Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ring Around The Rosie - And We All Fall Down

We have been at the Sommer Ranch for the past couple of days to include our dogs in the study of Border Collie Collapse Syndrome.
Some old faces were familiar, as two of my old professors were the head honchos conducting the study. I had this sudden urge to sit in a chair in the back and raise my hand to ask questions.
It was an excellent study, and a lot of good information will definitely be found by this. There was also flyball dogs in the study as well. There were dogs expected to be normal that showed signs. A lot of discussion was brought up, and the main point was that this was a very eye-opening event, and hope that people think about the whole dog when people are breeding.

The testing included making our dogs work 10 minutes very intensely, and then going through a barrage of chemistry testing and ECG's pre and post exercise. Videos were done to document the movement of the dogs pre and post testing as well. Being of the scientific mindset, I found this quite fascinating to be a part of this.

After we were done, then we went to do the most important part of the stay at the Sommer Ranch, and that was to train our dogs.

Bev put Jock through his paces.

Norm worked Lexie as well as Jill's upcoming star Jaimie.

Jaimie Van Ryn also worked her dog Max,
We all got the privilege to sit in the honored chair - where it serves multiple purposes - resting your tired feet, allowing one to develop the perfect training methods, and the most important - the ability to spin the chair the other direction when one has drunk too much beer to cause their head to spin uncontrollably.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shedding Clinic

I wasn't able to go to Scott Glen's clinic this past weekend due to prior commitments, and it sounded like it was really good. Jill Brodie and I are at Norm and Bev Sommer's at Pleasantdale, Saskatchewan to help with a research project (will tell you more about it in the next few days). While we are here, we decided to do our own shedding clinic.
We had our sheep and dogs lined up to do the perfect shed.

Of course, you have to settle them down, or you can't shed them at all.

My border collie successfully shed off the marked sheep from the unmarked sheep.

And then my dog was able to drive his group away with great authoritative measures.
This dog has a ton of power!

The dog worked great until the two groups were successfully separated. The unmarked sheep went on their merry way.

and the marked sheep were marched off by my border collie straight into the pen
My first perfect international shed and pen!!

For your own flock of sheep and dog, phone 1-800-Toe Dogs. Drinking optional.
Norm Sommers even has his own flock of sheep and dog. Ask him to take his socks off! Make sure that is downwind though.

The Duck Whisperer

I am sure you are all wondering if I found my ducks - no, I didn't. I do believe some coyote has a very full belly - I hope he chokes on the feathers, and gets the bills stuck in his gullet. I bought 4 more ducks, and now they are contained like the Calgary Remand Centre - minus the tattoos. I have found I have turned into the Duck Whisperer - (everyone say quietly now - you flocking duck, would you like to be Duck A'La Orange?) With the help of a dog pen, the birdbrains have learned to walk a plank and jump into a tub of water -and Gin has learned quite quickly that this is the routine they must follow as well. This past Saturday, I took the circus into Calgary to do a pre-Stampede breakfast. I loaded up the ducks, the water tub, dog crate, pen and tunnel for these upcoming stars and went in the night before and stayed at a friends. I told the crew to be very quiet, since I didn't want the bylaw officer coming by and calling foul. There was a small demo done in the yard to get the kinks worked out, and I felt ready for the next day. We got to the demo in the morning, and the girls were somewhat behaved - but I do believe stage fright hit them. Little kids wanted to pet the ducks, and they would have nothing to do with them. We managed to get the ducks to remember their routine, and they walked the plank and jumped into the water. I packed up the entourage, and took them back home. I do believe they were quite pleased with themselves, because they had a huge splash party when they were put back into the pen. I ended off the day with a glass of Baby Duck - very fitting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Down with Down

Sit down, have a cup of coffee, and put a pair of Depends on - I am going to tell you a true story. On Saturday I went and bought some ducks to work the dogs - I am going to do a demo during Stampede, and wanted to get the ducks ready, you know, fit them for the costumes, teach them some moves-stardom was just inside their reach, but it wasn't in their stars.

When I brought them home, in my wisdom, I put them in with the sheep that were kept in electric netting. I thought that they would be okay there. Thinking about it now, I bet the feathers were a great insulator.
They waddled into the caraganas, and except for the wondering glances from the sheep, they settled down.
Then I went on with the rest of my day - hauling some sheep home, picking up a horse, and hauling some cattle - as a sidenote, I have found I am quite proficient in backing up a stock trailer. I may open my own livestock transport company.

My last job brought me home 11:30 that night, and when I woke up, I was looking forward in starting the training program for the ducks. The ducks decided to go on the lam-there was only one duck left where I had left them the day before. I did a quick duck looking tour, and found one more duck had wandered to the garden, hiding in the bushes. I searched all day - looking through the trees, listening for any quacking. You would think I could see them -they being so white, and the grass so green-but those girls were in survival mode - they would become statues, not say a word, and get as low to the ground as possible.
Last night before I went to bed, I decided to step outside and have one more listen. I heard a soft quacking, and saw a duck drinking from a water puddle - a quite peaceful sight in the moonlight. I briefly thought I should get Gin to help me get her, but I thought I could get her myself. Stupid thought. After trying to get her for 5 minutes, I left her in the same caraganas where they originally were dropped the day before, and went and got Gin. In the five minutes it took to get Gin, the duck disappeared. Vanished into thin air. Could not find hide nor feather of her. Flocking ducks I thought, if only they flocked. Then I thought I heard the quacking of ducks in the distance - a duck party I thought. A huge duck party for the noise they were making. I took Gin and walked towards the sound in the field, and walked, and walked. The ground got wetter and wetter. The night got darker and darker. I finally came to the realization that I had probably been stalking frogs. By this time, I am about 1/2 mile from home, and walking in my Dawgs. I thought I would cut across the field and get to the road, when I hit another patch of wet ground. I slipped in the mud and lost one of my Dawgs in that ballet move. I took off my Dawgs and walked barefoot through the mud - and all the way Gin was thinking I was going to play fetch with her. A thought crossed my mind after I put my Dawgs back on that I should market that mud to those who do pedicures - it actually felt quite soothing on my tired feet. I finally got home, rinsed my feet off and came inside. The time was 12 am. Then I looked at my feet.

And I took a bath.
I haven't given up on the ducks - in this area, duck hunting season has opened early. I think I am going to buy a camouflage outfit today. Or maybe I should buy replacement ducks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Signs of Summer

Well, after 40 days of rain (okay, it only seems that much), we had a treat today with some sunshine. The robins came in full force to clean out the worms. I had found a nest the other day, and they are probably feeding the little ones.
Also noticed was the rarely seen horned caprine in it's nest. They usually nest on the ground, but have been noted to take residence on top of cars. As statistics show, the more clean and expensive the car it, the more likely it will be home of one of these bold creatures.
Its varied diet is made up of grass, caraganas, dog food and the occasional tin can.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Handicapped Parking

You never know where you going to come across handicapped parking. Cliff the three-legged wonder has took it upon himself to take the easy way out when the rest of the dogs are ran with the gator-then he sits on his seat waiting for another ride.
All that he needs now is the special handicapped parking sticker on the gator.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deep Thoughts

We have all experienced it - catching someone, or something staring off into the distance contemplating life.
Gazes are fixed. As one notes the intensity - one would expect smoke to be coming through the ears as life's unanswered questions are mulled through.

Important questions such as - where did I leave my tricycle? and I wonder if Aunty has any more candy in her house.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Eco-Friendly Yard Work

In these times, being eco-friendly is something we strive to do. We hotwire our lawn for our herbivore friends to utilize.
Benefits include: low noise, no blades to sharpen, and low risk of neighbors wanting to borrow your machine.
An added benefit to the program, is a daily injection of fertilizer on the lawn.
There are several models available - the Lambinator (which also comes with the pruning option for bushes for free), the Mr. Ed Model, and my personal favorite - the Goat Wacker.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Well, finally returned from the North Dakota Trials - Slash J and The Big One. I had made my way through Saskatchewan, stopped at my parents, played some cards, whipped my dad's butt (minor elder abuse), and then carried on to North Dakota.
I camped out at Jonie Swanke's, and did as much to help with the trial. Amanda Milliken also showed her prowess as a Eastern Cowboy, and set sheep several mornings with her dogs.

The Eastern Cowboy Hat is a highly fashionable accessory.

The sheep were tough - the first day, getting into the mid 60's would guarantee a payout. I was having a pretty good run with Fly, and getting things in order around the post, and the three amigos ran off and caused a disqualification - this sport is most humbling.

After the Slash J Trial was over, we travelled a few miles to The Big One. A 800 yard outrun, and out of the 62 dogs, there were probably 10 that couldn't find the sheep. The Nursery was about 500 yards, and was happy with my dogs - Creed had did a pretty good outrun, but then at the second panels, the sheep decided to head for the hills.

Renee LaBree did a good job hosting the trial - the first day was a little hairy for her - she had wanted to start at 6 am, but the sheep had different ideas - it took a couple of hours to get them to the setout pen and pen them. We got a 10 point pen with those girls.

And you never know what will happen at a trial. At the Big One, Mother Nature took a front seat.

Not sure what type of bird it was, but a ground nest was found near the handler's post. We put a chair close to it, so we could leave the family alone.

For the first day the parents were a little bit bothered by all the commotion, but by the end, she went on her duties and fed their little one.

It didn't take long and they carried on their daily duties, while we sat back and watched the dog trial.

The next trial we will be going to is Chris Jobe's trial - a nursery trial - then there is a couple of arena trials, and then the Triple Crown. We got home yesterday, and half expected Noah's Ark to be waiting for all the rain that has fallen. The prune look may be in this year.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Slash J Trial

Well, the final day of the Slash J Trial is over, and am contemplating on slashing my wrists. Actually, for the toughness of the sheep, and the big course, I cannot complain about my dogs. I will complain about my handling though - after all of these years, why would I mix up my flanks, and then swear at Fly for taking the wrong flank? Yes, as Beverly Lambert noted, it was quite a fetch that Fly had made - I was thinking in my head "Away to Me", my whistle in my mouth was going "Come By" and Fly was taking the whistle and wondering "What are you doing you fool" - she is probably going to have an advert for a new handler any day soon. Creed got to his sheep (about 350 yards), perfect outrun, and 3 off of his lift (I am smiling), but then I have found I do have to work on his flanks alot better - still I am happy with him. We didn't get any points this trial, but the Big One starts tomorrow - 800 yard outrun. I may have to buy some Depends for that one so I won't have an accident while blowing. Amanda Milliken and Clive won Day One and won Day Two with Roz - not a small feat - in the end, the sheep became maneaters and would attack the crowd after shedding, after getting to the post, really after no reason. I, however, had my sheep retardent with me - my Jack Russell Tessa (check the website) - she is 9 weeks old, but very mighty. Definitely will have to have her on my lap for the next trial!