Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Ol' Vet Visit

Diva's been leaving some little spots behind her when she sits.  My poor little girl has been leaking.  Not a lot. Just more than a not quite two year old dog should.  I made a vet appointment and took her in.  Once there she was examined and then we took her outside to get a urine sample.  The clinic has this ladle thing they use.  She was, of course, scared of it.  Imagine her scooting forward looking over her shoulder at this thing while I'm walking around behind her trying to stick it under her butt when she squats...  I put a "pee" command into all my dogs.  We just travel too much and it simplifies life.  Giving her the command I eventually got the sample.  We'll get the results today.

The most interesting thing came to my attention while at the clinic.  My little Dee just may be growing up.  When we walked into the clinic the waiting room was empty.  Going to the far wall we settled down to wait.  Dee lay down by my feet, resting her head on her paws.  When the dog in the exam room came out she perked up.  I quietly asked her to focus on me... and she did!  Not a peep came out of her.  When we went to get our pee sample there was a dog close to the door.  Both times we were able to walk past with awesome manners.  She even "leave it" when a cat went Kung Fu Kitty on her outside.  Quite amazing.

Now we sit and wait.  Wait to find out what's going on.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Like a Tug Toy

On Sunday I went and picked up a new dog.  Charlie is his name.  Charlie is a 10 month old unregistered Border Collie.  Based on his coat (curly) he looks like he probably has some Gonnet's Moss or Elvin Kopp breeding in him somewhere.  I've discovered he really doesn't know anything.  Not his name.  Not to come, sit or stay.  He had what I'm pretty sure was his first off leash walk on Monday.  He got lost.  After that he was much more inclined to stick with the pack.  He's friendly with people and he's friendly with dogs.  He is also not afraid of much.  He does however have some of those neurotic Border Collie traits - you know the one's a dog develops when they've not had the stimulation they need.

The biggest thing Charlie and I will be working on are manners.  He has none.  He has no travel manners.  He has no around people manners.  He is entering doggy bootcamp.  He needs to listen and learn to try and catch him up.  This is important because he's Blaine's dog.  He needs to have a firm understand of who is the top dog or parent in the relationship.  

 I put him on sheep today.  It would be his second time seeing stock.  (The first would have been when I tried him to ensure he had instinct prior to purchasing him.)  I was happy that he didn't bark.  I was happy to see him kind of be excited and want to chase the sheep around.  All normal development.  My goal was to get him circling both directions and stopping.  That's it.  Short and sweet.

What really happened is one of the sheep broke from the flock.  He went after it in mad pursuit.  The sheep turned and faced him up, started to make bunting motions at him.  He kind of bounced a couple times and then launched himself at the nose.  He then tugged and tugged.  He used this sheep like a tug toy.  Rushing in, I had Tessa push the flock of sheep towards the lone sheep to try to encourage it to join it's buddies.  Tossing my cane, I got Charlie to release the sheep.  The blooming sheep did not take off towards the flock but in the opposite direction.  Charlie launched himself at the sheep, the sheep giving up went down.  Running, I had to physically pry Charlie's mouth off the bloody (quite literally) sheep.  This is a first for me.  I've never had a pup try to chow down on mutton.  Pulling Charlie away from the sheep.  Who remained down (eeek), I had Tessa push it's flock up close.  Calling Tess off I stood off to watch.  The sheep got back up on it's feet and other than a bloody nose seemed to be okay. (Phew!)

Baaaaaaddddd Charlie!  Ate my nose!
How such an innocent and happy little dog could be such a shit disturber?  He really was very happy go lucky about the whole process.  He has no respect for body pressure or people.  This is also something we'll be working on.  I did manage to get him to successfully circle both ways.  He's very, very tight but went around the little flock I had out.  He needs more exposure and I need to work him with someone more experienced to ensure everything is safe.  I'll be calling Ken for some advice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Straight From The Horse's Mouth

Today I met up with Lynn and Stacy.  They have Ryder and Diva's littermates Luke and Zoey.  We went for a walk along the Sturgeon River.  It was fabulous.  I love hiking.  I love the how it works my body and I love how the dogs run free and explore.  It makes me happy and relaxed.

This morning while I was getting myself organized.  Grabbing leashes and treats, all three dogs were roaming about in the garage.  One of the neatest things occurred.  Diva and Charlie were dog-speaking the language of play.  Diva was so happy.  This blows me away that my little socially stunted dog was actively inviting play from a (more or less) unfamiliar dog.  I smiled.

I did not smile when Ryder got all fluffed up and tried to boss Charlie.  Giving Ryder a sharp command I walked over to him.  It was then that I noticed my bossy boy was shaking.  Full body quivers.  Uncontrolled.  Crap.  Clearly his issue isn't that he's aggressive or a bully but something else.  Now to figure out what and get him sorted out.  When we met up with the other dogs (there were four other dogs plus my three) he was fine.  He happily greeted them and off we went.

Towards the end of the walk a dog ran out of a yard and began barking at us.  Ryder and Diva and Charlie (and some of the others) took off in hot pursuit.  I called, used my whistle and Ryder and Diva slowly returned.  (They did recall off of a high stress situation.)  Even in that situation he didn't try to fight the dog.  It was mostly all the dogs running and barking.  And the tone of the bark was an "on alert" bark.  (I have been reading up and learning.)

When I got home I called the vet.  I wanted accurate and correct information on what neutering will and will not accomplish.  If the dog is "aggressive" neutering will not help the behavior.  If the dog is "dominant" then neutering will help.  This has put me in a bit of a quandary.  Ryder is not "aggressive" I've researched it and he doesn't fit the mold.  I'm not even convinced he's dominant because he's never made any moves to dominate the dogs around him.  With Diva he's rough (through the human lens) but he never dominates her or Tessa or Bella.  He made no move to try to be the dominant dog on our walk.  Ryder is a very soft and sensitive dog.  My mom summed it up nicely when she said, "You know those little kids who cry if you even look at them funny.  Well, that's Ryder.  He's a sensitive little crybaby of a dog."

I wonder if I spend my time introducing him to dogs in one-one controlled situation if this would help.  He was doing very well until Kobe tried to eat him.  Now not so much.  Link?  Who knows.  Testosterone?  Who knows.  With this in mind I think I'll give him the summer as a reprieve.  I want to work with him and see if it helps.  Otherwise it'll be snip time.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Time To Snip

Last year I had planned to neuter Ryder.  Then on the advice of a high end stock dog trainer and breeder I put my "snip" plans on hold.  He suggested I wait until Ryder was 3.  Simply because Ryder is so freaking awesome on sheep.  I know that once I get my crap together and get trialing him he will do wonderful things.  He has so many wonderful qualities on stock.  He is also a lovely dog to live with.  For the most part he's pretty relaxed and easy going.  He's becoming well adjusted and beginning to greet strangers - even men - appropriately.  His big issue right now is his interactions with other dogs.  Even Diva.  This is a new-ish problem one that seems to be getting worse with time and work, not better.  He is very rough when he plays and he's become something of a bully.  It is so strange because he's so gentle and kind with Tessa.

Last night he would not give up his negative attitude towards Charlie.  I have to wonder if as he becomes more entrenched in his understanding that he's a boy that this will get worse.  It leaves me thinking that it may be in his - and my - best interests to neuter him now.  And then work on the behavior without the issues of the hormones.  Thoughts?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Different Philosophy

Blaine settled on a dog.  An unregistered "farm" Border Collie named Charlie.  He is 10 months old and has been a pet.  The most interesting thing I found was when I went to pick him up.  I have the sketchiest feeling about these people.  It certainly isn't how I do things (not that I'm perfect).  

When I pulled up a deluge had just started.  I decided to sit and wait it out.  The heavy rain wouldn't last that long.  To my surprise the son runs out with the dog on his leash.  He loads him up in the truck, grabs the money and goes.  I had to ask for some dog food so I could mix it with mine.  I had this sinking feeling.  This feeling that this dog hadn't been loved on and trained on, the way I'd love on and train on my dogs.  

I've put him in the X-Pen in the living room for now.  I don't trust him, and my two are singularly unimpressed with this whiny interloper.  I figure they'll need some supervised and care during the transition process.  The big thing I noticed that didn't make me happy is it's clear this dog has become used to entertaining himself.  In the run he ran and barked and ran and barked.  For that reason he won't get any dog run time until I get more training and excercise into him.  Until he's less stressed and has a better understanding of the expectations placed on him, he'll be in lock down.  


We've been having a very nice season this year.  I have a lot of grass.  More grass than Guinness can possibly eat on his own.  One of my friends has a lovely Arabian named Johnnie.  Johnnie has been sitting and rusticating in the fields at her place.  A few years ago he had 90 days of training.  He's basically sat since.  I really like this horse.  He reminds me of the horses of my childhood.  My friend has kindly "loaned" me Johnnie.  He'll be my summer project.  

When it stops raining I'll get some better pictures of Johnnie and Guinness.  Guinness was a very happy little boy to have a friend.  He got all studish.  Johnnie had to give him a boot to remind him of his manners.  It was awesome.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fair Practice??

In my search for a dog for Blaine I've contacted many of the people I know who have dogs.  Looking for the right fit.  One of my dog/horse acquaintances has a young dog with minimal training.  When I told Blaine to contact her she told him she'd only deal with me.  Then I check my email and discover she wants me to put time into this dog and we'd split the profit.  This seems so dirty to me.  It makes my moral compass stand up and scream.  Basically I found a potential buyer (Blaine), yet I'd bump the dog's training and therefore the value up, prior to him purchasing the animal.  In my mind this is wrong.    I'm more than happy to find Blaine a dog with minimal training, and finish it for him - simply because Blaine and I have the understanding prior to that this is how it would work.  And quite simply, because Blaine is a friend I wouldn't expect financial gain from this understanding.

So am I right to think this is questionable practices?  Or should I get off my soapbox?

Friday, July 6, 2012

How Fun Is This??

So far, my summer vacation hasn't really started.  I'm currently working (procrastinating) on university work.  All next week I have classes.  However,  not only do I have an invite to Ken's, another of my connections after a random FaceBook conversation today has invited me out to go riding at her place.  She also has a ton of horses.  How fun is that?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Hardest Thing

Blaine and I have been on a mission.  We've been looking for a dog for him.  Last Saturday I tried a "town" dog for him.  It was a 10 month old, unregistered male.  "Charlie" had never seen stock so I asked his owners if they'd mind letting me see him on the sheep.  They agreed, and brought him out.  As thanks, I gave them some gas money (it wasn't very far from their place to mine).  Charlie was pretty good.  I got him to circle both directions and he was pretty keen.  So keen, it was hard to pull him off the stock.  Unfortunately he hadn't had much in the way of basic obedience (no recall, sit, stay, etc.) which I don't like to see in a dog by that point in time.  The other thing I didn't really like, but could understand, was he barked at the sheep.  He barked and barked.  Not sure if that's something he'd stop with time.  Telling them we'd talk it over and get back to them, Blaine and I made arrangements to go look at another dog he found.

Yesterday we went and looked at the second batch of dogs.  It was one of the hardest things for me to walk away from.  There were about five dogs and one pup with an older couple.  The man, well, he was one of those types that thinks he knows everything but really knows nothing.  The "meet" began with him rapping one of the young (6 months) dogs on the snout repeatedly while hollering to get down.  Finally he smacked it with his cane.  The dog rolled over and gave his belly.  Next he untangled a plethora of chains from his quad.  He went and collected up another young dog (around 1 year) and chained it to his quad.  He then took off towards the pasture.  Cringing, I climbed back into Blaine's truck and went followed.  He then made me (for whatever reason he decided I was the person he was talking to) go and tie up one of the loose dogs.  The dogs wouldn't come to him so I had to catch them, (All very submissive.)  and tie it up to the fence.  They had no collars so I had to use a hunk of chain (also cringe worthy).  When I asked if that one worked he said no, that she was just his "brood" dog.  That comment just left me horrified.

Watching the young dog work it was clear this was not a started dog.  He knew nothing and barked all the way down the field, and the entire time he was by the cattle.  The man kept changing his story.  By the end of the time with him I was half convinced he had Alzheimer's.  (He misplaced his large yellow quad and knew no names for the dogs.)

The icing on the cake? He took us to see the puppy (9 weeks).  Of course, I was the one he sent into the run to collect it.  This poor baby was cowering in the far end of the dog house.  I ended up crawling into the house (and tore my jacket on an exposed nail)  the poor darling was terrified.  He shook and shook.  Cuddling him up I brought him to the truck.  Everybody had a look and I returned the pup.  By this point in time I was edging on really irritated.  When I put the baby down he flipped over and gave me his belly.  I bent down and gave him some love.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done - walking away from that baby.

I had to do a lot of self talk.  Tell myself that taking this poor darling away would not solve the problem.  That the man would just keep breeding more.  I just felt awful.  I wanted to take each of those dogs and rehome them with someone else.  This is the same reason I don't go to the local horse auction.  It scars my soul and I can't deal with it.  I ended up feeling depressed the remainder of the day and had to do some baking therapy.  Those dogs will haunt my dreams.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Hope is an amazing thing.  It can fill a person's bucket.  Without hope, life is a wasteland of disappointment and depression.  Today, Ken filled my bucket.  I was up with the birds and the bees and on the road by 6:30a to reach his farm before the heat of the day hit.  (Yes, our heat is puny compared to you southern folks...)  We had a big day planned filled with horses and dogs.  Two of my ultimate favorite things.

We began by working Ryder.  He was a superstar.  We stretched out his outrun (where he goes and collects the sheep) and his confidence just grew by leaps and bounds.  I love working this dog.  Next, we moved horses in closer, took a lunch break in which I delighted in teasing his daughter, and followed up with Diva.

My mouth turned down I looked at him when he asked if I wanted to work her.  I kept telling him not really (we'd just had a phone conversation about how naughty she is and how frustrated I was), he kept pushing me.  Finally I told him to work her.  He did.  She was soft and smooth as butter.  The biggest shocker for me was how she kept looking for me.  Diablo Diva wanted her mommy.  (Yes, I know that's icky and bad form but I don't care.)  It got so bad that Ken told me I'd have to work her.  In short order she pulled some of her standard "Piss On You" tricks.  Pulling me to the side, Ken gave me a stern talking to.  Taking a deep breath I walked back out armed with some strategies.  And they worked!!!  I was able to maintain calm and focus.  Ken said it was the best he's ever seen me work Diva.  The best part was I was able to get Diva to a workable, trainable, and team minded stated.

For the first time in a very long time I felt hopeful about this dog.  That I was capable of managing her and working with her through her issues.  And she showed me she wanted to try.  That she wanted to be trained.  I felt really, really good when we walked away from the sheep.

This was followed by riding horses.  What more could a girl ask for?

Well... Ken invited me to come out and spend a week working dogs and riding horses.  Yes please!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pride and Epiphany

I had told a friend's family that I would loan them some sheep for the summer to graze down their little acreage.  Today was delivery day.  I hitched up the trailer, put Diva and Ryder in the run, and enlisted my mom and Tessa for some help.  Dad had bought around 20 weanling lambs to graze down the "sheep" pasture.  I needed to pull my six out of the flock.  Using Tessa to push on them and get them shifting around the younger sheep slid into a shed.  Smooth as butter.  Well, until Tessa went deaf.  Then not so smooth.  Plan B was to encourage my three woolies to leave the shed.  I brought Tessa in when they wouldn't respond to my pressure.  She shot them out.  I managed to cleanly pull five of my sheep out.  Deciding I could leave the one hair behind, we drove them out into the field.

Next, I pulled the trailer into the field and parked it at the gate.  I had grabbed Ryder.  Now, mom had Tessa on a leash and I had Ryder loose.  (He listens better.)  I stationed mom and Tessa in a high pressure spot to help create a bit of a human wall.  Ryder gathered and pushed the sheep to the edge of the trailer.  He kept counter balancing them to the trailer, taking off in hot pursuit if something made a break for it.  I was in awe with his manner.  He is so quiet and kind to his stock.  He does not dive in and grip under pressure.  Watching him, my chest puffed out with pride.  He is a young dog and he took his flanks relatively well, and he tried.  He tried and tried to do the right thing.

Taking our time to not put too much pressure on the sheep and create a wreck or bolting situation I managed to get the Blat one of the hair sheep in.  Mom ran off to grab the halter and I tied him in the trailer.  While I was doing this Ryder kept the sheep at the mouth of the trailer.  A lot of time had passed so I felt we should try for more pressure.  I asked Ryder to put some heat on.  Using my cane I began to encourage the sheep to move forward into the trailer.  It was here that I encountered a major problem.  Every time I lifted my arm, or took my foot into the buttocks of the sheep (relax - no beating occurred - just some good shoves) Ryder moved out of contact, creating a window for the sheep to move into.  My poor gorgeous boy was afraid of the cane.  Broke my heart.  This is something we'll need to work through.  Moving mom and Tessa to the high pressure spot - with Tessa leaning hard on her leash - my lead sheep finally hopped in.  And then just like water the sheep flowed into the trailer.  Closing the door, I went in and untied Blat.  Ryder sat there peeking in, pleased as anything.  I was so proud of him.

He hasn't done any functional work yet he handled the high pressure situation like a champion.  I also enjoyed myself immensely even though I spent a good portion getting rained on.  Why?  I think because there was purpose to it.  I sat back and thought about why I procrastinate and in some ways resist my trial training.  Why I'm not motivated.  I think it leaves me emotionally numb, whereas this had a reason to it.  I think I may need to add in more functional activities to our training regime.

There it was pride overfloweth and an epiphany all in one damp package.