Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Having Fun

Diva has moved on to the next Agility level. She's so funny at these classes (minus her bad behavior towards others), when it comes to the obstacles she's Diva the Bold. She really seems to enjoy it. And I enjoy watching her expressions. She gets so pleased and proud of herself when she accomplishes something. Next week, I'll try to get Lynn to take some pictures.

One thing we need to work on is her wait. It's abysmal. That and her stay. The moment I move, she pops, or crawls, or sits, or slithers. Sometimes she even rolls. Any way you look at it, she doesn't stay in the command asked of her. That's my focus for her this week. Getting a solid wait and a solid stay. She's super smart so this should come with some work - pending how willing she is.

Another fun thing I recently did was show my students some dog dance sport. They had finished watching Marmaduke at lunchtime and the ending involved dancing dogs. Now you can imagine the astonished faces when I showed them real dancing dogs. They loved it. For your viewing pleasure I've included one of the better links to some great YouTube videos. The first one is from Britain's Got Talent. The second one is a random dancing dog. Hilarious. (This is for Sherry - the dancing inspiration!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Working Dogs

You would be surprised just how difficult it is to get nice pictures of one's dog working sheep. The pups presented a special challenge of focusing while jogging around the sheep. Here are some from our work last night. I worked Ryder specifically to get some pictures of him working.

Ryder - love how his ears flap while he runs.

Diva - happily trying to "help herself".

A happy Reba.

Reba - working hard against pressure.

A much more confident Ryder.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


This YouTube video seems to be creating an uproar. The general feeling being that is one of abuse. My thoughts and feelings - nice, nope, but abuse? I'd certainly love to know what he was looking for from the horse. Clearly the horse wasn't giving him the reaction he wanted. What don't we know? Or, is this (rough training) par for the course? Not being a reiner I can't really comment but am deeply curious what everyone else is thinking. The video certainly has sparked my curiosity. Was the trainers reaction to the video extreme in this day of media? Was the trainer's methods extreme, or normal? What do you think? Is the video defamatory? Or does it speak for itself?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

9 Months

It's hard to believe that nine months ago I had no idea what was in store. Nine months ago my little Reba had her pups. Nine months ago I became a surrogate mother as Reba developed Mastitis. Nine months ago I fell in love. I have come to appreciate the quirks and distinct personalities they show me every day. I have learned so much about Border Collies and puppy development. I would hope I'm a better handler, trainer and owner for it. These pictures were taken on a sunny Saturday, just after their birthdays (and first baths).






It's funny how things work out. Last night I worked Diva, Reba, Ryder and Tessa. (Tessa just for some fun for her.) As I watched Diva zip around the sheep I seemed to just know what needed to be done. My timing was on. It seems all the mistakes I've made with Reba will be for Diva's benefit. They certainly have similar styles of work.

Another thing that never fails to amaze me is how the sheep seem to sense differences between the dogs. They hopped right to it when Diva was working, were slower and more relaxed with Reba, and challenged Ryder. Diva walks up the the flock like she owns it. Reba has more eye and is a bit softer and stickier so they are slower to move off her. And Ryder, my darling little fellow, lacks confidence. He began barking at the faced up sheep. You could see he was intimidated. Once I helped him get the sheep moving he was wonderful. He has such natural balance and rate. But, I will sit him out for another month or so before trying him again. I want him to be more mature and confident when I start training him. Diva was such a serious little worker, she will be getting more. I'll watch her carefully, and keep sessions short and fun. Unless she tells me she's not ready to work, she'll be entering the training program.

It's funny how the dogs are the same and different all at the same time. Tonight I have someone coming to work sheep, so hopefully I'll get some good working shots, or even a video or two.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Into The Cloud

Monday morning, I was up bright and early to go meet Lynn (and Zoey) to head off to Drayton Valley. Lynn was getting a lesson from Ken, and Zoey was getting her first work on sheep. I had my two pups as well. The further west we drove, the darker the sky got. An hour out, it was raining pretty hard. Praying to the rain gods wasn't helping slow it down any. I had dressed for an overcast, maybe drizzle kind of day. Not pouring down rain kind of day. Gritting my teeth I cowboyed up and prepared to get wet. And cold. Sounds fun doesn't it?

I had forgotten how long Ken takes to prepare a new handler and dog (neither Lynn nor Zoey had ever worked sheep before). There I am shifting from foot to foot, huddled in my hoodie and absolutely miserable. I could feel cold tendrils of water dripping down my neck and arm. Fabulous. Finally, after what felt like forever we moved into the corral. Lynn and I moved into the empty bale feeder and Ken took out Zoey. She was awesome! I was so impressed I was jealous. Ken was able to get nice balanced circles in both directions, a lie down, a that'll do and and a return to nice quality work. This is a lot for a pup to show in their first work. Normally it's rather wild and erratic. He was impressed with the quality of the dog. Lucky Lynn. She has a nice dog for her first working trial dog. She'll be heading up north (St. Paul) for a two day clinic with Ken in June. She has some homework to help her out. Once she's finished the clinic, we'll do dog works two or three nights a week to get her going.

I pulled Diva out of the truck next. By this point in time I was a walking, talking icicle. To give testament as to how cold it was, Diva was shivering. Diva has been driving me nuts, trying to work anything that crosses her path - be it bikes, kids, birds or geese. She'll dive into ponds to try and chase and herd. I'm trying not to give her trouble because I know she's just trying to work. But it's not fun and a wee bit frustrating. For this reason, I've decided it's time to start her. This would be her second work on sheep. And she was great. This is an amazingly confident little dog. She circled both directions nicely. When it came time to try for a lie down she decided if I wouldn't let her work that she'd bugger off. So it will take some work getting her to work for me and not just for herself. But she showed some really nice things. She showed a willingness and ability to rate and read the sheep. She was fairly balanced, if a bit tight on her come bye direction, and has a natural balance to the away to me side. I have some things I need to work on (like getting a solid lie down off stock), but she was so serious, she showed me she really wanted to work. That she was ready for some training. This was not "fun" for her, this was an important job she wanted to do well.

Returning her to the truck, Ken asked for Ryder. And being the ice cube, I suggested not today. He pressed until I pulled off my gloves to show my bright red fingers. While not the wonderful day I had planned, it was still fun to work. I know what I need to work on, and I have a plan.

Reba and Diva will be getting some regular work over the next little while. Ryder can grow up a bit more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Addition

We have a new addition to the farm! One of the office staff at work has two ewes. One ended up getting mastitis. And after trying to work, and keep the little gaffer alive, we came to an agreement. My dad has decided to take the little fellow under his wing and bottle feed him. Barb was calling him Kyle, but I'm not so sure Kyle is a name I'm going to keep. Cute little fart! Closing in on two weeks old in this picture. Bella is in love and taking her guardian responsibilities very seriously.

Herpes Outbreak

The barns up here have shut their doors. They are limiting movement and if you dare remove your horse, they won't accept it back. Why? There has been verified cases of Equine Herpes Virus. This is a highly contagious and often fatal disease for horses that has limited treatment and prevention options. Please read the copied letter for information on the disease and some background on the outbreak. And if you are a horse owner in the Western States or Provinces - perhaps it's best to leave your horse at home for the next few weeks. You know the saying - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...

Here's the copied letter (off Facebook.)

As shown below, the neurological version IS EHV-1 (aka EHM): (For those interested, the Flu/Rhino vaccine we give protects against EHV-4. To my knowledge, there is no vaccine for EHV-1.)

Message sent to AAEP DVM Members in the U.S. and Canada on May 16, 2011

Currently, there are reports of equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM) affecting an unconfirmed number of horses in the U.S. and Canada. This outbreak appears related to initial cases at a cutting horse show in Ogden, Utah, which was held from April 29 - May 8. Horses at that event may have been exposed to this virus and subsequently spread the infection to other horses. While the true extent of this disease outbreak is uncertain, there is clearly a very significant elevated risk of EHM cases at this time. At this time control of the outbreak is critically dependent on biosecurity.

Laboratory submission of nasal swabs and whole blood samples collected from the exposed horse can be utilized for virus detection and isolation. Please consider testing any suspected cases.

The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse but typically only causes neurological disease sporadically. However, in an outbreak of EHV-1 neurologic such as we are experiencing now, the disease can reach high morbidity and case fatality rates. The incubation period of EHV-1 infection is typically 1-2-days, with clinical signs of fever then occurring, often in a biphasic fever, over the following 10 days. When neurological disease occurs it is typically 8-12 days after the primary infection, starting often after the second fever spike. In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs may include: nasal discharge, incoordination, hind end weakness, recumbency, lethargy, urine dribbling and diminished tail tone. Prognosis depends on severity of signs and the period of recumbency. There is no specific treatment for EHV-1, although antiviral drugs (i.e. valacyclovire) may have some value before neurological signs occur. Non-specific treatment may i nclude intravenous fluids, and other appropriate supportive therapy; the use of anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is strongly recommended. Currently, there is no equine vaccine that has a label claim for protection against the neurological strain of the virus.

Horse-to-horse contact, aerosol transmission, and contaminated hands, equipment, tack, and feed all play a role in disease spread. However, horses with severe clinical signs of neurological EHV-1 infection are thought to have large viral loads in their blood and nasal secretions and therefore, present the greatest danger for spreading the disease. Immediate separation and isolation of identified suspect cases and implementation of appropriate biosecurity measures are key elements for disease control.

Please report any confirmed EHV/EHM cases or suspect EHV/EHM cases to your state/provincial animal health department as soon as possible.

For additional questions, please contact Keith Kleine, AAEP director of industry relations, at (800) 443-0177 or kkleine@aaep.org.


William Moyer, DVM
2011 AAEP President

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Soul Saturday

Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems right? When you feel like bursting at the seems you are so content? Today was a hair off a perfect day for me. It was a day that fed my soul.

It began with my normal 6:30 routine. Get up, potty the dogs, feed dogs, sheep and horse. The bonus began at around 7:00 when I went back to bed!!!! It was golden! I slept until about 10:30. Let's face it, my schedule rarely allows for sleep ins, and when I am one happy camper!

After a leisurely breakfast, and once the paper was read, I laced up my runners (which I have not done for a very, very long time), gathered up the Borders and went for a run. While it was rather windy out, the sun was shining and that is something to never take for granted! It was amazing. I had two dogs heeling on one side, one on the other. And all on leash! (Tessa opted to remain home in the yard.) They were all well behaved and had excellent leash manners. I felt like a superstar. I was being pretty careful taking walk breaks because the babies and I aren't used to running on pavement and I don't want any injuries. (My vet cleared 30 minute runs with them.) Normally I use my iPod as a crutch, but today (with ear still ouchy) I ran and just enjoyed the time with my pack.

Next, I refueled with a protein shake, collected up Reba and went and worked sheep. I've been out to Ken's a few times working on some issues with her. And we're back to feeling good as a team. It never fails to astound me how much difference a little good coaching can do. I was able to get my timing right and saw an immediate improvement. I also learned Reba's lack of rate was directly linked to her slicing her Come Bye flank. It was like magic seeing how quickly and easily some of these problems disappeared.

With Reba worked, I did some leash work with the pups in the park. Ryder was a happy little fellow and is showing great strides in his ability to stay focused with distractions around us. Diva came with me to the barn where she exhibited wonderful manners with strange sights and sounds. Returning home, both pups got some playtime while I had a snack.

My evening involved meeting with my mom and sister-in-law to have dinner, followed by the ballet. We had a delicious meal, with an equally delicious desert (S'Mores = yum!) And the ballet was amazing. One of the best I've ever seen. One of the best shows period, that I've ever seen. It gave me chills and brought a tear to my eye. The dedication, training and athleticism is phenomenal. I love the passion these people brought to the stage.

It was hands down, an excellent day. The only thing missing was a ride (still grounded due to ear issues.) Then it would have been a perfect day. As it was, it was a day that fed my soul. That brought me joy. And that made me believe I'm finally, finally coming out of my self-imposed hibernation. (Yes Jeanne, I just may feel like putting on make-up, wearing a fancy dress, sitting amongst adults with a glass of wine.)

Here's to feeding your soul!

Friday, May 13, 2011

How Strange

One of my published posts just went "poof"! As in it's gone. Vanished. How strange is that??

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Puppy for Sale

Remember Nick? The man who bought Grace, had Grace die, and then I found a replacement pup for? Well, he called last night asking if I could find the new pup a new home. Apparently she's too friendly. Trying to keep the WTF out of my voice, asked what she was doing to try and get a clearer picture.

It seems she's really drawn to people. She runs up to any one and every one. Even if it means leaving the yard and running down the road to a nearby baseball diamond. He commented that it's too much work to always tie them up. Sigh. Only in farmer world would a friendly dog be a problem.

Anyhow, long story short - he wants to sell her for her purchase price of $500. When I had her at my place (at 8 weeks) she was very, very confident, bold even, and had a tremendous play drive. This pup would be my pick as an agility dog! She is a very traditional looking pup. Her breeding makes her a 3/4 sister to Reba. (Same mother, different father - with father's being half brothers.) Comes with ABCA papers.

Let me know if you are interested or know of someone who would be interested.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What I Have Learned

It's funny, as a child and young adult I was always more partial to cats. I wasn't particularly interested in the dogs. It wasn't until I was in my twenties, when a bad break-up and a birthday present for said ex resulted in my acquiring a puppy, that I became a bonifide dog lover. That dog was Tessa. Over the years I have learned a tremendous amount about dogs, especially Border Collies.

I started out with two books purchased from Chapters talking about how to train a puppy. I picked up more strategies (most of which I've since discarded) from the ranchers who I rode and roped with. My dog became my traveling companion, out of necessity going where I went. (I had no one to care for her.) I became a champion problem solver, using whatever resources were available to me, tapping into student "puppy sitters" so I could meet my professional obligations and my new found pet parenthood obligations. I quickly learned my former lifestyle wasn't going to work and adapted accordingly.

I have learned that there is no magic answer for problems, that all animals are individuals and should be trained and treated as such. I took hours of lessons trying to master the challenge of developing a herding dog. A journey I'm still very much on. I've made mistakes. And I've learned from each and every mistake I've made. I can only hope I've learned enough to not repeat them!

I've learned that books and the Internet experts aren't always right. This latest lesson has been most clear after having the opportunity to watch my puppies grow into teenagers. Case in point: Zoey was the most assertive female pup and she is the best socialized and friendliest teenager. Ryder was my most active and hyper pup and he has grown into a calm and easygoing adolescent. Diva has turned into a bold and brave young dog. If I had picked a pup based on their traits at 8 weeks (and based on what I had read), I would discover those traits did not hold true to who they are today.

I've learned a tremendous amount about dog language and behavior. I've had the opportunity to giggle as Diva slithers up to a sleeping Ryder and requests some play. I've stared in amazement as Reba, Tessa and Ryder slept peacefully at my feet. I've felt severe amounts of frustrations as Reba and Tessa go to war. I've learned how to deal with problems using positive strategies. I've learned oodles about the care both medical, physical and emotional for the dogs. I'm a continued student about Border Collie quirks, genetic features and breeding.

And most of all, I've learned about myself. I've discovered a deeper self-awareness. It becomes increasingly clear that most of the time when I have trouble with the dogs my ego has gotten in the way - creating it. Or I've skipped steps. Either way, I've learned.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Blog or Not

Have you ever wrote a post and then chickened out of publishing it? That's what I did this morning. It was deeply personal and about something very much on my mind right now. It's something that could potentially open me up to negative responses, while on the other hand, open me up to new strategies. It's a post that's saved, sitting in "the cloud". What to do with it?

Without going into detail, I have a scary, stressful, and horrifying dog experience. It's one that needs to be solved. And one I have taken steps towards solving. (If it's even possible...) It's one that tears me up inside. Normally, I would blog without fear. However, I have learned that not all people read this blog because they're interested in what's going on in my world. I have learned that there are people who read this waiting to attack, place blame or just be negative in general. These are the people I don't write for. And these are the people making me hesitate with posting about my current issue.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Feel Like A Child

Yesterday I woke with a sharp stabbing pain in my ear. It got increasing worse as the day progressed. Now you can imagine the joy of dealing with 22 excited children when their little voices pierce your eardrum. Toughing it out, I went to the MediCentre, (thank you Canada for free and easy to access medical services!), and after a brief examination was told I don't have an ear infection but I do have an angry and inflamed ear.

With prescription for ear drops in hand I went and filled it (which cost me $1, thank you benefit plan!). I've been popping Advil and laying on my side, feeling much like a child. Talk about a way to build empathy for the little farts who are prone to ear trouble!

The worst thing?

I can't ride (or swim, but I hate swimming so don't care about that)! I can't ride for at least 5 days. So lemons into lemonade, I've taken Bacardi's vaccinations to the barn and GB (the stable owner) will give her the shots. This way, it's not too painful to not ride.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Two Paths

Sometimes my country roots goes to war with my short attention span and desire to "do". I had been tamping down one of my interests, in the interest of getting Roxy through training and competing with the dogs. However, last night, I gave up the fight. I've decided to scale back on some things and ramp up others.

I've decided, that next summer, July 2012, I'm going back to Europe. It's something I've wanted to do since I came home from my first trip. This time, I'd like to concentrate on England, Ireland, and Scotland. I've been to London. Just touched the surface of things I'd like to do and see. Now I want to go back. I want to explore and experience. And I just may take in some dog trials (and get some lessons) while I'm there.

This is the plan and I'm really excited about it!

Can't Win for Lousing

I can't win for losing right now. My darling fur-babies picked up lice (or should I say a louse) at doggy daycare. They called me yesterday at work to say one of their regular grooming and weekly daycare visitor had some even smaller visitors on it. As a result they checked all the dogs, and my little man Ryder, had a louse setting up house. Not cool.

A call to the vet, and an order of the topical treatment were the result. I have 5 dogs. I have 5 dogs to treat at least twice this month. You do the math...

The positive is that it's lice and lice are significantly easier to treat than other types of pests. I'll put Revolution on them to kill anything that may be trying to take up residence. I'll also do all kinds of laundry, and thoroughly vacuum (isn't vacuum a strange word??) the house and my truck. Let the good times begin...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rescues Rant

Lately every time I indulge my guilty pleasure - Kijiji, I'm left with a sour look on my face. I've started to develop a rather large peeve with some of the users out there. Now most times, I get a kick out of the ads. I have a guffaw over spelling and descriptions.

There seems to be a bit of a trend right now. Horse Rescues. It seems everyone and their dog is now operating a "rescue". The ads all plea for money or resources, tugging at your heart strings, trying to guilt you into giving to their cause. But I for one am sick of it. Seriously, who are they to say who's qualified to own a horse? To say which horse is "deserving" of a rescue? Do they even need rescuing?

These people troll the local auctions "rescuing" horses from the meat pen. Their ads state things like "so we can save the good ones". Don't get me wrong, selling a horse for meat is not a choice I'd make. But do I have the right to say that there are horses out there who shouldn't be in the meat pen? Nope, I don't think so. I hate that these people buy up horses that have nothing on them, call them rescued, and place all kinds of conditions on the buyer of the horse.

One of the issues is the horses they are rescuing are a dime a dozen. There are no special features or training that distinguish them from thousands of other horses, and I don't understand the mentality of having a horse just sit in the field as an ornament or pet. I had read an article that stated the number of animals going to the packing plant has actually decreased. It seems to me that people are the problem. Would we need to rescue horses if people were more responsible? If they didn't breed randomly? My vet likes to say that breeding a horse gets another horse. And yes, my horse is bred. But that baby has a home and a use. And yes, if Whiskey ends up only being broodmare sound I will try to rehome her. I don't need or want a broodmare. I will look at reputable and responsible breeding programs, with an approved home, and sign her over. For free.

What I won't do is randomly breed her to some strange unproven stallion with a bizarre yet trendy color just for the sake of getting a baby. (Seriously, if the stud fee is only $300 there is a problem here.)

As to those rescue organizations... get a life and stop the propaganda on the sales forums. I fully and completely support the SPCA and Rescue 100 as they take neglected and abused animals. I do not support organizations or individuals who go to local auctions and try to "save lives".

Okay, I'm done my rant.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Close Encounters of the Wild Kind

We've been going for hour long rambles in the grazing reserve. The grazing reserve is thousands of acres of wilderness and fields that's beside Elk Island National Park. All in all, a lot of undeveloped and protected land filled with wildlife ranging from moose, deer, coyotes, cougars, black bears, fowl and birds. You get the picture...

On one evening walk I spotted a coyote. Thank goodness it saw us before the dogs saw it and beat a hasty retreat. Last night, as we passed one of the shallow sloughs I could see something swimming in it. Something Diva also saw. Head and tail in the air she ran full tilt, barking, into the water. Stomach in my throat and sphincter sufficiently tight, I hollered at her to come back. My imagination went wild with images of Diva bloodied and mauled by the swimming creature. Diva was fearless, and not in a good way! She was giving no quarter. At least until the huge beaver hit the water with it's tail, splashing her and scaring her with the loud bang. Thankfully, she came running back.

Today, we were passing the dug out in our usual walking field when the dogs spotted a Canadian Goose. For the record Canadian Geese are large and not known for being nice. Once again using my holler I tried to redirect the dogs. No go. And what dog was the worst? You guessed it. Diva. The little fart chased the goose into the water. She was chest deep before she stopped. Once she decided the goose was sufficiently put into it's place she returned to me.

That little fart is the devil! But oh so full of character...