Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Before I set to work I thought I would post and long delayed update.
Last weekend we had a blast at the Yellow Rose Cattle Dog Trial over at Platte, SD. If you ever want to take in a trial this is a great one. It is held in an indoor arena with really nice but challenging cattle, along with some fun sheep for the open handlers to prepare for the Denver Stock Show and Rapid City, the figure 8 is a hoot. In addition, they host a Cowboy Christmas Craft Show and a little Cattle Congress with guest speakers. Many people, great shopping, awesome baked goods and smells, we ate way to much.
Wayne and I shared the handling job on Jake, he ran in the Open Cattle division and I ran him in Open Sheep. Both of us are pleased with our performances, the sheep proved challanging, out of approx 25 handlers, some big names, I think only 3 were able to navigate the Y-Chute, Laura Hicks, Pete Carmicheal & Bob Johnson showed us how to do it. Jake and myself made it through the Figure 8 and onto the Y-Chute making what I thought was a serious bid for a top run just to find a brick wall and timeing out, but we were in good company.
Wayne is kicking himself for not approaching his cattle run differently, they ran just over 30 dogs, taking the top 10 back to the finals. The most difficult obstacle was the Maltise Cross, he realizes know that if would have just settled for a low point count and moved on the the pen and exhaust with was worth an ample amount of point he may have been able to get to the finals. But, instead he and Jake worked hard to try to get that Maltise Cross mastered. But, that's ok, Wayne was pleased with his dog, and we were able to get on the road heading home, it was a 6 hour drive. According to Bob Johnson the finals did not get done until 10pm, we were home just after midnight.
We also took a couple of young dogs with for the ride. Weasel (Riley x Jake) was injured last week trying to take on one of Wayne's cattle dogs through the fence, she found herself being drug under the panel but didn't fit. Took all the hide off her front legs and tore her bads up severly. She's back nearly 100% now, no longer needing crate rest but she still have house privilages and she's riding it for all it's worth.
Toby (Bea x Jake) also rode with. On Friday evening Wayne had the opportunity to take him in on some roping steers, we also saw his litter mate Meg take her turn, she is owned by Val who lives near Platte and sets the cattle via horseback for the trial. BTW, Val does and awesome job!! Meg has been helping Val move calves off the feed bunks so she had an idea of what to do with the cattle, but Toby, he has never seen a cow in his life. You wouldn't know it though, off to work he went, first driving them with Wayne and then frustration Wayne by flanking around and driving them back at Wayne. Guess it's time to get a stop on the boy, and a left and a right...could we get so lucky to have it come easy and naturally...naa it's gotta be too good to be true.
I think we need to repeat that cross, sooner as opposed to later, so if anyone knows of someone in the market for a pup we will be taking deposits for the next litter. I'm hoping that we did not miss Bea's heat cycle, if we didn't she should be breedable in the next few weeks giving us February/March pups ready to go home in May/June.
BTW, my book by Tully Williams arrived, you gotta order it though I could see it being way over many peoples heads and I wonder if they would know it.... There was one dog that really caught my eye at Platte, it was a nice smooth coated female by the name of Abby owned by Bob Wagner. Some research revealed that he purchased her from Juan Reyes...he just so happened to be running a male just over a year old that could very well turn into this years Nursery National Cattle Dog Champion and I would not be surprised if he didn't make a run at the Open Finals, the dog's name is Zack, watch for him.... But we will see, I might be mistaken.
What is even more impressive to us, we watched older dogs that have more expirence with cattle get stopped in their tracks by those roping steers. In most cases a second dog had to be sent to help. Not with ours, thinking that they would be a much needed challange for Jake Wayne took him in before the pup, Jake went right to work with them, though he did emit some of his trade mark barks warning them before he would hit a nose, I kinda wish that would go away...
Here's a fun picture for you, Ricky (Vicki x Jake) and one of our female Dottie x Tough Australian Cattle Dog pups those little white slugs I posted about a number of months back, oh yeah...they were born on the same day.
This is Mouse...he has earned house duty, his brothers and sisters think it's fun to make the mouse squeek, so he's been in playing with the big dogs. He's not a wuss, steps right up, but he has a soft bite and is not able to fight his way out from under the biting monkey pile.
I was going to place him in a pet home thinking that he was going to be too soft, but boy is he smart, and he is showing some traits that we want to explore further. Besides what else do I have to do but pick up after the little pack rat...as I have been typing he has brought me my boot, a towel and now the bathroom rug.
Different methods of getting Vicki Stopped!!!
Anyone want to take on a little red hot shot.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
A number of years back I read an article in the Stock Dog Journal where the author presented a chart of different stock dog traits, as I recall he indicated which traits were inherited, which you could improve with training and which you just had to accept. At the time we were focussing on our Heeler's, I had not even thought of training them and trialing them leaving that to Wayne, so the article was just novel and really did not mean a lot to me.
But, that article has been nagging at me recently, I've been asking those questions that the chart tried to answer as I am working my dogs. I began the quest to find that article again, unsuccessfully mind you. I wrote the present editor of the Stock Dog Journal, Nicole Rhodes, she steered me toward Tully Willams, a breeder, trainer and stockmen from Australian and this book:
I've been to that site before, I don't know why I have taken in all the information that is there, (get the title of this post now?? "Readers are plentiful, thinkers are rare" ) Guess I was reading that day and not thinking.
Find me a real dog, bred down
A dog of brains and ability, self-reliant
In ignorance, inexperience
The good dogs have thinned, died out
Still, a remnant remains, a handful Natural dogs, and clean
Real sheepdogs not quite yet
A relic of the forgotten past
As a priceless pup demonstrates
The old blood, throbbing in its veins
It is interesting that a poem can strike such emotion in me, I can't help but wonder, is that what I am seeing in my dogs, bits and pieces of that relic from the past?
My quest, though not changed just better defined...to put all the pieces together into one great working dog, or rather, it's the goal of what we want our lines to consistently produce. It's the Holy Grail of Stock Dog breeding, but I wonder how many have truely looked deep enough into their dogs, or if they just accept the hand that is drawn and train their way through with no questions asked.
Also, how many dogs were given up on that had the right piece of the puzzle, but they did not have the rest. We are so fixated in finding the best dog available that has most of the pieces, should we be instead looking for the not so perfect that possess the missing pieces?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
See....Jake just brought them all in!!
Monday, October 26, 2009
So, I took Jake out, sorted off 4 head, had him settle them up near the top of the pasture and called him back to me. I then sent him off onto his outrun, he came up a little short which I would expect based on the draws which actually set things up perfectly lifting the sheep right down the middle of the pen, some quick flanks and the sheep were spun around one cone and then acrossed the pen and around the other, with a major mistake...me giving Jake the wrong flank commands. Ok, so there's the hole, me!!! If I can keep the correct flank commands firing out we will be fine, hah!! I guess I better appoligize to Jake now.
The next dog out was Weasel, she did an awesome job for me. Each time I work her she shows me great things. Her future job is to be a goose control dog, but not just any goose control dog, she will be expected to have enough handle on her so that she can be used for round ups, pennings and to be able to drive geese off of nests. I'm just going to take things slow and easy with her.
After Weasel I pulled out Dixie. Dixie is also destined for a life as a goose control dog. I don't know is she will have the power that Weasel has but she's going to be a blast to handle. She is behind Weasel in training just now beginning to understand her flanks, shaping them is going slow but coming along.
My last dog was Ugh, he's another one of Wayne's Cattle Dogs. Today was the first day of his restart, he didn't take it very well. Oh well, gotta have one dog out of the bunch that does not excell.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"There is nothing more likely to lead to error than to begin with the part rather than the whole."
Monday, October 12, 2009
However.... Good for the pup!
Bell was sore and carrying her leg from working at the sale barn a few days before, so I reluctantly loaded up only Jax. I figured I could keep him on the long line and if he got out of hand, down him by force. Well, I am so happy to say that it wasn't necessary! No, he didn't down the first or second or third time I called to him, but he found his own way. We started in the back corner of the circle - with 1 rotten cow and 22 calves. No one bloated, but still, out on our neighbors volunteer wheat.
Jax unloaded with huge interest, I got out with him, to give him direction and confidence he might not get if I stayed in the pickup. I decided to leave the string off, since it would be unlikely that I could catch him at a full run anyway, and if he missed a flank and got in the middle somehow, I wanted him to be unencumbered.
He is a big pup at 32lbs already- and covers ground well, still a lot of foot to grow into though, and we laughed at his ears flapping all over as he hauled butt out there with just a hiss and "get them up!" . He got within 3 feet of the cow, and looked back at me, running behind him, and I repeated the command, and he took a bite of her cannon bone- quick as could be, then went to wearing left, to keep them on the path - something he did all on his own! A couple calves were starting to slow and looked for a way through the repaired fence, and he flanked on his own, ducking through the fence, and ran hard at them, pushing them back towards the group. Jax slowed and looked back at me, and then seeing me still jogging towards the main group, I backed him up with another hiss and "get them up" and he took off again, wearing right to left at speeds I didn't know he was capable of yet! When they got near the fence, my husband had opened the gate and Jax changed his position - again on his own - to the far right to drive them through the fence. I was in total awe!
How does a 5 month old know to do that - and I am so tickled with his confidence! He did check with me a few times, and that is fine, he never changed his body position, and didn't let them stray while he thought about what I might ask of him. He stayed focused and I never called him back until we were done - with a That'll do! Good Dog Jax, Atta Boy!
He was pretty excited, but a bit winded, with tongue out and willingly laid down facing the herd- about 20 feet inside of the pasture, unknowingly - or instinctively protecting the open gate. He didn't come right back to me, just laid there - looking at them and then me, then back to the herd. I was winded too - been a long time since i had to run 1/2 mile to chase cows!
A little later Jax helped me with moving the same cows to another watering point - through a gate they weren't familiar with, so we really had to work to get them to stay in there - some of those rotten, tough-customer, dog hater cows put their heads down at him, then realized a human was behind the dog, and turned, without Jax realizing he wasn't entirely responsible for the cows movement and hesitation. I worried about them - and don't like being afoot for them myself, but for Jax's confidence, it was essential. Don't want to break his egg or bubble!
So, now, the focus is on downing and I am assigning come bys and away to me when he looks like he is going to do it anyway, but not focused on more than down and get back this week - at least intentionally.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The little bugger is ruling the household. I was concerned about how he would handle other dogs, being a singleton....well, he attacks his dad, barks at the TV and chases JJ, and he's just 4 weeks old!!!
We began by taking Fly out to the pen, Fly is a little 3 year old spayed female that I took in on trade for Riley from a farmer. She has some drive and feel but lacks confidence, I am hoping to find her either a pet home or a low requirement hobby farm home. I worked with Fly last spring and put some basics on her, she can be handy in the back pens, has some direction on her a stop and a walk up. All I can do with her at this time is continue to use her, and be there to help her.
Next dog in was little Rosy, what a little crackerjack she is at 5 months of age. She just gets to discover what the sheep are all about. She just loves to get them stopped, hold them at balance and then walk right on in, which in turn creates an explosion and it happens all over again. After a couple of repeats all of a sudden she ran backwards just as the explosion began, this resettled the sheep, if she had an expression on her little face it would be priceless....wow, I didn't know I could do that!!!!
Each of these young pups spent just a short amount of time in the pen, just long enough to let them discover some new useful thing they can do, allow it to reinforce and then pick them up and take them out.
Now on to Jake, Jake is the older male that arrived back in August. I've been working him now and then, with my focus on retraining his triggers, and adjusting his pressure sensitive thresh holds. Much of my work with him is just daily encounters out in his kennel. Back up when I walk in, kennel up when I say so, understand that when I growl and bang the soda bottle when you are running a barking that you need to stop and not amp up more. It's amazing how this work away from the stock can improve your relationship while out with stock, so many don't understand just how the two environments intertwine.
Ben (JJ's littermate)
The last two dogs into the pen were Dixie and Weasel the two Border Collie females that are full sisters to JJ. Both girls are still lack in maturity but both also showed that they are learning. I found a great opportunity to bolster Dixie's confidence in close proximity of the sheep, boy did that change the way she handled herself, it was almost as if a piece of the puzzle fell into place and she suddenly understood something that was escaping her.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I often ask myself why I spend so much time on the internet, it seems like it is lost time that I could be using training dogs. But then out of no where an answer comes to me from this source, it instantly turns that time spent into time invested. Today was one of those days.
Last week I mentioned the older male Border Collie that I have been trying to problem solve. He has spent the last week hanging out in the kennel, no sense taking him out for me to end up getting run over again or to injure sheep. While instant messaging another handler about this dog the key to solving his problem landed right smack dab in my lap. I couldn't wait to sign of, get sheep into the barn and make a new attempt. This renewed resolve brought about success, this dog that just last week I fear hopeless showed me that he could change.
This dog that was laying in wait to get them before they got him showed me that he could take the bull by the horns (rather ram), stand up to pressure, take the threat of a hit, counter with a bite and properly release. By no means is he fixed, but I think we just took a huge step in the right direction, but it all began with finding one key, the key that openned the door to a success, which I can only trust will lead to future successes.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Wayne moves in to bump Chip out of his trance, imagine that, a clampy cattle dog...
Chip moves off, not quite a flank but not quite a drive
Wayne moves in again and Chip stops
But...then decides that he needs to stop again, clampy little bugger
Wayne encourages Chip to "Walk up"
Wayne allows Chip to drive the sheep along the fence
Then in a circle around him
Now Wayne is walking with Chip during a drive
He has them all on his own!!!
At this point Wayne asked Chip to flank
The Sheep move off the fence, Chip continues down the fence on his flank
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Two Eyed Magic Trick (APHA 956015)
Sire: Fine Shine Bartender (QH) by A Fine Bartender out of Watch Joanne Shine
Dam: CS Doin Black Magic (buckskin/Overo) by Doc Cupid Chance (Red Roan/overo out of Mu Rocket Moon (Black/solid)