Monday, May 25, 2009

We made it!

Hey Everyone! Due to the rather larger volume of phone calls since arriving to my destination Vernal, Ut, because Ive been lame and busy, I didn't get to update the blog Saturday, or Sunday, I thought it a good idea to let everyone know I am alive and well, and home. It was a long trip, and there were some hairy moments, that when I am brave enough to recount them, I will catch everyone up to snuff about mountain driving up Douglas Pass in Colorado, in the rain and fog at 2am , people driving badly, and several other things I encountered along my travels. But for now, I'm heading out to set up my new station for work which I start on Tuesday, so gotta scoot for the moment. I got some really great pictures along the way that I will edit and post soon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Texas, I love it!

Finally got to Amarillo Texas tonight about 8:30pm. Boy Texas is a beautiful state. Not so much Amarillo, but Texas as a whole Ive always thought was pretty. Especially this time of the year.
Fuel is cheaper here, got it for 2.09 today, it was up to 2.25 in NC when I left. Gonna try to get all the way home tomorrow, but we'll see. This is the parts of the trip I want to stop and take pictures.
Bruin, my LGD is quite the trooper. Tonight, not only did he come inside the posh Days Inn motel, (this is the nicest one Ive been in so far) but he also got on and took his first elevator ride! Not bad for a pasture dog that's never done anything like that before.
All the dogs are lounging around on the floor thinking this traveling thing ain't so bad after all. Bear is a bit insecure about everything, but doing good. He is such a mommas boy anyway.
Hank is having a blast! Since he didn't get sick, he has been riding in the truck with Kyle and I, and he loves to sit and watch out the window.
Nothing much to report, I'm tired, and its time to get some rest. Hopefully. I'll stop and get some pictures to post. More later

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tomorrow.... Texas!

Well, today we made it across Arkansas. What a flat and boring drive. I didn't even see anything worth taking a picture of, though there was a big river we passed over coming out of Tenn into Ar. that was pretty cool.
I have been in the sticks so long Id forgotten what horrible, inconsiderate drivers people can be!
The speed limits are 70 and up to the Sky's the limit, according to those Ive encountered. Glad I got a big truck, or Id be scared shit less!
Today Kyle and I were at a rest area, and I forgot my cell phone in the ladies room. When we were leaving, I was side tracked by one of the rest stop employees inquiring about what appeared to be a polar bear sticking his snout out the back of the horse trailer. Ive been watching Bruin, and he seems to enjoy standing on his back legs and watching the world go by, looking through the slats in the trailer. Ive caught him doing it as I check my mirrors, and its pretty cute.
The fella and I got to talking for a minuet, and of course, who could miss the 3 collies heads hanging out the windows, and so we talked about them for a few minuets too. As I left the rest area, I got about 6 or 7 miles down the road, and realized Id left my phone, and knew exactly where Id left it.
I had Kyle use his phone to call my phone in hopes that some one would answer it and I could tell them to leave it with some one, and as he was doing that, he answered his phone and low and behold, it was the guy from the rest area, calling kyles phone to tell me he had my phone! Too funny. The fella told me that he knew exactly who's phone it was when he saw the pic I have as the screen saver of Bear on it driving sheep!
Of course, we turned right around and went ack and got it. Grrrrrrr. Bet I wont be doing that again.

Hank is still doing well, no ill effects whatsoever from the over dose of safeguard. That's one tough dawg! For those that don't know, I had set the plunger backwards when getting it ready to dose him, and before I realized what I was doing, Id dosed him for a 400 lb horse! Called the vet and he said Id probably have to deal with a bit of the runs and vomiting, but that he should be alright, and so far he has been just dandy. He did recommend that I not worm him again for another 2 weeks though! LOL
I guess I can laugh now, but I sure wasn't laughing when I did it.
Highlights so far of the trip, we stopped by a Trading post this after noon, and I was very disappointed. Everything there came from either Pakistan or India! Even the "Navajo rugs" came from India! And they were poor quality at best.
Tonight we stayed again at a Days Inn and again, they took the crazy dog lady and 5 dogs without question.
Id stopped at a Super 8 first, and asked about their pet policy and the gal that worked there said they took dogs and cats. So when I asked if they'd allow 5 dogs, she looked out at my truck, and loudly exclaimed that they only took in domestic pets! And definitely not that many! Domestic pets? What the hell, I wonder did she think she saw? Oh well, Days Inn gets my money for the remainder of the trip.
Nice clean rooms, and good service, friendly staff, and at least they know what a Border Collie is when they see one!
So, so far its been a pretty uneventful trip. That's a good thing.
Chris, when I dropped her off at JP's before I left, had just started to come into season, so she will be home before I know it! That's good, cause I miss her little split face butt.
Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get across Texas. Another flat boring state. New Mexico will be alot more fun and then into Arizona. I'm taking 191 thur Chambers Az. so I can Avoid having to pull the mountains in Colorado and going thru Denver.
Maybe once we get to Texas, I'll pull out the camera!
Better get some sleep, got miles to put behind us tomorrow.

So far we have made it to Knoxville Tenn.

We left out later than we had planned yesterday. Then needed to stop and drop Chris off at JP's for her date with Robins Zac. I sure do miss her, but it'll be worth all that if we can get them bred. Gonna be some awesome puppers!
Made it to Knoxville, Tenn last night about 7:30pm and got a room. Days Inn, FYI in Knoxville takes crazy dog ladies with 5 dogs and a 14yr old boy, no questions!
Got a good nights sleep, and headed out this morning to where ever Vera guides us. She has been an impeccable co-pilot, though just a little grumpy when I stray from her undeviated path. I'm beginning to hate the word reconfiguring!
Will update later tonight when we land......??????
Probably wont be many pics of sights till we get a little further west. The desert is beautiful. Loving the new AAA. It got me a discount at the motel, even with 5 dogs!
The truck is doing great, and is pulling the trailer so nicely, that I bearly know its back there.
Gotta get motoring for now, more later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dog Day @ JP's. Getting loaded up to leave, and This %&#@! Truck!

In an effort to have the opportunity to get to see everyone and say my goodbyes before the move, I had planned a day this past weekend to get over to Julies place to visit and work dogs a bit. Sunday was predicting rain, but hey, sugar melts and shit floats, so I brought a life vest just in case and went anyway.

I didn't get there until about lunch time, so not long after Id gotten there, we decided to head over to the Backyard Grill.
Had to have one more of their famous Backyard burgers and some more of those wonderful crispy chips, cause chips, unless they come in a bag, are non existent where I'm headed.

Lunch was great as usual, good food, good friends, good service and good conversation is always a fine mix. Laura surprised me and presented me with the most lovely beaded lanyard.
The best I can describe the stone that is in it is to say it looks very much like Jasper, but what ever it is, you can sure enough see the dedication, and delicate, intricate work that went into its design. It is beautiful, and I will be proud to wear it and tell folks that my friend made it for me. That's the nicest thing about having it, I didn't buy it, but that it was made for me by a friend, with me in mind. Every time I put it on, for many years to come, it will not only remind me of Laura, but of our friendship, and the laughing and good natured joking we did at the grill that day. Oh, and the checking out the guys, seems we have similar tastes for men in uniform. LOL

Of course, after a hearty lunch and with a light drizzle setting in, we drove back to Julies with our desert grasped firmly in our hands, spoons at the ready, for yummy ice cream, and talked about taking a nap instead of working dogs. Ive always wondered if the Backyard grill doesn't some how slip a little some thing something in their burgers, as every time we go there, we leave there talking about wanting to take a nap, must be some pretty strong stuff to make us not feel like working dogs!

But, being the troopers that we are, we decided to work off our lunch by taking the dogs for a nice walk to the back 40 of Julies place. The dogs love the walk, although we humans are really the only ones that walk, the dogs are pretty much full bore the whole time, stopping only for picking up choice pine cones to entice us to play, and rolling in things that should be better left alone.

It never ceases to amaze me, but every time we do it, I am in awe of our dogs. Most times its more, but on this day, between the three of us gals, Julie, Laura and myself, we had a whopping total of 21 dogs, all running free together. A motley mix, of young and old, in tact, neutered, spayed, working dogs and pets, and never a fight or dispute. Everyone gets along very well. I don't think in any other dog venue Ive ever been involved in has that kind of thing ever taken place on such a grand scale. It just speaks volumes of how steady our dogs temperaments are and the caliber of training they have, as well as the respect that the dogs show to each other. How three people can control 21 dogs off lead and usually traveling swiftly past us in all directions is just amazing and so enjoyable to participate in. I love watching the dogs just get to be dogs, running in a pack, and enjoying just being a dog and doing dogie things.

When we got back from our walk, it was time to get serious, though we were still contemplating a nap, and get to work. I had brought Hank, Chris and Bear with me, and they know when ever they go to Julie's they are gonna get to work, so they were on the ready, and chomping at the bit to get after it.

First up was Hank, the big dog that does everything bigger. The round pen didn't afford him the room to do much, so much to my trepidation, we moved out to the big field with him. I should have known he could handle this, he works on my field and never looses his sheep. Hank is all about keeping them together and if one starts to squirt out, he is on it. Of course the first thing we noticed when we got him out there was that he has been doing way to much circling, as I had been concerned about a month or so ago, so he just needed to be shown that there are other ways of controlling the sheep, other than to keep circling them. My contention is that he is ready for more, and he can take a bit of pressure, so I'm happy to see that its time to move along with him and get him doing different things and mixing it up some.

Ever ready Chris was up next, Julie is able to get the most out of a work with Chris, or, Chris I should say is able to get more out of a work with Julie, so I asked her to handle her, and they did a good bit of driving, and I found out why I'm having such a problem with Chris returning to me on the drive when I talk to her while driving. It actually stems from me calling her back after I send her on an outrun, and if she doesn't kick out like I think she should, instead of stopping her, repositioning myself, and resending her from where I stopped her, I was calling her back and having her start the whole outrun again from my feet. Its the old OB training coming back to bite me in the ass. When you start something and it starts to get ugly, in OB work, you get the dog back, and start all over again in the same place you originally started at. Apparently this doesn't work so well with stock dogs as well as it works for GSD's. Live and learn eh?
We spent a really good amount of time, being as it was such a nice cool day working Chris, and I think she and I both learned a lot. Now if I can retain and utilize all that Julie and I talked about, it should get Chris and I back on the right path and driving much better. Julie gave me a lot of info in that work.
There was one time during our work, that I became very afraid for one of the sheep. It had run off away from the herd, and Chris took off after it, over a little hill up into a corner where we couldn't see her or what she was doing. I quickly called to Julie who was in my mind meandering up there looking as if she was in no big hurry, to hurry up and get up there, because I could just imagine Chris up there in that corner ravaging that poor sheep. Julie, didn't see the urgency, and just kept, much to my nervousness, walking steadily up there, seeming to be in no big hurry. Had that been me, Id have been running as fast as my chubby body could have carried me to stop the blood lust that Id imagined would be going on up there in that corner.
Much to my surprise, and appreciation, as well as jubilation, Chris chose to do the right thing in this instance, which a year ago, she wouldn't have been able to do, and here she came back with that sheep, all in one piece and no blood, fetching it back to Julie. I WAS BEAMING! I just wanted to hug some one! My little girl is finally "choosing" all on her own, to do the right thing, and that has been a long hard hurdle to cross. I couldn't have been more proud of her. That was a biggie for me to get to see and a big help in pushing me towards learning trust my dog more. what a reward for us both.

Bear, my wonderful Bear, was up next. I still cant say enough about how lovely this dog is for me. Every time I take this dog out to work, he makes me so proud. I am in awe of him. We make, I feel, a good team, and I just love working with him. Julie worked with he and I on outruns, he has always been a bit tight on his come bye, and she showed me how to get him straightened out on that and man he was doing some pretty outruns to the CB side within a few minuets! Little adjustments can make for some large improvements! Bear likes to drive,and so he got to do a bunch of that, which was pretty to see. He has such a lovely way with the sheep, plenty of quiet power, and he moves so stealth like around his sheep, He has a nice bit of eye, and style and is lovely to watch work. I think sheep like Bear, everything he does around them is nice and easy, so unlike Chris who can unsettle her sheep because she wants to do everything in high gear.
Two such different dogs, its hard some times to make the transition from working one to the other, so much to remember, such different methods of handling such distinctly different dogs. They both teach me so much every time I work with them.
Julie told me I should be running Bear in PN and that is our goal for this summer. I thought myself he was almost ready, but it was good to hear some one of Julie's experience say what I was already thinking.
Keep an eye on the trials out west. I have a feeling you'll be seeing Bear and I start to make our mark in the trialing world this year. He is a perfect dog for me, and I can see us doing well and working together for a long time to come.

OK. Now the truck. It must have some kind of sixth sense, and knows what needs to be done before I take her on the road for the long haul, because Bobby has been under that truck more in the last two weeks than he has had to be in the last three years! First, we had to plug a tire on the front passengers side. Then, we had to plug it again. It wasn't holding air, and we found two holes at two separate times within a few days of each other. Where the hell have I been driving to get two holes in the same tire in a week?!
Then, he changed the oil for me, and replaced the air filter, filled all the things that needed to be filled, greased and lubed everything, checked belts and we thought she was set to go.
Then, she showed me that last week she needed a new mid shaft bearing, so Bobby crawled back under there and replaced that.
Then yesterday, I called him from town and said, Riddle me this! What does it mean when the steering wheel starts to vibrate violently when in third gear doing about 35mph but that smooths out after ya get past 40mph?
His standard answer, can you get it home? Me, yea, Him, then get it back here and I'll drive it and see.
I got her home and he took her up the road, came back and told me it was a universal joint that needed to be replaced. Great. Some thing else! It sounded like a lot of work and an expensive part to me, but I am not a mechanic, so was pleasantly surprised to hear that the part only cost 15.00 dollars and Bobby could slip the old one out and a new on, in under less than an hour.
Its good that he is so handy. Gonna miss that little perk.

So yesterday, we got my trailer loaded, and I'm all set to go. Not much left to do, but visit with my daughter today and the grand kids, and I'll be on the road in the morning. As much as I look forward to getting back home. Its going to be difficult to pull out of the drive way. Leaving home and husband, no matter the problems we have suffered in our marriage, we are still good friends, actually, better now than ever, and we do still care for/about each other, and knowing this will be the last time I see him, well, it does tug at the heart strings, it wasn't always bad, we have lots of good memories, and I will miss him, I'm sure.

Its kinda sad to see, when looking at the trailer all loaded up and ready to go, that my entire life doesn't fill up a four horse trailer. What does that say about the gypsy in me spending a good portion of my life, drifting from one town to another, one relationship after another. About the non materialistic person I have always been?
My kid, my clothes, my horses and sheep and dogs, and a few boxes of memories. I guess as long as I have the memories, that's what must make me the happiest.
So, I guess here we go again, one last hurrah, to make a few more memories before finally settling down, with the knowledge that this is the last stop for me. Knowing that this last stop is where I have convinced myself that I need to quit making such bad decisions about the men I put in my life, and that its time to start laying down some deep roots.
So folks. Tomorrow morning, I'll be saying good bye to NC and heading home. Where I know in my heart that I belong.
Pray for us that we have a safe and uneventful journey, and make it home safely.
I say this with tears in my eyes, as I prepare to leave the good friends I have made that mean so much to me behind, the farm Ive come to love, the husband that should have been so much more that I know he is capable of, but to stubborn to change.
Trading the green, wet forests of NC for the high mountain desert that I call home.
For those that I didn't get to see before I moved on, know that you have enriched my life with your friendship, and I will cherish the memories and always carry the hope that some day we meet again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting Prepared

So, its been a busy last couple of weeks, not to mention a sight expensive couple of weeks as well. I'm drained, mentally and monetarily. Getting horses and sheep ready for the move, and paying the transport hauler, blood tests, health certs, and the list goes on, as well as dealing with all the bureaucracy that goes along with it, well, lets just say I'm sure glad I feel that they are worth it, cause its been an experience. It hasn't been all that difficult really, its just relearning all the things that go into having to ship livestock 1800 miles. But, happily I will report, that the USDA gal who happen to be a lovely lady to deal with and a very pleasant conversationalist, was out on Wednesday and scrapie's tagged the sheep, and that was a good thing, so not anything left to do now but get the health certs back from the vet and the coggins results back for the horses and bar any complications there, (of which I can foresee none) they are set except the loading and the ride.

Ive tried out my new Vera, (my new GPS system) several times now, and I think after our initial disagreements that she and I are going to get along just fine. We are both very simple and talk the same language. The one thing Ive found about Vera is that in some instances she spells phonetically. A good example, the street I live on is called Bayles Rd. Spoken like a bale of hay, however, when I told Vera I wanted to go to Bayles Rd. she told me there was no such place! I felt like arguing with her about this, because I knew she was wrong, and did for a minuet, but she was adamant that she was right. Its difficult to argue with a machine, they are not emotional, and just keep saying the same thing in the same monotone voice, over and over, even when one is banging her on the dash board and saying stuff like; "get over it! I'm right and your wrong! Quit trying to mess me up you stupid machine!"
We finally reached a compromise, (when she started to stutter,) I guess she didn't take well to being smacked against the dash, and when I asked her to take me to Bayles Rd. spelled phonetically, ( I had to try two different spellings) and we finally agreed on the spelling "Bails" then, she was very happy to oblige.
I called the Radio shack where Vera and I first met, and asked them if they had a dictionary or translator for her, suspecting that this would be some thing you didn't get in the package with her and that Id more than likely have to pay extra for, but they humorously assured me there was no such book to be had.
Their explanation.....just fiddle with her a bit and the two of you will come to a meeting of the minds. Minds?? Vera has a mind?? Well, if that's so, than she is about as stubborn as I am, albeit, a bit more fragile. Though I have to say, that her stuttering bit was clever, and shows me that perhaps she does have a sense of self preservation.

I shaved, in preparation for the trip, my LGD (Great Pyr) Bruin. I knew there was a fairly good sized dog under all that hair, but Id always thought all that hair gave a false illusion to his size. Boy was I wrong! There is a gigantic dog under there!
When I first shaved him last week, Bru acted a bit sheepish, like he was walking around naked, which I guess he probably felt as if he was. But after a few days, he seems to have not only gotten use to his new do, but is actually enjoying it. However, this will be the first and last time I shave him. I don't care for the look. If Id wanted an Anatolian, that's what Id have gotten. It is nice though, not to have to keep pulling all matter of.....matter out of his coat, which can range anywhere from wire and hay, to sheep doo and things that should be buried in a big deep hole some where back on the north forty! Traveling with Bru without all that hair will make us all much more comfortable, and my truck interior will likely thank me for not unleashing the drooling snow storm that is Bruin on the seats. Yes, Bru will get a back seat for the ride. Id thought about letting him ride in the horse trailer, but I just don't feel comfortable with that idea.

When the gal from USDA came out the other day, I thought it would be a nice time to get Bear out and let him do a little practical work. Man does he shine! I had originally thought to use Chris, and had taken her out prior to my appointment with the USDA gal getting there, but she was way to hyped up, and even though she was listening, she wasn't quite ready to do the up close work that was required of her. She could have done it, but not in the frame of mind Id have wanted her to be in, and so I fell back on Bear instead. Ive come to some conclusions about Chris and Bear. For the close work, Bear can keep his head much better than Chris, so those jobs will fall to him. Big spaces and big field work, Bear is equally competent with, but Chris is exceptional at doing also, so in order to help her keep her mind in the right frame, I will for now, stick to keeping her out of small quarters where she gets so ramped up. She doesn't tear into sheep anymore, so we have come along way in that respect, but she still has a bit of a problem getting her mind to relax so she can do the work without unsettling the sheep so much. Bear, glides in and out between sheep, and walls and fences and the sheep barely know he is there. Sheep like Bear, and move off him calmly and easily. If Ive said it once, I'll say it again, he is such a pleasure to work with. Not dissing Chris in the least, she is my heart, and is a lot of fun to work with. Her energy and happy attitude are infectious. I can always count on her to never give up no matter what the task, always count on her to always get all the sheep, always count on her to do her best and give me her all and try her best to understand what it is I'm asking of her. Ive never seen this dog quite at anything. Her work ethic is phenomenal.

I havent done much training with Hank for a bit. He would love it if I worked him daily, but thats not what he needs right now. He needs to grown up in his head, and collect himself physically. Im working with him right now off the field, on helping him to understand that I am the one in charge. He likes to stand there and puzzle things that I ask of him, funny enough, he does it with his silly head cocked to one side, and you can actually see the wheels turning while he is staring at me from across the yard contemplating whether doing what I ask will be worth his while, or some thing he truely wants to do. Its amazing how transparent he is. For the most part, Hank is a very happy and obedient dog, and trys hard to do what is asked of him. He doesnt even really present a battle of wills, so much as he is just appearing to weigh his odds. Alot of it I attribute to age. He is just comming 13 months, so with a little more work on my part, and a little more growing up on his, Im sure things will sort themselves out.

Lex is still hating retirement. I dont think she will ever get use to the idea that the other dogs can do the work. She doesnt see the perks in not working. And for her, there are many. She seems to feel as if she has been demoted. Another dog with a flawless work ethic, who lives to work. Sadly, getting to sleep on the funiture because she doesnt smell like sheep doo, and getting free range 24/7 of the house with no crate time, getting to go everywhere with me, and basically, just being allowed to be a pet, doesnt set well with her and she is constantly standing by the gate asking for me to let her work. The hopeful look on her face, is one that is hard to deny. So, to keep her happy and fit, a couple of times a week, I'll let her go in and do a little OLF and some flanking and put the sheep in the lambing pen for me. It just makes her day, and the look on her little grey face when we are through, is priceless! Panting up a storm she is, but the grin goes from ear to ear. I love it when we are walking off the field together, the way she walks beside me and purposely bumps up aginst my leg, looking up at me with such joy in her eyes. So proud of herself and so happy to get to do a little work for me. What a grand ole gal.

So, everything is in order, but the waiting is hard. A couple of weeks, seems like a couple of years right now, patience has never been one of my strongest virtues when it comes to getting on the road and getting the driving out of the way.
Work is so slack right now, Im tempted to bag it and let the new gal they have hired just go on in and get settled and started. What she thinks she stands to gain working there I dont know. I havent talked to her, and Im not sure what the owners have told her, but if she thinks she is going to make any money there, I wish her the best, but know she wont be doing much. My clients arent going to take kindly to some one else handling their dogs, and I suspect that many wont continue to go there for their grooming needs. Grooming is a very personal biz, one that you slowly build relationships of trust, getting it right off the bat doesnt come easy. It would have been helpful if the owners had included me in the hiring process, which as manager of the groom shop, I felt was my right to start with, however the owners felt my presence wasnt necessary, and did not feel obligated to include me. as far as Im concerned, this little bad judgement on their part, is going to seal this new gals fate. Clients are coming in and calling me left and right, grilling me on the new groomer coming in. Sadly I can tell them nothing about her, as I know nothing, and therein lies the problem. If I had been included, I would have been able to reassure my clients that they could expect the same, or comprable professionalism from the new gal, I could assure them that I had seen her quality of work and animal handling skills, and had I been able to give my seal of approval, they probably would continue to use the shops services. As it stands, I know my clients, and doubt they will return for many, many months, and only if the new gal has been able to build a decent reputation for herself, if at all. But, there is nothinhg I can do about it, but I feel so terrible that I have had to leave my clients hanging like this. The shop owners decision, has made me look as if I dont care about my clients, which is so totally untrue. I am going to miss my clients here, I have nutured the old ones and started the puppies, and really enjoyed my clients, human and dog for the last three years, and leaving them like this weighs heavy on me. On the up side, when I get back to Vernal, I stand to gain back a lot of the old clients I left back there and am looking forward to seeing all of them again. It kinda feels like Im going full circle.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We're moving back out west

Well, this idea has been rolling around in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and it appears that the forces that be, for whatever reasons, which is usually not my luck, are working with me to be able to make the move.
My husband and I have come to the conclusion, that we make better friends, than partners, I tend to agree, and am relieved, that he has seen to it that we part ways amicably and are able to remain friends through this difficult time. Actually, since filing for divorce a few weeks ago, we get along now, better than ever! Which on one one hand I'm grateful for, but on the other is kinda creepy.
I have contacted a livestock hauler, and he has taken on at the last minuet, my motley crew of sheep and horses, and so I'm now scrambling to get the necessary blood tests and paperwork to have them shipped, in the short time that I'm allotted before the pick up date at the end of the month.

I am really looking forward to being back home, Ive so missed Utah and my friends out there. My son and I, though we have to some extent, enjoyed the last three years years here in NC are really not cut out to be Southerners. Neither of us like sweet tea or grits, and I think its prerequisite, along with eating black eyed peas on New Years (of which neither of us can stand either) among a lot of other things, that are so typically Southern, and we just have not been happy here and not able to completely acclimate or bounce back from the culture shock in the differences between here and out west. There are so many, I joke about the grits and sweet tea, but the lifestyles between here and there, are so vastly different, that you'd have to live it to really understand it, and I'm afraid I'm not articulate enough to explain it. Its like living with the feeling that one is lost all the time, like being transported back to another space and time where you just don't understand or belong.

All the dogs will be coming with, and I will be happy to get back working with the folks in the Utah Stock dog Assoc. At least going back there, I wont be unknown, and it take a year as it did here to meet working folks, and I can keep my dogs going in the right direction, working with knowledgeable folks.
Of course, there are the usual regrets, and I wish I could take all the good folks Ive met out here with me, but for some odd reason they all seem pretty attached to this state at the moment. Maybe that will change some day and I can convince them otherwise.
I joined AAA the other day, because I fear driving back alone with a truck load of dogs, pulling a 4 horse open stock trailer with all our belongings in it, that if I do some thing stupid, (which comes quite naturally to me) like lock myself out of my truck, run out of fuel, or get a flat, that I wont be able to handle that situation very well with out freaking out and panicking, so the services they offer are quite handy. I also bought a new GPS system, (I named her Vera, she talks to me! ) because I am so horribly directionally challenged. I'm hoping that between Vera and I, that we can navigate the 1800 mile trip with little or no incident.

I will continue to keep the blog updated as much as I can, the trip will take 3 to 4 days to drive, and we will be taking lots of pictures along the way, we are not going to be in a great big hurry to get back on any certain date, and so we will be trying to stop and smell the roses so to speak along the way. I plan on getting a room each night, and most have Internet, so I hope to be able to chronicle the trip.

I have been offered a good job, doing what I know and love, when I get back home, with a gal that I taught to groom many years ago, she now owns her own shop, and I look forward to working with her again. Also between she and I, we have arranged for boarding for my horses, and pasture for the sheep, as well as I have been able to rent a Mobil home on the property where the sheep and horses will be. Not to shabby, for some thing that seems to have taken on a life of its own in only a short week. It seems in the course of one day, Ive gone to thinking about it, to actually going ahead and doing it. It seems the way Ive always done things though, so it comes as no surprise to me. I'm pretty adept at getting things together in a rush.

I have along the course of time, been doing a few things "just in case" so its not like Ive had to do it all in one day or anything. I had tried to find a job out here, but the economy here in NC is so bad what with folks loosing their jobs left and right, that dog grooming is low on most folks priority lists, and groom shops are having a difficult enough time keeping what folks they already have employed with work, and part time doesn't even begin to allow me to support myself and my son and the critters, much less my needs/addiction for keeping the dogs working and us learning.

So, in a few short weeks, we will be on the road, and headed home. I cant say I will hate to see NC in my rearveiw mirror, it holds many good memories, but I'm afraid that the bad ones outweigh the good, and its time to change that, for my son as well as for myself, and move forward. I always have enjoyed an adventure.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rolling right on along

Well, I spect its time to do a little updating.
I still miss my Cain incredibly. I keep looking for him to be there and he's not. Old habits die hard. He has left a big space, that, try as they may, none of the other dogs are able to fill. And they are trying hard. I try too, but still, they offer themselves, and they aren't Cain. Bear tries the hardest. He always wanted the coveted Cain spot anyway right from the start, so naturally, he is spending more alone time with me than the others. Its working to our advantage, as our bond is stronger than ever, but still, I doubt that many would take him seriously if I left him tied in the truck bed and he popped up and barked at some one for not giving my truck a wide enough berth. I think the biggest difference between Cain and the other dogs, is that Cain always looked after me, while the collies look up to me. Cain and I were equals, pards. Cain had but one agenda in life, and that was to take care of me and mine, to serve and protect, the collies agenda is much different. Not a bad thing, just an observation. In time, I'm sure I will get use to him not being here, but I'll never forget all that he gave of himself to me. He was a grand dog in all ways.

So what have I been up to? Why working dogs of course!
I recently got a new phone, and I'm loving it. Its called a Smart Phone, and boy is it ever! Does everything but the dishes, though to be quite honest, Id gladly give up the Blue tooth if it would at least just do the pots and pans.

With Chris, we have just been working on what she knows and trying to tune a few things. I have a few issues I want to work on with her, but my truck broke down, and it was in the shop last week when I should have been at lessons with Robin, so I wasn't able to address them, and will hold off doing anything about it, other than to keep her correct on what she is doing until we are able to get back working with Robin. Mostly with her, its a chore just to keep her from hurting herself while playing ball, she is so athletic, the way she twists and turns, leaps and ducks and dives, and is so intense while playing, she will go to great lengths to get the ball, and each time I watch her slide ass over tea kettle across the lawn I old my breath, and hope for the best. Silly girl.
Her coat is finally coming in nice and plush, which means she is getting ready to come back into season. I'm watching her and the other dogs closely now, as the boys will give me a good idea of when she starts to come in.
So far, there are more than enough people on a waiting list for pups, from the eagerly awaited breeding to Robin's Zac. I only hope we have enough pups to go around. So far if memory serves me correctly, there are 7 committed people on the puppy list, and that's a good number. I think we are all very excited to get our hands on some Zac/Chris puppies. Me, I could easily skip the puppy period, and would prefer if she'd just pop me out about a 7 month old pup! LOL

Hank is doing well. He is gun ho, and is taking direction nicely. Very keen and is starting to understand the partnering process. He can be quite bright some times, and yet there are times when he is just dumb as a rock. He could stand to grow up some more. I'm not doing much with him at this stage, just taking him about once a week to sheep, and letting him work. He is liking that, and has some nice natural talent and ability. Though I can already see he has his mothers wideness and I'm going to have to watch myself so that I don't push him out while trying to help him learn to read his sheep better. One thing I really like about Hank, is that all sheep are to be worked and kept together. Whereas Chris and Bear still ignore the lambs, Hank doesn't leave a single sheep behind, big or small, he gets them all. He will make a nice working dog when he is grown, he tries real hard, and wants to do the right thing, has intensity and focus and good listening skills, and loves to work. Not to mention, I am beginning to think he is inexhaustible!

With Bear, because my lambs are now 4 months old, and he is still ignoring them, its going to be his job to help me all this week, separate out the ewes and rams from the lambs, put them in the holding pen, and work only the lambs. By golly, if he wants to work, he will work the damn lambs and only the lambs till he gets it through his head that lambs are sheep too. It is very frustrating to see him ignore the lambs and walk right past them, and they are getting the idea that they can just either stand there and not be worked, or they can squirt off to the side and he will let them. Ive got a good look back on him now, ( thanks in large part to the lamb factor) and we are doing well with the driving work. Bear loves to drive, seems he is a natural at it. Ive gotten him to where is is able to start taking half flanks, and he is looking nice. He has a lot of talent and natural ability, is very keen, and intense, stylish, and has the greatest work ethic. His listening skills are second to none, and he loves working with me. This dog might well be the one to take me to Open, so I'm being very careful that we do everything right, and that I don't take anything away from him, and only continue to add to his confidence and ability. As much as I enjoy working Chris, she really is so much fun to work, I really enjoy working with Bear more. Actually, to put it better, I enjoy "working" with Chris, she will get the job done at any cost, training with her can be a frustration, but I really enjoy the training that I'm putting into Bear. Although I couldn't comment on his frustration level when working with me! LOL
I started putting whistles on Bear this past weekend. He is willing, and listening well, and so far we are just working on a stop whistle and a walk up whistle. When one starts to put whistles on their dog, it really brings home the fact that you have to be close to a hundred percent on pitch and length and velocity of your whistle command, or in the learning process, it is easy to muddle the dog and they will start to ignore the whistle if it doesn't make sense and sound close to what you praised them for when they got it the first time. Note to self, keep practicing in the truck, cause really Darc, you know you suck!
The reason I mentioned the new phone, is because it has a camera on it, and I have been enjoying that little feature. Its rather cumbersome to bring out the digital camera and try to get shots of the dogs working while you have a big camera stuck in your face. Most times all I can get are nice pics of the dogs fetching the sheep to me. But! With this new phone, I am able to take pics from anywhere! I have already taken a number of pics of Chris and Bear with it, now, if I could only figure out how to get them on my Picasa, so I can share them. I guess since what I have already tried hasn't worked, I'm going to have to pull out the Epic Novel that came with the darn thing and actually read it. The instruction manual, I shit you not, is a good half an inch thick, and it is only written, (can you believe it!) in English! It also has a camcorder on it but I'm not sure about the length of time it actually films, so maybe a good boring manual read is in order anyway. Video would be fun to get and post.
Outside of that, things are just rolling along around here, its getting warmer by the day, and the dogs are asking to go to the pond for a swim, but I'm having a very difficult time since Cain allowing them to go. I look over at it, and they look at me like can we go, and I just go get a ball and we play in the yard instead. I haven't been back to the creek, pond or the woods, and am going to have to get over the fear and take them. It just feels as if I'm setting them up for the fall if I take them. If one gets snake bit, it would be my fault I had them down there. Maybe I'll get them a pool.