to relax a bit on the couch to give it time to untweak itself, and was just messing around on the computer looking at blogs, and I run across this guy
I haven't read very far into it, but have read enough to know I'll be reading more! Katy,if yer reading, I got a feeling you'll love this guy! LOL
It cant just be me, he has 3305 followers and he has only been blogging for a year! Id become a follower too, but I don't want to just feel like a number. I find having that kind of a viewing audience amazing. Especially, since he isn't talking about anything that's even remotely important and in fact would give him an "R" rating! Check him out and have a laugh, but don't forget to bring your twisted sense of humor with you. Cause this guy ain't for the sane! Tooooo funny! Also, Dont bypass the comments either, those folks are equally entertaing!

PS. Uh Mom,... DON"T! click on the link. You WON"T find it half as amusing or humorous as I did. Matter of fact, I'm positive you wont find it amusing at all. And the cute little animal pictures??? They are a lure for the unsuspecting, don't get drawn in. And yes, I am very, very ashamed of myself....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Waiting Game

My ewes are looking just about ready to burst from being sooo pregnant, and last night, well, for a couple of nights now, I thought 2 of them would lamb. I even went so far last night as to trudge out to the lambing pen at 11 o'clock at night flash light in hand, to lock the two that looked imminent up in the lambing shed. That was fun. When I had gone out to check on them, for what Id thought would be the last time to have to suit up against the cold for the night, I found that one of the girls was not huddled up with the rest of the bunch per is her usual, and had in fact sequestered herself all alone on the opposite side of the pen, and was laying down looking pretty miserable. Upon seeing that, I figured she was ready, and with the wind that was picking up making it quite uncomfortable even for me in my coveralls, that's what prompted me to make up my mind to go ahead and put them ( the two that are looking close) in the shed. I didn't bring a dog out with me, as I didn't think I needed one, and with the ewes so close, I didn't want a dog out there disturbing their sense of security. I mean, how hard can it be to just open the shed door and have them run on in? I had already made it a warm and cozy haven, having bedded it down with comfy sweet smelling straw, and a bucket of fresh cool water and a bale of alfalfa hay, (dual purpose, feed, AND! a good place to sit or use as a pseudo table should I need a place to set any utensils or meds that I may need) Its not the Ritz, but it beats the heck out of the cold hard ground.
Well, the sheep weren't as excited about entering their cozy shelter away from the cold as I thought they should have been, and I ended up spending a very frustrating 20 minutes playing ring around the rosy with them trying to get them to go in. (Anyone that thinks they can play the part of the dog, even in a confined space where the sheep have nowhere to go and cant get away from ya, has another thing coming!) Round and around the shed we went, and thank God for the light bulb that finally went off over my head, cause I don't think I would have come to the conclusion all on my own, that I did in fact need the aide of a dog to help me.
So, I go back to the house, and am now faced with the decision of which dog to use? Lex could do it easy, but Id have had to take down the boards that comprise the pen gate (you'd have to see it to understand it, I just climb over it myself) because she cant jump over the gate anymore so Id have had to take down a few boards for her to get in and that would open opportunity for sheep to escape back onto the pasture. Then I think it couldn't hurt Bear to get some experience in the lambing pen, at night. He handles his stock very calm and gentle, and so would be a good choice, and then theres Chris. The dog I would least want to put on immanent ewes in a tight spot, but, for the same token, the one dog that I know I can count on to get the job done toot sweet so I don't have to spend any longer out in the wind and cold. In other words,it would be a job that would get done quickly, instead of a training session, and that's I was trying to avoid with using Bear. As I walk into the dog room, and flip on the light they all know whats up. I don't run around the house in my coveralls with a flash light in my hand very often, so they know at least one of them is going to be called upon to lend a hand, er...paw. Those in the know, are looking directly at me with pleading eyes that seem to say, pick me, pick me! There must just be something in me that is a glutton for punishment, and so without even thinking much more about it, I take the sheep shredder Chris out of her crate and tell her to come on girl, we got a job to do. I find myself when needing something done in a hurry, always anymore, grabbing Chris, as I know she will take immediate command and control of the sheep, and do my bidding as I ask her. Regardless of the fact that she some times still likes to grip when put in a position such as I was about to put her in, I still know she will listen to me and not make to big a mess of things, because really, all she wants to do is what I ask of her. A quality she and Bear have very much in common, that I really like, and can appreciate on a night like this. Chris however has put the sheep in the lambing shed for me on numerous occasions, where Bear has only done it a few times, so again, I was trying to avoid a training session and just needed to get the ewes put up with the least amount of stress as I could manage. Chris is very excited about the prospect of getting out there, and as soon as I open the door she leaps, flying 5 feet through the air off the front porch in a single bound, and is waiting at the gate to the pasture when I arrive. Hmmmm. She is a lot more animated than Id like to see a dog at this point, and so just by luck, there is a leash hanging on the gate. There goes that light bulb again. As much as it had gone off last night, I really had no use for a flash light fer sure! That little light bulb was just following me around over my head lighting up the night every where I went. So seeing Chris in such an....excited and animated state, I opted to snap the lead on her, and just hook the leash onto the corner of the lambing shed, and she could hang out there cutting off the sheep's access to running around and around the shed, and, Chris couldn't get herself in any trouble or make a mess of things. As soon as Chris jumped over the gate into the lambing pen, the sheep knew they were had. They all huddled together looking distrustful, and leery. I hooked Chris on the leash on to the outside corner of the lambing shed, and wala! They took one look at me and the dog, and marched right into that shed, and that was pretty much that! I got the two sheep I wanted to keep in there, into a corner and unhooked Chris from the outside of the pen, and she and I walked into the lambing shed, and cut the rest off and sent them back out of the shed and into the pen. That was just to easy, and why I didn't think of it before I spent 20 minuets out there chasing them around, and around the shed which to me was much more stressful than what Chris and I accomplished in a matter of about 2 minutes, is beyond me. Live and learn. So, as I closed the shed door feeling pretty good about myself and Chris, and went to lock it, I quickly came to the realization that my lock was broken. Oh goodie.....Now, I have always been known to wax poetically about the usefulness of a piece of baling twine. I simply don't think there is any stronger material in the world that can take as much abuse and use (except of course, duck tape, which is another of my favorite "tools" to use in a pinch) than a single strand of that orange miracle string of substance. Ive said it before, and I'll say it again. I am very anal about leaving baling twine laying around. I think it comes from working for 2 years on a dairy farm, where if a dairy cow picks up and ingests a piece of twine, which apparently is a common occurrence from what my boss at the time reminded me of quite often while pointing at a stray piece laying about, can be death to a cow, thus making me so anal about keeping them picked up. However anal I am though, I don't have a designated spot to put twine when I find it, and so if you look down my fence line, your liable to see stray pieces of it tied here and there on the fence just waiting for the opportunity to be put back into service. So, needless to say, it didn't take but a second for me to locate a piece, and put it to good use, and fashion a new "lock" for the gate. I hesitate to say temporary lock, cause I'm sure that single piece of wonder string, will last till I take it off, and will no doubt still be there this time next year. Its serving a purpose and I see no need to change it now, the gate is secure.
So after I got the girls secured and safe from the nights lows, I just kicked back and quietly observed them for a bit. It was good for Chris to hang there with me too in such close proximity to the other sheep for a bit and just relax. Which, miraculously, she did immediately, which made me even more pleased that I chose her to come out with me. After we spent a few minuets making sure the girls were going to settle in OK, Chris and I left them to it, and went back inside. I had planned on going back out later to check on them, but must have been feeling pretty smug about the choices Id made, and instead, ended up falling asleep on the couch till this morning. Fast forward to this morning, and I just knew Id have at least one ewe from the pair that would have presented me with a new photo op in the form of a set of twins today. No dice. They looked at me while thoughtfully chewing on mouthfuls of hay, and I looked back at them scratching my head thinking "huh?", and I swear those girls were grinning at me as if to say, "Ha! Fooled you!"
So, we are in "waiting mode" now, and I can only hope they have their babies here in the next day or two before the rains that have been predicted start to come. As honestly, as fantastic as I think baling twine is, I don't think it'll fix the leak in my lambing shed. I think me needs to go find the duck tape!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hanks says: Bear is an A-Hole! Grrrrrrr

Contrary to these pics, (they really are just playing) Bear and Hank really are the best of buds. But this was Hanks first snow and he wanted to get the most from the experience cause he was told to enjoy it, as it wouldnt last long. He also knows there are not very many instances when he can throw himself down and grind himself into the ground rolling in ecstasy, that I wont yell at him thinking, (and Im usually right) that he has found something utterly putrid to roll in and tell him to "get outta that you goofy *#!*!" Which is usually followed by a good hosing off.
Hank was absolutly delerious about the snow, and was having a grand time making snow angels.

Until...."Hey! Get outta here Bear! This is my spot!"

"I mean it Bear! Bugger off!"

"Read my lips! (er, tongue) MY SPOT! GO AWAY!"

Bruin watches the fracus with the mildest of interest.

Wanting the boys to work it out on their own, I left them to it, and started wondering what the horses and sheep were up to over there all huddled up with their heads together. So I sent in my spy. Turns out specialist Bruin reported back that they were all conspiring to over throw the human, make good their escape and take over the nice warm confines of the house and have a party, leaving me out in the cold.

I alerted Chris the the possible attempt of a mutiny, and she assured me that she had my back.

So with my back up Chris in place, I again sent in my spy to non chalantly, put a bug in someones rather large ear, that we were prepared for any and all attempts to bury said human in the snow, and that any sheep or horse that tried to would be cut off from thier nightly treats of grain and carrots.

Mean while, Hank is still trying to get his point across to Bear and apparently with out much success.

I cheer Hank on, er I mean, I advise Hank that a little more physical force might be needed to diswade the likes of Bear, who seems to be throughly enjoying the fact that he has Hank in an absolute snow angel territorial tizzy.

Hank finally stands his ground.

And hunkers down defending his snow angel. Bear, has finally come to the realization that Hank means business. "Opps, I think I really have him pissed off now..."

And makes for a hasty retreat.

While Hank looks on triumphantly, leaving Bear with this one last passing thought. "And dont let the doggie door hit you on the ass on the way out!"

You'll have to forgive any spelling and puctuation errors,as I cant for the life of me seem to get the spellcheck to work today! I told you I was having technical difficulties....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snow Day, Snow Play

Hey Lady, Whats up with all this white stuff?

And their off! (the porch) Looks like Bear is in the lead with Cain swiftly coming up for the take down.


Now that's a BIG snow smile

Jack and his cohorts don't appear to be as ecstatic about the snow as the dogs are.

These ladies don't look so happy either. Matter of fact,they almost look as if they are conspiring about something....

Cain, being the veteran snow dog, thought it wise to remind Bear not to eat the yellow snow.

Stay tuned. If I can get more of these pics to load,(it appears that I am experiencing technical difficulties) the second half of snow play, and, how Bear ruined Hanks snow experience are still to come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

40 Things About Me Cause 50 Is To Many.

I was checking out blogs in the state recently and ran across one that had a sort of Tag your it kind of thing going on, and I thought it would be fun to do, and so I will start it off and you guys can in turn tag 3 of those that you are interested in learning more about.

1. I was actually born in Ohio, not hatched in a zoo.
2. My family and I moved to Arizona when I was 5.
3. I went to LuLu Walker Elementary school where my first love was Darin Bertaleni. He was a baton twirler.
4. I have 2 brothers one older, one younger that I know of and 2 other siblings that are rumored to exist.
5. I didn't graduate high school, but earned my GED in 1983
6. I detest sea food. I once ate a piece of calamari thinking it was a stray onion ring, ewwwww!
7. I love pirates, especially Johnny Depp
8. I also detest mushrooms and olives, and I would throw up multitudes upon multitudes of disgusting putrid chunks if I ever ingested any.
9. I like to look at the sky. Day or night, it fascinates me, and I wonder while I'm looking at it, if some one is looking back at me.
10.I could watch pirates of the Caribbean about 800 times without getting sick of it.
11. I have one job that I complain about a lot, and am looking for another one to give equal time to in the complaint department.
12. I like waitressing.
13. I'm glad I don't have a cat or 2 or 10. But I'm glad other people have them so I can get my kitty fix with out the litter box.
14. It took me three tries to get my licence the last time I had to take the test
15. My first real job was working in a clothing factory. I hated it and got fired for not keeping up with production.
16. Once for Halloween a girlfriend and I rode her horse bare back door to door trick or treating dressed as a cowboy and an Indian. I was the Indian.
17. Ive been to the Grand Canyon 3 times
18. Ive been to every state except Alaska and Hawaii
19.When I was in the 9th grade I loved my drama class and being an "actor"
20.I had my first heart break in my freshman year. He was an older man, he was a senior.
21. my first concert was Bobby Bear and Tom T.Hall when I was 14 yrs old.
22. My biggest concert was Garth Brook in 1993
23. My favorite concert was in 1990. I don't remember who I saw but I had a lot of fun! Matter of fact, I don't remember much of 90's!
24. My favorite movies are Pirates of the Caribbean and To kill a Mockingbird.
25.My favorite book is Lonesome Dove.
26.I had my fist kiss in the 1st grade. It was not Darin Bertaleni. We got caught by our 100 year old teacher Mrs Wald.
27. I have recently developed a love for photography. (tee hee..developed)
28. I love puns.
29. My best and oldest friend is Taylor Martin. 17 years strong.
30. When I first met Taylor I had a secret crush on him like forever.
Maybe I still do.. maybe I don't?
31. I just got a Facebook account today.
32. I don't have a myspace page. NOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH.
33.The craziest place I have ever been was in traffic in Los Angeles driving a semi. But then again, I bet a lot of people can say that.
34.The most beautiful thing Ive ever seen was pictures of Earth taken from space.
35. I once got so drunk I smashed the windshield of my Jeep with a brick because it wouldn't start.
36. I don't drink anymore.
37.If I could go back in time and talk to anybody, Id talk to Jesus.
38.If I had to live in another country, Id live in Africa.
39. I was born a red head.
40. I just remembered the name of the concert for #23. It was ZZ Top. As you can tell, I deteriorated a lot of brain cells that decade!
I'm tagging; and ya have to include a recent picture of yourself,
I love Lucy
And Crooks and Crazies (cause Laura, you need to put down those knitting needles and blog) besides, I'm looking forward to seeing you having fun with it! LOL

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Hard Lessons

The first hard lesson a person like me learns, is that when you have your dog entered in a 3 day clinic, and things are going well, don't change anything about their routine on the second day, or they may not make it to the third. Which is exactly what I did to Bear on Saturday night when I gave him a portion of raw meat on a bone, and he ended up suffering from some very unpleasant.....gastronal intestinal....problems? In the form of some very runny poop. Can we say raging squirts? I wont go into detail, but it wasn't pretty, and I didn't want to bring a dog that was feeling...under the weather back into the stress levels that having some raw meat coupled with the clinic may or may not have contributed to and put Bears system under such duress. Bears work on Saturday how ever was pretty darn good, and the general consensus was, that there wasn't anything wrong with him except the name on the collar. Jack told me that since some one else had just given me the dog, he thought I should pay it forward and give the dog on to him. I thought that was a very nice compliment. Some of the gals that were there were getting some really nice photos while the dogs were working and captured some beautiful shots of Bear that they gave to me on Sunday. A few are definitely blow up and frame for your wall worthy, and I think that's just what I'll be doing. I know physically seeing the dogs in motion is always striking, exhilarating to see, but capturing moments on film where you can see in the moment that shot was taken what is going on in that dogs mind, what the dog is thinking and tell a story, are priceless. If I can get my scanner hooked up, I'll post them here. That's a big "IF" as I am not very technically intuitive. Maybe Kyle will hook it up for me. He really is good for some things.
So since Bear was a bit incapacitated on Sunday, I left him home and brought Chris instead. For those of you who follow this blog, you'll be happy to know, that she was crated for the entire time, and no harm came to my truck this go round. I have to mention though, that while Bear was loose in my truck on Friday, we were all walking out to the pasture, and past where we were all parked, and from the parking area we all heard a quick toot from the horn of my truck, and of course, had to laugh,thinking Bear had learned this trick from Chris. It is my good fortune, he didn't pursue the use of the horn, and Id like to think he just gave it a quick honk just to remind me he was there. He is by far the more reserved, polite and collected of the two, and knows how to temper himself much more so than Chris, who is all about herself and her needs, and has a pretty low level of patience when it comes to what she wants.
Lesson number two, that's a hard one. It will put you through the gamut of emotions, from angry to sad, it will riddle you with guilt, make you question your abilities and knowledge, and have you thinking that "A" you don't deserve this dog, "B" you don't need this dog, "C" you should sell this dog to some one that has the ability to handle such a hot dog, and then down to "D" which says a person like myself who has over 25 years invested in dogs and handling dogs and training them, may know a lot about dogs and training, but knows absolutely nothing about how to train this particular type of dog for this type of work. Again, I lost my temper with Chris, and it was ugly. Mind you, she worked relatively nice out on the field for Jack and I, but she was still getting into positions where she was trying to take some cheap shots and loosing her brain, and I thought it best after the clinic for her to go back to the round pen, for a little schooling. Bad idea.
In doing so, I probably set us back the whole year we have spent trying to eliminate that land shark behavior and I am having a difficult time ever thinking that she and I will ever be the team that Id always hoped we could be. Our temperaments are to much alike in some respects and we seem to feed off each other, and that is not a good combination. I get amped up, she gets amped up, and things go to hell in a hand basket real quick. This dog is an expert at reading me more so than any dog Ive ever had outside of Cain, and I cant hide how I'm feeling from her no matter how I go about it. I have put some serious thought this weekend into selling her, and have gone so far as to suggest just that. But in retrospect, and having confidence in a friends advise, no matter how much it hurt to have to hear it, have decided to wait and give myself a "cooling down" period. As Long as Chris is willing and trying, and hasn't given upon me, its the least I can do for such a wonderful little dog whom outside of that one little seemingly insurmountable problem, I adore with all my heart and soul. Though some part of me still knows and feels that she would benefit from having a trainer that doesn't take things so personally, and that can whole heartily trust her. Obama is right, it is time for Change. I know Chris is a good working dog, but I cant "make her" better, I have to "make myself" better first before she can have the chance to become better. So here we go again, wish me luck.
Outside of the earth shattering disappointment, and shame at putting my dog through that ugly incident, the clinic itself, was great. Lots of good dog work, and I saw much improvement from day to day in each dog. Some even made it out of the round pen and on to the big field, and that is pretty cool. Henry Kuykendal made it out Saturday and Sunday to observe, and I finally got to meet him and Gwen I think her name was. They are very pleasant folks to talk with and I secured an invitation from Henry to come out this summer and help make apple butter at his place. Yea! I love apple butter and as Henry said,its an old family recipe, and better than anything you could ever buy in a store. It wasn't quite as cold on Sunday as it had been Friday and Saturday, but it wasn't warmer by much, we even had a bit of snow fall. But, I had resigned myself to the fact that by Monday I was pretty sure Id be able to feel my toes again, and just decided to quit worrying about the cold and enjoy the moment. And enjoy it I did. I got to spend time with sheep and sheep dogs of all different calibers, breeding and levels of training, hang out with friends, meet new friends, and although there towards the end when I took Chris out into the round pen,it may have appeared that I hadn't learned a damn thing, I certainly did. Some times though, the hardest lessons you learn, are the ones you teach yourself, especially, when you have a friend who is no afraid to school and remind you on your shortcomings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day One of the Jack Knox Clinic

Well, I have to say, we definitely could have picked a better week to have the clinic than on the 3 coldest recorded days since the year 2000. When I went out this morning to take care of the sheep and horses and run dogs it was sixteen degrees. There was 2 inches of ice on all the stock tanks, and the pond and spill way were frozen. I had to take a sledge hammer to them, and break up a path for water to come thru the spill way for the horses. All of which took more time than I had allotted myself to get things done before I had to leave by 7am. Turns out I got outta there by 7:30 so I didn't do to bad, and even though I wanted to be there early, at least I was on time. When I got there, everyone was inside, having breakfast and listening to Jack tell stories, which from what I can tell, he has many. I found my way to the coffee pot, and got a cup of Joe and sat down to warm up. A few new faces and some from last year, it was good to see that we had enough folks to warrant putting on the clinic. Cold or not, I was looking forward to it.
Alas, eventually we did have to go outside, and brave the cold. By 9:30 it was a balmy 19 degrees, practically a heat wave eh! Everyone was so bundled up I was hard pressed to recognise anyone, and I ended up identifying everyone I knew by their dogs, and those I didn't, I asked. We started out in the round pen, and got to see some nice young dogs learning that the right can be easy and the wrong can be hard. Everyone seemed to be warm enough, but my and everyone Else's biggest complaint seemed to be that our faces were cold. We all looked like little cherubs with our rosy wind burned faces all frozen in smiles. But! At least we were all smiling which means even with the cold, you just couldn't break the good natured camaraderie of sheepdog folks out for a day of learning and working dogs. From the round pen, we went to the big field to work. This can be just as exciting as the round pen sometimes, given the draw for the sheep is either out into the woods, or all the way back up to the corner, which is a good piece away. I know, I had to walk it. The big field is where we worked Bear, but he doesn't have that big of an outrun yet, so we walked down to get the sheep and bring them back to where Jack and everyone else was. Bear was very impressive, and calmly got them out of the corner when I sent him and brought them up without running them over top of me. I was kinda taking a chance, and trusting him, and instead of having him fetch them back with me walking backwards and watching him and telling him what to do, I just turned my back to him and the sheep and didn't say a word,looking back briefly now and then while I confidently walked all the way back across the field to where everyone else was, trusting that he knew how much pressure to put on and to release to keep them just walking calmly behind me. He did a beautiful job, and got kudos from Jack for such lovely work. I asked Jack if we should work on outruns and a little driving, and he agreed but wanted to widen his flanks out just a tad too. Bear was a bit hesitant to work for Jack, and because of it seemed to me that he wasn't as on his game as he usually is, but he did a good job and didn't make any or get in any trouble. Jack was very complimentary, and I was very proud of Bear. Jack asked where I got him, and when I told him some one gave him to me, he grinned and told me I got one heck of a deal and one heck of a dog. He was right. I couldn't have asked for a nicer dog in Bear. Though I still wish he would have allowed me to change his name. I'm still not overly fond at all of calling him Bear. After we all were finished on the field, and I might add, we were all treated to some very nice handling and inspiring dog work being done out there, we all trudged our frozen butts back up the hill to the house to retire for lunch. Laura had made a huge pot of chili, and some black bean soup, with sour dough bread. Perfect fodder for such a cold day. Kelly had made some brownies the likes that I have never been treated to. They were undoubtedly the most delicious brownies Id ever tasted. Which is a big compliment, as I consider myself a connoisseur of anything chocolate. After we all had put a pretty good sized dent in the fixin's and there wasn't much left but the leavin's, we were all treated to a few more stories from Jack, and a little lite conversation, it was all good, cause it was all dog! Begrudgingly, we eventually had to go back outside and brave the Arctic weather and all started to suited back up. I was amused, watching the layers get thicker and thicker, making normal size people look like a thick burger from Hardees. Nothing showing underneath it all but amused and smiling little faces. We started after lunch on the big field, and the wind and cold were really starting to make life miserable, but we were all brave little soldiers and cowboyed up. I didn't even whine half as much as I thought I would, course every time I opened my mouth, I was afeared that my saliva would immediately freeze, and then Id be stuck like that the rest of the day. When it was Bear's turn up, no sooner than I had walked out on the field and sent my dog, my cell phone started ringing. I hit the silence button figuring who ever it was, would do the intelligent thing, and leave a message. Little did I know the person making the calls, over and over again, wasn't going to stop till I answered. Some peoples children can be sooo full of drama just cause ya don't answer the phone. I guess It never occurred to him (my.....for lack of a cleaner nicer title at the moment, husband) that I just might be busy, and to just leave a damn message! Anyway, needless to say, it was very disturbing, and totally ruined any concentration I was trying to muster, ( Id hit the silent button, he'd call back. 9 times in 5 minuets, I counted!) and so our work wasn't as nice as Id have liked for it to be. I did try to just shut it off, but I had my gloves on, and my fingers weren't working on those tiny buttons. Not Bear's fault, not my fault, but you can rest assured, when he gets home tonight I will be letting him know how much I appreciate him being the cause of screwing up the lesson for all of us. I'm going to put a stop to that frantic school kid behavior once and for all. Can you tell its not the first time he has done something so asinine?! Just leave a message! If I'm dead, I'm sure some one will call you and let you know! Jeez!
OK. End of stupid husband rant.
Anyway, it was getting colder and later, and needless to say, thanks to my ...*#!* DH, my mood had just been changed for the worse, and I still had dogs and chores at home to get taken care of before it got dark, and an hour and a half drive ahead of me and so I thanked Jack, and apologized to him for the cell phone incident, and said my early good byes, promising to see everyone in the morning. I just did get home before dark thirty, and was glad Id left earlier than I had planned. The waters were all frozen back over and I had to roust Kyle up and have him employ his baseball bat to bust up the ice, which he found to be a very satisfying and enjoyable job. Bruin had a blast playing with the 2 inch thick ice chunks we'd dispersed from the water tanks, and we had fun while doling out grain, watching him trying to pick them up, and seeing as he couldn't, he would just push them with his nose, and chase them around the field. Kinda like a sheep doo covered hockey puck.
Anyway, the first day was a good day all in all, with good friends, new friends, good dogs and dog work, and I look forward to tomorrow. Weather man says it will be a tad warmer than today, so that is something to look forward to. If we are lucky, we may hit freezing, although I think I remember the weather last night predicted a high of only 26 degrees. Ive been home now for 3 1/2 hours now, and I'm just getting good and thawed out. Tomorrows work should be more interesting, as now Jack has seen Bear work twice, and was had time to draw his conclusions and form his ideas, so I cant wait to see what he has planned for us. If all goes as planned, which, does that ever really happen except for in the movies?? I'll try to update tomorrows....Id love to be able to say,"Fun in the sun, day" but instead will have to substitute it with "Freezing our fool arses off" cause we're crazy sheepdog people, who cant think of a better way, rain or shine, cold, or even 10 degrees below freezing to spend a day. Ah hell, its all good!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ahhh Sooo Grasshopper

A few weeks ago I'm happily tooling along at work, and my cell phone rings. I answer it and hear a young girl say in a very chipper and happy tone, "Hi!"
I said "Hi!" back. Then she says to me: "What cha doing?" Still sounding very upbeat and friendly.
I answer back; "Not much, whats up with you?" Mind you, I have no earthly idea who this young lady is, but I just thought Id take it as far as I could. She sounded young, and obviously thought she knew who she was talking to. She tells me; "Oh not much, just kickin' it here at the house" So finally, I say; "Well that sounds like fun, Who is this?"
She says, starting to sound a little indignant; "Its me dummy!"
I ask; "Me who?" Her voice gets even more agitated as she answers;
"AMBER!" So, I ask;"Amber? Amber who?" To which she then practically screams into the phone, "Your girlfriend AMBER!"
Now I'm smiling the evil mother grin, I know whats going on. So, I say; "Girlfriend? Um I'm sorry, but I don't generally cultivate girlfriends Amber, I prefer men", and I don't even know anyone named Amber. Who are you looking for?"
She then says, starting to sound a little deflated; " Um, I'm looking for Kyle?"
"Oh Hi Amber, This is Kyle's mother!"
At that point, Id thought Id lost the connection, because it all the sudden got real quiet. I said "Hello? You there?"
Silence for a few more seconds, and my new girlfriend Amber, sounding very embarrassed, finally says; "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were Kyle" I explained to her that I was at work, and that Id let Kyle know she had called and he could return her call when I got home later in the day if, I told her, he wasn't to ticked at her to know she thought he sounded just like his mother! She laughed a little embarrassed and nervous laugh, and I hung up the phone chuckling, thinking to myself, now! I realize why all the sudden changes in Kyle's appearance and personal hygiene habits of late. The boys got himself a girlfriend! And here Id simply thought he was finally starting to grow up a bit. I should have know it was a girl. Boy, am I going to have fun with this! Its his first, such a tender time in a thirteen year old boys life. I didn't even know he been ogling girls, so for him to actually have a girlfriend, came as just as complete a shock to me as it was to Amber to find that kyle wasn't really hatched, but that he did in fact have a mother!
The rest of the day went by pretty quickly, as I was consumed with thinking of ways I could mess with the boys mind with my new found information.
I get home, and tell Kyle the story of my phone conversation with "our" new girlfriend Amber. He is less than impressed actually, more like horrified, that I am now privy to this new info about he and Amber. Of course, you know I cant just leave it alone, and before I hand him the phone to call her, I want details. Kyle is tight lipped and not saying a word, just looking at me with his hand out for the phone and rolling his eyes, thinking I'm sure something to the tune of like; Yea right lady.
"Oh?" I say to him, clutching the phone firmly to my chest, "You don't want to tell me, your own mother, about your new girlfriend?"
Kyle gives me a sideways smirk, and defiantly answers in his infamous one syllable retort that teenagers are so good at doing these days, "Nope". I remind him, that we aren't in the military, and there is no don't ask don't tell policy here at my house. And even if there was private Kyle, I'm still the Sergeant major around here, and so I do require some answers. Especially, if you want to use my phone to call her back!
Here's where things start to get really fun. Poor Kyle, having to grow up without the daily knowledge and guidance of his much older brother and sister. Had they been here, they could have warned him, because of their past experiences with the Sergeant Major, and told him that he may as well fess up now, because it only gets worse if you don't. Which, although good humored, I too can assure you,it certainly will. I can be relentless.
Dangling the phone in front of him like a carrot to a rabbit, I ask again, "you sure you don't want to tell me about her? What color is her hair? What color are her eyes? How tall is she? How old is she? How did you meet her? Do you hold hands at school? Does she get good grades? Is she smart? Does she ride your bus?..... Have you kissed her yet??" That's the one I got a reaction from. Kyle's eyes grew wide,like he couldn't believe what I had just asked him. He starts to get a tinge of red in his cheeks, and I now know Ive got him where I want him. He quickly rolls and drops his shoulders that were only moments ago thrown back in defiance and with a huge sigh, he proceeds to answer my questions in the order that I asked. He ticks off the answers for me, ( not in any great detail I might add) " Blond, brown, short, 13, at school, no, yes, yes, and no. Still, I'm standing there waiting for the answer to the kiss her yet question, and its my time to smirk. Hands on hips and doing the mothers toe tap thing, he starts to look very afraid that I am actually going to push him to the point of confession. He knows me, or he thinks he does, but honestly, at this point he has to admit to himself, that he really never knows just how far I will take things, and I like it that way. That's the turmoil I start to see in his eyes as he is standing there wondering if in fact I am going to pursue the answer. I let him stand there a moment more, tap tap tapping my mothers foot, arms crossed over my chest, still firmly clutching the phone. I know there is a little blond haired girl awaiting him to return her call, and so in the best interests of the relationship, I toss him the phone with a grin that tells him this isn't over yet. As he quickly starts down the hallway headed to his room, phone safely stashed in his pocket for some privacy, I stop him. No, no, no Sir E! You have to stay in here with me and talk to her. After all, it is my phone, and I am letting you use it. He stops abruptly and turns towards me from half way down the hallway, and blankly stares at me, trying to find some sign that I'm joking with him. I stand firm and stone faced. I see panic start to fill his eyes. Oh this is so much fun! I pretend to relent, and tell him "fine, you can go in your room to talk, you've got 20 minuets, and when your done,....I want details! Without a word,he quickly retreats to the privacy, and I'm sure at this point, he thinks, the only place in the house it exists, the sanity of his room.
Now, I'm not so bad as to stand outside his door and listen, but I did turn down the volume on the TV. Still even straining my ears, I couldn't hear a thing. Darn nit!
Twenty minuets goes by, and I need to remind Romeo that times up. A couple of minuets later, Kyle emerges from his room, looking all happy with himself. Well son, I hate to burst your bubble, but come sit here next to me now and tell me all about her. I say to him as I pat a place on the couch to indicate I do intend for him to come and sit right here. Ive had him since getting home from school, through the gamut of emotions, and there are very few he has left to emote, and he is now struggling with the one called exasperation! Kyle has a sense of humor all his own, and his reply was one that would make any mother proud. "No can do Mom, I'm not the kind of guy to kiss and tell!" he says smiling as he quickly turns on his heel and exits the room. Well, I could have argued that fact, seeing as he had just answered my last question from the barrage of them I had placed to him earlier, but I think for now I'll just keep letting him think that he got one over on good ole mom!
Forward to this week. Kyle and Amber are now "an item" at school, and they spend ever spare second together from what I gather. Kyle is starting to figure out very quickly, what types of demands on his time having a girlfriend is all about. Just yesterday, he complained to me that he hadn't had a chance to play basketball with the guys for weeks now! I just put my hands together, half bowed, and said,"Ahhh Grasshopper, you are learning very well!"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fire! Fire!

And there was! In my kitchen!
Last night I had fallen asleep on the couch, and woke up this morning about 6am with a Std Poodle in my face. Andy kept poking me with his big cold wet nose and hitting me with his paw like he needed to go outside, which is unusual for him. He is usually pretty good about just waiting till its my idea to get up and go out, happy to sleep on my feet till I do. So after I realized he wasn't going to give up, I got up and took the dogs out. It was like a scene from Gorillas in the Mist out there, all foggy and eerie, damp and misty. Really kind of neat! It was a nice morning, not to warm and not to cool. A light jacket was more than enough. There was a lot of humidity in the air, so much so, you could feel it like cooling little prickly sprinkles on your skin. We all had a good time, and the dogs had a nice 20 minuet run. I put them up in the kennels because they were soaked from the run, and went in to fix a pot of coffee. Andy refused to come back inside with me, so I left him in a kennel too. Odd for him, but OK. He seemed to be a bit strange this morning anyway.
I was sitting there sipping coffee and thumbing through a book I was thinking about re-reading, all was quiet and still. Kyle was still asleep, and Bobby had taken off early to a friends house, so I was in my element, I like it quiet and still in the mornings.
Out of nowhere, Bang! A loud noise and bright flash of light off to my right. It took me by such surprise that I spilled half a cup of coffee all over myself, and my book. (guess I wont be reading that one again after all) At the second it happened, I wasn't sure which I should do first, shuck off the burning wet clothes, or find out what that bang was. The rolling smoke quickly filling my kitchen decided for me. I am a changer arounder. I cant stand for things to be the same all the time and frequently change around my house. That means little things get placed in different spots all the time, and some times I forget where they are from one change around to the next. I quickly look in the direction of where I saw the flash of light, and decide that clothes be damned, I need to find the fire extinguisher. At this point,the rolling smoke, has turned into flames and rolling smoke, and I become frantic that the fire extinguisher isn't where I thought it was. I looked in 3 other nearby places and finally located it. At this point I'm shaking like a leaf in a hurricane, not sure whether that's because of the shock from the hot coffee, or because I have visions of my home quickly going up in flames but shaking so hard, I'm having a difficult time trying to undo the pin that is stopping me from using the extinguisher. As I'm fumbling, I'm screaming for Kyle to GET UP AND GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! He is sleeping very soundly all the way in the other end of the house with his bedroom door closed. I'm frantic, torn. Do I leave the fire and go get him up and out? Do I keep fighting with the extinguisher, do I throw water on it? Finally the pin gave way and I ripped it out of its slot slung it across the kitchen floor and tested the extinguisher to make sure it would work. Now up until this very moment, I personally have never found a need to utilize a fire extinguisher. But how hard can it be, point and shoot. Luckily, that's all that was required, and I proceeded to spray the crap out of the entire area. I could hear crackling and popping and smelled burning plastic which to me meant an electrical fire. As I'm dousing my entire kitchen with this white substance that is quickly filling my lungs and making it very hard to breath I'm wondering if in fact this is the correct type of extinguisher. As I recall, some are for different types of fire. Apparently it was, as it worked its magic pretty quickly, and the fire was put out and all that was left was to sling open the cabinet doors and spray the inside of them out, because the fire had started because of a light that was mounted to the bottom of the cabinet and I could see that the wood was starting to turn black and smoke and would catch on fire any moment. So I threw open the cabinet and liberally showered it down in what ever magical substance was spewing from the extinguisher every time I squeezed the handle. Which, apparently, I squeezed it a lot. After being satisfied that the fire was put out, and that everything was going to be alright, ( I must have stood there for a good half and hour,loath to trust that it wouldn't start back up the second I walked away) I set the extinguisher down in the middle of the kitchen floor and surveyed the situation. Through this all, I hadn't seen Kyle even poke his head out from his bedroom, so decided I should go in and see if he had been over taken by fumes, or was he just that sound a sleeper. Apparently he is just that sound a sleeper, as I opened the door and he didn't even budge. I shook him awake and told him what had happened, and he just shrugged and after sleepily inquiring if it I had gotten the fire put out went right back to sleep. What a guy.
At this point I'm still shaking like an addict in with drawls and getting rather nauseated feeling like I need to throw up, and cant seem to get myself under control. Ive got to sit down and get ahold of myself. When I did, I realized that I was covered in white powder, So I go in and change my clothes and survey the damage the hot coffee has done to my upper body. Now that I am thinking of myself, I realize that it kind of hurts. My chest, neck and arms are a bit splotchy and red, and I washed off with a cool wash cloth and put dry cloths on. I sat down on the bed to try to collect myself, but just couldn't trust that the fire wouldn't start back up again, and kept getting up to look. It had me in quite a helpless state. Finally I decided to get up and get another cup of coffee and attend to the ripping out of the light fixture that the ballast had blown up in and chuck it as far out the front door as humanly possible. It was not an easy task, but I wasn't trusting it to go find a screw driver and just literally ripped it from the bottom of the cabinet. It was still a hot SOB.
After getting the offending light out of the house, I then looked around at my kitchen. I had to turn on the ceiling fans and the stove fan, ( also at this point I might add that I'm really not sure I want to turn anything electrical on ) and still it was difficult to breath. The fumes from the burning plastic, wood and extinguisher were chocking me and I had to open the front door and go outside on the front porch for a bit to let the house clear out. I finally went back in the house and breathing became much more manageable, though I had the distinct tastes in my mouth of all three smells. Again I looked around my kitchen, and OMG! Does anyone have any idea how that white powder spreads! Everything was literally and liberally covered in it! Everything! In three separate rooms! The kitchen looked like it had been snowed in, the entire living room and everything in it had a fine dusting of white powder, and even the bed sheets felt powdery and gritty. I'm not even going to talk about the insides of the cabinets. Luckily, I live like Old Mother Hubbard, so there wasn't that much to have to toss out. At least, nothing that couldn't easily be replaced, which is more than I can say about what Id have lost had I not done what I had done. So I'm not to upset about that. Clean up isn't easy, and I am still in the process. What a mess!
I'm wondering at this point,if Andy knew something I didn't, and was he in fact really needing to go outside to potty, or was he trying to tell me something totally different. I'm thinking maybe he did realize that something was amiss, as his actions this morning were so out of character for him. I think he is a hero today, and deserves a hero's worship. Had he not woke me up, I may had woken up to a much worse predicament. Andy,.... my comic relief. The one dog in my house that I usually find the most useless,in terms of earning his kibble. I always know big, dumb, goofy Andy is always good for a laugh. Its his most redeeming quality. He virtually knows nothing, except how to make some one smile with his antics and expressions. Generally, he is one to be considered the class clown. I think he just earned a new title and a new respect around here.

Friday, January 9, 2009


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rain sucks too. But on a lighter note....

So, while I'm complaining, I may as well whine about all this rain we have been having too. It has been raining for days now and lets not even talk about the wind for the past few days, both of which are really cramping my style. We are in standing water at the moment, my pond is over flowing and my poor yard cant absorb anymore! Granted, It has done a lovely job of washing my truck, (over and over again,... I think the paint is starting to peel) saving me from that grueling task, and if I had to look at the bright side, I reckon that's a perk. But my truck is clean 10 times over now, so enough already! Not only has it stopped me from getting any work done outside or with the dogs, but its really starting to give me a case of the cabin fever. Worse yet, I haven't had any work in the shop, for 2 days! Talk about cramping some ones style! That part is really sucking hind.....well lets just say I'm not a happy camper. Maybe I need to go to WalMart and get a new job. I hear they'll hire any one. But then too, I have it on good authority that continuous exposure to fluorescent lighting and the fumes from discount shoes made in China have been known to do strange things to ones sensibilities, so perhaps I'll pass on that. Besides, you never know what kind of weirdos you'll end up working with, and that can be scary. I think I'll just hold out and take my chances with the dogs. At least dogs are honest, and you can tell when they are going to take a snap at ya.
But there is one wonderful light at the end of the tunnel to give me hope and keep me going. One week from today, I will find myself probably just as cold and just as wet, as this week has been, but all that wont matter, as I will be braving the elements, while sitting and listening to the melodic Scottish accent of greatness. No, I'm not going to an out door Craig Ferguson show. Next Friday, bright and early, and ON TIME (for any of you who are wondering and know me.) Actually, I plan on getting there early, (Yes, that's what I said early, and you guys stop laughing! It could happen...) so I can try to be of some assistance this year instead of more of a burden. I went last year to,... oh, I almost forgot to say who's melodic voice I will be listening to, but then, is there any other in the field of stock dog training that anyone would sacrifice their health and well being to sit outside in all weathers in the middle of January to hear, but the all knowing, the one, the only Jack Knox? I hope the intro was sufficient for him, I wanted a drum roll too, but you;ll just have to improvise. At times like this it would be nice if blogs had sound, but then, thinking about the possibilities that would open up for people.....well, now that I think about that, maybe its best they don't.
So I went to Jacks sheepdog clinic last year for the fist time. Well, my first clinic of any kind, for the first time. Sadly, I was a clinic virgin, and had no idea what to expect. I was a little more than intimidated by the prospects, and to top it off, I in my once again infinite wisdom had decided to bring with me for every ones viewing pleasure, my land shark ( and premier truck chewer ) of a collie Chris! Suffice to say, when Jack saw Chris in action, I don't think anyone could have had a more screwed up look on their little Scottish face than Jack had when Chris shot out into the round pen the second the gate was opened and proceeded to run straight into the sheep to try to take down and eat the first sheep she could get her teeth into. Once we extricated her from the lambs hindquarters, and got her back under under control (leashed) Jack put on his happy clinician face, and walked up to me and asked, your going to love this, I did, and almost laughed, and would have if I wouldn't have been so horrified. "So, who is this and what do we want to work on with this dog." Not that he didn't already know her name, as all I could do was chase and scream "Chis! That'll Do! Chris! That'll Do! Chrissssss!" What control Jack was mastering at that very moment. I was grateful that he didn't have me drowning in my own puddle of embarrassing goo, and he gained a new respect from me from that moment forward. Hence the reason I will again, bundle myself up and make myself a STOP WHINING ABOUT THE WEATHER sign, to hand to some one who will undoubtedly have heard enough within the first hour I'm there and will happily flash it at ( or eventually Id expect, whack me over the head with) any time I start to whimper about the cold. I was told last year, they have special crates for people like me that they would happily introduce me too if I didn't shut up. In my own defense,it was cold out there last January dammit!
So, I am very excited about going to the 3 day Jack Knox clinic next week for many reasons, and this year, I'm not using my infinite wisdom in my choice of what dog I will bring. I'm going to try to make things right by Jack, and not bring Chris, but instead bring Bear. There will be a lot less running and yelling involved, and Id like to try to make a better impression this year. Maybe if I bring Bear, Jack will stop giving me those "you poor pathetic girl" looks and realize that I actually do have some idea of how a stock dog should behave on stock. Granted, since last years clinic, Chris has come a loooong way, but I think Jack had seen just about all he wanted to see of Chris to last a life time those blood filled, lung splitting 3 days last year.
Ive about got my list compiled for things I need to bring, or is that, a list of things not to forget? Though its inevitable, I'm sure I will forget something. Suggestions for things to bring, is always welcome. So if any of you winter clinic goers have any helpful suggestions on ways to stay warm and dry, and comfortable,(oh and maybe for any of you that know Jack a little better than I, Id like to smooth things over from last year, get off to a better start, cause you know the second he sees me, he is going to consider running the other way,) and give him a a little token of my appreciation. ( OK its bribery for putting up with me and my dog last year,) as I never felt the hundred I'm sorry's or thank you's were really enough. Perhaps he has a favorite dish or coffee or some thing that would put me in his immediate good graces, suggestions along those lines too, would be very helpful would be very appreciated.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some Peoples Children! Geeze!

Nosey, mean, stupid people suck. And I am just in the mood for this.
Ive never had to try to stop myself from using my blog, as a soap box to stand on in the freedom, (hiding from in the privacy of it is more like it) of my own home and chastise, criticize, cut down, talk shit about, judge, or other wise harass people. Its just not in me to do those things. I prefer to be happy and enjoy life and let the good times roll. It must be a difficult life for some one who has to constantly be in such a hateful state that they feel the need to do those kinds of things.
Some one who "feels" the need to do those things is one thing, we all must at some point in our lives, feel the "urge" to say things and do things that really are none of our business to say and do, I can understand that. But having the maturity and where with all to actually stop ones self from doing those things is a whole other ball game. Most people have the common decency to think, and then think again, and I can respect that. Those who cannot, I have no respect for, nor do I have less than a dim view of their ability to be mature enough, sane enough or sober enough to leave well enough alone. It is a sad state of affairs when one is so consumed with pure unadulterated meanness, that it blinds them to what is right and wrong. I would further accept the possibility that people who behave in this manner, also haven't the sensibility to know good from bad, kind from mean, and certainly don't have the capacity to understand happy and sad. Because they are so consumed with things they just cant let go of. Does one feel sorry for such people? Does one ignore such people? Does one get fed up with such people and decide to change lanes and slap back? Should a slight be allowed to turn into a free for all? Or, does one do the grown up thing, and be the bigger person, and just laugh it off. Some people can be just so utterly ridiculous, that that seems to be the only way to deal with such people. But some days laughing at stupid people can be hard. So today I have decided to climb up on my soap box, and declare, that there are some really stupid, annoying, and just plain asinine people in this world, and they can all BITE ME!
Think I'm talking about YOU?? Tsk,Tsk,Tsk....shakes head sadly. Guilty conscious?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Dog Ate My Truck....(well sort of)

So, we made it to Julie's to work dogs and have our lessons with Robin Saturday, and happily, Robin told me exactly what was going on with Chris, just as I had suspected, I have been a wimp, and not correcting her when I should have. I had been allowing her to get away with things, and cheat me. Just exactly where I went wrong with Lex so long ago, and it seems old habits die hard. Lie down, lie down, lie down, is NOT one command, (and really, Ive known that for like eons) although Chris was beginning to think so. So we got her sorted out and she responded well, pretty quickly and she worked oh so much better her next time around. Chris is a smart little dog, and will obviously take advantage of a situation, so I am just going to have to start making sure she doesn't get away with things any more. What I considered some thing small and inconsequential, taking the down, but 5 to 10 feet from where Id originally asked her to, grew and turned into some thing much worse, very quickly. Chis is a very talented little dog, and one I'm sure that would have benefited from having a much more seasoned and intuitive handler than I, but she is a very forgiving dog, and in training her, she has and still does, teach me so much. It is a bit distressing to know that she has just turned 5 years old, and has yet to set foot on a trial field, but Ive got a feeling this just may be our year, and she will be out there kicking ass and taking names, so chewing up my truck aside, I think I'll let her live to see another day.
Bear, oh what can I say about this wonderful dog? My head still swims every time I think of how he ended up with me. I feel so lucky to have him. Bear is a very talented and natural dog, one that makes even the most bumbling of trainers such as myself, look good. He wants nothing more than to do the right thing and be a team player. I simply adore this dog. Robin says he is ready for anything now and to throw as much at him as I can. So aside from the outrun home work we have been given, we will continue to work a little at driving too. Some thing Bear appears to really enjoy and seems to be a natural at and holds a very nice line. AND! He didn't eat my truck!
So yea, I guess I should talk about that eh?
Well, I loath crating my dogs while I travel. I don't know why, but I do. They are all very well behaved, and always pick a spot to ride and stay there, not running around and jumping around in the truck, and I enjoy their company. Once in a while one will come and lay a head on my shoulder to say hi and then go back to their self appointed seat. Now I have been into dogs way to long not to know and understand the value and benefits of a crate. So any damage that was done to my truck, I am fully aware was no ones fault but my own. Up until yesterday, I felt that I had provided my dogs with a very nice and comfortable crate, in the form of a 25,000 dollar 1 ton Ford diesel truck, complete with leather seats and electric windows. But I can assure you, after yesterday, though I may continue to allow them to ride free in the truck, as soon as we get to dog work, they will quickly be deposited into crates that I will not be so lazy to load anymore when we go. So what happened was this. Chris and Lex were in the truck. I pulled Bear out for his lesson. I, in my infinite wisdom thought it a courteous thing for my dogs to be able to watch the goings on and so parked the truck in the strategically placed spot for them to do just that. As Robin and I are out on the field working Bear, all the sudden a horn starts honking, and we all hear yap yap, honk honk. Chris had figured out how to use the horn, and in doing so had also realized that she could get peoples attention by doing it. Personally, though I'm sure there were folks that found it annoying, I thought it some what humorous, and just the kind of thing Chris would do. Now the reason she found the horn, was because she was going frantic in the truck, wanting it to be her out on the field working and not Bear. Had I not locked the windows before exiting the truck, rest assured, she'd have never figured out the horn, because she already has the knowledge to push the window buttons and would have let herself out of the truck toot sweet the second she wanted out. Been there, done that. Chris is no dummy. If she watches you do some thing, you can bet she will remember and replicate what she has seen, the second it becomes a useful tool to satisfy her needs, and she watches me a lot. Ive come to the conclusion,that Chris doesn't need thumbs to achieve her goals. So, as Robin and I are on the field with Bear, and having a little amused chuckle about Chris honking the horn,.....(amused? I meant embarrassing) I hear some of the on lookers hollering to inform me that not only is she honking the horn repeatedly, but she is shredding the interior of my truck! Well, at that point, I was to far away to do much about it, and in a snap decision, decided to finish Bear's lesson and deal with little Miss Rip and Tear when we finished. My approach to the truck was cautious, did I really want to open the door and see the redecoration of the interior of my truck? And open the door I had to, as she and Lex had the windows so slobbered up, that I was hard pressed to see in them to start with.
As it turned out, the damage was quite minimal. A nick in the dash and a small tear in the steering wheel. Nothing a new steering wheel cover cant fix/hide. Oh, and a whole bottle of Windex, so I can once again see out of the windshield! LOL
Needless to say, at that point, as I'm sighing a big sigh of relief, as I know from past experience, from another dog that actually DID shred an entire interior of another truck, (you'd think Id learn) that it could have been a lot worse, and so Chris, Bear and Lex got a one way ticket to crates ville. Our lessons went great, and I am very proud my of dogs, they are coming along nicely thanks to good friends and great instruction.
Other things that were fun, was the impromptu Birthday party for Robin. I wish Id have known, but there were some folks on the ball, and they had even baked a cake! A yummy cake! We sang Happy Birthday, and then sat down to enjoy some. Robin gave me a late Christmas present, a beautiful turquoise colored cap with the Shoofly Farm logo with a picture of a sheep dog driving a lamb. I really like it and especially the color, and have a feeling it is quickly going to replace my old favorite cap.
I brought my grooming tools and table up, and we got Laura's little turdietude Ginger shaved down. She did so much better this time than she did the last time I groomed her, and showed much more patience and compliance when it came to doing her feet and legs. The really cool thing about doing Ginger for Laura, is that Laura is going to make me a beaded lanyard in trade for the grooming. (stinker that she is, sneaked and bought my lunch without telling me too) So now I reckon Id best get my butt in gear, and start getting serious about getting whistles on my dogs so I can wear it and show it off! I like doing trade work, much better than friends paying me for grooming, and I'm sure that every time I wear it, I will have fond memories of Laura, and the day. Much better than just buying some thing like that for yourself, I think.
There were no new faces today, but it was nice to see all the regulars and their dogs and the progress they are making from one lesson to the next.
Becca had just gotten Ted back from Christine Henry, he had been there for the last 4 weeks in training. Man! What a lovely job she did. Ted is looking so good! I thought about being jealous, but decided Id let their progress inspire me instead. LOL I am very, very happy for Becca. Ted is a really nice dog.
On another note, for this lesson, I was actually able to stay erect, and not fall on my fanny, and that was a good thing. Being flat out is never a good feeling. Also on another good note, some of us loaded up in my truck again to go for lunch, and the tow-mater behaved and allowed all persons to enter and exit with dignity. Maybe I should have had Chris chew on it sooner! Next stop for the dogs, well Bear and I, is the Jack Knox clinic this month! I'm pretty jazzed about that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Tunes Yea! And Some Other Stuff

Well, per as promised for Christmas, my daughter gave me a 30 dollar gift certificate for iTunes music. Laura's BF saved me from having to buy some music, as when they brought Jack back home, they gave me a CD of Atlantis Morriset that had some great music on it, and I promptly down loaded that to my iPod. Thanks you guys! I'm diggin' it!
So what did I get?? Hmmmm, lets see. I started out replacing some music I had on my old computer that I haven't been able to get onto my new one, so I got me some Big and Rich, Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy! And a few others of theirs off their Commin'to your city album, and some Don Mclean, American Pie and Vincent.Ive always loved those songs. Ummm, I loaded up on Bad Haggis, a neat Celtic folk/rock band. Some more Wicked Tinkers, another Celtic rock group who's drummer is to die for, er...I mean their drum solos are great. Aerosmith's Pink, Don't wanna miss a thing. A few more, and don't laugh, John Denver songs. I needed them to listen to so I could figure them out cord wise on my guitar, yes, I play. I have an Ovation electric Acoustic. Been playing since I was 12 years old or so. Wanna hear some thing funny? I played a uke even earlier! LOL. Cant read a lick of music, and many a good teacher have tried, but I play by ear, that's my excuse for having to load JD music and that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
Anyway, I LOVE Stevie Ray Vaughn, and all I have of his music is still on cassette ( I'm sooo still in the dark ages... I know) so I loaded a good bit of his stuff, if you've never listened to Stevie Ray, check it out, I highly recommend him if you like Texas R&B. I especially recommend Tin Pan Alley. And I got the Eagles Hell Freezes Over album. I'm sure I left a few out, but I sure am enjoying the new tunes. I forgot to pick up some batteries tonight for it, but I have a little doohickey that I can hook up to my truck stereo and play my iPod music over my stereo system. That! Will be nice to be able to do. Anyway, that's it on the tunes update. My daughter knows what I like, and I like music, and I thought it was a really thoughtful gift. Another really cool thing I got from a friend of mine for Christmas (who obviously also knows what I like) is the flag at the top of this post. Last year for my birthday, she gave me a flag and the pole to hang big flags on and she has been making sure I have a flag for every season every since. I don't know where she found this flag, but Ive looked at and for nice Border Collie flags before, and I never saw this one. I like it, its a very good depiction of a NOT Barbie Collie! LOL Note the pricked ears with the one slightly bent. I was just tickled to death when I opened that. She also gave me a very nice piece of pottery, I like to collect pottery, and this is a nice piece. It even came with a holder to display it on. Anyway, the agenda for tomorrow is lessons with Robin at Julie's farm for me and Bear and Chris. Gonna see if I can get Robin to help pin point any certain things we should work on at the Jack Knox clinic with Bear that I will be going to on the 16th thru the 18th. Though ultimately,it will be up to Jack, as to what he thinks we should work on, but we'll see what our trainer thinks too as I value her opinion as well. I'll bring my camera and hope to get some nice shots tomorrow. Right now, its time to get some laundry in the dryer or I'll be showing up for lessons in the nude, and I don't think that would earn me any discounts! More Later....Chow Baby!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Yes, I'm perplexed.
It started three days ago, and I'm really hoping this isn't how the New Year is heading.
We had to bring in a round bale of hay a few days ago for the sheep, and I brought Chris out to put the sheep up in the catch pen so we could hold open the gate for the tractor to come in with it.
Granted, Chris had been in her crate for awhile that day, so I let her out to empty herself and run off a little excitement before getting to the task at hand. She seemed fine, and willing, and so like any other time her services are required, I opened the gate and asked her to join me. As soon as she got in there, the first thing she did was try to shoot off for the sheep. That is not a Chris move, she usually just comes in and waits to see what I need of her. I called her back, and she was in full gather mode, making a sweeping out run towards the bottom of the pasture where the sheep were, so I was glad to see that she took the recall, which actually sounded more like "WTF ARE YOU DOING!!!" more so than That'll Do! Groveling, she landed back at my feet,and waited to see what the consequences of her actions would be. Had we been training, Id have simply put her in the kennel, and worked another dog and gave her time to think about her indiscretion, but I could hear the tractor coming up the road with the hay and I needed to get the sheep put up. So I just gave her a growl and a stern look, and sent her to gather the sheep and put them in the catch pen. Some days when we bring in hay, I will just have her walk down to where the sheep are, and hold them while we put in the hay, but I like to try to keep it interesting for the dogs, so we aren't always just doing the same thing. Chris has done both holding and putting them in the catch pen, so I knew she knew the drill. So I went ahead and sent her. While she faultlessly gathered the sheep and brought them up and put them in the catch pen, and just for extra brownie points I'm assuming for her little screw up, she even went so far as to put them all in the lambing shed for me, I was trying to figure out what triggered her to take off like that. OK. Dogs have much better hearing than we do, so while mulling it over while Bobby was setting in the hay bale, I decided perhaps she had heard the tractor getting closer, and thought that we needed to get the job done toot sweet. It would be Chris's mentality to be thinking that way.
As soon as He had the bale set up and had left the pasture and closed the gate, I went over and opened the lambing shed door to release the sheep. Per as my usual, I simply allow the sheep to exit the shed on their own and call Chris and we leave them to it. For what ever her reasons, she refused to call off the sheep, and instead, lay there in front of the shed not allowing the sheep to exit. Three times I had to recall her, each time, having to become and sound more and more serious and stern. Chris is very obedient and VERY sensitive to my voice and tone, and so this again had me perplexed.
I went over to her and grabbed her scruff and gave her a shake and a growl, and again reiterated, THAT WILL DO! Reluctantly and some what cowed down, she came away with me. As we reached the gate to leave the pasture, she was all wiggles and happy again, as I had praised her for coming away with me, and all seemed well.
Maybe at this point,I should have left well enough alone, and called it a day. But me being me, I couldn't leave it, and decided after a few minuets to bring her back out on the field,and do a little work. Happily,Chris entered the field with me and this time she pretty much knew better than to pull the same gig on me again, or, she was back to being herself, who knows at this point what she was thinking, she was just happy to get back out on the sheep. I had taken a few deep breaths, and calmed myself to where I knew I could be trusted to not loose my temper, or bring any bad vibes in with me, after all, I wasn't angry about what had happened, moreover confused, and had the attitude that we would just do a few simple things and end it on a better note.
Her outrun and fetch was a bit to fast and heel bent for leather, but I didn't say anything as she darn near ran the sheep over top of me, and once we had them all up to me and calm, I just started having her fetch them and flank a bit, and work on pace and patience. Chris has a very nice sense of balance, but not this day. She kept over shooting her balance point, and had the sheep so confused they didn't know which way to go. It wasn't pretty, and definitely wasn't one of her better sessions, which again, had me wondering the the hell is up with this dog?? She has been working so nice over the last several months. So, OK.This isn't getting us anywhere, she is obviously having a bad day. We all do sometimes, so I'll allow her that, and lets just quit harassing the sheep, cause now I'm beginning to become frustrated and impatient, and I can feel it coming on. We end the session on a good note,just having her fetch the sheep to me while walking up to the gate, and I call "That'll Do" and I see a very slight hesitation, indecision? from Chris to call off, but she comes.
Instead of worrying myself about this weird chain of events, I just chalk it up to her just having a bad day, and figure our next work will be better.
Enter the next day. The same thing is going on. Chris is way to amped up, is not taking her commands in a timely manner, is off balance more than she is on, and this isn't work, its harassment! Sheep flying around instead of calmly being pushed from A to B. I down the dog,and study her body language and expression while she is laying there. Nothing appears to be out of the ordinary. She looks for all intensive practical purposes to be just fine and dandy. Just laying there panting and calmly waiting.....
So, since the sheep are already with me, I simply had her flank around and drive them down the field a bit to get them away from the gate to which her flank, though not being to tight which I was glad to see, was still way to animated and speedy, and of course, the sheep just flew down the field as soon as they were turned in that direction, with Chris thinking she would happily just cram her head up their butts and take them all the way to the bottom of the field.
Nope,not gonna happen. I called her off and we exited stage left, and closed the gate behind us with me scratching my head and wondering WTH? Chris happily jumps into the stock tank to cool off, and I once again take a few seconds to study her. From her attitude she appears to still not notice that some thing has gone drastically wrong. She seems to think everything is just hunky dory. She appears to be very satisfied with herself, and doesn't show herself to be the least bit disturbed that for two days now we haven't been able to get any correct work from her. And she does know the difference. All this sets my mind to thinking. Am I being to layed back now, in not exhibiting the tense and rigid, expecting exacting obedience for every command demeanor during training that I have tried so hard to dispose of? Is she testing me? Has the little twit lost her mind??
Enter this morning: I have sheep due to lamb soon and I needed to inject them with Covexin 8 so Chris and I went out to gather them and I just needed her to hold them in the corner for me while I drew up the doses and injected the ewes. Seems easy enough. Its not like she hasn't done this before. Do the words "Get Back!" mean anything to this dog?? They use to. Grrrrrr. Well, I wasn't about to play this game for a third day in a row. "I" certainly didn't need injecting, and the way she kept creeping up and pushing the ewes in tighter and closer on me while I was turning my attentions to the syringe it was going to happen as I was jostled around and crammed in tighter and tighter with the ewes and so Chris and I left the ewes in the corner, and I went and got Bear and put Chris up inside in her crate. Bear has a good sense of what needs to be done, and has been very quick to catch on when I have had work for him to do and I'm finding him to be quite pleasant to work with. He is very bright, and reads his sheep well and knows when and where to stop putting pressure on the sheep, and will adjust himself accordingly with out much if any input from me. I'm liking this dog more and more as I find little odd jobs outside of training to use him for. Ive found that he really enjoys real work, and even though he hasn't done some thing before, he catches on very quickly and likes being a team player. I am excited to see how we do at the Jack Knox clinic this month, and how much he can pick up on and learn. Needless to say, Bear was a great help, and we got the job done with no mishaps.
For now I'm going to give Chris a few days off doing any sheep work, training, or anything resembling either and or. See how she does then. We have been getting out most every day for the last couple of months, and maybe she just needs a break. We have a lesson on the 3rd with Robin, and we'll see how she goes for that. Maybe she will show Robin something that I'm not seeing.... Till then, I'm not going to drive myself crazy about it, but I sure would like to get to the root of the problem.