1. I have an alley that I can work Chris in.  I have not really utilized that area for training, but grazed the sheep out there from time to time, and I saw the strong draw back to their normal pasture, so I tried some training in there.
    It worked for the sheep trying to bolt away senario, and sending Chris to cover.  At first she was hesitant, and with encouragement, and a little time, she is somewhat willing to go either direction, with the sheep moving either west or east. 
    It has seemed to boost her confidence, and at the same time, she has to really move quickly, so they do not escape her as she passes them.  This alley has turned out to be a good tool for her.  I will train a little more in that area.
  2. Well, its been quite a long while since I have entered a post.  Sorry about that.
    Chris is well, she still is currently in ProNovice level, not yet ready for Open.  At this time, she is 3 1/2 years going on 1.  Ha!  She is still immature, but not as bad at herding as she used be.  Her avoidance behavior has gone away, yay!   
    I have a new puppy, Corrie, aka Core.  I am hoping that Corrie's presence  will aid Christian maturation speed.  But I do know 4 years old and even up to 5, is not unheard of for some Border collies to finally mature.
    Chris is much better at feeling her sheep than in the past, and I am still doing exercises to help her eye develop.  I talked with Jack Knox about a week ago, firming up dates for his clinic here in May.
    He has a littermate, Sis, and has seen several littermates working at other clinics, and he told me that they seem much like her.  Immature, looser eye, and really want to please, almost to a fault, to looking at their handler.  SO, strategy, Chris looks at me, but have NEVER reinforced it.  And that behavior is not that excessive with her.
    Jack told me not to let her barge the sheep at the top.  Most of the litter wants to do that and not properly feel their sheep when they lift.  So I have been practicing that with her.
    At the last trial we were at, the brand new iherd trial in Riverside, CA., the sheep were breaking back to the setout, or trying to, with most of the runs.  When Chris ran, they did as expected, except Christian didn't do as expected. 

    The sheep were breaking before she got to the top, and I started whistling her to cover, and she didn't!   Then I asked her again, and she started coming back to me...yikes, a new behavior....I asked her to look back and go and get them, and her answer was nope, I am coming back to you.  CRAP.  RT
    oh well run over.
    More to work on.  This last week I broke out the lambs and used them with her.  Much better, they were all over the place, and she was covering pretty well.  So, I will keep working on that, and having the sheep run away, and letting her cover.

    Christian herding at the Creston SDT   11/2014                                       Introducing Corrie    Born 9/21/2014
  3. Well I finally decided to write an update on Christian's maturing.  Being late in her maturation, she was just too young in her head to be able to handle too much strict training and trialing to be a nursery dog.

    With that said, I trialed her in ProNovice this last spring in two trials, a couple months before her two year mark.  She would work close at hand, but the trials were pretty much a mess in the outwork.  That is frustrating for me, being a control freak.

    In May, I hosted a Jack Knox clinic, which was the turning point for me with understanding Chris and her development.  Jack told me to quit working her like a trial dog, practicing the course.  I knew better, and had herd that before.  But we humans are so prone to repeat old behaviors when not looked at by a third party-trainer.

    So it was back to "playing" with her on sheep.  She had been showing me some advoidence behaviors while training her, and that showed me she was having too much stress while working sheep.  The sheep were put on the fence again, along with Chris being fired up again.  And I would add "commands" intermittenly, but making sure that she was having fun, and keeping really fired up.

    I do know that if I slow, or 'break' a young dog too early in their training, that as they age, they will naturally get slower, and they will become too slow when they work.  I also have and still do to a certain extent, remind myself that I am after a good open dog and not a good nursery or pronovice dog.  So I am training her with less stress for her, and I think it makes me a better trainer also.  I have to wait for them.

    I did not trial her for about six months, except I was allowed to enter her in the Scottish games in Pleasanton on just Sunday.  They had enough dogs scratch, that they allowed a third dog to enter.

    I was very grateful for it.  I always thought it a good way to desentize a dog to trialing pressures, to be trialed in an arena, where all things are closer.  And she was pretty good!  I kept a firm verbal leash on her, so not to get a sheep injured, but most of all, she had to mind me.  She ended up placing in the driving course sixth place combined.  I couldn't believe it.

    At the end of October we went to a trial down south of us in Valley Center CA.  I entered her in the two ProNovice trials offered on Sunday. 

    Her first run was great!  She was her normal tight outrun-away, but had nice lines and a nice pen.  She placed forth in that trial.

    The second run went south.  I sent her away again, and the set out was on the left.  This was probably not the best senerio for a young dog.  I think I should have sent her come-bye, as her presence could have stopped what happened next.  When she got to the top, the sheep broke back to the set out, and she just followed, not covering.  I gave her some noises to fire her up and get her to want to cover.  But she didn't.  So I just called her off.

    Two runs for her right now is one too many.  I think she can only handle the stress of one run per day.

    Yesterday, she was also entered in a ProNovice class at a trial up in Hopland CA.  This is a challenging field, and hard to duplicate for practice.  So when I saw the outrun was pretty far, I pretty much knew that I was going to have to walk away from the post to help her.

    I sent her come-bye, as the away side- supposed her better side, had a large area where she would not be able to see the sheep.  I have not worked that senerio yet, so chose the more visible side for the outrun.

    She started tight as usual, and at about halfway, I layed her down and redirected her.  She took the redirect.  Toward the top, I blew another redirect, as she seemed tight at the top.  She did not take it, and stopped by herself, at about 11o'clock.

    I decided to simple walk her up, trusting that she was correct, and she was.  Long story short, she had a pretty nice run.  There was a little mess up at the first panel, but she made the fetch, and both drive panels, with fairly straight lines, and a nice pen.  All of this was with range ewes.

    She ended up placing third place in thirty runs.  I was quite pleased with her.
  4. This afternoon, we took a trip to the vet's.  Chris was starting to swell under her chin.  I even started calling her bottle head, like a sheep gets when they are carrying a large parasite load.  I checked her over, and found that under the right side of her tongue, the side where the swelling was prominate, looked red and irritated.  Her breath was also pretty bad, not like her normal sweet breath.  And especially bad when her tongue was lifted.

    To be able to get her seen right away, I had to drop her off at the hospital.  That way the vet, between appointments, was able to examine her, then treat her, thus helping her quicker with out having an official appointment.  Fortunately the vet was very good at calling me, as I shopped at Home Depot, running errands while waiting for Chris' treatment.  

    He suggested one method of just giving her anitbotics and steriods and see if it comes back, or takes care of the swelling.  Another more throrough suggestion was to probe a small hole that he found in that area under her tongue, on the bottom of the inside of her mouth.  That would require a light sedation, as she could not tolerate much more than she already had during the exam.  

    I felt that the second suggestion was probably the way to go, and the vet agreed.

    Just about 15 minutes later the vet called me again.  He had found a foxtail in that hole in the bottom of her mouth.  Yeah!  Now I really felt good about the decision on the probe.  She was ready to go and for pick up!  The sedation that she was given has a reverse shot, so dogs will wake up quickly.

    When I came into the office to pick up Chris, I could tell that she was still groggy.  Walking her to the pick up, I opened the door for her to jump in, she just stood there.  I totally understood, and picked her up and put her inside myself.  She slept all of the way home, and is now sleeping beside me on the couch.  I expect her to be back to normal by morning, after sleeping it all off.

    Chris' herding is going well.  One hic-up though, she is not feeling her sheep as she should be.  With that said, and after discussing it with my mentor Jack Knox, and my trainer Shelley Parker, I have been too hard on her.  She is just slower than Tam or Kate, and different.  They both seemed to think that I should not be trying to force these dogs into my molds, but need to wait for the dog to grow up and tell me what she needs. 

    Too much pressure on my part has caused her to just do.  That is not what I want in a herding dog,. i don't want a robot.  I want her to feel their sheep and react accordingly.  She is just doing what I ask.  So now what I am doing is backing off.  Jack thinks that she is more of a herding dog than I think she is, as he can see something that I am not skilled enough to see.

    So I am back to basically "playing" with her on sheep.  Bringing back her zeal for the sheep.  Hard for me to do, but I am determined to succeed.  I think this dog will be teaching me much more than Bonnie, Kate or Tam ever did.  More feathers for my cap!   

    She is done with Nursery, and I do tell myself and others, "I don't want a good Nursery dog, I am after a good Open dog".  Nursery is so fleeting, and  for Chris it was just one year, and being so late to mature, there was not really enough time in her training to get her where she needs to be to trial her.

    I might enter her in ProNovice at the LaCamas Sheepdog Trial up in Washington in August.  The field is good for her level of training, and I should not be so anxious "trying to get her qualified" for anything as PN does not count for anything.  That's good for her, and me...

  5. I had sent a link of this blog to my aunt, my dad's sister who new Stewie also.  This is her reply to me.  She talks about the devotion dogs have for their owners.  I think that you will find this interesting...
    Nice.  I think he (Stewie) was your dad's guardian angel.  He KNEW your dad had cancer.  That's why he devoted his own life to guarding him.  He KNEW Rocket (my aunt's boxer) had cancer.  I've never seen him react with any other dog the way he did with Rocket.  He would just lie beside her, making sure she wasn't in distress, walk with her quietly and protectively,  and would often lick her ear - the side where the lymphoma was first detected.  Amazing.  
    I have a friend in Montana who lost his wife two years ago to Multiple Myeloma - the same cancer that took your Grandpa - and they had a service dog for her - an Australian Shepherd.  Alamo, the Aussie, devoted his life to Debbie and when she passed, turned all his devotion to John, my friend.  
    The day before Thanksgiving, he went missing.  My friend had put him in the back yard on a rope at about 9 AM - something he ALWAYS did - after their morning run, and Alamo would stay there for about an hour, enjoying the outdoor smells.  But when he went to bring him in at 10, he was gone. . . rope and all.  He immediately put up flyers and posted on Facebook and did everything he could think of.  No Alamo.  
    But this story has a happy ending.  On Tuesday of this week, 17 days later, he found him standing in the yard of the house they had originally rented in the little town of Hamilton, Montana when they moved there in the summer of '09.  He didn't have the rope, and he had lost some weight, but he is fine - and he is home.  Dogs ARE amazing.  Our vet told us that Rocket was a once-in-a-lifetime dog.  So  was Stu.  We're all a little better for having these amazing souls be a part of our lives. 
  6. Stewie was an Australian shepherd.  He died today at the ripe age of 16 years old.  He was my dad's dog who started taking care of and adopted him from my brother a mere 14 years ago.  He was always a gentle soul with a calm spirit. 
    Years ago I tried him on sheep with no luck, he wasn't interested at all.  Not bred for herding, he settled into being my dad's companion and running partner, and a calm inspiration to the grand children.
    He had a side kick, BC, who some think he thought as his mother.  She wasn't, as she was a Rottie Lab cross.  When my brother could no longer take care of these two rather large dogs, I was asked to, and I said I would adopt BC.  Short for Bone Crusher, she was the most gentle soul that I have ever known in a dog.  She never barked, and would just lay on the porch on her Coolaroo, and watch the UPS man drop packages off frequently.  She was the only dog that I would have ever trusted alone with a child.
    BC died on us about eight years ago.  My brother was over working on his car, and though she was taught not to, she approached him while he was laying on the slab and licked him.  She never licked.  I found her later in the evening after I got home from work.  Gone at age 12. 
    Stewie lived longer than his adopted mom BC.  And my dad did a real good job taking care of him.  Always taking him to the vet when ever he needed it, which was  quite often. 
    His newest "girlfriend" Christian will desperately miss him.  She really loved seeing him when we all came to visit at my dad's place.  Always in his face, she would pester him terribly.  He tolerated more that I could stand to watch, as she just about stuck her muzzle into his mouth.  She was always the pest to him.  I was always yelling at her to leave him alone!
    I think the most important aspect of having a pet is that drive to have to get certain things done for him, whether to fix them up a bed, feed them, shop for them, walk them, even taking them to the vets.  And as we age, this concern for another and physical movement is important to our well-being.
    My dad has decided not to get any more dogs.  I think this is a mistake for the reasons mentioned previously.  Tonight he came over to my house and dropped off all of Stewie's personal belongings.  Many of which will be donated to the local shelter.  It was killing him to see all of Stewie's stuff around the house, reminding him of what he was trying to now put behind him.
    I know the pain of loosing a beloved pet, as I have lost way too many.  God, for what ever reason, just doesn't let dogs live that long. And as I am crying while writing this, Kate and Christian feel me, and come over to see what is wrong.  And Chris stays longer sniffing my breath deeply trying to understand.
    But God gave us dogs for our benefit and our companionship.  And that companionship is worth all of the gold in the world.  Irreplaceable.  The gift of having a dog, and having that being actually care unconditionally about us, is remarkable.  People don't care for us unconditionally, if things get too bad, they are gone.
    Dogs are kind of like how God is.  Huh!  Maybe they are a type.  Though God does love us unconditionally, except that we have to accept Him; just like a dog, He waits, off in he periphery, wanting to be asked to come in.  
    I keep telling myself, that I ALWAYS want to have a dog in my life.  Even though someday when I get really old, I will stop trialing, I won't stop loving, and needing to be loved, and needing to take care of something else other than me.
    We all miss you Stewie, and now you can be with your adopted mother BC again.  Until we meet again.  Say hi to God for us...

  7. The ASCA Nationals were held this year in Bakersfield CA.  A mere 2 1/2 hours from my place.  A couple of years ago, a friend of mine recruited me to work at their trials, and set sheep for them.  They wanted Border collies, at the time, because there would be no qualms about what dog or who's dog was "getting the advantage" in the back pens.  Actually, was advantage that might be gained, can also be lost, by wearing out the dog prior to his run. 
    A few of my friends who had been told about that in the past, have now found that out for themselves.  As they wore out their dogs prior to running their runs at trials, by using them for setting out or too much other sheep work right before the said trial.
    Since we were going to be at the ASCA Nationals, I really want to set up my booth and sell product also.  Long story short, we managed to do both, with the help of a couple of friends.
    All three of the Borders came with me.  Tam had come into heat, so I wasn't going to be able to use her when Kate needed a brake.
    The first few days were pretty hot for November.  The dogs needed rest a little more often than first thought.  And since the back pens, where I was working, were small, I thought Christian might be able to be the dog to give Kate the well deserved rest breaks.
    When I first started using her, I kept her leash on, just in case we had a crash and burn.  But by after about 15 minutes she was working for me well enough that I was able to take off her leash and have her work like a trained dog.
    Occasionally throughout the day of any of the herding events, for whatever reason, a run would retire or disqualify, and one of the girls, whoever's shift it was, would have to go into the arena and remove the sheep.
    Chris was pretty good throughout the week of trials.  Tam, the one in heat, was allowed to do minor stuff in the back pens at the end of each day.
    About the forth day in, Tam was almost completely finished with her heat cycle.  I was pottying her behind one of the barns and got asked to move the new cattle around some.
    My reply was "I don't work cattle,  I work sheep".  I talked with them for a few minutes, and found out that these cattle were just in from the feed lot and they needed them just moved up and down the arena a couple of times so they could get used to dogs moving them.
    Of all three of the Borders that I have, Tam, who was in hand, was the best one if cattle had to be worked.  She has square flanks, and works from a distance well. 
    So, I told them that I could help them. They told me that they wanted the cattle to be kept as quiet as possible when being worked.  Their prior experience from two days earlier was chaos with dogs that were too pushy.
    We did as instructed and moved them in lots of 20 calmly.  As we moved them back and forth, there were three lame ones that needed to be cut from the herd.  That would be much more work.
    After over an hour, we successfully cut the three lame ones out of the herd so they wouldn't be worked in the cattle trial.
    Two things happened during this cattle venture.  First, I received a very long cattle herding lesson.  You know?  You can't push them around like you can sheep.  Second, Tam is now totally turned on to cattle.
    At the end of the last day of herding trials, I was asked, with the aid of my dogs, to move the 150 head of sheep over to the cattle arena to clean up all of the left over hay.  I jumped at the chance to work a group that large, as I have never done that before, and neither have the girls.
    Moving a group that large was very interesting.  On the way over to the cattle arena, there was no leader.  Very interesting.  This white swarm spiraled within itself, barely moving in forward.  But the girls kept the pressure up, and the spiraling swarm inched itself into the cattle arena finally.
    Just before dark, we moved the 150 head back to the sheep pen for the night, since they were not being picked up until morning.  They were able to get back where they belonged flawlessly.
    This week of ASCA trials taught Chris that she really had to mind me, otherwise there would be a wreck.  And wrecks were not accepted, especially at a Nationals type of trial.  I was taught how to work cattle properly, a cattleman I am not.  And Tam really likes cattle too! Great.
  8. While we were at the National Finals, the coordinators were able to have our local veterinarian Dr. Angie Untisz, fellow herder, draw blood samples for genetic eye diseases.  And the test were cheaper this way, since Optigen gives discounts for groups.
    Since I have been thinking that I would like a pup out of Tam, and I have already had her hips Penn Hip tested, I thought I would have the rest of her tests done, so when the time came, there was nothing holding us back.  I ordered three tests to be preformed on her blood draw.  Dr. Angie drew her blood AFTER Tam had her run.   
    Optigen only takes a couple of weeks to get the results back.  They emailed me the results, then followed that by three different mailings with the results of the three different tests.  I am pretty sure that they also notify ABCA of the results, so it will be noted on her pup's papers.
    She passed all three tests with flying colors.  Now to find the potential sire...I do have one in mind, but will need to know if he has had all of his tests too.

  9. I was anxious to go, as I have never been to the Finals before, and had been herding for 10 years now.  Several years ago, Tam was qualified for them in the Nursery class.  But when I went to a certain trial, where both Kate and Tam and I didn't do well, and I decided that none of us were ready yet in our training, for that level of competition.
    Two years later, things have changed.  Especially this last year.  Both Kate and Tam have been running real well for me.  I just had a feeling that we might do ok there.
    Before I left, I had a phone call with my trainer Shelley.  We were discussing the Finals.  She mentioned that only the 1% were the ones that win this trial.
    That discussion really bothered me.  I thought it only takes one good run...
    I talked with my husband about it.  He said that the 1% basically set the judging standard for the trials.  I was still bothered.
    I put that out of my mind as best as I could, and got ready.  Lots to do, since the store was coming also.  I also needed to stretch out the girls as well, we could be facing very long outruns.  I hauled my sheep out to a large piece of property every week for about a month to prepare. 
     In practice they started off rough, got better, then Tam got BAD.  What's the deal?
    It was like she didn't like my sheep any longer?  WAAAA.
    I talked with my trainer, and she said that Tam's sire was just like that.  He didn't like practice either.  So that is what was going on.  Great at trials, lousy at practice, FRUSTRATING!!!
    The Nationals were fun.  Nerve racking, when waiting all day to run, but the best of the best were there.  And we were able to be there also, both Kate and Tam.  Chris got to go for experience in traveling.
    I was able to watch how to handle a problem when certain problems would arise.  And that was worth it weight.
    Tam was to run first.  Not by my choice, but by theirs.  She had a really nice run started.  Nice outrun, lift, fetch, turn and first panel.  But half way through the cross drive a sheep turned on her.  And that sheep was determined not to rejoin the group no matter what.  It fought and fought Tam, while she stood her ground.  I tried many different things to get the sheep going again, even backing her up!  Everything that I tried failed.  That ewe needed to be stew.
    Finally the judges told me to walk, No forward progress.  DQ

    She is a tuff little girl!
    Kate ran first dog on a Friday Morning.  Thursday afternoon, I made sure that she saw some of the runs so she knew where the sheep were.
    She did great.  I sent her Come bye and had to redirect her twice, but the rest of her run was nice.  I was very happy that she completed the course, and at the Nationals to boot!
    I found out later that day, that Kate's score was good enough for her to go into the Semi Finals.  What?  Kate or I have never been here before and we get to play again?  Yippie!  So maybe someday, we can make it to be the 1%.
    So Saturday, we waited and waited for our run time.  I kept showing Kate over and over throughout the day where the sheep were.  You see, they had moved the field.  Turned it 90 degrees and made the outrun a little longer.
    Finally our run time was here.  I thought for sure that Kate had seen the sheep.
    I sent her on a come bye, and she started almost immediately to cut in front of me.  I stopped her on my side of the fetch panels and redirected her.  She took off right, then turned in toward where the field was the day before.
    I whistled and whistle her to lie down, nope.  I thought "what was wrong"?  She minds me well and redirects very well.  I kept whistling and whistling and she kept running and running.  When she got to the "old" top, where the sheep should be, I whistled a "that'll do whistle, which means come back to me.  She acted like she was on a mission of sheep hunting and never reacted to the whistles at all.  Once Kate left the area of the fetch panels, about 100 yards, I had virtually NO control on her at all.  It was like I didn't exist!  What the heck?  She ended up running the entire circumference of the field from the day before and landed at the exhaust.  Then she saw me walking toward her, but I was not convinced that she could hear me there either.  I finally got her off of the field, after a couple more attempts at the exhaust area.  RT
    I found out later, that something weird with the atmosphere had happened right then and for the next 1/2 hour or so.  The air was still, very still, and somewhat warm.  Friends, who had been standing on the sidelines between the sheep and the post, told me that they could not hear my whistles -at all.  What?  I was whistling my heart out!
    As it turned out, the run right after mine, the run after that, and the run after that, had all retired because of the same exact thing.  Certainly strange.  The next run was able to hear, then the run after his, was the same thing. Not able to hear.
    An atmospheric phenomena had happened that the sound made by my whistle was not able to be carried for that time period during that specific atmospheric condition.
    Sound speed in air varies with pressure, density, temperature, humidity, wind speed, pitch, etc.  Most of us experienced handlers know that wind can stop the sound from reaching our dogs.  Through some research, I found out that lower pitches travel further than high pitch sounds.  Our whistles are mainly high pitched.  So maybe conditions were "right" or in our case "wrong", to cause the sound to either deflect to the ground or maybe deflected upward since it was cooler on the ground than it was in the air, or not carry further than 100 yards.  Either way, none of us were successful in our runs during that time period.
    If I would have known what was going on, maybe I could have yelled or something.  At least that would have been a different pitch.  I will see about a whistle called a blaster, and maybe incorporate that tool.  Several herding friends told me that they work very well.
    This was absolutely not due to our dogs not minding.  Our dogs could not hear us, and were on their own.  For those dogs, like Kate, who thought the sheep were in the same place where they were the day before, such was their luck, and they would not find them on their own.
    I really hope I do not run into those atmospheric conditions again when competing.  And I will be researching this a little more also.  Its physics, don't you know?
    Still working on being the 1%.
  10. I have been very busy, and am sorry for not writing for quite a while.  Lots has happened, so let me give you a summary...

    In August, the three girls and I and my store went to the La Camas Valley STD up in Washington.  Super beautiful area, and my first trial outside CA.  The outrun for Open was 525 yards.  

    Kate was up first.  I gave her emphasis on the Come Bye word, to encourage her to go big.  Well, that was a huge mistake!

    She went so big, she went out over the ridge and saw ProNovice over to the left.  She was determined that the ProNovice sheep needed to be joined together with the Open sheep before the fetch.  I tried and tried to get her just to take the Open sheep, but to no avail.  I had to call her off.  RT.

    Tam's run was not going to be allowed to be a repeat of Kate's.  I usually let my dogs choose which way they would like to do their outrun, but because of failing at Kate's run, I decided that Tam should run right.  I sent her, and she had a beautiful run started.  At about 400 yds, she started to turn in.  I successfully redirected her and she came in nice and deep.  Fairly nice lift and we missed the fetch panels.  Nice turn, and though the sheep were very hard to handle, she made both drive panels.  

    I hesitated on the first opening at the shed, but we were able to get the second one.  And she got the pen.  Nice job, we completed the course.

    Next up was Chris.  Since Nursery was real cheap, I decided to enter her just so she could experience a different course and different sheep.  My trainer told me NOT to get mad at her when she crossed over, since I had not stretched her out yet. Just to make the whole experience for her as enjoyable as possible.

    Well, she crossed over as predicted.  The sheep had been pretty dogged around and were tired of the whole "being worked" thing.  Most of the runs in the ProNovice/Nursery field had been going pretty badly.  I had sent her Away, to block the draw back to the set out.  Since Christian crossed over, she came up to the sheep on the Come bye side, and easily pushed them right back to the set out where they wanted to go!

    There was no ability to recover this with an inexperienced dog, so I ended up retiring her.

    Her next run was a little better.  I again sent her Away for the same reason.  She again crossed over, but this time she was able to keep going, and actually got a proper lift and started to fetch.  About a third of the way with the fetch, the sheep were giving her trouble.  One was determined that she was going to separate from the others.  Chris kept putting them back together.  Until finally, this ewe just laid down.  I have seen this often at trials, but never experienced it myself, and neither had Chris.  She went over to her and sniffed her, looking like what's wrong?

    Shortly after that, I had to retire her, as that ewe didn't want to get up and the other three didn't want to go back to get her.

    Kate's second run had a strategy.  Simply go to the post, tell her to look, and when I think that she is seeing them, send her Come bye (with NO emphasis).  My trainer and I talked about sending her Away, but she decided that risked her crossing over, since that side for her was straight and shallow.

    I did as instructed and Kate ended up repeating the run before.  Yikes!  While I was trying to get her to see and only take the Open sheep, I even went so far as to give her an AWAY whistle, to see if I could get her to cross over!!!   No way.  I had to eventually retire  her.  When she came back to me, her eyes were huge and she had a bewildered look on her face.  Like she was saying "Why did you call me off?  I always get my sheep!"

    I felt bad for her as it was over for her and sheep for the rest of the weekend.

    Tam's second run was something else.  I sent her right, and that Away, in my opinion, was picture perfect!  She landed deep, and had a nice lift, and a nice fetch, right through the center of the fetch panels.  The sheep were calm and made a gorgeous turn at the post.  From there on the run went down hill.  

    Everything was super choppy.  I couldn't get the sheep go move in the direction that I wanted.  Missed the first set of panels, and noticed that Tam was not taking my verbal commands.  I rely on them when I can't remember my whistles.  Darn her!  Because of that, I missed the second set of panels also!

    With this run, we were to pen before the shed.  I set up for the pen, and had a problem sheep.  She kept trying to dart off.  Regrouped them in the mouth, then that sheep REALLY took off this time.  By the time Tam caught up with it, it was almost to the exhaust pen.  She jumped in the air at its face to turn it.  That move for both Kate and Tam is usually a death sentence for my runs.  Whether they grip or not, unless the judge can see REAL good, they will usually call a grip.  This has happened to two of Kate's runs, that I can remember, where she did not grip, but got called out because of it.

    So we gripped out!  DQ  I looked at my scores later, and if Tam and I could have held on a little longer, she would have made it into the finals.  Her score was that good in the beginning of that second run and right there with the others on her first run.  Oh well, I am really looking forward to this trial next year!

    The store did pretty well there and was welcomed by herders who had never heard of it.  One of the reasons for going.  We met some great people and even a few friends.  But going alone sucks.  I was lonely.
  11. Busy busy busy.  That how the last month and a half have been.  We did get to go to the LaCamas Valley sheepdog trial in Washington.  The store got a great reception.  The girls didn't run so well.

    Kate was sent on the left.  Mistake.  I sent her big, and she went too big.  She caught site of the ProNovice field over the ridge, and I was not able to get her to back off from them.  I think she wanted to bring both sets of sheep together.  Her next run was just a repeat of the first.  I tried to matter-of-factly go to the post, ask her to look, then simply said "come bye".  That theory didn't work, as she still wanted to bring the ProNovice flock together with the Open flock.  2 retires.

    Tam, because of what went on with Kate, was sent on the right.  She came up short, I lied her down, asked her to look back and "away" again.  Bingo, nice redirect.  The sheep were tough for everyone that day, but her score was respectable.  Her second run, as I think about it, I could just cry it was so beautiful.  The outrun, I could see no fault , nice life and beautiful fetch and turn.  Then craziness.  She quit taking my verbal flanks, and I depend on them occasionally when I cannot remember the whistle quick enough.  The drive was very rough. Next was the pen, and I had a sheep that didn't want to go in.  One time it popped out, and Tam recovered it, then it did it again, and ran all the way to the exhaust, and Tam turned its head, and must have gripped, as I got a thank you.  Darn, if I could have held it together, we would have made it to the finals.  Oh well, next year.

    Chris, as foreseen, was a mess in nursery.  She had never been stretched out, and she crossed over, on both runs.  She ended up with retires for both of them, but her second one was better than her first.  So there was improvement.

    In the morning we leave for Klamath Falls Oregon.  I have never been able to go, and both of my open dogs are entered.  I am also selling there, and will be towing a small trailer all the way up there.  I did take one to the LaCamas trial, and it was much better than stuffing everything inside the little pick up.  Lots of room!  Six am tomorrow is out take off time, so good night, and I hope to keep everyone up to date about the National Finals.  It starts this coming Tuesday.
  12. With the weather warming up quite well, I decided to work the girls on sheep in some heat today.  We are going to the rather large Lacamas Valley STD up in Washington in a few weeks, and in two months, we have the Finals to trial at, both of which could be pretty hot during the afternoons.
    Like us humans, our dogs need to train in the worst of weather and in the best of it.  Their bodies need time to adapt to the stresses that training has put on them.  So today, I waited until it was 83 degrees outside to work them. 
    I did notice right away, that Kate was much slower in the heat.  I usually don't get a chance to see her work at the slower pace that she did today, so I know that I did the right training procedure in getting her used to working in heat.
    The same goes for Tam.  Her lung capacity is not as large at Kate's is, so she will need more conditioning than Kate.
    Interesting though, I really didn't notice much of a difference with Chris today, and by the time I got to her, it was much warmer, approaching the 90's.  Maybe because she is young, who knows?
    After their workout, the girls got to play in their pool to cool off.  By the time I got back inside, it was a balmy 93 degrees.  The girls survived the heat, and we will start practicing in it more often from now on, until the National Finals.
  13. We were fortunate to be able to get a private lesson with David Rogers this weekend.  Since we missed the Jack Knox clinic due to a cancellation.  I missed getting a third party observing Chris' working, and getting her evaluated. 
    So off we went to our local "desert", the Carrisa Plains.  This is the same area that my trainer Shelley Parker lives.  David was staying at a local ranch, where he has stayed before, and giving all of us needy herders some helpful advice.
    Last Saturday, when my lesson was scheduled, we started getting into some heat again.  The weather had been unseasonably cool for several days, but now was climbing again.
    My lesson was scheduled for 8 am, and by the time it was over, it was in the low 90's.  Shelley had also had a lesson the day before, and also one of my herding friends that I help also had lessons scheduled for late morning. 
    Low and behold, we all had some of the same problems with our young dogs.  The problem was attitude.  They weren't all working basically the same, but didn't have the correct attitudes, when approaching their sheep.
    So their problems, though different, were the same.  It figures.  We all work with each other, so if not "caught" by a third party, we might have not figured it out for a long time.
    People will ask me how often I get lessons myself.  I will tell them, as often as I can talk Shelley into it.  If I have that third person observing me, then issues will be overcome quicker.  I want to practice perfectly, not going backwards to my bad ways, struggling to do things correctly.  I think getting lessons throughout the year is important, whether you are just beginning (especially important) or a seasoned Open trialer, a third person watching you will help, providing they are good trainers.
    By the time my friend was finished with her two lessons, it was after 2pm, and the temperature was soaring into the upper 90's.  Poor David, by that time, his shade was gone, and he was sucking water like crazy, and was due for a long break.
    After my lesson, I tried Chris on her attitude when approaching her stock, and she did great.  I was very happy with what she, and I, had learned.
    I tested Kate and Tam, to see how they would first approach their stock.  Kate needed a slight correction with me calling her name quietly, to check her.  We practiced that a few times, and she got it.  Tam was just fine with her attitude and never needed a correction for it.
    I may have eventually gotten Chris where I needed her mind to be in a few years, but to get it now, that to me, is priceless.
    Thank you David.
  14. I forgot to mentioned what Shelley told me that I had to do after winning the trial.  She told me to attach the big blue ribbon onto Kate, and then needed to walk around the fair, showing her off.  We had to go look at pictures that the photographer took, so we packed up everything and took the girls to look at pictures.  

    Inside the barn, where the photographer's booth was set up, was a little demonstration of sorts, with a few cages and pens.  Behind the photographer's booth was an armadillo in a pen.  Chris noticed it and could not take her mind off of it.  She wouldn't relax, or lay down, she just sat there, pulling on the leash so she could possibly get closer to that animal.

    As we walked around the fair a bit, I decided to go through the sheep barn.  That was too funny!  The first thing we ran into was sheep seeing the dogs, and walking toward them baaing.  Usually when sheep see dogs, they go the other way!  There were sheep in every pen on both sides of us, and Chris got real nervous!

    I was walking Kate and Chris, and really had to coax Chris to keep walking.  Kate could of cared less, in fact, I told her to "watch em" and bam! she was ready to take them on.  Oops!  I then called her off.  Poor Chris though had her tail plastered to her stomach the whole time that we were in the sheep barn.

    Once we left the barn, we made a small loop of the fair, as it hurts Matt to walk with his bad hip.  Chris relaxed some, as I negotiated her through the crowds of people.  This was actually good for her, as she got exposed to this very large crowd.

    It was fun walking the girls through the fair, maybe we will someday get another chance to do that again.

  15. Sunday the girls and Matt and I went to the Mid-State Fair Sheepdog Trial.  Kate and I were invited to attend.  This was Christian's first big trip last year.  She had had a great time meeting lots of people, and seeing the trial.
    This year, Chris had the best time also.  We seated ourselves down in the alley way beside the arena.  A family sat down beside us and Chris was beside herself.  She couldn't get enough of them.  The two children petted and petted them. 

    Kate even came over for their attention.  We taught the kids the proper way to approach the dogs and I watched them handle the girls the way they were taught.  That was nice.
    Tam was not interested in the kids at all.  She actually loves kids, but sheep more.  She paid them no attention, but remained focused on the trial.  Also at one time, she gave me the familiar look as if saying to me, "well, is it now my turn to run?"  That broke my heart.
    Tam often gives me that look at home, or even at my trainer, Shelley's place, when she is wanting her turn to work.  I told her that I was sorry, that she couldn't run in this trial, at least not this time.
    Throughout the trial, many people approached us and the girls.  One of them even asked if this (Chris) is the puppy from last year.  Sure she was, and they were astounded by how she grew up.  I was actually taken back a bit by that.  Surprised that someone would remember us, and be able to pick out which dog was the puppy last year.  Most people tell me that they can't tell the difference between my dogs.
    The trial went pretty smooth.  No one, handler, dog, or sheep were hurt, and that is what we all wish for.  This year the judging seemed pretty even, and the weather somewhat cooperated, as it remained in the upper 90's.  I have been here when the temperatures rose to the 110 degrees +.  The arena is covered, but it can trap heat and get pretty balmy in there. 
    Kate won the trial, and apparently is now called the 2012 Mid-State Fair Sheepdog Champion.  I never noticed that title before, but that might have been me just missing it before.  Kate had a score of 97 out of 110.
    She held it together very well.  Her first run, to establish whether she would make it to the finals, was rough in my thinking.  The sheep were very jerky, moving much like lambs (they were 1 year olds).  They were hard for me to handle. 
    Her outrun was shallow, and she stopped a little short on the come bye side, at about 10 o'clock.  I whistled a walk up whistle, trusting her that she stopped correctly on the balance point.  She did, and proceeded the fetch.  The fetch was very choppy, with no flow at all.  I would have Kate put a tiny bit of pressure on the sheep and they would move a little, then more pressure, then more jerky movement from the sheep.  This behavior was throughout Kate's whole run. 
    At the pen, which Kate has been known to do without my helping at all, was pretty terrible.  The sheep would be positioned in the mouth, and slight pressure put on them to go into it, and bam!  one would break away.  This happened three times!!!  Not really typical of Kate and I as a team.  But such was our run.
    In the finals, she started out shallow again!  I had it with that.  About half way to the sheep, I yelled her name "KATE", she stopped YIKES!  "get back"  PERFECT!  I knew I lost points by redirecting her, but I was determined that she was going to work correctly!
    She landed at 12 o'clock.  Nice lift and a nice fetch.  The pen was the post, and I kept her very tight around the pen.  Friends told me that her run was almost flawless, though I didn't feel that. 
    In this final run, we had an added obstacle of a single shed.  After the shed, and pen, the  four sheep came into the shedding ring grouped as three and one.  I didn't like that at all.  While some handlers may have taken that single, I decided to properly handle them.  I made sure that they had totally regrouped, then took the single.
    I spoke with Shelley, my trainer, about how I handled the single, and she told me that that was the proper way to do it.  I told her I was going to do it the way that I should for the National Finals, and not deviate from that way, and she agreed.
    On another note, Chris is no longer lame.  Her feet have healed, and she now walks without a limp.  During the Fair trial, she remained leashed, but I felt that she was grateful that she was no longer in pain. 
    We stopped at McDonald's to get Kate an ice cream cone for winning the trial.  Tam and Chris got one too.  Chris was running along the grass after eating her cone, without a limp, and enjoying being off leash.  When we got home, she ran to the front yard and grabbed her favorite outside toy, and ran around the lawn carrying the toy and growling to herself.
    Chris and Tam wishing they were out there instead of Kate.Good studies!
  16. Yesterday I left the girls inside the house because I wanted to go to the Cattle Dog Trials at the Mid State Fair.  I usually go with a friend of mine, and we have a good time watching all of the cattlemen work their dogs in an alien arena.
    So the girls were not able to get exercise in the morning.  When I got home, I caught up on business, then decided to throw the ball for them in the pasture.  I had to hurry though because I had to go into our big town soon afterward.  All four of us headed for the big town of San Luis Obispo, to a meeting that my husband and I were going to.
    Today, Christian was worked on sheep briefly, during the late morning.  Some time after that, I noticed that she seemed to be off on her gait.  I checked, and then seemed fine.  An hour later, I rechecked her feet, and noticed a white patch on one of her pads.  I palpitated it, and it was tender.  She had gotten a blister. 

    It was curious though, as she was not worked hard at all today, and had never had a sore pad before. 
    Later this evening, I checked her feet again, and saw a tear on one of her back pads.  Boy, I saw her take a weird step on the rear, and that was why.  So one front foot has a blister, which she is now limping on and has been holding in the air, and a rear pad cut on another foot.
    Do I have any Tuff-n-Up for her?  NO!  I am completely sold out.  The girls have not had sore feet for a quite while, so I never thought to grab a bottle for my girls.  The only good thing about her sore feet is, I haven't started trialing her yet.  I didn't have to worry about her healing in time for the next trial.  But, I should have had the Tuff-n-Up already in my arsenal for her.
    We all are going to a trial in two days, but Kate is the only dog in that trial, and Chris will be on leash the entire time.  No stress for her feet.  She really enjoyed going to this trial last year, when she was a little puppy, and I am sure that she will have a fun time greeting the world at the Mid-State Fair Sheepdog Trial.
  17. Many times I am asked questions about dogs attacking while on a walk.  Just today I received a call from a customer wanting a strong crook that she can take along with her while she walks her small dog.
    Her dog may only weigh 10 pounds, but a dog is a dog  I don't know her dog, but I do know how dogs in yards can react to outside dogs and people when they pass by.  She has been severely bitten in the past, and was looking for protection.
    It's funny how God brings an example right in you face right when you need one.  So this morning I took my pack for a two mile walk down the road, since the weather was cooperating.
    As I neared the turn around point, I heard a familiar bark from a dog who lived in on the property I was passing.  I glanced and saw him running our direction and barking along the way.  I turned and faced him, with the girls in hand, my chin up and chest out. 
    It only took a minute for the barking dog to give it up and run back toward his house.  But, little did I know, he ran back and got his colleague to come back with him.  I had only walked about 100 feet further when we got challenged again, and this time by a pack of two.
    Again I faced the dogs, remained calm, and made sure that my chin was up and chest out.  I wanted to let these dogs know that I was the leader of this pack, and was only passing by.  This behavior on my part, also reassures my pack that they are protected by me, and that I have the strength in character to protect them. 
    This time, the newest dog to the fence was the pack leader of that pack.  He was a beautiful black lab of good structure, with a beautiful glossy coat.  We just stood there facing the fence, and waited for him go give it up.  The first dog, being more subordinate, left for home after about a minute, but the lab stayed around for a couple of minutes more.  I just kept telling myself, "stay there, stay there...relax".
    Taking this time with dogs that I don't know, will allow those dogs not to escallate any fence aggression that might be developing.  Also, if I walk by their yard more often and practice what I did today, they just might eventually regard us as no threat and leave us alone.  My major reason.
    This approach of standing your ground can also work when confronted without a fence barricade.  Avoiding a fight of any kind is a much better end to charging dogs when taking a walk with your dog.  Not creating a future problem is also a good goal to keep in mind.
  18. After Chris' lesson a few weeks ago, we had determined that she had not yet developed eye, meaning a good feel for her sheep.  This was simply due to her being young in age and in sheepdog herding.  To become a good trial dog, she needed to have a good amount of eye and a good feel for the sheep. 
    Her homework, and mine, was to put her on the fence and work her several times back and forth, going to head.  I had to make sure that she covered the sheep well each time, and that she should curve out as she was going from one side to the other.  I would also pause at times and let her simply stand there or lie there and hold them in place.
    I added some additional homework for her that she did as a nightly routine.  When I fed the sheep, I would take Christian in the sheep pen with me and help her to hold the sheep away from me.  This exercise empowers her.  And within a couple of weeks, she was markedly better at holding them from rushing me.  Then I took that exercise further, and would have her hold them away while I was putting hay on the ground.
    I had done this exercise with Tam when she was young, and now Tam is trying to get back into the pen with Chris to do that exercise again.  Tam really likes it. 
    All of this work has help Chris a lot.  I had a lesson this Saturday, and Shelley said that she already was getting a great feel for her sheep and she couldn't believe how much better she was.  Yeaaa.
    Kate and Tam, simply need to be slowed down.  During the past year, Jack Knox, one of my mentors, told me that basically they both were trained and to leave them alone.  I am not to drill on them any longer, and just to tune them up before any trials that they are entered in. Jack also told me to speed up Tam, I had slowed her down in her early training too much.  A hard lesson, now with Chris, I can have her take time, but I don't use it much, as I don't want to slow her down to early in her training.
    I am also in a bad habit of being lax around both of the Open dogs.  I keep turning my back on them, and Shelley says that they are taking advantage of my turned back.  A habit that I need to get rid of.
    So "take-time" will mean Take Time. and you better slow down!  That is what Tam and Kate will practice on for a while.  Me, I will practice on keeping all of the dogs in my view and not to trust quite so much.

  19. We spent the last weekend way up at the top of the California border.  I had entered both of my Open dogs in a trial in the small town of Tulelake.  I thought it would be good experience for me and the girls.  We went alone this time, just me and the three collies.
    As I was driving up, we started to get some weather, then rain.  With the rain came the windshield wipers.  One of the wipers started skipping across the windshield, like they do when they get stiff and are in need of replacing. 
    Chris had been riding in the cab of the pick up with me, and started to focus on the noise of the wiper skipping.  And then the wipers themselves.  I was paying close attention, watching her reaction, and could see her start getting obsessed with the wipers.  She was becoming afraid of them.
    This last year has been very dry here, with hardly a winter at all, so I guess she hadn't really noticed the wipers before.  But this time, her attention was drawn to them.  Her eyes started to get real big, and then darted here and there, as she was looking for a place to hide from them.  She tried, when she stuck her nose behind my arm.  I just pushed her out and told her to knock it off.
    Border collies, being sensitive dogs, are very prone to obsessions.  Some handlers don't bother when these problems show up, they just let the dog be afraid.  But I think that is a terrible way for any dog to live his life out, being afraid of the world.  I try to desensitize my dogs to as much of the world as I possibly can.
    She kept being afraid of the wiper for about 20-30 minutes.  I kept a calm firm voice, telling her to quit it.  Then she finally relaxed.
    A little later, I turned off the wipers.  And later still, I turned them on again.  Kind of like an advance then a retreat method.  I repeated the on for a bit, then off for a bit, until she relaxed so much that when they were turned on, she would remain asleep.  Now that was relaxed.
    If I would have just let her escape from her made-up fear, or turned off the wipers all together, she would have fixated on them forever.  Or worse yet, if I would have petted her using human psychology, that pet would have buried that fear into concrete.  A pet at the wrong time, especially when they are afraid, just reassures them that being afraid is the right mental state to be in, and in this scenario that meant when the wipers were on.

    I travel with her inside the pick up and that would not have been too good.  I want her to keep trusting me, that I will protect her and won't let the boogey monster get her.
    The rest of our trip was uneventful.  We had good runs at the trial, and a good time with friends.

  20. Finally, Chris was able to get her first lesson with my trainer on Saturday.  Much needed for all, my trainer was feeling better and needed to work her young dog as well as get a feel for Christian.
    I, forever in a rush, had missed some foundation work with her.  So now I need to go back and do some more fence work with her, to get her to be able to 'feel' her sheep much better than she does now.
    We worked her in a very large round pen, back and forth, not letting her under flank on one side and over flank on the other.  A common problem when a dog does not have a proper feel for their sheep.  She has basically been working stock mechanically.  Something that I "thought" I was avoiding. 
    I am personally not a fan of mechanically working a stock dog, and fight my natural tendency toward it constantly.  But Chris is differently bred than either Bonnie, my first stock dog, or Kate, or Tam.  This line, and that she started working sheep at a younger age, may have caused this, but basically, she is just a different dog, with different training needs.
    I tell a lot of dog people that I meet, that there is no "one" way to train a herding dog, as they are all different.  Just like kids, they all learn differently.  So is the case with Chris. 
    It's back to more foundation work for her, and my learning exactly how to give her what she needs.  We will be spending more time on the fence, having her learn that she can still work sheep, with out being on top of them.  And also making sure that she covers her sheep on the come bye side, and does not over flank on the away side.
    Once she has a better feel for her sheep, we can move on with her training.  I will also become a better trainer by learning how to train her to feel her sheep.
  21. We went to the vets today to get Kate's foxtail out of her nose.  We saw our usual doctor and discussed Kate's symptoms.  The main symptom was not her sneezing, as she would do with a sticker in her nose, but what the doctor called "reverse sneezing".  This is a new term for me, as I had never heard it.  

    She is more like snorting or trying to clear the back of her throat or sinus's.  Almost immediately upon our discussing the symptoms, the veterinarian did not think she had a sticker.  Instead, she thought Kate was having an allergy problem.  The vet suggested that she must have run right into a mouthful of pollen, and that what was bothering her.

    I had already dragged Kate to the vets, so I asked if I could have her nose checked anyway.  She said yes, and "low and behold"  no stickers!  Just like the vet said.  I guess that is why they are the vets, and I am just the dog owner.

    We discussed about when Kate should get her Valley Fever titer.  The veterinarian told me that any time now would be good to find out where Kate is with her fight.

    So as soon as we can come up with the money, I will get Kate in for her Valley Fever titer, and we'll go from there.

  22. Kate had been making strange noises with her throat or sinuses.  I had no idea what was wrong.  I kept thinking that something must be caught in her throat.  I fed her a couple of medium size cookies in the hope that they would wash it down, that didn't help.  I fed her a good dinner, and that didn't help either.
    When my husband came home I mentioned it to him.  He said that maybe she has a foxtail in her nasal cavity.  Bingo!  Of course, why didn't I link her symptoms with a foxtail diagnosis?  I was pretty sure that is what was going on with her.  Darn it!
    Like everything in life, it happened on a Friday afternoon, and I was going to have to listen to her be uncomfortable trying to rid herself of this awful seed for the entire weekend.  This just wasn't fair to her.  I asked God if He could please help her and heal her if it was His will.
    She struggled all night trying to clear herself of the deadly sticker.  It just made both of us sick! 
    In her short seven year life, she has enough to deal with, without having to deal with one more life threatening event.  She has had two intense hip surgeries at six months old, she had to get spayed at about 11 months old.  She currently has Valley Fever and has been taking anti-fungals since late September 2011.  She also has severe reactions to the anesthetic from surgery which lasts for about a week after each surgery.
    The noises that she is making, makes us think that the sticker might be in her nasal passage but back near where it drains into the throat.  At least that is what I would be doing if I had a sticker in my passage and was trying to get it out without the ability to "blow my nose".
    So the thought come up, "What to do until Monday?"  If anything.  Well I am not the type to just not do nothing, I had to at least try SOMETHING!
    So this is what I tried...Since eating didn't help her, maybe exercise might.  So, in the morning, after feeding the livestock, I went to the barren pasture and threw the ball with the chuck-it for the girls.  And since Kate and Tam are getting ready for the National Finals in September, they needed cardio training also.
    They played for about 10-15 minutes, chasing the ball and each other having a great time.  Then to cool off, they got to play in the pool for a bit. 
    The next thing to do was wait.  After they were mostly dry, I brought in the girls and listened for Kate to make the weird noises.  Since before she was regularly and often making them, to not hear her make it was nice.  We heard her once in an hour, make that noise.  So if this "experiment" did not work at least Kate got some relief.  I will throw the ball for them again, later today.  We also need her in for a titer check to see where her Valley Fever is standing.  We will have her nose checked for foxtails while we are at the vets.

    A comment to your comment about small rock substitute for your landscaping.  

    There are numerous alternatives to small rocks for landscaping, from wood mulch, synthetic mulch, large cobbles, plant material as a living mulch, to nothing at all.  Your dog at this stage in his development needs to be strongly deterred from eating small rocks, which can become a nasty habit and also severely impact his bowels, with either the need for surgery or death could occur.  I recommend removing the small rocks and replacing them with any thing else.  Also, I would get him to the vet for a check up, as he could have nutritional reasons.

    In addition to the above mentioned, I would keep him busy for quite a while.  Plenty of exercise, and nice mental exercises to keep him engaged in you instead of eating rocks.  Persistence will be the key to helping him.

    An addendum to Kate's pollen intake:  She is fine now.  I guess that the pollen took some time to get out of her lungs.  She has been good since the Tulelake trial, and that was over three weeks ago.

  23. We got some Wholesome Hide retriever rolls in for stock, and my husband had picked up some other rawhide rolls for the girls from Walmart.  The Wholesome Hide ones were just sitting on a table waiting for me to take them to the basement.  I decided to give the girls some rawhide in the morning to chew on.
    I handed each of them a roll from the Walmart pack.  Then I handed Chris one of the Wholesome Hide ones also.  I wanted to see if indeed my dogs really like the Wholesome Hide retriever rolls better than the CHINA made and bleached rawhide.
    Right after I handed them out, I let the girls out to go potty.  Kate came back inside first.  She sniffed each of the rawhides, then settled on the Wholesome Hide.  She chewed on it for a little while.  Then went and lied down.
    Five minutes later, I let Tam and Christian back inside.  Chris ran to the original Wholesome Hide that I given to her, and right now is burying it in her toy box.
    Tam just stared at me, like to say "where's mine", so I handed her one of the Wholesome hide rolls too.  So there were five rawhides laying on the carpet.  Oops, four, one was in the toy box.
    I then asked Kate if she wanted one also.  I handed her another, and she preceded to tear off the label, which stuck to her foot.  I had left the labels on to tell which were which, but it was apparent as the USA made rolls were almost twice the size, and not bleached.
    At least I got my answer about what my dogs prefer, and they like the Wholesome Hide retriever rolls better than Walmart's made in China, bleached rolls.  These rawhide rolls are healthier, more flavorful, and longer lasting.

  24. YIKES!  Rattlesnakes!
    At the end of the day, today, about 7:30pm, I received a call from my neighbor down the street.  "Hi, I am out front of your next door neighbor's house walking the dogs...There is a baby rattler in the road.  I don't have anything to kill it with, could you help?"
    Boy, I jumped up, told her that I would be right there.  My dogs were outside, and surely didn't want them to run across the snake.  I grabbed the shovel that rests during snake season, right beside the garage door, and took off for my neighbor's part of the road.
    I made the dogs stay up by the house and as I walked up to the snake, I heard something, turned, and there was Christian.  Darn it!  I yelled in a super gruff and stern voice, "Get back!!!"  and as I did I released a ton of energy directed toward her.  She kept a distance of about 20-30 feet away. 
    I lopped off the snakes head, then proceeded to smash the head with a shovel.  Heads already taken off of a snake body have been known to bite, and most times, there is venom ready for release.
    The head then got put into the dirt and covered so no more harm could happen with this snake. I then scooped up the one button rattlesnake body, still wiggling and walked home with Chris.
    This little devil is now safe and sound inside a plastic bag in my freezer.
    I have been wanting to put on a rattlesnake aversion class ( many of my friends have been asking me to put one on), and now I have the snake to do it with.  I would have surely settled for a live gopher or king snake, or even some one's pet python, as I was only after the smell, but God provides, and He provided the "real-thing".
  25.  I have been letting Christian do the sheep chores.  She either helps put them out during the day or put them up at night, or does it all by herself. 
    Last night, I let her put up the ewes and lambs by herself.  One ewe, named Meanie (her name should say it all), turned on her, and walked toward her, as to challenge her.  Chris yeilded some to her look and her pressure, so I seized the opportunity to give Chris some confidence in her sheep work. 
    Since Meanie was not in the most cooperative of moods, and has two lambs at her side also, she was the challenge of the day.  I came into the sheep fold with Chris to support her, and encouraged her to work the group of ewes and lambs.  I fired her up with noises, and had her moving them here and there, getting in their faces, but also making sure that she minds me at the same time, and not doing just what "feels" right.
    As soon as I said "that'll do", she took off for the other pen of whethers.  She was ready to take them all on!
    This morning I let her move the sheep on her own.  She did fine, a little pushy but I like to see that at this stage in her development.  No problem with Meanie this morning either.
  26. Yesterday we took our big truck into town for a smog check.  And as previously mentioned, we socialize our Border collies throughout their lives.
    We went into Paso Robles, CA, into the down town area.  This part of town is as busy as down town Los Angles, with people walking up and down the street, with lots of cars and unexpected noises on the road in this bustling down town area.
    Like usual, I took the dogs along with me to the gas station for the smog check.  One attendant needed to look at the mileage of the truck and noticed the dogs inside.  She ask if they were friendly, and I told her yes, and they might lick her.  As she leaned inside, Chris, who was in the front seat, came over to greet her.  Chris was in her face, literally, and I was able to get her to back off, and give the attendant some space.
    After the paperwork was done, I took out all three of the girls, so the guys at the station could do their work on the truck.  We sat right next to all of the gas pumps, taking in the sights and sounds of the down town area. 
    As I sat in the chair, settling down the girls, I noticed that Kate was acting kind of unusual.  Then I saw her head duck at a noise.  She was reacting to some of the down town noises.  She hadn't been in the city for quite a while, and had gotten sensitive to the loud noises again. 
    Kate is a noise sensitive dog.  That is part of her makeup.  What I have done in the past to help her through it, is to desensitize her by exposure.  I am also careful not to pet her when she is over reacting to those noises.  This time, I told her to "knock-it-off", then ignored her, checking her out of the corner of my eye.  It took her about five minutes for her to get over it, and settle down, accepting the noises again.
    Dogs tend to draw people to themselves, and the girls were no exception.  I got many comments about how well behaved they are, and how fit they look.  I told them that they were working sheepdogs, so they needed to be fit.  One guy even told me that he needed to show his dog, my dogs, in order to show his dog how dogs were suppose to behave.  I thought that was pretty funny.
    By the time we left, Kate was completely desensitized and relaxed to the down town noises again.  Tam and Chris, who are basically noise attractive, took the entire expedition in stride.  The girls were very well behaved, and left a good DOG impression on the business and the city.
  27. Well, Tam was not fine the next day.  That night, I had fed her a bland diet of white rice(too much!) and chicken breast, but her stomach was still upset, and at 4am she had thrown up twice on the bed, and the bed had areas of diarrhea. 
    I fed her a little white rice only that morning, with a little water.  I was concerned about dehydration, so her meals would now consist of added water, just in case.  She didn't gobble it down as usual, and even left a little bit, but ate most of the one cup that I gave her.
    I gave her the same thing for lunch, and she gave the same result, not eating quite all of it up.
    I deliberately fed the girls late that night, so Tam might be hungry.  I gave her a small amount of white rice and chicken breast with a little bit of chicken broth and water. 
    She was able to keep it down in both directions that night.  FINALLY, on the road to mending.  She still had diarrhea, but had made the turn to being normal.
    The following morning I gave her white rice with a little broth, and she GOBBELED it up!  Just seeing that, made me feel better.  I continued over the weekend to feed her a bland diet, with no morning cookies, to allow her stomach to mend.
    She is now doing fine, and on normal food rations.  Tam the Inhaler is back!
    When Chris was in heat, that must have brought Tam into heat early, because she has.  That is fine, as she only came into heat about a week and a half early.  Might as well get it over with!
    I have never had two intact females before, and didn't know this could happen with dogs like it can with women. 
    In herding, Chris has been blossoming this past month.  She has been excelling at a rate that I have found fascinating.  I have tried different exercises with her, to see what she can do or take and I have been pleasantly suprised.  For example, in her driving I have started not walking with her, and just standing still, and asking her to do what the other trained dogs to do.  I have been asking her to walk up straight, and to take inside flanks, lie down, at a distance, then continue on her drive.  I have also been continuing her "stretching out" of her out runs.  All of this, she has been able to handle.  She has also been doing chores.  I was happy to see that she could do some of them, that the other two really don't need to do, as they are getting ready for the National Finals.
    The dog pool is now open again, and the girls love running to go and jump in the water, especially on a hot day.

    The pool was being filled for the season.  It makes me cooler just watching them play in it!
  28. Too Much Coffee
    Christian was getting into the trash outside.  I had just thrown a bunch of old frozen meat and bones away while cleaning out the refrigerator, and was out of trash can space, so I put the bags on top of the trash cans.  When our trash gets to that point, it's time for a trip to the dump.
    Before we made it to the dump, Chris couldn't resist the smell.  She was found gnawing on a rather large bone.  I don't give them bones normally, just bone meal, so I promptly took it away from her, wondering where she found it.
    Later, I noticed that she had gotten into the trash, and that is where she stole the bone from.  I picked up some of the trash in the grass and told Chris that she was to stay out of the trash and that she was bad for it.  She seemed to know that I was upset with her, clamping her tail to the underside of her belly.
    Later in the day as I went outside and found two coffee bags on the lawn and picked them up also, talking to the dogs, that coffee is not an appropriate food for them.  Those coffee bags still had quite a lot of ground coffee left in them, as I had tossed them when cleaning out the refrigerator. 
    I had a suspicion that Tam had helped herself to the open trash that Chris had gotten into.  She will not get into the trash on her own, but can't resist it if it was opened.  I noticed that she had a dirty nose.
    That night I woke at 3am and Tam was on the bed shivering and panting at the same time.  She was not feeling well.
    I asked her if she needed to go out, and she jumped up and off of the bed.  All three went outside, and Tam was out for a while longer than Kate or Christian.
    I called her to come back in, and we went back to bed.
    When I got up in the morning, I found an explosion on the landing upstairs.  I let the dogs out and went and got the Petastic and some rags to clean up the mess.  I also found an explosion down stairs also. 
    As I was cleaning up the messes, I noticed what I thought at first was dirt or something small and granular.  I remembered the coffee bags that I had picked up, and put two and two together.
    Tam is known in this family as Tam the Inhaler.  I have never found a food that she will not eat!  And when I grind coffee beans, and happen to drop one, she will come and eat it off of the floor.  Coffee?
    Tam had gotten into the coffee bags and had eaten the ground coffee.

    Today she seems fine.  I will keep an eye on her to make sure that her stools firm up.  I would think that coffee is pretty bad for dogs, like chocolate is, but I am not positive about that.  Too much coffee!

  29. Today, Christian is one year old.  We decided at the last minute, that after church today, we would take the girls to the beach.  Chris had never been, and living only about 45 minutes away, I think it was about time to take her.
    When we got there, of course being a Sunday, everyone was there with their dogs.  The girls ignored all of the dogs and ran along the surf, chasing each other.  Chris acted as if she was born on the beach, and paid no attention to the waves.
    Later I grabbed a stick, and it was instant focus for all three of them.  Kate focused totally on the stick, Tam focused on the Kate and the stick, going back and forth between the two.  Chris totally focused on Tam, not caring about the stick what-so-ever.

    And with these Herding Line Border collies, they are always herding!

    After about an hour on the beach, we headed for the local McDonalds.  It was time for Chris to have her birthday ice cream cone.  All three of the girls gobbled them down, and almost ate the paper holders, which I grabbed before that was eaten too!

    It sure was fun on the beach and to watch the girls eat their cones.  What a nice retreat from always working.
    Happy Birthday Christian!
  30. In Heat
    Yep!  Christian has come into heat.  This is earlier that my other dogs have, but she is not too far off the time-line.

    The first time that I put a diaper on her, so she could be in the house, she spun in circles three times, as she was trying to get a look at the "clothing" that I had just put on her.  I chuckled at her antics, and told her to "leave-it", hoping that she would accept it as a way of life in the house for the next three weeks. http://www.SheepdogHerding.com/seasonals  She has accepted it!
    In the herding side of her life, she is coming along quite nicely.  I haven't been working her too often, trying to allow her to grow up, before asking for much harder work. 
    Her mind wants to work and work, putting the Puritan's work ethic to shame, but her over-all well-being comes first.  In a few more weeks, her growth plates will have closed, and my worrying about her quite so much can end. 
    Thus far, she has learned the basics of herding.  She still does not know her flanks by command, but that will probably come in the next month or two.  She does small outruns (while being careful not to be too far to encourage cross-overs) and fetches, and we have been working on driving.  It has been pretty easy to encourage her to take inside flanks, which I found intriguing, as when she first started she was such a strong header.
    The lie downs are still her sticking points, as she does not want to.  But none-the-less, I will need her to do that in the future, so we must get it.  She can do her preferred stand, and has been learning to get back and keep away a little bit. 
    She has gone to all of the trials with me this year, and enjoys pestering me instead of watching the trials.  At the Dunnigan Hills trial, she met a new friend.  His name is Devon and was 11 weeks old.  They played for quite a while away from the trial, and then later played some while watching the trial.  I hope in the future as she gets to work sheep more often, she will enjoy watching trials as much as Kate and Tam do.
  31. This was a great course for its terrain.  There were many hills with partially blind outruns that allowed for good training conditions for our dogs.  Though trials are not designed to be training events, but competitions, never-the-less, this trial allowed for not only strategy, but great terrain conditions to challenge our dogs. 
    I believe in testing my dogs in some of the toughest conditions that I can find.  Whether it be very difficult stock, tough terrain, or even extreme weather, all situations just add to my dog's being a well-rounded herding dog.  I don't shy away from these difficult situations, and I try to push myself and my dogs to do well in these areas, always keeping safety in mind. 
    I tend to think about it like this:  When we went to college, we had to take all of these "support classes" in order to meet all of the requirements to graduate.  Most of us really didn't like messing with these classes.  They were boring and non-stimulating, and we really didn't see that they would ever help us in the real world.  It seemed that most of these support classes were just a waste of time. All we really wanted to take was our core classes, they were the "fun" ones.
    But these classes were still required, so grudgingly we took and finished them, good riddance!  I have found, though infrequently, that these "support classes" have come in handy.  Sometimes they were of use in everyday real life, and sometimes they were there in the background, adding to the understanding of something complex while in a work situation. 
    With our brilliant herding dogs, the same might be true.  If we train for the harshest or hardest work, then trialing might be easier for us and our dogs.  The simplest example that I know of is with one of my dogs.  Her first ProNovice trial was on a flat field.  I had been training with her on small hills.  When we were close to running at the trial, she didn't see the sheep.  They weren't far, it was just flat.  I had to lift her up in my arms so she could see them.  That was a little embarrassing, but I learned, that like with obedience training of the past, I needed to train my dogs for all situations.
    For me, right now, my focus is on the pressure of large trials.  Large in a big area to work in, physically large, but mainly large in respect to the number of dogs entering a specific trial.  The pressure of that many people watching my handling is what I am working on for me, the handler.  I need desensitizing to the pressure. 
    For my dogs, right now, my emphasis is outwork.  We are working on very large outruns, and driving well at a good distance. 
    So the Dunnigan Hills Trial had fairly steep hills in which the handler had to be careful with their lines and the speed of the sheep.  Off line or too fast, meant one would miss the panels, of which there were three.  Two regular drive panels, then the last one was a pull through.  More challenge for our handling.
    Often the outrun was such that a redirect was necessary.  If your dog was not used to running large outruns, or used to being redirected, the sheep might be missed, and a retire was imminent. 
    This course did not have a shed, which was the first Open trial that I have been to that didn't.  We had pen, which at times could be very challenging for both dog and handler.
    Bill Berhow put this trial on, with his home flock sheep, which were in very good shape.  He was a good host and the course director for this trial.  The weather cooperated as far as it was sunny and there was no rain.  But Saturday we had pretty good wind, which got some of the handler's coughing and sneezing.  Even a few dogs were sneezing from the pollen stirred up in the air.
    This trial was a true field trial.  We were out in the middle of a huge field, with the only fence around, being along the road to protect the sheep from cars.
    I enjoyed this trial, and am planning on returning next year.
  32. The trial itself was filled with challenge, this is no dull and boring trial, and filled with all kinds of excitement. 
    The big barn had been set up as shelter for the trialers and to display awards.  A few vendors were also set up in the big barn.  Many trialers were grateful for the vendors, as forgotten items were available for purchase right there at the trial.  Beautiful gifts for sale of many sorts were also displayed; from hand-printed shirts, Border collie caution signs, hand-made wool scarves and hats, to engraved wine glasses and general dog supplies.  Many herders liked to get out of the weather and go shopping.
     Tables were set up in the barn isle displaying lots and lots of items up for raffle.  This is a very big raffle trial where all of the proceeds go to a local FFA group.  There is even a large Border collie quilt that gets made just for this trial, that gets separately raffled.  Many and most of the trialers buy tickets for the raffle and most of them end up winning something.  And each day after lunch, brought a new raffle, with new items to win.
    The first day they were on the "flat field", which is not really flat.  However, if compared to the other field at the trial, it is relatively flat. Friday was the ProNovice trial, and nice and rainy. However, due to that rain, there was quite a bit of run-off. One part of the field, was a low spot, and it had become quite the creek. This was located right smack in the middle of the last leg of the drive. 
    As most of us trialers know, sheep do not like swimming, and these sheep were in agreement with that.  Handlers had to negotiate the sheep in a straight line, right through the creek that had gotten about eight feet wide or greater by the time the trial started.
    Though the course was on a pretty grassy field, by the end of any certain dog's run, both the sheep and the dog were pretty muddy.  Most everyone had to spray off a wet dog to remove tons of mud, then towel them off to aid in their drying.  All of this done while standing in the rain.  Yuck!
    One sheep during the trial got pretty hurt and required staples.  She freaked at the pen and took off by herself away from the pen and toward the road and the fence.  She hit the fence so hard that some people tending to her thought that she had broken her nose. 
    I have never seen that before.  I have seen injuries to both the sheep and dogs at trials, but have never seen a broken bone.  I have seen tears and rips, hurt feet and legs, and the all-never wanting to have this in my run, lamb born.  We had a veterinarian on the grounds and he doctored her up, and she was retired to the barn for the rest of the trial.
    As for the rest of the trial, it was pretty uneventful as far as injuries to the sheep were concerned.  There were a couple of sore feet and legs of a few dogs, due to slipping on the wet turf.
    The next day, Saturday, was the first part of the Open trial.  Two fields were used concurrently so each trial became a two-day trial.  This allowed for a very large trial which is quite nice for accumulating larger amounts of points for the National Finals.
    The handlers and their dogs, which there were over 80 for each field, were grouped so that they only trialed one day on one field, and the other day on the other field, even if they had more than one dog to run. That helped the handlers a lot as they didn't have to go from one field, concentrate on it and watch some of the runs, then run over the other field, and repeat.  I think that grouping the handlers to one field per day, allowed for better concentration and allowed the handlers to settle their emotions better.
    By the second day of the trial, the rain had stopped.  The flat field still had a creek running through the last leg of the drive, but the size of it had gone down to about six feet wide, and not quite as deep as it was the day before. 
    The "hill field", which is run jointly with the "flat field" to make for an over-all great trial, is the other field that is used for this trial, and aptly named.  The hill is very big and steep.
    Dogs that don't have good away-side outruns are at a slight disadvantage, due to the terrain.  But Open handlers train both sides on their dogs, and they should be able to handle this challenge.  And a challenge it is!  The great elevation change is one challenge, the other is a deep creek on the right side of the course.  If there has been a lot of rain, this creek can fill very rapidly and get quite deep.  It can make just getting to the course an event in itself!  Last year, they had had tons of rain, and this creek almost overflowed.  But fortunately the creek was able to hold all of the runoff, and not overflow its confines. 
    During the third day of the trial, bad weather threatened, and fortunately it was just a threat.  Through the day we got a few sprinkles, and even one episode of hail, none of which was long-lived.  More run-off had diminished over-night, which made for better trialing for Sunday.  But the sheep were getting tired of being pushed around, and were challenging our dogs more often than the previous two days.  Only the tough-in-mind dogs were able to withstand the onslaught and move forward.  These are the same type of sheep that will be used at the National Finals this coming September, so most of the trialers used the opportunity to "practice" on these range ewes, and get more experience with them, and were grateful for them. 
    While this trial may have been filled with challenge, most everyone enjoyed themselves.  Many herders took learned lessons back home with them and that is something to always hope for.  Learning what to do, or what not to do, with a particular event in a sheepdog herding trial.  Learn from our mistakes and successes.

    High Combined Winner Suzy Applegate with etched wine glass award from Operation Sheepdog Herding.

  33. We finally got a load of Safestix in for stock.  There has been a gap in their avaliability and now Kong is making and marketing them for Safestix, and I was anxious to see them in person.  They are a rubber-like toy, but in a "not seen shape" in the marketplace.  It is the shape of a long stick with knobby balls on each end. 

    We carry the 19" version, and they are nice and bendy, and come in assorted translucent colors.  As a relatively new toy on the market, I needed to know how they would perform with my rambunctious Border collies, for their over-all durability and like-ability.

    I broke down and gave the dogs a Safestix, and almost instantly they started playing with it.  My dog Kate that "kills" things by shaking them and smacking them on the ground, she loves "killing" it.

    Tam is the patient tugger and chewer, loves the tug game, and lays down with it and just chews on the ball end, when not being entertained with tugging.

    Christian, the 9 month old, loves chewing also, like most puppies, lays down with Tam and chews on the other end of the Safestix on the ball. She has now also gotten into the tugging thing with this stick.  She usually just plays with other toys while Kate and Tam tug with the same sturdy toy.  But with this dog toy she has gotten involved in the tugging game.  It's pretty fun watching all three dogs tugging with all of their might, on just one toy, and that toy holding up.

    They have been trying the really durable dog toy now for about a week, and there is NOT A DENT in it what-so-ever.  This is truly an extreme dog toy!

  34. Today we went into Home Depot.  Christian and I alone, with out the other two girls.  I did this before with her about 2 weeks ago also, to help build her confidence.

    She is very well socialized, but any different situation that she can experience, and live through it, can only help her to deal with other things in the future.

    Years ago, when I lived in Idaho, I got a young pup.  I took her to obedience class (she was the best in the class) and worked hard on getting her socialized well. Once she became an adult I didn't worry about socializing her any longer.  Little did I know then, but dogs need continuous socializing throughout their lives.  They don't need as frequent socializing as when they are young, but occasional social encounters helps keep them from getting all weird about unexpected disturbances, noises, or movements, all of which herding dogs are sensitive to.

    Fortunately taking our dogs to trials can help with that unless they are strictly crated and only let out to run in the trial and then immediately put away.  You are there, why not hold on to your dog on leash for a while, and let them socialize a bit?  I take advantage of as many situations as possible.  Besides, they like hanging with me.

    Home Depot has tons of noise, with heavy moving lumber carts, lots of smells and many people to try to ignore.  Chris loves people, so ignoring everyone is her hardest feat.  She did quite well with all of the noises, not letting them bother her at all.  She is improving on ignoring people, though she still has to be reminded, as she veers right toward them when they get close.

    Her herding lessons are going well.  I got a few suggestions from Shelley, to help her and I in her training. 

    Chris had been working the sheep really calm and slowly.  Tight like many young dogs but the slow thing had me a bit flustered.  Shelley told me to fire her up and get more energy into her working. 

    After about a week of firing her up, she is working very nicely and with much more energy.

  35. Now that Christian is more active, she has been loosing weight, loosing to the point of being underwieght.  So I have increased her dinner portion.  I had stopped feeding her breakfast for several months now, but with all of that activity, I think I will start her up with breakfast again. 

    This morning, I noticed her limping.  YIKES!!   I immediately checked her front feet for stickers or abrasions, which I didn't find anything wrong.  After I was done checking her, I let her go, and NO limp.  I kept checking her through out the day, and the final result was NO limp.  I am guessing that when she was limping, it was in a rocky area of the drive, and she had picked up a stone.  When I picked up her feet, it must have dropped out!

    Later in the afternoon, a friend of mine dropped by with his Border.  The whole pack played together for a while, and then we went to the pasture to throw the ball with the chuck-it.  That type of exersize is fairly intensive.  All of the dogs ran to the little dog pool when we were finished to cool off quickly.  Chris never showed any limping after that morning scare.  Phew!  I wonder when I will get over it myself.  Rocks!

  36. Chris is now free to be a sheepdog puppy!  It will take me a little longer to get out of the habit of watching out for her, so she didn't overdo it, though.  She was out for most of the day today, and getting herself really dirty like most pups do.  

    With freedom, comes trouble.  She got in trouble a few times also.  With all of the dogs outside with her, she can be more easily coaxed into doing something like wandering where she shouldn't be.

    I checked on all of them often during the day, since I have been dog sitting the Canadian Borders for a couple of days.  However, I was told toward the end of the day that one of the Canadian Borders was in the road, in front of the house.  My neighbor told her to go home, which she promptly did.  I guess I better watch them a little better.

    Several times when I would hear a commotion outside, I would run out to see just what was going on.  One time Chris and the two Canadian Borders were out greeting the UPS truck.  YIKES!

    I called them, with a gruff voice to let them know that I was in disagreement with what they were doing, then herded them back toward the house, as I greeted the UPS man.  

    None of the 5 dogs are aggressive toward strangers, but they could get hurt by the truck.  My other two Borders, Kate and Tam, stayed back without being told too.  Hopefully in the future, Chris will learn to greet, but not run out in the driveway toward visitors.  I hope Kate and Tam will influence her in that respect.

    I threw the ball with the chuck-it ball launcher for all five of them out in the pasture.  At first, Silas, one of the Canadian Borders, caught the ball and promptly left the pasture.  I called him to come back unsuccessfully, and had to go after him to get the ball back.  He was not understanding the game as we had never played ball out in the pasture.  The pasture is for herding!

    Once he figured out the game was in the pasture, and that I closed the gate, so he couldn't steal the ball, he was on.  He caught it more than half of the time.  With Kate followed by Tam in the number of catches. 

    Annie, the other Canadian Border collie, and Christian were not interested in the ball at all.  All they wanted to do was herd the others as they ran for the flailing ball.

    It's nice to be able to have my girl back.  I look forward to working with her on sheep.  I also look forward to watching her continue to grow up.

  37. Well, I finally gave in to all of the pressure and worked Christian on sheep.  I had been dying to do sheepdog herding with her again.  We took it easy, as she doesn't run around like a crazy girl, like some pups do when working sheep.  Just a few minutes, nice and easy, to give her some satisfaction, along with me.  She did fine, and seems to have good balance, stopping on a dime when she brought them right to me. 

    I let her play at Dog Day with the puppies for about 5 minutes.  She had a great time socializing with the young Aussies.  We had a small group this week, so there were only a couple of puppies this time for her to play with, and was probably better for her anyway.  Later, I let Kate and Tam go so they could play also.  Boy!  All they want to do is herd each other, those Border collie freaks!

    Very soon, she will be completely free!

  38. We have been allowing Christian more and more freedom.  She now is coming with us to go and feed the livestock, instead of being left behind in the house.  Her attitude remains real good, and I bet she can't wait to get those eyes back on the sheep.

    I do tie her up with the others, when we do work sheep or give lessons.  She gets to watch the others, and especially the sheep for a time.  Occasionally, I let her out to play with Annie and Silas, our two visiting Canadian Border collies.  She really likes them, as most dogs that she knows, and she gets in their face.  It's a good thing that she is a puppy, because that behavior would get her bit if she was an adult.

    This week we went to Dog Day.  At first, I put Chris in a crate, and in the same yard as all of the other dogs.  She had been whining a bit, and I had been correcting her for it.  However, I don't like to nag at my dogs, and soon got tired of being unsuccessful at keeping her quiet, so I took her out, and kept her in hand, or tied to the fence right behind me.  She was able to socialize a bit with all of the puppies, but only for a minute or so.  I would promptly grab her when things got too rough. I kind of felt like I had a brand new puppy, and had to take very careful care of her, so no injuries can occur.

    We did herding that day and Christian was able to watch and remained quiet during all of the herding.

    I was talking with one of my friends about the upcoming fun trial, that we are having here next month.  He asked me if I was going to put Chris in the trial.  I looked confused at him, then said " What?"  Chris has not been working sheep for at least three months, and only been on them about half a dozen times.  Is that fair to both of us?  I started thinking about it.  She doesn't have an outrun, she doesn't know her flanks, how could I possibly pen with her?

    I will evaluate her when she can work again.  Man, the pressure!  So as it stands right now, no.  I don't want to mess her up with that kind of added and non-important pressure.  She is a puppy, eight months old today.

    A week and a half left!

  39. Christian's rehabilitation is going along at an excellent rate.  I have not seen her in the least, limp since the first week after her surgery.

     We have been going on daily leashed walks, with the other two Border collies coming along also.  This pack walk, allows the pack to keep itself as a pack, as they are migrating together, as a unit.

    This reminder that the girls are in the same pack, helps them to keep their hierarchy in check.  I am the pack leader, and the girls follow.  The walks reinforce that leadership.

    I feel that the walks, since they help with keeping the girls within the same pack, also helps to keep potential fights down to a minimum. 

    My dogs don't fight with each other.  If they did, I would surely put an end to it.  I have seen behaviors in the past, that if left unchecked, might have surely turned into a fight.

    One time period, Chris was eating next to the other dogs.  She started with a small low-pitched growl.  I addressed it right away.  And over the next several weeks, I kept readdressing the growl, until she got the message and quit.

    If I would have ignored that growl, or thought it was cute seeing a puppy guard her food, and let her continue, that behavior would have grown to a potential hazardous event for all concerned.

    There would have surely been fight and potential injury eventually to one or more of the dogs.  I have seen dogs eat right next to each other, when they don't know how to tolerate each other, like mine do, and it is scary to see. 

    One time when I was at a trial, a friend of mine was feeding her two dogs side by side in their wire crates.  I was walking by and it sounded like all hell was breaking loose.  I watched one of the dogs, freaking out!  It was trying to eat its own food, but the other dog in the other crate was right next to him, and he couldn't.  He would take a bite, then turn toward the other dog and bark and try to attack it because it was close.  It didn't matter to that dog that the one next to him was in another crate and couldn't possibly get to its food!

    I want peace in my life, and that includes the dogs.  They better get along, OR ELSE!  They will meet my wrath.

    I feel, that because of what I don't allow with my dogs, that has allowed me to have that peace.  They can eat next to each other without any problems, treats are not an issue, sure if only one dog has a rawhide, the other will want it, and if left, she will go and get it.  Toys are also not an issue, except like the rawhide, if left, another will go and get the desired toy.  But there is no aggression or hostility between the dogs and that is where I intend on keeping it.

    So today, the girls and I took a walk together.  Chris has two weeks left of rehab and both of us can't wait.  Later in the afternoon we got invited to take a second walk.  I thought that would be good for Christian to help her build some endurance.  And she loved it!

    Now she is napping on the couch.  Two weeks left.  Yeah!!!

  40. Christmas with the new puppy went very well.  She really enjoyed learning how to open her presents, and really loved making confetti out of the wrappings.  

    Christian got several new toys from us and Santa.  And she seemed to really like getting new toys.  She really loves her Hard Boiled Softie Sheep, so Santa brought her a new one.  She really was not suppose to run around, as she is still rehabbing, but it was Christmas, so she was allowed a bit.  So she grabbed her new Softie and ran around the living room playing with the Softie.

    Tam and Kate also received a few new toys.  One of the most desirable toys was a Tuffy Mega Ring.  The two girls just love to tug together, so I thought a Mega Ring just might be a good choice for them.  Boy, was I right.  They loved it!  They play with it every day, tugging with all their might.

    One other present they got as a group, was a large bag of Yummy Chummies soft salmon treats.  Those are sure tasty to them and they really relish getting them.

    Sammy Sheep- Hard Boiled SoftieTuffy Mega RingYummy Chummies Salmon Treats


  41.  Surgery is what she needed, and surgery is what she got.  Keeping a 6 month old Border collie quiet for three weeks is another challenge.  I did as ordered, keeping her under STRICT crate rest with leashed potty breaks.  This went well for almost a week.

     Christian developed diarrhea.  I gave her the usual diarrhea stop aids with no effect at all.  The poop kept coming and coming.  I was having difficulty keeping up with the washing of her bedding.  She couldn't hold it more than two hours, either needing to go out or nailing the crate, if I was too late!

     After the diarrhea, vomiting started, though was fairly short lived.  She nailed my car, but was not too hard to clean up.  I gave her one dose of Pepto Bismol to help her tummy, when she went off her food.  I watched the signs of the Pepto leave her body out the other end.

     On dog day, I brought her with us along with her crate, so she could watch the other dogs do agility, trying to help her mind as much as possible.  She had a blow out in her crate there, and I didn't know it until we were leaving.  BIG YUCK!

     The crate and her needed bathing before we could leave.  What a stinking mess!  So I had no choice but to leave her in the crate with just a towel, as the bedding was soiled.

     During lunch, I discussed Chris' problem.  I asked them if they had ever experienced crate stress with a dog.  A few of them said that they had, especially if the dog is not used to being in the crate a lot.

     They mentioned that a bland diet might help her.  BINGO!  Why didn't I think of that myself.  One friend mentioned brown rice and chicken, and I came back with white rice and not brown.

     So I settled on white rice, chicken breast without the skin, and a little chicken broth.  I was apprehensive  about the broth, so used just a tiny amount at first.

     I asked another friend about what she did for a bland diet for her dogs, and she added that some plain pumpkin could also be added to Chris' diet.

     By the next day, Chris was eating better, and that night, she finally had a normal bowel movement.  YEA!

    One other thing that I have done was, take her out of the crate.  Now I have a "loose" puppy that has to remain quiet.  I either keep her on the couch with me, or limited walk while dragging a leash, to make sure there is no jumping or running.

     This "new method" of strict crate rest is really hard to maintain.  I am now a constant puppy sitter, with her glued to my side.  I do from time to time, put her in the crate as I have work that needs to be done, but for the most part, she is now on the couch.  And so am I. STUCK!

     ONE MORE WEEK! and she can start swimming and light walking.

  42. Chris has been diagnosed with OCD, Osteochondritis Dissecans.

    In her case, it was caused by trauma to her shoulder, and not a genetic predisposition to the disease.  I never saw the trauma happen, but immediately after she smashed herself, she was major limping for the rest of the day.  For the last month and a half, she has been limping on and off.

    I have been waiting to write until I had more information about her condition.  My local vet made the diagnosis, and the next day I made a consultation appointment with the surgeon who is about 3 1/2 hours away.

     That appointment confirmed her condition.   We discussed the three possible treatments for her.   

     1.  Conservative approach:  Work the leg, try to break off the torn cartilage and hope it lands somewhere in the joint cavity where it won't cause her pain.  Problem I see with this approach is the expected recovery percentage is pretty low.  I want the best chance at recovery for her.

     2. Extreme liberal approach:  Filet open the joint, with a huge incision.  Scrape the joint to ensure the loose cartilage has been removed.   Major muscle cutting during this procedure.  Nope, not going there.

     3.  Microsurgery called arthroscopy.  One of the newest techniques.  Fluid is injected to "swell" the area, so the doctor can see and work in the area through tiny holes.  The torn flap of cartilage is removed.  The bone area which is void of cartilage is then lightly scraped.  This stimulates a "scabbing" effect and encourages filling of the defect.  The "scab" is then followed by a  pre-cartilage growth, known as fibro cartilage, and followed by permanent cartilage.

     The number three is the procedure Chris has had.

     Dogs with shoulder OCD are expected to return to full function with minimal future problems.  My surgeon likes to act quickly.  During the consultation appointment, he confirmed her condition, then said that he could operate on her today.

     We jumped at the chance to get her started with real healing, and not drag it out any longer than we have to.  The sooner, the better, the sooner that she will feel better, and the sooner that she will be FREE TO BE A SHEEPDOG PUP!

     We all (Chris, my husband, and I) face 8 weeks of rehabilitation.  Three weeks of pretty limited movement, giving her body a great chance at healing itself.  Then, five more weeks of restrictive movement, which includes swimming.

     One bad thing about the swimming though. Its been in the teens at night, and all of the pools that my friends own are not heated!  Yikes!!!

     My dog chiropractor does have a therapy pool that she keeps heated, but that costs $.  So, we'll see.  We are pretty wiped out of money now. And this little surgery will be our Christmas.

     At least Chris will be out of pain in a couple of days.  I will make the trip back to Ventura tomorrow to pick her up and get detailed instructions on her rehab.

  43. Today, I took the girls for another 1/2 mile walk.  I wanted to see how Chris was doing, since she had started limping again yesterday.  I glanced down at her trotting beside me and was grateful to God that she even had a leg for me to be concerned about.

    As I continued the walk, I starting reflecting about what I am truly grateful to God for.  I am grateful for being born with all of my senses and continue to have all of my them.  I am grateful that I have not lost any limbs or digits in this brief life of mine.  I am grateful for having a great supportive husband, who loves our dogs as I do.  God has put me in a wonderful place to live.  And though he has not blessed us with children, we have three wonderful dogs in which to share our lives with.  I am grateful to have family members and good friends to share our dogs with.  And I am thankful that my herding trainer, Shelley Parker, who has given tons of herself, to me, teaching me how to train herding dogs, read sheep, trial competitively in sheepdog herding, and that she is a great friend.  And about Christian, I am grateful to God for bringing her back to us when she was lost.

    Yesterday, we went to dog day to play.  Concerned about Chris' soundness, she was mainly kept tied or held on leash.  She was doing fine with the visit until I started to concentrate with Tam on agility.  Chris was jumping up and barking and barking, which drives me crazy.  Matt, my husband, who came along to dog day with us, was correcting her as she was jumping and barking.  However, he was not matching the intensity of her energy level, when she was jumping.  Therefore, she kept doing it while on leash.  All of that activity caused her to start limping again. 

    I was rather upset with the whole deal, and promptly removed her to the pick-up truck.  Apparently, only one week of crate rest was not enough (I kind of thought she needed more, and had planned more for her).

    She remained limpy throughout the evening, but appeared fine this morning.  That is why I took her out on the walk.  I wanted to see how she would do.  She did well until about a 1/2 hour after the walk when she started limping again.  Just wonderful!

    December 1st is the date for her vet appointment, so one more week and we should know for sure what is going on with her.  In the meantime, she will remain on very limited exercise, and lots of rest.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  44. Yesterday, the girls and I took a 1/2 mile leashed walk.  Chris did not limp at all during or after the walk. 

    A couple of days ago, it was raining all day, so I put Kate and Tam on the tread-mill, to take the edge off of their built up energy.  Christian has never been on the tread-mill, so I showed it to her while the adult girls were trotting on it.  After the adult dogs were done with their time on the tread-mill, I introduced Chris to it. 

    What a disaster.  She was scared, so I took it really slow with her.  NOPE, she was not going to walk on it.  I could get her on the mill while it was turned off with no problem.  However, as soon as I would turn it on, she would freak and almost shut-down.  So, I introduced food, getting another sense involved. 

    Food worked a bit, as she would get on the tread-mill with it turned off, again.  But when turning it on, she still freaked, even with food literally under her nose. She wasn't too stressed not to take the food, but she would not walk.

    I was straddling her and trying to help her to get through this initial part of walking on the tread-mill.  I lifted under her, holding her feet to the belt, while it was on as low as it would go.  I could get her front feet to work on the belt, then hold her while her back feet would kind of walk on the mill.  But I could not get both sets of her feet to work "normally" while on the tread-mill.

    She also started reacting to the beep noise when the machine itself powered up.  So I started working on desensitizing her to just the noise alone.

    Later that day, I took Chris back to the tread-mill for another lesson.  I grabbed a new bag of Zukes minis treats, to keep helping her learn on the tread-mill.  She was walking, but not normal on it finally, while feeding her the treats.  Not a real pretty site doing it by yourself, as I really needed another hand to help feed her.

    Christian will probably take several more lessons on the tread-mill before she is comfortable walking on it.  I don't want to have her struggle too much, and undo what her crate rest seems to have done.  It seems that she has lots of Zukes in her future.

  45. This pup of mine has been limping on her right front off and on now for three or four weeks.  One day the three girls were playing and it was a hot day.  I sent them to run for the dog pool in order to cool-off.  They usually race for it, to try to be the first one in.  This time, Chris came back limping on her right front foot. 

    I looked it over, and could not find anything wrong.  She kept limping for a good part of the day, and after several days, the limp seemed to disappear.  Then several days later, her limp reappeared.  This has now gone on too long, for my comfort. 

    I made an appointment with the dog chiropractor, and had her look Christian over.  I have had good luck with them in the past.  My first herding dog, Bonnie, at five years old, started limping on one of her front legs.  I took her to my veterinarian and x-rays were taken.  Fortunately, cancer was ruled out, but no diagnosis was able to be given.  The vet wanted to do further radiographs up her leg to see if any problems could be seen.

    Before I went a head with the additional radiographs, I had a local farrier, who also adjusted horses and dogs, look at Bonnie.  I asked him to give her an adjustment.  As soon as he was finished, her limp stopped.  I was sold!

    I had never had chiropractic work done on me, so later, when I came off my horse and herniated a disc, the chiropractor became my saving grace.

    This time, it was not quite so simple.  The doctor felt something and came up with two maybes.  Either she had elbow displaysia or she hyper extended her elbow and has a sprain.  She suggested an x-ray and a general check up with my vet, which the appointment has already been made.  Crate rest was also recommended.  This is harder for me, than it is for the dog.

    Upon some research from the internet, elbow displaysia in Border collies has a percentage of 0, in a group of 250.  Most of the authoritative veterinarians on the subject, state that it is not a important concern.

    Since I know when, but not how, she bashed it, I am pretty sure that she has hyper extended her elbow, but of course, I am not a doctor.  The chiropractor said that her right elbow had more extension than her left elbow did.  That makes me think she has hyper extended that elbow. For now, she is being crate rested.  She is not too happy about the whole thing either. 

    I had a friend come over today to work his dog on sheep, and I made sure that Chris got to watch.  She sat there at the fence tied the whole time, at least a couple of hours, watching the dogs and sheep go bye.

    I figure that if she is not allowed to play or work right now, at least her mind could work.  Later this afternoon, I gave her a full 12" bully stick, which she has never had before.  She loved it, and  chewed on that for a long time.  Now, when I let her out of the crate for any reason, the other two girls go over and snoop in her crate, stealing goodies inside.  So the crate door always has to be shut, to prevent access to those sneaky thieves.


  46. Chris has received corrections since she has come to live with us, therefore she is not real sensitive to receiving them.  When she was a young puppy, her mother gave her caresses with her tongue and corrections with her teeth or other body language, and at times growls.  And since after leaving her dam, she continued to be directed by corrections and praises or rewards.  By her not being overly sensitive to them, she accepts them, and then moves on. 

    Some dogs who do not get corrections, internalize them, when they do receive them. They have a very hard time either accepting them, or take the corrections so personally, that other unwanted behaviors (other than the original behavior that the pup was corrected for) can develop.  In my opinion, this was the problem that the Australian shepherd that I had rescued last year had. 

    He was a fearful aggressive dog.  His former owners were not experienced enough, nor did they know where to go for help, with this dog's problems.  Therefore, he didn't receive many or consistent corrections.  When I took control of this dog, As soon as I grabbed the leash, I immediately started correcting him, telling him where to go, and to yield to my presence. I became his leader, not allowing him to be the leader.

    As our relationship developed, corrections were a plenty.  He was submissive to me, and when corrected firmly, he would leak urine.  And he needed many firm corrections in the beginning.  Many puppies will get excited when meeting strangers or strange dogs, and urinate.  This behavior usually goes away as the puppy matures.  And with this Aussie, it continued for about six months, until he was confident enough in himself, to accept the corrections.

    This last weekend, we all went to a sheepdog trial.  We had a very nice time, and the setting was great.  My handling, much like last year, has a lot to be desired.  I am in much need for practice on outwork.  My close in work is fine, as dealing with my sheep daily, has kept me sharp.  But man, my timing is off, not as bad as last year, but I can tell that I need to get some more practice.  My dogs may be trained, but I am not.

    Chris had a good time playing with a puppy, and at times running around with the girls during a potty break.  And watching sheep was soo fun.

    She was still pulling on the leash, and that behavior drives me crazy!  So I got on her about it, driving her backwards, while glaring at her and with my body slightly hunched over, as I walked toward her.  She received several collar corrections in a row during this.  Hopefully I made my point.  I hate nagging a dog, and would much rather give a firm correction, let the dog know my wishes, and get it over-with.  I do give reminders, but when she started really pulling consistently, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  My husband had a hold of her, and she was taking advantage of him.  I grabbed the leash, took control, and gave her the corrections. Christian was much better after that correction, and just a "tsst" sound was all the reminder that she needed after that.

  47. Christian now has all of her adult teeth in.  For a while, she had double upper canines, but like Tam, the baby canines finally came out. But even though she is done teething, I caught her chewing on something that she was not allowed to chew on.  We were in the pick up together, and I keep a water hole dog bowl in the truck.  The water in the bowl was gone, and as Chris was jumping from the front seat to the back, she would overturn the bowl.  While I was in the store, she was in the back seat with the other two girls, and started chewing on the bottom of the plastic bowl.

    When I got back in the truck, I glanced back at the dogs, and saw the bowl.  I grabbed the bowl, showed it to her, and told her "no" and that she was so bad!  In a low disgusted voice.  She is fairly sensitive, so it didn't take that much to get my point across.  She turned her head away, with a hunched over type of body language.

    Last weekend we went to a sheepdog herding trial.  What an adventure it was this time. There were three dogs, and two humans shoved in the cab of a small pick up.  Chris was held for a while, but my husband wanted to work on the computer for a while, so we convinced her to lay down behind the seat on the floor.  I had put a nice cushion down for her, so she would be tempted to stay down on the floor.  Fortunately, she seemed ok with the arrangement, and spent much of the time down there. 

    We had car trouble during the trip, as the dash lights went completely out after we got to the trial.  So our trip home, consisted of using the flash light to see how fast I was driving, how much gas I had, and to see all of the rest of the instruments that needed monitoring.  At the same time, the pick up starts back firing some.  Lots of praying, got us home safely.  And the truck is now being seen by its doctor.

    At the trial, Chris was well behaved.  She was leashed at all times when she was close to the trial, but was able to run around and have fun in the field where we parked the cars.  She watched many of the runs, and when it was my turn, she watched intently.  That's right Chris - someday, it will be your turn!

  48. Christian is starting to look like a teenager.  Her legs are long and leggy, while her body is still on the smaller side.  Her head is still somewhat larger for her current body size, so I think she will grow more.  I mentioned her head size to my husband, and he just said that it is larger because it is packed with brains.  I say its packed with a skull full of mush.  Mush that needs to be developed into a free thinking brain.

    A teenager on the outside, might mean that she is a teenager on the inside.  Her energy level has dramatically increased.  She usually only takes one nap a day now, along with the other two Border collies.  She plays with Tam, the three year old, more often and for longer sessions.  Care with her physical body still needs to be taken as her bones and growth plates are still that of a young dog.  I guess what I am trying to say, is that even though she is looking more and more like a dog and not a puppy, she still is a puppy until about a year old.  That is one reason why most handlers will not start their dogs on sheep until about one year old.  Their skeleton is not fully developed, and damage can occur.  Their brains can be sensitive too, so sensitive that they cannot handle correction well, while on sheep.

    That said, I have "played" with Chris on sheep, but only for about 2 minutes at most.  She wants to work, and its very hard to not let her "play" once in a while.  However, I am super picky with the sheep that I pick out for her when I do let her "play".  I do not want her slammed or butted by a sheep, that can turn her off of sheep permanently.  Also, irreversible damage can occur to her growth plates if she would get hit just right.  She, more likely than not, might not be able to emotionally handle any correction that I might give to her.  So I need to keep corrections in check, and constantly monitor her emotional state, while she is "playing".

    When working a very young dog, many prominent trainers have said that the dog will not really get a head start on sheep when working that young.  I keep that tucked away in the back of my brain, to help me let her be the puppy that she is, and not to push her.

    She can get hurt terribly in the "outside" world, while not even not on sheep.  Tam's littermate did just that.  When she was about 4 months old, one day when she was released from her kennel in the morning, she came around a corner, and stepped in a hole.  That hole did major damage to the young puppy.  Rest didn't help, so x-rays were taken, and she had torn her knee tendons and an ACL operation was needed.  Her potential trialing days were now over.  The worst part about all of this was she would have to be kept quiet for over 8 months, as her surgery could not take place until she had finished growing.

    Fortunately for her, she was rehomed with a veterinarian, and lives a full and relatively active life.

  49. New teeth are coming in right and left.  During one week, Christian lost both of her lower canines and she looked quite funny.  We started calling her Gumby for a nick-name. She also has a new lower permanent lower molar.  This new molar should let her cut the Wholesome Hide dog chews that I give her.  Before, with her baby teeth, she couldn't "cut" pieces of the rawhide off, rather she would chew and chew the Wholesome Hide until is was really soft and then she would shake it.  But the shaking wouldn't work to break off a smaller piece, so eventually she would either swallow the whole piece, or I would cut it with scissors, for her to swallow easier.

    I like to collect my puppie's teeth when they loose them, however, I have not been able to get hers. Either she has swallowed them as they are lost, or they would fall out when playing with the big girls outside.  I was able to get one tooth, an incisor, when it was sideways in her mouth, otherwise no puppy teeth have been retrieved.  Darn!

    We got a good rainstorm last week, and the girls, the sheep and I had many demonstrations scheduled before excited 4th graders in the County, at the local fairgrounds, just after the rainstorm. We worked in a rain soaked cattle arena, running the sheep through and around cones for the kids.  The kids and the dogs loved it, me, not so much. The dogs were filthy!  They stunk of urine, and their whole undersides were totally dirty that no squirt with the hose would suffice.  

    Immediately upon coming home, we unloaded the sheep and put them away.  Then it was off to the bath.  I was filthy also, but the girls needed baths first.  Fortunately for Christmas last year, my husband got me a Booster Bath to wash the dogs in.  And today, I was especially grateful for not having to struggle with a human bathtub that sits on the floor, as I was tired.  This dog bathtub sits on legs to increase it's height and reduce back strain.

    So all three of the girls got much needed baths, and then I did.  I hate smelling like urine.


    Dog Bath

  50. Christian is now 4 1/2 months old.  She fits right in with the two other Border collies and us two humans, just like she has always belonged here.  She has learned to sit, lay down, and come when called.  She is not a 100% on these commands, but a puppy is really not expected to be.  When she makes a mistake and ignores me, she gets a correction, and therefore reminded that she is not in charge, I am.

    She is now potty trained.  She still has never come to me to ask to let her out to go, but is able to hold it all night.  She sleeps in an open crate, though she would like to be on the bed with us, one dog is enough with a queen bed.  If we ever get a king bed, then she can sleep on it if she wants to.

    I have started "playing" with her on sheep.  I am extremely careful with her though, picking out just the right sheep for her success.  I try not to put much pressure on her both physically and mentally, as she is still a puppy.

    There is a lot of opinion about working puppies on sheep.  Some say to wait until they are one year old, because their growth plates are now fused and no real damage can occur in that respect.  Additionally, a year-old dog can take the pressure of being corrected much better than a younger one.  These important reasons should be taken into consideration when working a pup.  Some also say that early learning on sheep, does not get them ahead of others that were started later in life.  I have no way of telling if this is true or not, or if it really depends upon the dog or the situation.

    Chris has lots of sheep drive, but when "playing" with her earlier, I noticed that she was not ready for working yet.  She would split up the group and stand looking around as if to say "now what?"

    Two days ago I tried her again in she sheep pasture.  As usual, I was critical of the sheep that I chose for her to "play" with.  As she circled around and around, they got away several times.  I just made noises of encouragement, not words, to keep her going.  After  a minute or two, you could see that instinct was starting to kick in, and she was keeping them together better and better.  I kept checking her tail, as an important sign to me what was going on in her mind.  Her tail was down in working position the entire time that she was with the sheep.  Her tail was never in the "up position", a non-working position.

    She has also now started eating more than the adult Border collies.  She eats as much for dinner as they do, and she also eats breakfast, which I have recently increased. Teenagers will eat you out of house and home, if you are not careful.

    She also now walks on a leash, even in back of stock, without pulling much.  A nice accomplishment for her.

  51. We just finished with hosting a fun trial here.  The event went pretty well and everyone seemed to have a good time.  All of the dogs also seemed to enjoy the venue.  I worked like crazy, not having much help.  Though I was grateful for the help that I did receive.  Monday was the day of rest as I was pooped.  Since Kate has Valley Fever, I only used her a tiny bit, just enough to let her do a few easy things.  Tam was with me both days, working in the pens and setting out sheep for the handlers.

    Christian learned to sit in front of people before being pet, as compared to jumping up on them, to get their attention.  There were lots of people and dogs for a young pup to see in addition to a new best friend puppy.  A friend of mine's dog had had puppies, and a couple of the puppies were here.  Chris thought she was in heaven with puppies and dogs to play with, sheep to watch, and a clean pool to cool off in.  What more could a young dog want?

  52. My Kate dog is kind of sick.  I had her into the vet several weeks ago because she had been coughing.  I thought she had Kennel cough again.  She is susceptible to it, so I gave her antibiotics that I had to prevent pneumonia and let it run its course.  She even had a cough pill every day that we had left over.

    She never got better, so I brought her to the vets to see what they thought.  They diagnosed possible bronchitis.  Gave me a different antibiotic to give her.  And if that didn't work, then we would change antibiotics after the first (second) course of 10 days.  Now she is on the second course for five days now, and not much better.

    Last week, I brought her in to get a Valley Fever titer done on her.  We got the results back two days ago.  She has a low titer count, but something was there.  The vet wanted her brought in for a chest x-ray.

    The X-ray revealed that something was there, but the vet wanted to be positive.  The x-ray is being sent to a radiologist for confirmation.

    If she has Valley Fever, she has a mild case and the best chance of recovery.  Valley Fever is a fungus and present in the soil in Southern Ca, and Arizona.  We live in the middle of it.  

    Another symptom that she is having is low energy.  Today, I mentioned this to my vet.  And after looking it up on the Internet, on the University of AZ, website, those two symptoms are classic.  She is eating well, but when working sheep, she mostly walks. This is not very normal for speed demon Kate.

    I also had mentioned her not working right to Matt at the Creston Rodeo, where it seemed that Tam was doing a lot more work that Kate was.  Matt thought maybe the antibiotics were making her not feel well, but now I know that it is the illness.

    I will know in two days what the radiologist says about the x-ray, and if we can start her on the anti-fungal medicine.

  53. Like I thought, the rodeo was a great success for all involved.  The girls preformed fantastic and herded them with great strength and precision.  Chris met many people, but was totally distracted when the girls and I were out in the arena working the sheep.  During those times, Chris was totally focused on the sheep, much to my delight.

    Being the only dogs allowed at the rodeo, I took them through the booths area looking for a program.  The people at the booth had not seen the dogs and me because we had entered in the back area of the rodeo.  They commented on how did they miss this group of dogs.  Inferring that dogs were not allowed once again at the rodeo.  Someone told them that these were the workers and then so did I.  I got my program and went back to Matt to sit down and look through it.

    There was a nice bio about me and a bio about the three girls, along with pictures of Kate and Tam both in portrait form and in working form.  I was very pleased with the program and even my website was on it as a plug.

    In between the mutton busting preliminaries, and the finals, they had a few events and one of them was flag carrying, and the singing of the national anthem.  Everyone stood during the singing and had either their hand on their heart or were saluting.  We even had the Marine Color Guard on horseback there in the arena.  It was very emotional time.

    I walked alone one time to find food for both of us for lunch.  I got approached by many people, and even several young men, either thanking me for a great performance working the dogs, or telling me what a good job they did and shaking my hand looking totally impressed.  

    Later, after the mutton busting finals were over, I took the whole flock of sheep down to the opposite end of the arena, and turned them back and drove them back to the other end and out of the arena and into the side pens.  This little maneuver was new.  I had earlier asked the rodeo coordinator if she would like me to do that, and she said absolutely yes.  The crowd seemed to like it as they clapped when they were put away.

    This year the sheep were a little challenging.  Several of them would turn and face one of the girls, challenging them.  I would quickly encourage one of the other dogs to hurry over and double up on the ewe that was causing problems, giving much needed extra starring down.  That technique worked, but given the time, both of the girls can turn range ewes on their own, we just didn't have much time to waste as the event needed to move along.  

    One time, I got a comment that one of the dogs was running 50 miles per hour through the crowd.  The crowd was inside the arena, children with their parents, waiting their turn to ride the sheep.  Kate used to be very sensitive working around other people, and now she has plenty of confidence so that type of work is not a bother to her.  People or dogs never bothered Tam; she would keep working no matter what!  Anyway, the girls are SUPPOSED to work their sheep NO MATTER WHAT.  Sheep are the priority.

    After we put up the dogs, we found some shade to park in and left them in the pick up and walked through the booths for a while, looking at all of the stuff for sale.  Several times during that walk, I again got approached and told how neat watching the girls were, and that we all did a great job.  And many of the people that approached me wanted more.

    I referred them to make comments to the rodeo organizer.  I figured there is limited time at the rodeo, as they are trying to fit all of the events in a limited time frame, so I don't think that we could do much more than we had done.  But maybe in the future we can finagle some kind of fun trial with the sheepdogs at the rodeo grounds.  Who knows?  All I can do is ask.  But I really think it would have to probably be the week after or before the rodeo, there just isn't enough time during it.

    I had Matt take a few pictures of the mutton busting.  I wanted to include one here in this blog, so those who have never seen it, could.  I will down load the picture soon and post it here.

  54. We are helping out with the Creston Classic Rodeo on Sunday September 11.  Not the greatest of days for celebrating, do to the anniversary of terrorist attacks on US soil.  Never the less, we are still free in this great country of ours.  We are free to go to Cowboy Church, out at the rodeo grounds on Sunday morning.  We are free to go to the rodeo if we want to.  And we are free NOT to go to rodeo if we don't want to.

    The girls and I are helping out with their mutton-busting event.  This is where they put little kids on top of sheep and they have to hold on for dear life as long as they can.  It is really great competition to watch, and easy to help with.  There is no training, no straight lines, no panels to make, just the dog's instinct working.  The girls and I just have to keep the used sheep quiet and in the very back of the arena.  

    Last year was our first year helping out the rodeo with the mutton-busting event.  It went very well, and we were asked back again this year.  The girls working the sheep seemed to be a real draw for the crowd.  I heard many positive comments about them helping.

    This year, Christian is coming also and as the rodeo greeter.  I mentioned to the person in charge of the rodeo, that she would be coming as the greeter, and it was well received.  She loves people, so she should have a good time also and lots of children to pet her.


  55. We all had had a good week, this week.  We got to play with the puppies at Sandy's house on Wednesday.  They sure are growing up fast.  I notice a change every week.  I weighed Chris and she is weighing in at 19 pounds now, and getting harder to pick up.

    Now that she is eating more food, I had to change her bowl to an adult size Bella Bowl.  She is now eating out of the same size bowl that the two adult Border collies are eating out of.  In order to portion her food correctly and be able to tell which bowl is hers, I gave her a different color bowl from Kate and Tam's bowl.  She has a girly pink bowl, which goes with her girly personality.  I really like these bowl because number one they do not slide around the floor.  Bella bowls also come in pretty colors that match my kitchen colors.  Their interiors are made of veterinarian recommended stainless steel, and the removable rubber ring on the bottom makes them dishwasher safe.  Not much could be better in a dog bowl than that.

    In addition to weighing two times more than when I first got her, she is cutting teeth.  She has lost all of her incisors (the front teeth), so quickly that a lot of times her tongue is sticking out.  She has no teeth to hold it in!  Every time that I see her tongue out, I start laughing, because it’s so cute.  Her new teeth are starting to come in but are still small and no aid to holding that pink tongue inside her mouth.

    I have decided that it is time to start formal obedience training with her.  I am tired of her pulling on the leash, so I will incorporate techniques from Kate and Tam's obedience training to get a handle on it.  I don't do extensive obedience training any longer with my dogs, as I do not compete in that venue any longer.  However, I have to live with them.  My dogs need to basically do what I need them to do.

    She will learn to better walk on a leash, and in the heal position.  She will also learn sit, stand, down, stay, come on command.  She knows a few of them, so she will be proofed on them further.  With come, stay and down being the most critical, they could save her life.  

    Many years ago, I was letting my dogs relieve themselves in a relatively vacant parking lot with planted islands.  And this is one example where their obedience came in very handy to keep them safe.  A car came into the lot, and they were between my dog and me.  That could have been a real tragedy for us.  I told my dog to down and stay, as there was no time to call her to my feet.  She was kept safe on the island until the car passed, then she was called back to me and put up in the car.  Phew!

    Now, I do not recommend this kind of lazy behavior on my part what so ever.  Dogs are dogs, and she might have let her instinct take over and run in front of the car and gotten squished!  Now a days, I am more careful about letting my dogs lose.  And in public my dogs are usually leashed.  But those commands are still needed.

    They say dogs don't cross over.  And that saying refers to commands.  I know that they can understand the same word command for different tasks, as they are situational learners. But they can also learn a behavior and are able to apply it in a different venue.  For example, I have a touch command when I play with the girls.  They use their nose to touch my hand.  Additionally they have a touch command when hitting their contacts when they play in agility (two feet on and two feet off).  So I think that they do cross over.  Other examples are when I taught the lay down in the house.  Then when herding I used that command again, and low and behold, they would down.  I even had to use the time command (steady) with Tam, which was moved from herding to agility on the weaves.  She was going so fast in the weaves, that she was missing some, and by chance, I told her to "time", and she went through beautifully!  So the "time command", was a "time" in both herding and in agility.

    My dogs are not geniuses, they are normal Border collies.  If you teach, they will learn, and sometimes when given the chance, know more than we give them credit for.

  56. We spent Labor Day weekend at the Pleasanton, CA Scottish Games.  The Caledonian Club of San Francisco hosted one of the largest Scottish Games in the country and we were there smack dab in the middle of it.  They like to run a small arena sheepdog trial, which is a big draw for the spectators.

    We brought all three of the girls, Kate, Tam and Christian.  All of the border collies there were constantly being petted by everyone as they passed through our area.  In fact, it was difficult to potty them, because people would see the dogs, and walk over to them.  Millions of questions later, I hope that some of the spectators realized that Border collies are not very good back yard dogs; they should have a job, to ensure their well-being and their owner's.

    Chris was a total magnet, and I mean literally!  She was the youngest puppy there at 3.5 months old, and people just had to stop and ask to pet her.  She thought everyone was great, and her new found friends.  She even met a few dogs also.

    Three years ago, when we brought Tam as a puppy, she was a terror.  She, being a very pushy dog, was just awful at jumping up in people faces, hard.  We struggled holding the leash, when someone would approach, so they would not get accosted.  And Tam was just terribly fidgety, not settling down at all.  Christian was pretty laid back, and enjoying seeing all of the children.  In fact, she would pay more attention on the children compared to the adults.  She seemed to prefer them.

    We did very well at the trial.  Both Kate and Tam were fantastic for me to work, and I felt in complete control.  That was a good feeling.

    We stayed at Motel 6 in Pleasanton, and had brought Chris' intermediate size crate for her to sleep in.  When Tam was a puppy, we were extremely fortunate that we had brought the crate for her, because we even needed it at the trial.  We needed Tam breaks.  But Chris was so well behaved that we only used the crate for her to sleep in at night.

    Chris moved into the intermediate size crate about 3 or 4 weeks ago, and has been good in it.  I can't say that for the house though.  She is approaching the four-month age when she should be able to hold her urine all night, actually she does now anyway.  But with her, we have had many accidents in the house.  Thank God for Petastic!  That is the only enzymatic type cleaner that I use, and it works.  I have tried others, but even though this one might occasionally need two applications, it gets out the mess and the smell.  We have been using it so often, that I had to get some more!  Maybe she will have to be crated at night a little longer than four months old, because there is nothing more than I despise than cleaning up dog messes in the morning, instead of having a cup of coffee.  She has never come up to me to date, and asked me to let her out to do her business.  And I have to make sure that I am not so lazy and not let her out at the correct times and often enough!

     Christian has also started teething.  When we left for the Games, she had just lost one front tooth, now all four are gone, and I have not found any of them.  I am trying a new toy for her teething.  It is a teething toy for dogs that you freeze and is suppose to make their gums feel better as she chews on it.  I am product testing it and will let you know the results with her.

    When we got home Sunday night, Chris actually looked glad to be home.  Ahh, yippie, home at last!  She started bouncing off the walls for over an hour.  Play, play, play, they really hadn't done much playing the entire weekend, and she was ready to go!

  57. I have been working with a McNab, an isolated line of Border collie originally from Oregon.  He was here for recall lessons.  He is fine in the house, but get him outside and he apparently shined on everybody and did what he wanted to do.

    Today was his second lesson.  He was doing great healing without making the leash taunt.  His recalls were pretty good also, but not perfect.  But that was to be expected, as it has only been 4 days since his first lesson.

    Things were going pretty well and then I noticed that he was getting mouthy, and a little barky when he was corrected.  I basically ignored it as him disagreeing with me.  

    Until I started working with him on down and sit.  I was helping him up to a sit position and he nipped at me.  I then put him in a down position, and he got crankier, trying to bite at me.  Things went somewhat crazy from then on.

    It was time to put this boy on his side, and let him relax there for a bit, submit.  He would have no part of it.  This turned into a fight on his end and determination on my end.  This guy went into several full-fledged panic attacks, sounding like the Tasmanian devil the entire time that he was pinned.

    This boy is very strong, and I was having serious trouble holding him down, he kept breaking free, though not totally, because I was able to hold onto the leash.  Every time that he would beat me, and get away, he was winning.  Finally after several bite bruises later, his owner started helping me while placing him on the grass on his side.  

    Boy, this dog was determined not to lie on his side, and fought for his position, tooth and nail.  Bleeding some, I kept telling myself out loud, so the dog's owner would understand, "be calm, don't get mad at all, calm and assertive".  Getting mad is actually worse for the dog because that emotion will affect the dog negatively.

    When we humans get mad, we tend to stay mad for a while, some even for the entire day, but not dogs.  They drop it right after they give a correction to another dog.  They do not stay mad.  When we are helping a dog, we should not drag our emotions into the situation for dog's sake.  So we both did the best that we could, by not getting mad when he was fighting us.  

    Finally after many times, we were able to get him down for a while.  Then we did the other side of the dog.  And after a while, he was very pliable as he gave it up.  I told his owner that he has now been knocked down a few levels and is not the pack leader any longer.  I had mentioned in his first lesson that this dog was very ridged and tense in his body.  Now I know why his body was so tense.  And now that he has gone through this ritual, he will be much more willing to be trained.

    My hands hurt some, and he could have really tore me up, but for the amount of bites that I got, there was very little damage.  My back hurts a little and hopefully I will be fine in the morning.  I hope that this dog’s mind is now in a better place.

  58. Wednesday is usually dog day for the girls and I.  We usually meet a small group of dogs and their owners for agility play, herding and swimming.  Good socialization is one of the outcomes of these meetings.

    This week we ended up having a bunch of puppies over for puppy socialization.  There were 4, 10 week old Aussies, a 12 week old Golden, a 17 week old Golden, which towered over all of the puppies, and Christian, a now 14 week Border collie.  

    When they got to play together, Chris kept leaving the puppies and going to an adult Aussie that she already knew.  I would go and get her and bring her back to the group of puppies, and she went back to her friend.  She was fine with all of the people, but somewhat a little unsure of the forward puppies in the group.  Her tail was way tucked and she would just leave and go to her friend.  

    Eventually two 17 month Aussies joined the group, with careful observation.  Kate and Tam were unleashed along with Miaya, Chris' Aussie friend.  Well, that is what Chris wanted.  She went out in the field with the big dogs, chasing them as they played together.  Of course I had to watch carefully to make sure the play did not turn into a wrestling match, which is not physically good for a small pup.

    She eventually warmed up some to the new puppies.  Hopefully they will be back next Wednesday as this is essential for all of the pups in their young lives.

  59. The last of the week has been relatively quiet.  On Tuesday, I just could not leave Christian outside without me being out there with her.  I didn't want to take any chances of loosing her again.  She spent much of the day inside with me, as it was pretty hot out.    

    We went to dog day on Wednesday.  Sandy, my friend who owns the property where we all assemble, has a new Australian Shepherd named Indy.  He is a cute red merle with pretty long hair already.  He is now vaccinated enough to be able to play with Chris (who is 4 weeks older), and boy did they have a good time.  Chris spent a lot of time on her back with Indy chewing on her.  His brother, a red and white bicolor, joined in and a good puppy time was had by all three of them.

    I had given Indy his very own Puppy Kong toy, 'as a welcome to your new home toy,' for his chewing pleasure.  Sandy had an ex-pen set up in the agility field in case we needed to put our pups in it in order to protect them from the big dogs.  Inside the ex-pen was the Puppy Kong toy in blue that I had given Indy, for the pups to play with.  Right now Indy's stomach is a little sensitive, so Sandy put just a teeny tiny bit of peanut butter inside the hole to attract him, which it did.

    We are now getting ready for our trip to the Scottish Games in Pleasanton CA.  We are leaving Friday and it will be Chris's first trip to the sheepdog trials.  Three years ago, we went and took baby Tam.  She was a total handful! Arugh!  But Chris should be easier; she is not Tam, the dog who thought she should be a kennel dog.  But fortunately for me it was my watch, and I would have none of it.  And Tam was shaped into a great but very active housedog that works sheep, and quite well.

    As for Christian, she is still a very active puppy, close to being potty trained.  We will bring her crate with us, just in case we need it.  She does love sheep already, and likes to watch Kate and Tam work sheep, so maybe she will be quiet at the games.


    Puppy Kong

  60. I was hunting wasps again.  The dogs had just been swimming in the pool, and I noticed the wasps from there.  So I went on the porch to hit them with wasp killer.  I climbed the rail and hung over the porch at about two stories up.  I shot one group, but noticed a smaller one in the eaves.  I couldn't spray it or I would have gotten hit with the pesticide in the face.  So I used the bottom of the can and knocked it down.

    Bad move!  One took after me and bit me on the arm.  Things got crazy then, as I yelled and got excited.  I jumped down off of the handrail and started running.  Thinking that wasps were chasing me.  The wet dogs were back there with me, and I told them to "Go, go, go!” not wanting them to get bit either.  I ran around the other side of the house, to the front then went inside to tend to my bite.

    Not ten minutes later, I came back out, as the pain had subsided, and I wanted to play with the wet dogs in the grass.  Kate and Tam, the adult border collies, were laying in the shade.  Tam came to greet me, and I called Kate over, then Chris.  No Chris.  

    She was nowhere to be found.  I looked almost everywhere for her, under the house, twice, under bushes, around the back of the house several times.  Finally I called Matt, my husband, to let him know what was going on.  He quizzed me on where to look, some places I had already been and some she could not have gotten into, as the doors were never opened at all today.

    He called me several times, asking if I had found her, and my answer was always no.  I called my Dad and let him know, and told me to call him when I found her.  I started walking down the road looking for her, which all I found was a covey of quail.

    The UPS man came to deliver a package, he had met Chris and I asked if he saw her on his way over.  No, he hadn't, but said that he would keep special notice as he drove around the area.  I continued to recheck places that I had checked before, even crawling on my hands and knees around some redwoods.  Finally, I took off in the pickup to check down the road.  

    I saw the UPS man again and he told me that he looked all over the area and didn't see her at all.  I continued to drive around some, and then headed back home.  Back at the house, I continued calling for her, and using the shepherds whistle to aid in her recall.  But being such a young puppy, 13 weeks, she really does not have a recall by whistle yet.  Never the less, I continued whistling in the pickup and on foot.

    I started calling some of my neighbors and asked if she was over there or had see her.  Nope!  But one of them suggested I put her on Craig's List, which I did.  My Stepmother additionally suggested that I announce her being lost on Facebook, that I should not leave any stone unturned.  I complied.

    As I drove down the road a second time, I saw another neighbor and told her about Chris' disappearance.  She said that she would come right over and help look for her.  I went over to another neighbor's house to see if she was over there, he was swimming with his dog, too cool.  He joined the hunt for Chris.

    My other neighbor next door went to the back of the property by the vineyards, up and down the dirt road looking for her, even by his barn.

    As the swimming neighbor walked down the road with his dog, trying to lure her out of possible hiding, other neighbors came out and helped to try to find Christian.  Meanwhile, Matt had come home early from work, just sick about not being able to find her.  He jumped on his bike and rode all over the place looking for her.

    Time was ticking.  Like with a lost child, time is the most important aspect in finding a lost animal or child.  So with all of my neighbors joining in the hung for Chris, made the likelihood of her being found greater odds.  No one could find her though.  I sent home a couple of my neighbors, thanking them, who searched under every bush on our property, even using a squeaky toy to lure her.

    I had called my Stepmother and asked if she would please call a prayer chain for us.  She said yes and did so.  I wanted as much influence that could be, to ask God for Christian's return.

    I was balling as I sat on the front porch, talking with Matt.  I was asking him why would God just take her like that?  He had just given her to us, not much more than a month ago.  I just didn't understand it at all.  Both of us had also been praying very hard for God to bring her back to us.

    Then I heard some dog cry.  I glanced at Matt and heard it again.  That was not the voice of my neighbor's Corgi.  It cried again and again!  I was positive that was Chris, and I hope she was all right!  Tam and I took off running through the ally of our property that runs to the very back.  Matt took off on his bike through the pastures to the back of the property.  

    Matt beat me, and as I was running, I couldn't see as the sun was setting right in my eyes.  I did see my neighbor's cows in the very corner of their property, next to ours.  And her Great Pyrenees were with the cows.  I think Chris was crying at the cows.

    Matt saw her first, as I could hardly see anything, and she came running to him.  He reached over the fence and lifted her over.  Oh my God!  And we both thanked God for returning her to us.

    I thought this little dog was gone.  I really thought someone had seen her on the road and taken her.  We even contemplated a bird grabbing her, but normally only have hawks here and they are too small for a 15lb. or so puppy.

    Man, we were blessed when we first got Chris, and now we have been blessed by her miraculous return.  She was gone for four hours, all of which was frantic searching for her.  About a half an hour later, it would have been dark.  Dark means coyotes.  We have lots of them out back in the vineyards, we here them all of the time.  Chris would have been coyote food.  Thank you again, Lord.

  61. We had some running around to do after church today and finally got back home with the girls around noon.  Both of us were hungry, so we had lunch and let the dogs out front to play.  Both of us started working on our websites being lazy and not really wanting to do other stuff around the house.  

    After several hours, I went up to check on the girls.  It was a beautiful 84 degrees outside so I decided that I better exercise the dogs some, or I would be in for it this evening with elevated energy levels.  I went out to the sheep pasture and threw the ball with the chuck-it for the dogs until they were hot and needed a cool down.  I noticed that Chris was not at all interested in chasing the ball, but was herding the older two and after they would pass her up, she would chase them.  Lots of her herding instinct is starting to be expressed.

    Chuck-it is a ball thrower tool that allows the ball to be thrown farther than the normal human arm.  I can't throw anything worth a darn, but the chuck-it, lets the dogs get a good cardio workout and helps expand their lung capacity.

    When I let the sheep out in the back pasture in the morning, she is on leash and trying very hard to get at them.  It will be interesting to see how keen she is toward the sheep.  Yesterday when we were letting them out, the gate shut, I unleashed Chris, and she took off down the pasture fence trying to get to them as they went out to the back pasture.  Fortunately, she listens pretty well and came when called and I didn't have to go and fetch her.

    After their ball chasing, I let them all have a swim in their dog pool.  This pool is a large livestock tank, about 3.5 feet deep and 10 feet in diameter.  Right now it is filled 2/3s full, as I am working on Chris getting comfortable in it.  This swimming session was the first time that she was confident enough to keep playing in the water without going back to the steps constantly.  She was warm when she went in, and I think that worked to the advantage of her playing in the cool water much longer.  She started retrieving floating toys and mostly bringing them back to me.  All three girls had a great time playing in the water today.

  62. One asset for our family raising a puppy is that the older dogs do help teach right from wrong to the puppy.  The older girls, Kate, age 6 and Tam, age 3 have already been trained on house rules.  They act as a friend, helping Chris out.  

    For example:  When they get treats to eat, they all must go into the living room and eat the treats on a rug that is located in front of the fireplace.  This comes in handy for me when messes need to be cleaned up.  I can simply toss the rug into the washing machine for a quick wash and the mess has been taken care of.

    Other rules that the girls are helping Chris learn is where the approved place to relieve themselves is.  I have a small grass yard, but lots of weed areas across the driveway.  That is where I prefer they do their business, so I don't have to pick it up.  Out in the weeds is great for me.

    The only time there are problems with peeing in the weeds is when it is raining.  I tend to not want to clean off dirty muddy feet, so they get put out in the back dog yard for relief.  The dog yard is grass only, no weeds.  But their feet stay clean.  And once in a while, Tam does get confused and in the winter during the rains she might go in the front yard.  She gets reminded of what she did, and then I forget it.

    One other major rule for me is no barking or whining when tied up while other dogs are working sheep.  Since Border collies will usually run the fence line when other dogs are working sheep, they must be contained.  They usually are not allowed to do that fence running, for not wanting to develop any nasty habits.

    When they are tied up, many times they get excited watching.  In fact, not all Border collies can watch other dogs train or trial, it just gets them too worked up.  So when they do get excited, often they start to bark or whine.  I must be noise sensitive because that irritates me.  I want them to be quiet while watching and I surely do not want them bothering anyone's runs at a trial by barking.  The older girls set an example for Christian to follow, by being quiet while tied at the sheep pasture fence.  The couple of times that she has made noise; I have been able to correct it with a verbal command to knock it off.

    There have been many other instances where the older girls have helped encourage Chris about the right moves to make in a given situation.  She now can get into the pick up on her own, and jump on the bed without assistance, and is even having fun in the big dog pool, getting brave enough to jump in with the girls.  

    But she can learn bad or unwanted behaviors also from the older girls.  When their dad comes home from work and they are outside, they run to the truck.  Just today they did that, and Chris couldn't be seen because she is so little.  That learned behavior caused some problems, as we don't want her run over.

    Wouldn't it be great if she could completely learn how to work sheep, to the advanced level, just by watching the older girls work them?  I could always wish!  But then, that would take all of the fun out of training her on sheep when she gets older.

  63. In the last several days, we have been battling wasps and their nests.  This year, they seem to be everywhere!  Two in the barn, one in the dove cage, then today two out at the back corner of the property.  And they nailed me!  Right on the lip.  

    My friend Roland and I, along with his Jessie dog and my three girls, all went out to the back end of the property to check on some sheep pens that we built last winter.  Since I am hosting a sheepdog fun trial next month, Roland thought we should walk down there and check the pens out and make sure that everything was fine.

    We needed to open the pens up and let the sheep eat down the weeds, as they had gotten high.  As I was opening the last gate, I noticed and commented to Roland, that there were all of these bugs flying around.  I never once thought that they could be wasps.  Before I knew it, I had gotten bitten, right on the lip.  What a time for this.  So I told Roland what had happened, and started walking back across the field toward home.  Man, this bite hurt.

    So when I got to the house, I put a napkin with lemon juice on it and applied it to my upper lip.  After several minutes, the pain subsided, thankfully.  Though I had a fat lip, I was going to live.

    Some dogs, especially herding dogs, like to chase bugs.  They can get themselves into trouble by doing that habit.  About 20 years ago, I had gotten a new Aussie mix puppy.  And when I let her out in the morning to relieve herself, she started coming back with bumps all over her face.  I took her to the vet, and he really didn't know what was going on except an allergic reaction of some kind.  

    The next day the same thing happened.  I was really starting to worry about my little dog!  Then the third day, I decided to go out with her.  I stayed back along the house, so I would not influence her behavior.  I saw her wonder up to the grape vines that I had planted the year before, and was messing around them.  Later she came back inside and her head was covered in bumps.

    I started walking around the yard following where she had been, when I saw what the problem was.  She had been getting into a beehive.  Apparently a swarm of bees had landed on the grape vine, in order to establish a new colony.  That was a bad location for a puppy-only a foot or so off of the ground.

    The following day, I let my puppy out into the side yard to relieve herself, so she couldn't encounter the bee swarm.  She came back inside looking the way that she should, no bumps on her head.

    And the following day, the swarm decided to move on, yeah!

    I know of many other dogs that snap at flies or actually try to work (herd) them.  Might be the case of a bored dog or one that has so much energy that they don't know how to expel it, so they just work, anything, even bugs.

    I got my revenge on the wasps, and they got nailed with wasp killer.  We needed to go out there and check on things, because it would have been a mess with herders getting bitten next month.  Yikes!

  64. I am a firm believer in "The Walk" as Cesar would put it.  It worked wonderfully with Decker, the Aussie that I rehabbed, and I think that it works well with all dogs, even puppies.  

    In the past, I have dog-sat neighbor's and friend's dogs while they went out of town.  And the first thing that I do with them is all of us go for a pack walk.  Since I have never had any altercations with the dogs on my watch, or within my pack, I believe the walk does much more than exercise a dog.

    Walking a pack of dogs instantly lets them know where they stand within that pack.  It lets every member know that I am their leader and their defender, and my confidence lets them know that I am not to be crossed.

    During this past month, since I have had Chris, we have been going on regular leashed walks.  Even though our area is very safe where cars are concerned, a leashed walk reaffirms me as the packs leader.  They all must walk with me, not in front, as that would be the lead position.  Chris has really blended in and is starting to walk with a slack leash, just what I am after.  She gets very mild corrections, to the side and not backward, if the leash gets tight in my hand.  I am always careful not to jerk her as I could easily give her subluxations in her spine.  I do use a standard flat collar for her, actually she has two, a pink puppy love one and a red tartan, to match our clan.  I alternate collars as she is always playing in the water and getting one of them wet.  I will not move Chris to a stronger collar in the future unless I feel that she really needs it.  But she is a bitable pup, and wants to please, so I am hoping the flat collar is enough for her.

    Puppy Love Collar

    I cannot stand dogs pulling on a leash.  I think it is disrespectful to the owner.  But many, many times, the owner doesn't know about that disrespect.  There have been tons of times that I have taken someone's dog from them to work them on sheep, and man, my arm is about to come out of it's socket!  So, the sheep lesson gets temporarily halted, and some rules, limits, and boundaries get set first, from me to the dog.  Besides, if I just took the dog, in that emotional state, straining on the leash, gagging, would he even know that I was there in the round pen with him?  Probably not.

    So the walks have been pretty good.  Today Christian got a little scared as we passed some noisy geese sounding the predator alarm, but other than that, she has been easy.  And I am very grateful.

  65. Just about everything to a puppy is a toy.  That is why either very careful watching or puppy proofing a yard and house is very important to keep a new puppy safe.  Accidents can happen easily, so by minimizing either what our pups are exposed to either by confinement of some kind, or the puppy proofing their allowed area, can reduce the occurrence of such accidents.  Most of us don't want our dogs to be poisoned.  But, all sorts of household products can easily poison dogs.  On the other hand, puppies have no experience with life, and can chomp on an electrical cord in several seconds, with detrimental effects.  And what a lousy toy that cord is.  Even dog toys can be dangerous, and should be carefully thought over about what toys to leave and not leave with your dog when he is left alone.  Never leave a old and destroyed toy alone with a dog, pieces can eaten and lodged inside them.

    When Chris came into our lives, I scoured through the house and the property, picking up all sorts of little pieces of stuff that she could be attracted to and want to ingest.  And as she got more mobile as she aged, the "cleaning" increased as her interest increased.  All sorts of things that my older girls ignored, was fair game as a new toy for Chris.  Water bottle caps, stuffing from toys, rocks, which I can not pick all of them up-so had to be dealt with differently, little pieces of plastic, were all removed from these new chompers.  She looked at the rocks around the property, and I had a friend whose dog was obsessed with them, so she got "bit" on her rib cage, and told NO when she even looked at them.  Fortunately for me, she gave it up right away.  

    The electrical cord on one of my fans was attractive to her.  That correction and resulting behavior of now leaving it alone took several days to instill in her.  Typical to cats, this little one thought the cord was a wonderful and attractive toy.  Determined not to have a fried puppy, I was somewhat harsh, but not overly, in the corrections for not to bite on it.  

    Many years ago, I used to be really hard on my dogs when they did something wrong.  Now, as I have aged, I have mellowed some, but I have also developed myself as a true pack leader, I have confidence in my position, and the respect of the dogs due to that position.  Now, frequently, I can glance at one of my dogs who might be doing something that they know is wrong, like sneaking into the kitchen when I am fixing their dinner, just my stare sends them back to the living room, to then patiently wait until I am finished and call them to their food.

    If we watch our puppies a lot, our houses might not get destroyed.  Just a couple of days ago, I was in the living room with the girls and Chris was behind one chair.  I heard some unusual noises, and ignored it at first.  I thought she was back there maybe chewing on one of the deer antlers that I gave her.  After several minutes, I decided to check and see what was going on back there.  Well, she was chewing on the corner of the chair!  And until she was told that the chair was not a chew toy, she didn't know.  Chris, the chair is not for you!

    I do give Christian a lot of small rawhide twists.  She really loves them, and it helps satisfy her chewing desire, and like I referred to before, she chews on deer antlers.  It really surprised me when I first got her and she was attracted to the antlers.  I had no idea that little puppies would like them and actually spend time chewing them.  Chris does.

    I give this little one a lot of "safe" toys to play with.  I encourage her to play with these "safe" toys, and leave forbidden items alone.  But when and if the toys start to come apart, if I don't fix them, then I toss them.  Replacing a worn dog toy is much cheaper that keeping torn ones around.  As Tam, my three year old will tell you, impaction surgery is not so fun, and as I will tell you, not so cheap.

    Christian Chewing on a Deer Antler

  66. Christian came to us at seven and a half weeks old.  A friend picked her out for me, and I had only seen two pictures of her before our introduction.  My trainer, Shelley, had offered to travel with me to pick her up.   

    When we arrived at the house where she was, we were greeted by our friends and three puppies.  We sat on the grass in the fenced front yard and greeted everyone along with the puppies, watching the pups play and petting them when they would run over to greet us.   They were beautiful, and especially Christian.  She has a black face, with a white nose, white all four legs and her underside.  One color that I didn't expect was light brown cheek patches.  I had been told that there was lots of white on her mother's side, and this litter showed that.

    After about a half of an hour of letting the pups play, I let my two Border Collies out of the car to introduce Chris to them.  The Borders ignored them at first, sniffing and smelling the whole front yard.  But after several minutes, my eldest, Kate, started trying to play with them.  The pups were unsure of this huge dog next to them, making play posture by putting her butt in the air and her front on the ground.  Kate was not so successful with getting the pups to play with her that day, though she tried pretty hard to convince them.

    When we left for home, Chris was put into a small crate positioned in the back seat of the car, with the big girls in the back of the SUV.  Christian was fine for a little while, and then started whining some, with me correcting her, by tapping on the crate.  She eventually went to sleep and was quiet for the rest of the three-hour trip home.

    Christian about 5 weeks old

  67. Apparently I was mislead.  I have been recently notified by Decker's previous owner that they never wanted to put him down.  They knew that they did not have the skills needed to help him, so they desperately sought other resources.  They wanted to do right by the dog, but were also very concerned about their liability of keeping him, due to his previous biting, but nonetheless, they were trying to be responsible.  Fortunately they were able to place him with me, and I was able to rehabilitate his mind.  

    Now after working intensively with Decker and his issues, I feel confident that when approached by another dog owner, who's dog has behavior problems, that I can correctly coach them to make successful corrections and teach them specific ways of handling their dog, that they too will be able to rehabilitate their own dog.

    To change the subject a bit, last night I received an email from the breeder of my new puppy.  She sent pictures.  So I will include two pictures of Christian Summers-Reinhart...AKA Chris.  It looks from the pictures that she will be a tricolor.  And the man, who picked her out for me, picked the blackest face and the shortest coat in the bunch.  I can't wait to smell her puppy breath!



  68. Decker has now been in his new home for a day.  Its quite a bit quieter here now, but he is missed by all three of us girls.  I have not heard from Hedie yet to see how he is doing.  But I know how fast dogs can move on and accept their new living situations.

    Yesterday when I was explaining what he eats, and what behaviors he knows and the commands for them, he was out playing with Tam.  Of course he had no clue what was going on.  When it was time for Heide to go home with him, we put him into the car in the front seat and he climbed into the driver's side.  Heide got in and he promptly moved over to the passenger's side.  No problems what so ever.  No fear, no aggression, just curiosity and wonder.

    Later, I was remembering the day that I took possession of him.  And how scared he was of his own skin, and he didn't want me near him, and he let me know it.  Fortunately he didn't get his way, and the following months, though challenging for both of us, he came through like a champ.

    He is now fairly confident, quit submissive leaking, quit barking, quit wandering, quit scarring the FedEx and UPS guys, got fairly good in herding, and learned to mind and follow directions, and has seemed to be over his fear of children as well as adults.

    I am pleased with his improvement.  I am also pleased that I should be able to see him once to twice a week, and I can give Heide suggestions on how to handle particular situations with him.  Fortunately for him, Heide is the firm leader that he needs.  A leader he is not.  And calm and submissive is how he should be able to remain.

    Fortunately for me, this chapter in my life is over.  It has also been challenging for me.  I have had to be the tough guy for quite a long time now, though the last couple of months I have been able to relax somewhat with Decker.  I was starting to love him, and that was tough to block this silly guy out of my heart.

    He has a lot of me in him now, and that is why he needed a firm pack leader to go to for his permanent home.  I didn't want all of my efforts wasted and have him euthanized after all.

    But luckily for me, last night I had several emails come in about my new puppy, Christian.  I have not yet seen a picture of her, but was just told that she is a cutie.  One of my trainers (I have two) and the person whose method of training that I follow picked her for me, knowing my preferences and me.  I'm sure he did fine.  Chris was born on May 19th, and I am going to pick her up on Friday the 15th.  I am getting excited now that her arrival is closer.  I have purchased several toys for her, a couple of great collars, that I sell non the website (Puppy Love in pink, and Red Tartan-of course-to match my other two bcs-as my husband would say "They are members of the same clan, so they should wear the same tartan print"), and I washed up some other toys, so they are nice and clean for her.

    Red Tartan Adjustable Dog CollarPink Puppy Love

    I can't wait to smell her puppy breath!

  69. Decker has found a new permanent home.  Now that he is balanced, he is ready to move on.  He has been a challenge, but a friend of mine will be taking him, and I will be able to monitor his progress and his life.  I have invited my friend, Heide to come to the Wednesday dog group and it sounds like she will.  I explained how the group along with all of the activities there has really helped my submissive Kate come out of her shell.  I further explained that the reason I still come every week to the dog group is for her.  She has been doing great, and my trainer told me not to change anything, so I didn't.

    Heide is a musher.  She has a pack of dogs and works them mostly in the winter.  I told her that Decker would need support and leadership during her "off" time, and should not be left during the hot summer on his own.  She has seen him numerous times and is fully aware of what she is taking on.  But Decker is ready for his next step.

    This transition takes place tomorrow morning.  All day it has been a bittersweet time for me.  I do love him, but this new home will be a nice place for him.  He has tons of energy and Heide has goats for him to herd.  She is going to see if he is interested in mushing, which I think he will be.  I am excited about the herding and the mushing for him, as his mind and body will be worked.  Along with hanging out with Heide, and coming to the Wednesday dog group, he will be able to move forward in his mind and keep increasing his confidence level.  Additionally, Heide will be taking herding lessons with him from me, as she does not know how to herd, she has much to learn.

    Fortunately for Decker, Heide is a pack leader.  This is the most important situation for him.  He is a follower and not a leader.  He will miss the girls, and they will miss him, but Wednesdays will be for reunions.  

    As for me, I have learned tons from him.  And this kind of dog, fearful aggressive, doesn't bother me any longer.  I now know how to handle that type of dog.  While their rehabilitation may take quite a while, and there is no quick fix, there is a fix none-the-less.  All of these fearful aggressive dogs need is leadership (discipline), understanding (remaining calm, and not staying mad), and socializing (for confidence building).

    This beautiful dog was going to be destroyed the following day if I didn't take him.  While I was really put in a tough position, and pressured to take him, at least he now has a new home to go to, now that my job is finished.  Shame on people who get a dog and give up on it as if it was disposable.  This is a life, and a life that God gave to mankind.  Is this the way to treat such a gift?  I know that it is a hard question to answer, and everyone's answer is different, but there comes a time of personal responsibility.  Would we just give up on our own child?  Or want to go and put him down because he was scared?

    In our current times of bailing out on our homes, just because we are upside down on the loan, even though we can still make the payments, our personal responsibility and our word no longer bears much weight.  Shame on us!  We need to take a real look at ourselves, and see just what we have become.  A bunch of winy babies, who only care about themselves and their immediate needs.  Why did helping the neighbor go out the window?  I guess only God knows.

  70. After the ASCA sheepdog herding trial, my husband Matt and I took the two Border collies and Decker to the beach.  Roland, my herding friend, met us there with his Border collie, Jessie.  I was able to totally relax with Decker, and he had a great time chasing the girls down the beach, playing in the water.  We walked up the beach some to an area that a small river runs into the ocean.  Ah, fresh water.

    All of us humans threw lots of sticks into the water for the dogs to chase and then play tug-of-war with.  

    Since this was a Saturday, there were lots of people and dogs on the beach that day.  And they had lots of meetings with other dogs.  All 7 of us had a good long time at the beach, and my two Border collies got the exercise that they needed, since they had been cooped up on leashes the entire day.

    It feels good inside, now that I am able to relax with Decker around people.  I still watch from a distance and out of the corner of my eye for any body language that might suggest that he is in a fearful situation, but so far, I have yet to see any of that like I have seen in the past.

  71. Decker had a bath in our new Booster Bath we got a few months ago.  He needed to have his hair washed to look his best for the sheepdog herding trial.  This bath works great for bathing the dogs instead of using our bathtub.  I don't get hair all over the place, or have a dog jump out when I am not looking, or break my back while bathing multiple dogs.  The three-point restraint system holds the dog in the tub so they can't jump out, the footing surface has a rough texture so traction is maintained, and all of the hair and dog wetness stays out of the house.

    Booster Bath

    While I was preparing his hair for the trial, I now know that he is ready to go to his permanent home.  He has passed many tests that I have given him.  He greets people at the door, even if they open the door to call me, he allows people to load products into the back of the truck where he is, and allows children to lead him around on leash and pet him.  He has learned how to take most things in stride, becoming less and less anxious.  He has quit leaking when being disciplined, and has not needed his male wrap for over three months.  Fearful aggression takes more time to recover than any other type of behavior problem, and now he is confident enough to be over it. 

    It is imperative that he find a new home where the owner is calm assertive, which makes a good pack leader for him.  That balanced emotional control and response is opposite of where he was in the beginning, probably even where he was at, when he was born.  This kind of leadership will help him retain the stable mind that he now has.  I also do not want all of my hard work undone!

    After Decker's bath, and drying him, I brushed him with a rake.  This made his hair really pretty and helps bring out the oils back into the hair that was washed away.  The rake also removed some of his remaining undercoat was left to be shed.  He is a hot dog in the house, so the less hair on him the cooler he will be.  His hair is like us wearing a thick coat 24/7.


    The Australian Shepherd sheepdog herding trial went well, and everyone had a good time.  The hamburgers that were cooked there were especially good!  Decker did everything that I asked him to do.  I just handled him badly.  I am not an Aussie trialer, so I do not really know what the judges want to see.  I probably worked him too much like a Border collie, not letting him circle much at all.  He drove half of the course, and the sheep were light so he was pretty far off of them. 

    After talking to some of my friends about it, they said that I should have had him fetch the entire course, and let him get closer to the sheep.  The judges wanted to see the dog work.  Well, in my opinion, he was working the sheep, just differently.  I hate having him do something lower than where he is.  In the past, I have done great working Border collies in that trial setting, but not this time, with the Aussie.  Oh well!  I am done with trialing him anyway.  I would trial him again, but I don't have the money for the entry.

    Decker was also well behaved at the trial all day.  He was anxious at first, and then settled down for the rest of the day.

  72. I had a new dog to train in sheepdog herding today.  A tenacious Queensland Heeler was my new upstart.  Her given name of Honey, was not as sweet as her name led me to believe.  

    About a month ago, Honey had come for her very first lesson/herding instinct test.  She did well that day, and she was sent home with one of my dog crates to aid in her potty training.  Apparently the other dog living in the same home as Honey's, was lazy and going to the bathroom in the house.  This was confusing Honey.  So she needed the dog crate as an aid to help with the potty training.

    Today in Honey's sheepdog training, much of the testing was mine.  I had to keep my patience and at the same time help Honey progress in her learning, all while trying to protect the sheep from getting bitten.

    She started off like gangbusters.  Running in at the sheep, splitting them up and biting them all over the place.  While I don't mind my sheep getting bitten if they challenge a dog, I really don't like them to get bit for no reason, and that is what Honey was doing.  The sheep were moving off of her just fine.

    I grabbed my whipflag to see if I could get her off of the sheep somewhat.  A lot of times the flag works great, and occasionally to great, scaring a sensitive dog.  But in this instance, she got more wound up, then started challenging the flag.  I smacked it many times on the ground right in front of her nose, and with tons of energy on my part.  It didn't help that she kept on going.  

    Whip flags of many Colors

    Then she started sneaking behind me, while I was walking toward the sheep and she bit me.  Man, I have never had a dog just come up out of the blue and bite my calf.  Well, there was no way I was going to shine that on.  That kind of behavior can develop into kid chasing and biting.  So down she went, and was put into a submissive hold on her side.  She struggled for the longest time that I have ever put a dog in that position, and I thought that maybe she would never give up but finally she did.  I released her and we went back to herding the sheep.  About five minutes later, she bit me again, and I repeated the submitting procedure, which went much faster the second time.  Then I got a third bite, and down she went again.  This time I left her in the submission position for much longer, making sure she got the message.

    After resting her for a while, I went back in the round pen with Honey.  She still was biting the sheep, and it was very hard to defend them from her bites.  So I put the long line on her and held on to it.  I had decided that she needed a collar correction the exact second that she bit one of the sheep.  I did that repeatedly until she quit biting.  Unfortunately, she quit all together.  While sheepdog herding is extremely demanding on a dog both physically and mentally, she was done with me, and thought that I didn't want her to work sheep at all.  After not being successful at getting her back on the sheep, I brought in one of my trained dogs with her.  

    I have done this in the past, but usually with shy or weaker dogs, not yet hooked on sheep.  This time I brought in another dog just to get her going again.  This is what I call the pack mentality method.  Two dogs together, become a pack, and this gives dogs that are shut down a different thought process.  They quit thinking of quitting and start thinking of killing, so care must be taken.  While I had my trained dog in the round pen with Honey, she started working again.  This time was a lot quieter.  I was able (with the aid of my border collie) to get her not bite, keep some distance from the sheep, and do a few flanks both ways.  Then I decided to quit her.  I didn't want to give her the opportunity to quit on her own, or for that matter, shut down again.

    As we were cooling down our dogs, I was talking to Honey's owner.  She was telling me that Honey had taken off a few days earlier, and had taken her little dog with her.  When a neighbor found them, they were about eight miles away.  She was telling me that Honey didn't have her microchip yet, but the other dog that Honey took with her did have her chip.  When I heard the end of her run away story, I called one of my dogs over and I removed her collar to show Honey's owner the Collartag on it.  

    The Collartags that I have on my dog's collars will not fall off, get lost or wear off.  I told her that they are easy to put on, but tough to manually get off and on to another collar.  The Collartags are guaranteed for the life of the dog that they are purchased for, and only cost $8.50 and are shipped for free.  They also don't make noise.  Lots of sheepdog herding dogs, don't wear tags because of the noise factor.  The noise has been known to scare the sheep, and many people have told me that the hanging tags get lost very easily.

    Honey's owner was very grateful to know about these Collartags, and is going to order them on the website www.SheepdogHerding.com, for all three of her dogs.

  73. The boy has sure changed for the better in the last month or so.  Lots of people have been commenting to me "He has sure changed!”  I thought that a test was in order, to make sure that he has changed like I had been told and been suspecting for a while.

    I was in need of some chicken feed for the chickens and salt for the sheep, so I went to the local feed store.  The girls were in the cab with me and Decker was in the back of the pick up, as usual, which has the camper shell on it.  As the feed store worker carrying my salt approached the truck to load it and I still in the store (with the door open), I saw an opportunity to check out the theory that Decker was ready for his new home.

    I did not tell the guy carrying the salt to be careful, nor did I follow him out to the truck in order to advert any bad behavior from Decker.  In the past, I had always accompanied the feed store worker when he went to load my truck with feed.  Knowing that Decker used to growl when strangers went up to the truck, I felt the need to limit any possibility of liability due to the threat of a bite.

    Like I have mentioned in the past, Decker has had no altercations other than his growling, as long as I have had him.  But I was told that he had bitten in the past, before I got him.  

    But to ensure that Decker was now a "good citizen", he needs proofing.  And the reason that I did not warn the feed store guy about him is he could have actually caused a problem (or intensified it) with Decker getting upset in the truck.  If someone doesn't know of an improper behavioral problem with a dog, they do not carry that tension, or "scared" energy with them.  Bad behavior can intensify the problem because that negative energy the human is carrying is what intensifies it.  That is why being calm but confident is important, it can protect the human.  Lots of dogs will think twice of taking on a confident person, the challenge is much harder than with a submissive, weak person.  In the dog's world, a weak person needs to be dominated over.

    As soon as the feed store guy was finished loading the feed, I yelled to him from inside the store.  "Did he growl at all?"  He answered "No” while giving me a funny look.  I had told the girl working at the feed store what was going on, so she was in on the test.  Later, she came to the pick up bringing more feed to load.  While I was at the truck with her, Decker was glad to see her and greeted her with puppy excitement.

    It’s a good feeling to know that a messed up mind, is now balanced.  Now to keep him that way, so he can live out a full life.

  74. We (the dogs and I) caught and killed a ground squirrel.  I have been fighting them for several weeks.  This year, they have been digging under the slab of the barn.  That can do a lot of permanent damage to the foundation.  One squirrel dug under the footing by my horse's stall and I couldn’t bait because of the danger to the horse.

    Then he started digging on the other side of the barn, so I put this rather large stepping-stone and placed it on the hole.  Two days later, the squirrel had moved the stepping-stone!  
    I'll show him, and took a cinder block and placed it on top of the stepping-stone.  The next day, the squirrel had dug around the cinder block and back into the original hole.  AWRG!

    I discussed the squirrel problem with my husband and he suggested that I use a gopher gasser.  So that evening, when squirrels are usually in their holes, I used the gasser, making sure that all of the air holes were plugged.  

    For a week, there was no movement about the holes, and I was satisfied that the gasser had done the job.  Then, one morning when I came out to feed, the dogs alerted to me that something was askew outside.  As I walked toward the barn, the dogs took off after something.  Then I heard the squirrel chirp.  They had cornered the squirrel under a couple of boards behind the barn.  

    I uncovered the squirrel one board at a time, and as I exposed him, Decker moved in and grabbed it.  He took off with it in his mouth, and the two borders and I followed.  He ended up running past the barn a ways, then he LET IT GO!  I couldn't believe it!  So I encouraged the dogs to chase it again, and they cornered it under my second lumber pile next to the holding kennel.  

    This time, I was not taking any chances with loosing it.  I put Decker into the kennel, and slowly uncovered the squirrel, one board at a time.  Both dogs were on the far side of the lumber pile, opposite me.  I positioned Tam close to me, so we would have less chance of loosing the squirrel.  When it got uncovered, Kate jumped in and grabbed it.  Instinctively she started shaking it to kill it, as I was telling her to "kill it" .  I kept telling her to "kill it" to ensure that it was dead.  I didn't want the squirrel to suffer.  

    Kate wanted the squirrel to eat, but I can't take the chance with them.  I promptly picked it up by the tail and tossed it into the sheep pasture for the vultures.  

    Squirrels carry lots of fleas, and my dogs don't have fleas and I would like to keep it that way (Frontline is starting to not work in this area as the fleas are becoming resistant to it).  They can also carry the plague, and the plague has been found in this area, so the only chance I am taking with squirrels, is for the dogs to kill them.  No eating them allowed!

  75. The anticipated clinic is now over, and we all had a great time.  Unlike the previous two years, with two years being blazing hot in the mid to upper 90s, and last year freezing to death wrapped in blankets, this year was perfect weather for dogs, sheep and humans alike.  While it was chilly in the mornings, by late days were turning out to be nice.  So nice that some of the dogs, right after working their sheep, didn't even want to go to water.  There were a few sun burned faces, but over-all, the weather cooperated with the clinic.

    Shelley and Randy Parker hosted the Jack Knox clinic on their ranch, entitled Rim Rock Ranch.  I come to the clinic every year, and every year, they do a great job at hosting it.  The ranch was spotless, treats and coffee were great, and none of the dogs got in any fights.

    The sheep we used were the best home flock sheep that I have seen.  Just kidding!  They were mine, as Shelley and Randy borrowed them the week before the clinic's start date.  Betty, one of my "foundation" sheep got a cut on her hip.  I was going to just leave it alone, but Randy thought that we should staple it back together and he said that it would heal better and faster if we did that.  She got stapled and by Sunday, the wound looked just fine.  It was fairly hard to see the wound, as there was no redness or swelling at all.  Randy put her on Penicillin jell and is treating the wound daily.

    Shelley had asked to borrow the sheep several weeks prior to the clinic, which I was happy to obolige.  She wanted the dog broke ones that I have, as we were expecting several young dogs entered in the clinic that would need to be in the round pen.  

    Here at home, after sending sheep to Shelley's, I was a little thin on sheep.   The only ones that I had left were a couple of ewes that I don't really work and the "dog broke one's" lambs.  Lambs!

    Lambs that have never been worked are crazy!  They don't have a leader, and they panic extremely easily, and run and crash into everything in sight.  They react and don't think.  Fortunately, I had one lamb left here from last year.  She, not being totally dog broke yet, was not so keen on being the leader, when we were out working the sheep.  But after several days, she settled in, calmed down, and so did the young lambs (somewhat).

    Most of us at the clinic learned a lot.  Jack's training method is counter to human instinct, so we need reinforcement.  For example, if we walk into our dogs to push them out, it can lead to them being tight, just what we wanted to correct.  And us humans always want to make the right.  Jack's philosophy is to correct the wrongs and leave the rights alone.  That is what we handler's need reinforcement on, only correcting the wrongs and not making the rights.

    Shelley had asked me to bring the "store" and set it up.  Initially, I wasn't planning on going to all of that trouble of packing all of the stock, and setting up at Shelley's ranch.  But I think vendors at events such as these, can really help the event.  If a certain tool is needed for training the dog while at the event, they can purchase one.  If a handler forgets to pack a certain dog product for their dog, it is available.

     One critical tool, that most dog handlers should have, and sold like crazy at this event, is dog id tags.  We don't carry regular hanging dog tags for dogs, but we do carry collartags.  These particular tags attach around the collar.  They don't dangle, so they don't wear.  They are guaranteed not to fall off and last for the life of the dog that they were initially purchased for.  Any kind of information can be engraved on them, from the dog's microchip number, the numbers of his registration.  Some customer's have put their county or city license number on the tags.  Then they do away with the government issued ones.  The usual information can also be put on the tags such as dog's name, address and phone number.  I don't think that many sheepdog people know about these collartags, but hopefully they will see them on a dog here or there and see the advantage they have over the hanging ones.

    The girls and I had a great time at the Jack Knox clinic, and now are looking forward to next year's clinic.

  76. Last week at my friend Sandy's place, she had set up an Easter egg hunt for all of the dogs.  When I arrived, which was fairly late, they were in the middle of the egg hunt.  I was anxious to see how the girls would do, since they are always looking for the balls in the field.

    So we hid the dogs from looking as each owner grabbed a peeled hardboiled egg and placed it out in a small grassy pen for the dog to find.  With my dogs, Kate was first.  I hid the egg and then let her into the large pen.  I told her to "search” and she looked right at the sheep, right in the next pen.  I redirected her, encouraging her to "find-it".  She started searching with her nose to the ground.  After a minute or so, I moved closer to the egg, and encouraged (without giving it away) her to look in the egg direction.  Eventually she found it, and received a great reward. 

    Next was Tam.  The Scarfhound of the family.  I thought she just might inhale it before I got a chance to tell her that she was good for finding it.  She circled back and forth a bit, and I moved closer to the egg and directed her to search in this closer area.  Eventually she was rewarded with the great scent of egg and then the taste of it.

    Decker was last.  I really didn't know what to expect from him.  I told him to "search", and "find-it", terms that he has heard when the ball gets lost during ball throwing.  He put his nose to the ground, and bam!  He found it right away.  Instant reward!

    After the hunt, which everyone’s dog was allowed to participate, my pack was going in for round two.  Wow!  Two eggs, I hope they don't get sick.

    Kate's hunt went OK, I had hid the egg pretty well, and she had to figure out how to get at it from under the obedience broad jump.  Tam's egg was hidden next to the fence that separated the sheep out.  Nice and distracting.  She must have cheated, as once released, she had almost a direct line to the egg.

    Decker did great too.  A true chowhound, and fairly smart, he had it figured out.  I released him, and pow! Straight to it.  Another instant reward.  

    I had never gone to an Easter egg hunt for dogs before.  What a kick in the pants!  We can't wait until next year.


  77. Just Kidding!  But we have seen our first snake of the season.  I was walking toward the barn and am glad that I looked down to see a four-foot gopher snake.  Yikes!  Seizing the opportunity to train the dogs about snakes, Decker was about to get his first lesson.

    I caught the big snake, and called the dogs over to me.  Kate learned the lesson long ago, and would come near me as I held the snake.  Tam took one look and backed off.  Just the response that I am looking for.  

    Last year, Tam came running toward the snake.  "Oh, what is that great thing that you have, is it a rope to play with?"  Tam's training last year was crucial for her mere survival.

    Having Rattlesnakes around the area and having my old dog, Bonnie, almost bitten from one, while she lay in the cool garage, I was not wanting a repeat of history.  

    Decker apparently had never had a snake lesson.  So, there I was, training another dog to keep their distance and respect snakes.  In order to accomplish this, Decker needed to smell the snake.  So as I held it, he came over to investigate it and give it a big smell.  After the brief smelling session, I scared him away from the snake, trying to leave a large impression on him, that he is to stay away from this smell.  So he was yelled at, and chased, among other words, to ensure that he got the message to leave them alone.

    A much more effective training method would have been to have a Rattle snake rattle with me and also have him associate the rattle noise with the smell, sight, and me chasing and yelling at him.  But these scenarios are very hard to set up.  First of all, one has to have a caged snake.  I no longer catch snakes and make them pets, as I did when I was a child.  I don't have that desire.   Keeping a snake rattle is usually not in my attire also.  So preparation has to be made in order to have a more effective lesson.

    Occasionally snake classes are held in our area to "teach" dogs to keep clear of snakes.  Most of the snake fear classes use different techniques for establishing this "snake fear"; from cages of snakes, to rattle cans, to shock collars.  All of which have a degree of effectiveness.  But unfortunately, not all dogs learn the same way and have different motivators.

    So my suggestion to teaching snake fear in dogs is see what works, and then if possible test it, to make sure.  Better safe than sorry.  For Decker, I don't know yet if he learned the lesson.  I hope that I can catch another snake and "proof" him, to see.


  78. Now that Decker is better trained on sheep and also minding a lot better, I have started letting him do chores.  Doing real sheep work is a good way to get dogs much better at trial work.  It is a form of seasoning that makes sense to them.  Sometimes the light bulb can go off-"oh, I get it now!-that is why I have to lie down...".  Real work can take patience on that handler's side though.  

    A few days ago, I had Decker bring out the sheep to put them into the field to graze.  Well, I gave him too big of a job to do for just beginning to learn chores.  I have a sheep shelter with three sides for the sheep.  Around the shelter, there is a fence with at least four feet around all sides.  In my brilliant design, this allows the sheep to have shade anytime of the day.  The problem with this design though, it's tough for the for the novice dog to move sheep out.  So, smart sheep can possibly outwit the dog by running around and around the shelter, and lot exiting the pen.  This happened to Decker.  

    He also needed more support than I gave him.  I just stood at the gate, and sent him, and thought the sheep would cooperate and leave their pen in order to graze.  We had a big wreak and she sheep refused to leave.  I want and need him to be successful.  So after the big wreak, I came into the pen and helped him by blocking sheep from the ring-around-the-rosy.

    Today, his chores went much better.  Right away, I came inside the sheep pen with him, and had him bring out the sheep.  He did just fine.  I even was able to slow him down, and have him work quietly.  With the sheep safely inside the field grazing, next came the goats.  Goats are generally more difficult to heard.  Additionally, there are several who will jump up on a little doghouse to get away from a dog, so I came into their stall to help Decker.  He did great.  They cooperated with him and he drove them out to the field with the sheep.  He was very proud of himself.  I wonder if he is starting to understand it all and if he had that light bulb go off in his head!

  79. Well, I finally did it.  I entered Decker into a local ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) sheepdog herding trial.  The trial is set for memorial weekend in Cayucos, California.  
    In ASCA, unlike the USBCHA (United States Border Collie Handler's Assoc.) trials, where one can enter their dog in any level that they deem "fit" for their dog (not being able to go backwards after the move up-so better make sure), ASCA's requirement is to successfully compete first in the "Started" level.  So that is where we are entering the trial at, the Started level.  

    Started is just like it sounds, for the started on sheep dog.  I feel that Decker is now working in the second level-"Open", but he is required to enter his first trials with ASCA in the Started level.  He will be required to take them out of a pen, then fetch, and either drive or fetch through two panels, trying to keep straight lines. 

    ASCA has developed handler lines for the human competitor.  Depending on the level of the dog, the handler has limits as to where he can go in the arena.  In Started, he can go anywhere he needs to be to get the dog to work the sheep.  The entire course can be fetched if needed, or driven if needed, or even a combination of both.  Usually novice types of handlers choose to fetch the entire, not wanting to take a chance on making handling mistakes.  Fetching is probably the safest bet for most started dogs.

    When I run a Border collie pup in their first ASCA trials, I try to work my pup in a drive position and from the Advanced handlers line.  Then as the run progresses, I have the option of moving closer to the dog or sheep, if additional help is needed.

    With Decker, the hardest part for him, I fear, will be this "take pen".  This particular pen is where the dog has to go in by himself and go around the sheep in order to bring them out into the arena to start the rest of his run.  With many young dogs, this could be the hardest part for him.  Young dogs naturally want to go to head (positioning his body at the heads of the sheep) in order to stop the sheep from moving.  And this pen has a nasty jig in it.  It is shaped like an L, making is most difficult for many a dog.  We will be practicing this pen during our herding lessons.

    During his sheepdog herding trial, I will try to have him "drive" the course.  If we run into trouble, I will step in and let him fetch the sheep the rest of the way through.  The judge will not score the dog any better for driving the course or for fetching, but I feel that this is good practice for both of us.  And in the next level, "Open", which I hope we are in after that weekend, fetching is not allowed.  My training method is always making it harder at first, then skate through the rest.  

    At home, when I train, I have the drive panels set closer together, in order to make it tougher than at an actual sheepdog herding trial.  I mix things up, not training by a set order, what we humans are so good at, so the dogs don't anticipate what comes next.  If the dogs do that anticipation too much, they just might do their own thing and not listen to you.  

    At a trial, you could come up against something unusual.  There are fetches called doglegged fetches.  These are where the dog does his outrun, and then does not bring the sheep directly back to the handler.  They have to be directed to some other point off to the left or right first, and possibly go around a post, then back to the handler.  If the dog anticipates, because he always brings the sheep back straight away, and directly brings the sheep back to you and misses the dogleg, then major points can be lost.

    Another reason that I like to make my training harder is unusual obstacles can be included in mix.  A Maltese Cross can be included in a course.  If your dog just does his course by habit, and not by thinking, the cross might be impossible to accomplish.

    I feel that if my dog is over-trained for the job at hand, then that job just might be a little easier.

    I still want to sell Decker as a trained Aussie, and this trialing might get herders interested in him, or they might know of someone that is looking for a trained dog, we'll see!

  80. Decker seems to now have turned around for the better.  Finally!  Every since his child immersion treatment with the 4-H dog group, he is still way better with kids. 

    Last week a friend of my husband and his little girl came over for a visit.  They have been here many times before.  And the last time that they were here, Decker started to go after the little girl, which we promptly went after him and put him down on the ground immediately.  The visit was several hours and outside in the presence of the dogs.  So Decker had to contend with a moving child and behave himself.

    This time, he behaved quite differently.  I watched intently, for any signs of oncoming aggression in his body language.  I saw none.  The little girl-eight years old- was very forgiving, and did not hold any grudge for his past behavior.  This was good for Decker to feel, as scared behavior might have drawn him in for a bite.

    He played with Kate and Tam, and the girl threw the ball for them, and ran around climbing trees and visiting with the barnyard animals.

    Toward the end of their visit, I just could not believe that he was acting OK.  This is one of the proofs that I had been waiting for.  For him, this is the worst-case scenario, on his property, and with strangers to him, and children!  He was just fine.

    I do now think that with the right new home, he is ready to move on to a permanent home.

  81. Decker has always, when released, taken off after the sheep, wherever they might be.  Then he runs up and down the fence line, with an anxious mind. 

    Lately, I have been grazing the sheep in my neighbor's pasture.  Realizing that my methods of stopping him from taking off after the sheep have been futile, I decided to get much firmer with him.  A few days ago, right after he took off heading for the sheep, I yelled at him not to go, and he defied me.  I then took off and chased him.  Boy, was he shocked to see me and he read my body language too, that told him that he was doing something that I (the pack leader) didn't want him to do.  He got a firmer correction and drug back to where I was when I told him not to go.  Then he was released and the correction was over and I no longer held any anger toward him.

    This procedure of dragging the dogs back to where I was, when I told them a command, has been used for years in other disciplines, notably obedience.  I have used this method for most of my dogs, and thought that if I made my point clear to him, he might understand what I am demanding he do or not do.  Now the dragging part of this exercise is often not pretty, but very effective.  I make it a point of taking the dog's front feet off of the ground on the way back to the "spot".  Not liking this exercise in the least, the dogs often learn right away to do what they are told.

    The next day, Decker did the same thing and I repeated the same exercise with him.  I do talk to them as they are being brought back to the "spot", so the intensity of the correction is somewhat an increased.  This second time of having to chase him while he was terrorizing the sheep, and being of an anxious mind, I got the feeling that he might have understood me.  At least that is what I was hoping for.

    Well today, he didn't take off toward the sheep.  He hung around the girls and me.  This is my thinking on this subject; my Border collies probably have more instinct for herding, yet they can pull off and do not run the fences at the sheep.  And if that is the case, then Decker with a little less instinct should be able to do the same.

    I have made him responsible for his actions, period.  There are consequences for poor decisions, and that is the way it is!  Aussies may be a stubborn breed; but I have the ability to reason, and can be more stubborn than him.

  82. Decker is advancing in herding suddenly, by leaps and bounds.  He almost knows his flank commands now.  A few days ago, when I was working him, I noticed that he was starting to learn his flanks.  Thank God!  I like to move on too, and not to teach the same thing day after day.

    I remember when Tam, my 2 1/2 year old was on the verge of knowing her flanks.  And by the time a couple of more weeks passed, she had them down.  Then proofing was at play.  I like to set up my dogs, when proofing, to be harder for them to take a flank that I have asked for.  I try to keep the flank command the opposite of what my dog wants to do.  This allows them not to rely just on their instinct and they have to tune into me, to see what I am asking for.

    So for example, if the sheep are in front of me, and on my left side, with the dog further out, I might send the dog on a come-by, instead of a natural away flank.  The dogs don't normally want to do this because this goes against the instinct of the shorter distance to keeping or bringing the sheep to me.  But, the obedience needed for them to complete the task, will allow for success in the future.  

    Going against the grain, and making the dogs do things off balance, enables the trainer to move further down the road to having a completed trial or working dog.  There are many times in real life that off balance work is needed.  And fetching all of the time is not always safe for the sheep man.  

    When Kate, my 6 year old was young, I had her fetch my seep, which included a large ram, over to my neighbors to graze some vegetation down.  I did this on a daily basis.  After about two weeks of doing this, I noticed that the ram's body language was changing.  I would glance at him, and his head was cocked slightly to the side, and he was looking at me.  I started getting nervous having Kate fetch the sheep because of the ram.  He was getting itchy to ram something, and I didn't want it to be me!

    I finally had Kate drive (push) the sheep, with me behind her, directing her movement, thus the sheep movement.  This was sure safer for me, as I was no longer in the line of ramming site!

    When shedding or penning sheep, or even driving through panels or gates at trials, off balance work is used.  At field trials, the larger group of points goes to the outwork, as it is the first and foremost use of a dog, the gather, lift and fetch.  And a nice smooth dog, who has control of his sheep whether fetching or driving, is a beautiful site to see.

    So Decker is starting to relax while working his sheep, and I am glad to see him pick up on the flanks.  I am just starting to enjoy teaching him.  He has been challenging, and frustrating a lot, but he sure enjoys the sport.

  83. Today, I was out with John, my Canadian friend.  We were working on a fifth wheel pad that he was shaping with a tractor.  All of the dogs were out running around with us too.  It was a rainy type day, with drizzle but no real rain to speak of.  We thought we better get the grading done and the trailer back in its spot before the downpour comes.  Later this week, we are supposed to get at least three days in a row of rain.

    My neighbor had some questions to ask me so she walked over through the property to talk to me.  She saw Decker coming, and has been instructed on how to scold him, if he were to charge her.  Well, he did just that.  She didn't shy away, but instead kept on walking and telling him to get away from her.  I immediately ran over, rake in hand, and he dropped to the ground.  He got scruffed and then he jumped up and ran over to John and my neighbor just like nothing happened. 

    That irritated me, so I chased him and told him to get out of here.  He didn't understand what I meant, so I continued to chase him away from us until he finally understood, and went and laid down.   It seemed to me that he understood that I was actually mad at him for what he did.  We will see the next time my neighbor comes over and if he has learned anything from the incident.

  84. As I was getting ready to host a fun trial here on the property, I decided what I was going to do with Decker.  Knowing that there would be lots of people and children and herding, all of which can make him anxious, I thought immersion might just be the ticket for him.  After all, what a better way to desensitize a dog than to bombard him with all that bothers him.

    I had planned on running him in the trial, once, in a non-compete status.  Being an Aussie, I wasn't sure how he would handle the distance of a long outrun.  On Saturday, when I ran Decker, I was right about the distance, and he didn't do well, at least not as well as he usually does. 

    Tam on the other hand, did great.  I am very proud to say that she scored a 95 out of 110 in a non-compete.  I have never scored that high in Open ever.  Shelley, my instructor, was the judge.  I asked her later if she was harder or easier on me, since she is my instructor.  She told me that she was harder on me.  So I got no favoritism points.  Good!  Kate ran well also.  We got hung up at the post, and that cost me lots of time and points.  She had real nice straight lines and tight corners.  All in all, I was pleased with both of them.

    I had arranged with the local 4H dog group to serve lunch for us.  There were lots of kids for Decker to deal with.  The previous night a friend stayed the night with her husband and two kids.  With the muzzle on, and Decker growling, they continued to pet him until he stopped growling.  I couldn't believe that he actually stopped growling.  The kids are not afraid of dogs, which was to Decker's advantage, and they just kept petting him.

    Later on during the evening, they petted him again, and he was fine, all the while, with a muzzle on.  I have to watch out for the liability he could cause. 

    The next day, was one of the big days.  So dawned with a muzzle, Decker was allowed to run around during all of the excitement.  Later I crated him on the porch, so he could calm down.

    During lunchtime, I asked the kids if they wanted to walk Decker around.  They jumped at the chance.  I told them that who ever was holding him, that they were the boss and that is what he needed.

    So there he was, in the thick of the enemy, and actually enjoying it.  The children told me later that he did not growl once at them the whole weekend.  Though I am not satisfied that he is "cured" yet, but significant progress was made.  I am quite pleased.

    The sheepdog fun trial ran smooth, and most of the novice handlers learned a thing or two.  The weekend was a successful venture for dog and handler.

  85. A friend of my husband came over for a visit.  He brought his eight-year-old daughter with him.  I was out in the sheep field giving a lesson.  Decker had been put up, due to wining, which I can't stand.  So due to the wining, he lost his chance to herd sheep that day.  

    After I was finished giving the lesson, All of the dogs were released to play and go potty.  Shelby, my friend's daughter was throwing the ball for the dogs.  All of them were having fun except Decker, he was still on the front porch, in his crate.  I released him but kept him on leash.

    I let him run and play with the border collies, chasing the ball but keeping the leash on him, and making sure there was no aggression with him.  After about 7-8 minutes, he went for Shelby.  I saw him lunge for her legs.  Our friend and I went for him.  He was disciplined for the action, urinating from lack of confidence. NOT ON MY WATCH!

    I have been meaning to buy a wire muzzle for him, and it has now been ordered.  And I have decided that since kids got him scared like this, kids are what is going to take to help him out of it.  He will learn to trust kids.  

    One way to achieve this is to have kids interact with him.  Walking him, throwing a ball, feeding treats, petting are all ways of helping him, with petting being the very last obstacle in his rehabilitation. 

    So that is the new plan, muzzle him, so he can't hurt anyone, and let kids do their magic, all with my supervision.

    I am hosting a fun trial here in a couple of weeks.  There will be kids here watching and helping with the fun trial, so I am going to take advantage of the situation.  Wired for safety, Decker is going to be immersed in kids.  The local 4H dog group is coming to the trial to serve lunch.  They will have free time to watch some of the trial and I will ask if anyone would like to help Decker.  I hope this does the job.

  86. Decker, being a male, is not to be fully trusted for staying around the house when I am inside for a while.  Many times now, I have found him at my neighbor's place, trapped inside their fence.  I have not been able to figure out how he can get in and not get out, but now I crate him on the front porch when I come inside the house.  One time I even found him wandering down the street.  If that is what he is going to do, then crating is what he will get!

    So I have been pretty vigilant watching him, making sure that he is around, even when briefly going inside the house.  When I am outside doing chores, he is always around the sheep or me.  Being fascinated with the new lambs has kept him in an anxious state, pacing back and forth, around the sheep pen.

    Yesterday he took Annie, the visiting Canadian dog, for a walk down the street.  I was outside with him the whole time; so the fact that he was gone upset me.  This behavior was not like him.

    I knew that at home, Annie has taken off a couple of times with her father, Silas.  He is also a dog not to be trusted about wondering off.  So I think Decker saw a willing accomplice with Annie.  "Sure, I'll go!"

    When I noticed him gone, I went inside the house and grabbed my sheepdog whistle, and started blowing.  He has been pretty good about coming to the recall whistle.  As I blew, there was no Decker or Annie.  I checked the barn stalls and the tack room to make sure that he wasn't stuck inside.  Nope!

    John was gone on an errand and Lois was left without a vehicle.  I alerted her that the two might have taken off and she started off on foot.  I loaded up the girls and took off in the truck.  I picked up Lois a little down the road and we started our search, whistling as I was driving.  I turned up a driveway to see if they wandered up to a vacant house that is for sale.  No dogs there. 

    Just as I was starting to back down, I hear a lot of horn blasts.  Low and behold, there was John in his truck.  He was herding Decker back home with his truck!  That was great!  He kept blasting his horn, and made sure that he didn't run to the side of John's truck, herding him all the way back.  When we got back to my house, I asked John if he had Annie.  He said that he didn't.  So after putting Decker back into the crate, I got back into the truck and backed out.  John stopped me, as Annie returned before I took off again.

    That was a close call.  Boys!  Even fixed ones like to wander.  I guess its genetics.


  87. We finally have seen Decker completely worn out.  My friend, John from Canada, is here.  He brought his two Border collies with him and his wife too!  All of the dogs were running around during the day as we worked with John's trailer.  John was parking it in a new spot and it had just rained.  

    Here, the mud after a rain is terrible.  I have walked in it before, and I get taller and taller, with each step I take.  We also have expansive soils.  And when parking a trailer, where the soil has expanded due to winter rains, large ruts were made.  Needless to say, we spent the better part of the day trying to get the trailer level.

    Decker had two new friends to play with, in addition to Kate and Tam.  He ran around all day, keeping up with all four Border Collies.

    I have never seen him truly tired, to the point of not wanting to play.  This was good for us and him.  In the evening, the house was quiet.  No dogs playing with toys or each other, just peace and quiet.  That night, Matt and I had our house to our selves, even though there were three herding dogs in the living room with us.

    It was amazing to see.  We could coach the girls to play, but not Decker.  He would just lay there, still.  He was tired.  

    I always say, "A tried dog, is a happy and satisfied dog", and he was!

  88. During Christmas time, my sister-in-law came over for a visit.  She loves to see the dogs and even gets them presents.  This time she brought over a treat that amaized me.  A deer antler. 

    She has been carpooling to work with a friend and her dog.  Her dog, a labrador in training, loves to chew on these deer antlers.  In fact, her friend gives antlers to all of her dogs.  Nikki, my sister-in-law, had mentiioned in the past, that this dog she takes to work, just loves these deer antlers, and eats them in her car all of the way to work.

    When she came for a visit, she gave the dogs an antler.  Man, you would have thought that the dogs never get anything to chew on in their lives!  Decker and Tam mostly swipe the antler from each other.  They better not leave it laying around, or the other one will swipe it to chew on.

    In the past, I have given the dogs various treats, some of which wreaked terribly.  They smelled so bad, that the treat HAD to go outside.  Not with these antlers, they don't smell at all, at least to us.

    They are also loaded with calcium and other minerals that are essential to a dogs well being.  So as far as I am concerned, my dogs are going to be supplied deer antlers as a treat and dog chew, from now on.  They are now available on the website for purchase.  www.SheepdogHerding.com/healthy-dog-treats.html.

  89. We had a lamb born on Christmas.  He is a beautiful black covered one that looks just like his mother, with white patches on top of his head.  I didn't even know that she was ready to lamb.  I came into the barn and there he was.  Time to now put them up alone together, and let them bond.  I showed the little critter to the girls, who get excited when the lambs start coming.  Decker on the other hand, was way too excited.  Kind of the same excitement that he has for my neighbors little potbelly pig.  He is over excited and anxious at its site.  I held him for Decker to smell, so he could see that it is a sheep, and not a cat, that he can chew on its neck.

    We named the lamb Christmas, and I think that he will be called Chris for short.  Looking at his structure, I am noticing how well he is developed.  There has only been one other ram lamb born here about three years ago, that I just couldn't band.  This new lamb just might be another one that might be good left as a ram.  I should no more in a few weeks if I am going to keep him as a ram. 

    One problem with keeping rams that I have bred is I have to be very careful of whom I breed him to.  It's yucky, thinking about him breeding to a sister.  Then I only have two other options when keeping a ram lamb intact.  Butchering him at a later date, or selling him as a ram.  Selling rams is not the easiest.  There are plenty of them out there. so I will have to think hard about what I want to do with him.  But for now, I will enjoy seeing him run and jump around.  And some of the other ewes will be lambing soon, so he will have playmates.  I do love watching them play with each other.  This was a nice gift from God.

  90. More Rain Today.  It is getting tiring, keeping the dog's energy level at bay, along with their boredom.  If they don't get worked, then in the evening they are wound up and playing a lot.  So much playing can happen, that I cannot hear the television.  So I have worked with them to only play during the commercials.  When the program comes back on, I just tell the dogs "that'll do" and they quit playing and lay down until the next commercial.  The plan is not perfect, but it works pretty well.

    Decker is in full shed now.  There is hair everywhere.  I didn't have time before the rains started to brush him well.  So I tried brushing him on the back porch.  He has tons of hair, so I grabbed the rake to help remove his undercoat.  This tool really does the job well.  And is a must have tool for dogs with undercoats. 

    Months ago, when I first started using the rake on Decker's hair, it hurt him some.  So I was careful not to work a specific area of his body too long.  I would move around often.  He is used to the rake now, and doesn't give me a hard time, when I use it.  

    The rake was designed years ago specifically to remove undercoat from double-coated breeds, such as Decker.  I used to use a rake on Bonnie, my Aussie/Border mix, as she too had a double coat.  Though I kept her shaved her whole life, I would let her hair grow back during our brief winter.  Just a week after we got her as a puppy, we had to shave her.  I don't think she really liked her hair.  If she would get a sticker while walking, she would head for the thick grassy weeds to "rub" it out.  Well, that rubbing, would just give her more stickers.  So, it was off with her hair.  But in the spring, before it was warm enough to shave her, she would blow her coat.  Her hair came off almost all at once.

    During her shedding times, I would stand her on a bench or table outside, and brush and brush and brush.  And the rake was the most effective tool for removing the shedding hair.  She had so much hair on her britches, that if I didn't get to them in time, they would mat.  The rake was perfect for removing the undercoat on her britches.

    I removed a lot of hair from Decker with the rake, and most of it didn't end up on me.  The back porch worked well, except there is no table for him to stand on.  My back wore out before all of his dead hair was removed.  I will have to "rake" him again, another day.  But all of that brushing sure made his coat look nice.

  91. Man, Its been raining since Thursday night!  Four straight days! 

    Yesterday we had family over for some early gift exchanges.  Upon their arrival, Decker started to growl.  Matt was right beside him, and he got corrected for the growl and put into his crate on the front porch.  Later I let him into the house, so not to miss on an opportunity to help him desensitize to people.

    He was unsure at first, then one of Matt's sisters offered him a chip and he was hooked!  I brought out some dog treats and he accepted them from the three relatives that were here.  He also spent four or five hours in the kitchen/family rooms with everyone, and had a good time.

    Today was more rain, no outside exercise for the dogs again!  On to the treadmill.  Tam was first.  She gets in the "zone", and travels when she is on the treadmill.  She went 40 minutes at a slow trot. 

    Next came Decker.  I have been trying to let him be secure enough on the treadmill, so he won't worry about where I am when he is on it.  Bingo!  Today was the day.  He went on it, I turned it on and adjusted the speed for him.  I then told him to stay and trot.  I slowly left the room and was able to package shipments for the website, out of site.  Yeah!!.  As it turns out, Decker really likes the treadmill.  He was asking to go on it before I put Tam on.  I made him wait though.  He went on it for an amazing 32 minutes, all by himself.  I am very proud of him.

    Kate was on the treadmill last, and trotted for about 35 minutes.  All of that trotting should have taken the edge off of their energy levels.  At dusk, I went out to the barn to feed the livestock.  The rain had stopped for the moment.  And after I fed them, I got the dogs out and they got to go for a walk, OUTSIDE!  They had not been able to be outside for four days, except to go potty in the dog yard.

    So the morning trot was for their bodies, and the evening walk down the road was for their minds.  Now their good to go!

  92. I have come up with a new plan to help Decker know which is proper and improper behavior.

    I don't know why I didn't think of the obvious before, but I got this idea from watching the Cesar Millan show. I need to round up some willing kids. I am going to get Decker a muzzle. This would allow me to correct him making mistakes and keeping kids safe at the same time. The hardest part of this new plan is to round up some kids. Maybe older ones would be best, but I think this would work.

    The kids could play the way kids play, and if I am there with Decker, I could let him know what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Now for the logistics of putting the plan in place.  I hope I can put this plan together!

  93. The dogs and I have been fairly quiet this week.  I have started to gear up for a fun trial that I am putting on in February.  I have been rebuilding fences and restreaching fence wire, in order to make the place look good when everyone arrives for the trial.  

    We are in the middle of an extensive rainstorm.  And just before it rained, I went out into the sheep pasture and seeded 24 lbs of annual rye grass seed.  I love the way the rye grows.  This grass grows really fast, compared to other grasses.  Even though it is only an annual, it should make the place look pretty and green, and give the sheep lots to eat.

    We are really getting lots of rain.  This area is even on alert for mudslides and washouts.  So exercising the dogs with all of this rain, is challenging.  Today the dogs ran on the treadmill.  What a wonderful tool for exercising dogs in bad weather.  Tam and Kate both were on for 25 minutes and so was Decker.  Today was the first day that I have been able to have him unleashed on the treadmill.  He did quite well and did not leave the treadmill once during his workout.  I have also started wandering away, ever so slightly out of his view.  I am preparing him for being on the treadmill with out me being right with him.  

    At first, he was nervous with me being out of his view, but I just told him to keep walking, and he did great.  Next time I will try leaving the room, and move just into the next room.  This will allow me to work on the computer while he is exercising, thus freeing up some of my time.  

    Today I put the dogs out for a while.  I have built a gate for the front porch, so I closed it off so they had to stay on the covered porch.  Tam and Decker were out there on the porch running back and forth, rassling with each other.  Kate was being pathetic.  Sitting at the front door, looking in.  All she wanted, was to be back inside with us.  At least the young ones were able to play in the cool air, and not get their feet dirty.

  94. A couple of days ago, my husband, Matt, and I were outside talking to a delivery person.  We were on the north side of the house and the dogs were out with us.  Decker was running around chasing Tam.

    My neighbor next door had some neighbor kids over and they were visiting outside in her driveway.  Decker had noticed them, but didn't pay too much attention as they were about 1-200 yards away.

    My neighbor has some dog agility equipment down her hill, fairly close to the fence that separates our properties.  One of the kids took off running down the hill to go and play on the agility equipment, and Decker took notice and took off after him. 

    After I saw what was happening, I took off at a run after Decker.  The boy couldn't get hurt because of the security of the fence, but Decker's mind is what I am after.  Here was one of the best opportunities to correct a major flaw in his character. 

    I yelled at Decker as I was running toward him.  When he heard me, he stopped and laid down in a very submissive posture.  Sorry, not good enough!  I needed to make a big point with this problem.  I ran over to him and put him down on his side, and I was on top of him.  As I was there on him, I thought that this is the first time that I have been able to correct him for chasing kids.  I needed to make a stronger correction, and drive my point home.  So as I was over him on the ground, and he urinated on my knee, I decided that I would bite him on the top of the nose.  And I held on as he cried.  I really didn't think about anyone else watching, as this problem needed to be addressed.  He could be killed for biting someone, and I don't allow that type of behavior on my watch.

    He is a little bit of a tender foot when it comes to pain, some dogs just are.  He didn't bleed, I don't bite that hard, but it did hurt, and he let me know it.  Just like an alpha wolf would do for a major offense, Decker received a correction equal in intensity, to the offense.  And this was a major offense.  So, I am hopeful that he has learned a big lesson, for my sake too. 

    I am not the best runner, and pretty slow and out of practice.  I have a herniated disc, so running could aggravate it.  I have been doing a lot of running since I got him.  Maybe I should take up running again, and I might not have a problem with my back.  Just sore muscles!

  95. Steph and Tam at the postSteph and Kate blowing it

    I had entered both of the girls into the Coalinga CA sheepdog Trial.  I thought there would only be about 50+ people there so it would be a good opportunity for Decker to desensitize some with groups of people.  One problem though-I was bringing the store with me also. How do I fit him in with all of the stuff too?

    I had entered both of the girls into the Coalinga CA sheepdog Trial.  I thought there would only be about 50+ people there so it would be a good opportunity for Decker to desensitize some with groups of people.  One problem though-I was bringing the store with me also. How do I fit him in with all of the stuff too?

    I spent the entire day packing the back of the little pick up.  I did have to make bags to carry some of the stock in, so it won't get dirty.  But other wise, I had to do a lot of maneuvering to fit the large crate inside the back of the pick up, so Decker had a place to ride, and for safe keeping.

    Coalinga is almost a desert.  Very seldom does it rain there.  If fact, of the 10+ years of the Coalinga sdt, it had only rained only once.  And as it would be, it rained!  And the mud was very terrible.  A couple of steps, and you were suddenly getting taller and taller.  Fortunately for us, it only rained periodically during the morning, and then cleared for a fantastic rest of the day.

    Having the store there had its challenges too.  I waited until the storm passed, then set up only one table, and the coolaroo of ours as a demo, filled with dog toys.  And after about an hour, guess what?  It started raining.  Oh no!  Matt, my husband and Roland, my friend, grabbed the borrowed quick shade, and set it up quickly to protect all of the stock from getting wet.  It worked quite well, and many trialers were glad that I brought stock.

    In the morning, during the rain, Decker spent a good portion of his time in the crate.  During the dry spells, I would get him out and let him relieve himself.  We would also go up to where everyone was gathered to watch the trial.  This is what I brought him for.  He needed exposure to groups of people, but not hundreds at once.

    At first, he was anxious, but after several hours, he settled down.  He even allowed a few people to pet him. 

    Later in the afternoon, the ground had dried up to the point of being good to walk on.  I took the girls and Decker out for a walk and run.  I walked about a 1/2 mile away on the ranch, and found a great place to throw the chuck it ball launcher for them.  The girls didn't need too have much energy released as they were in the trial, but Decker did.  They all had a great time going up and down the hills chasing the ball and releasing energy.

    Both of the girls on Saturday did well at the trial.  They both took every command that I asked, I couldn't have asked much more of them.  We completed the outrun, lift, fetch, and drive.  Missed the second panel with Kate.  Then she got her shed, and pen.  We got timed out at the single.  But I was real pleased with her performance.

    Tam did everything that I needed her to do to.  I didn't think this year that she would be competitive, but I was wrong.  I have just moved her up from Nursery to Open.  And this is only her second Open trial.  She did a beautiful outrun, lift, fetch, drive and made both panels.  We got the shed, and pen.  I had problems with the pen.  I have never had sheep not want to leave it.  So I went inside to put pressure on them to leave.  When I did, I completely forgot about the gate, and went straight to the single shed.  OH NO!

    I found out that I forgot the pen gate after I had already put the sheep away.  This time, I only got hit 2 points for that.  But I must not ever do that stupid mistake again.  Tam's score was an 82.  I could not have been happier with her.  Later, I found out that I would have been 4th or 5th, if I hadn't made that stupid mistake.

    So I was wrong that Tam at just 2 1/2 years old, could not be competitive.  I hope that this spring goes this nice for her.

    On Sunday, I left Decker at home.  One day was enough for me.  I only brought a little stock from the store in case some one didn't get a chance to get something the day before.   In the morning, the sheep were terrible.  Yikes!  I ran Kate first, and there was a strong draw toward the exhaust, for Kate's entire fetch.  They also ended up on the wrong side of the post.  I have a tough time with pressure and I thanked the judge and walked away from the post.  Run over.  I have been told to keep going if problems arise.  That in some cases, everybody is in the same boat at the trial, and I could just place.  But, oh well, I felt like a novice handler, with my sheep on the wrong side of the post. 

    I called Shelley, my trainer, and got the “don't quit” lecture.  So I toughed it out with Tam's run.  She had a to die for outrun and lift, but she was sticky at the fetch.  She knew that the sheep were going to run.  That's what her mother would do.  Fortunately, I was able to coach her down the hill, and the stupid sheep walked right around the fetch panels, just like a human would.  So with that missed, I kept going.  We made the panels, and worked on the shed.  Our time had been cut by a minute this day, so we got timed out and didn't get the shed, pen, or single. 

    I was dumbfounded.  How can we run great one day and crappy on the next?  I talked to Shelley about it and she told me "That's trialing!"  She is right, That's trialing.

  96. We all did sheepdog herding today.  The girls and I are getting ready for a sheepdog trial this weekend, so we have to be sharp.  I worked both of the girls and then Decker on sheep.  I had him do more driving and he is really starting to pick that up.  

    Since I have been using a male wrap in the house with Decker, I have been teaching him the stand command.  I wasn't sure that he would be able to transfer the word from the entry way of the house and getting his wrap on, to the sheep field.  But I guess that is my problem.  I have never really given him the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that he wasn't the sharpest stick in the woods.  I know that he picked up shaking hands super fast, but I underestimate his intelligence in other areas.  I don't know why I do this; it may be because I got him when he was a year and a half old, and just made assumptions about his intelligence.  Now, I wonder how great he actually would have been with early education.  That kills me!

     Today was the first day that I used the stand more than once with him.  He actually stood!  And he looked at me like he understood what I wanted.  Throughout his sheepdog herding today, I used the stand command often, and the lay down command only a few times.  He also must learn that the stand means to stay also.  

    Aussie people don't like to lay their dogs down when sheepdog herding with them.  I don't know the philosophy behind it.  It might be to being easier on the dog's body not to be up, then down, then up again...  I know with many older and better-trained Border Collies, they prefer to stand and stop to a down command.  

    With young dogs just starting in sheepdog herding, I prefer to get a good down on them.  I know the down can be used as a crutch for many novice handlers, but it can also stop a huge wreak.  And young dogs notoriously not wanting to stop working their sheep.   

    Getting a down that is too solid can also be a concern.  Dogs with a lot of eye, can tend to get sticky.  And a sticky dog just lays down, not moving, and works the sheep with his eyes.  This sticky dog can really be hard to get over this.  It can take quite a lot of encouragement to get that dog up and moving again.   And some handlers try to keep those types of dogs moving, and not stop them too much.

    Keeping a dog moving is fine if the movement is slow and under control.  But if there is craziness out there, no one is learning anything.  So like everything to do with dogs, there is no hard and fast rule.  Training may have to be creative, or may be traditional; it depends on the situation and the dog.

    Yesterday we went to the vet to weigh Decker.  He is done with loosing his poundage and is weighing in at a slim 64.0 lbs.  Since the latter part of August, he has lost a whopping 20.9 lbs.  Now he is totally keeping up with Tam, the young 2 1/2 year old Border collie.  Even though he can't run as fast as her, he sure enjoys trying.



    Sheepherding with Decker

    Decker, Steph and Sheep

  97. I had a student come over with his Zip dog.  He has had two lessons before, but is a pretty obedient dog, so we thought we would give it a try in the field.  At first, he was real sticky and did not want to move.  Later, as I moved the sheep around, he would just follow them.  After more that five minutes, he was still following and not circling around trying to bring them to me.  I had Kate come in with me to get him going.  After several minutes, he got the idea, and was herding sheep on his own and out in the field.

    I do like to get dogs out of the round pen as soon as possible.  Zips owner was anxious to see if he would work in the field, and he almost wouldn't.  Fortunately, Kate was able to get him going.  We did lots of fetching and mini outruns, and toward the end of his lesson, he was doing quite well.

    Decker did well in the field also.  I am still encouraging him to drive a little, which I think he is doing quite well.  He still is doing the Aussie thing of busting up the group.  Woopie!  As Decker waited his turn, he was whining.  This drives me crazy.  I repeatedly had to correct him for whining, until eventually he stopped.  Thank God!

    Yesterday, I mentioned that Decker met a baby pig.  Well today, she was loose out in the yard with my neighbor's dogs.  Knowing this, when I came over, I left Decker behind.  He is too out of control with this little piglet and might hurt her.  But, Kate and Tam got to come over and meet the pig nose to nose.  You should have seen the girl's tails; they were straight up in the air, vertically.  I took several pictures of them together, and then went home to calm Decker down, as he was upset that he was left.

    Creston the pig


    Tam meets Creston

    Kate meets Creston-look at Kate's tail


  98. I received a phone call from my neighbor.  She had just adopted a baby potbelly pig.  The dogs and I came over to see it while she was still small.  Babs, my neighbor, named her Creston.  That's the town that is nearest to where we live.  She was found, dumped in a empty crate (milk crate), with no food, water, or blankets, and left in the local post office.  Not a very good place for a five-week-old baby.  She needs special food and should not have been taken from her mother before eight weeks.  So Creston was thrown into the world with a slim chance of reaching adulthood.  

    When I arrived to see her, I thought that she was so little, about as small as the dog's stuffed squeaky toys.  She is covered with lots of hair, more than they usually have as adults.  She has white around her neck, and the rest of her little body is black.  

    The girls saw her, but were not very interested, I guess because she doesn't baaa.  Decker on the other hand, was totally fascinated with her.   I kept calling him to come back to me and to get away from the piglet, but he could not contain himself.  Repeatedly, I would call him back to me then tell him to "leave it", much to the waste of my breath.  

    Not wanting to stress out the piglet further, I grabbed Decker's collar and held him.  He didn't like that in the least.  Occasionally, he would tug at my hand trying to get back to the pig.  This tugging later turned into small cries, which I would correct.  

    As Babs and I talked, the piglet made a little cry, and of course, is the cutest little cry ever heard!  Decker immediately jerked my hand that was holding him, in order to get to the "squeak".  We discussed methods on how to keep her warm tonight, from using a light, to a heating pad, to a Thermacare pad.  She settled on a Thermacare pad because if it rained, electricity would be an issue.  No one wants to zap a little pig, or get zapped themselves.

    When I was leaving, I let go of Decker, and he immediately started to head for the piglet (Creston), and I had to support his coming with me, verbally.  He didn't want to leave the pig, but a pig herder he is not.  

    Little Creston will grow very fast, and I will try to take a picture of her tomorrow, so everyone can see how cute and little she really is.

  99. The girls and Decker got to come with my husband and I to my dad's house for Thanksgiving dinner.  This year, unlike most other years, we had a only a small group for dinner.  This year it was just as well for Decker's sake, since he is uncomfortable in large crowds.  

    I had to feed my neighbor's animals for her before we left for dinner, so we arrived a little late, but just in time for the yummy food.  Smells were in the air when we went inside the house, and the dogs could tell every ingredient that was used in the preparation of the feast.  

    Everyone was happy to see each other, and even the dogs were happy to see my dad's dog, Stuey.  Stuey is a senior Australian shepherd, and it is getting harder and harder for him to move around.  But his nose is in tiptop shape.  He was beside himself with the meal being served, and was right beside the table, in case anyone wanted to give this pleasantly plump pooch a tasty handout!

    My three dogs, on the other hand, live a more rigid and structured existence.  They are not allowed to be in the kitchen when we are eating or I am fixing meals.  I can't stand having them underfoot.  So I made the dogs stay in the living room, and out of the kitchen and dining room.  Kate kept on sneaking into the kitchen to vacuum (one of her favorite jobs), and I repeatedly told her to get out.  I guess at almost six years old, one thinks that they can take liberties like sneaking and that all of the rules don't apply to them.  

    Tam and Decker were pretty well behaved all night with one exception.  Upon arrival, I had let the dogs out of the truck and we were visiting with my dad outside.  Jessy, my step niece came outside and Decker let out a growl.  He promptly received a verbal correction, and Jessy went back into the house.  

    Decker has acted like this several times, when startled like he was.  Sure, he didn't know her, but she came outside when his back was turned.  He will need desensitization in being startled, since he tends to over-react.  When I came into the house, I told Jessy to ignore the dog, and don't try to pet him unless he comes to her.  She took direction well, and later in the evening, he warmed up to her and allowed petting.

    The night was fairly relaxing for me as I only had to ride Kate for sneaking around, but the other two dogs were fine examples of dogs in control.  Good nights like that, are good examples for Decker to remember, and will hopefully help him achieve and maintain balance in all circumstances of his life.

  100. Today, all of the dogs and I, played ball with the chuck-it ball launcher, to expend excess energy.  With all of the activities that I do with the dogs, rules of conduct and play are enforced.  The dogs must wait until I say, "go", then they are released from a stay to take-off, and chase the ball.  

    By giving and enforcing rules, boundaries, and limitations; the dogs get a sense of pack structure.  Since dogs are only about 1% away, genetically, from wolves, they still strive to create and maintain a pack.  And while I am enforcing rules, the dogs are getting the structure that they need.  I have said in the past, that dogs are like two-year-olds.  Two-year-olds don't need to be on their own, just hanging around all of the time, and not being directed.

    Keeping the minds of Border Collies and other smart breeds occupied is important.  The wolf pack leader-alpha, is constantly directing the pack, and making sure they are not doing something that the alpha does not want them to do.  When I direct the dogs, and give them rules, I maintain my status in the pack as the alpha.  

    I have seen many people who are not the leaders in their pack.  Often, they chuckle, as they say "the dogs rule the roost" or are "in charge".  I like to boss things around a bit.  I sure don't want any dog telling me what to do or not to do; and most dogs like to be told what to do.  So it all works out, with a human being the leader, and the dog being the followers.

    So while I am throwing the ball for the dogs, they have to wait until I release them, before they can go and chase down the ball.  There is more that one reason for making the dogs wait to chase.  The dogs are so fast, and anticipate so badly, that making them wait is the only way that I can get the ball out in the field before the dogs!  

    I used to just throw the ball, like normal people do.  But when Kate came along, my strategy had to change.  When I would grab the ball, she would take off out into the field, anticipating that I was going to throw the ball.  Well Bonnie, my aussie/border mix wasn't fast enough to beat Kate.  This strategy helped me to let every dog have a good chance of getting the ball.  I can now throw the ball to the front of the blasting dogs being able to "give" it to a particular dog.  I want all of the dogs to have fun and to be able to bring the ball back to me.

    I threw the ball for about 15 or so minutes, then repeated it about a half hour later.  This exercise, believe it or not, has helped develop their stamina.  At the last trial that we gone to, I had problems with shedding.  [Not surprising for me, as it is my last task in sheepdog herding, that I haven't completely gotten my head around.  I know how to set up the sheep, and I know where the dog and I are supposed to be.  I know the theory behind the shed, but I guess I am not completely comfortable with it.  Often, I hesitate when approaching the shed, and that hesitation will get me into trouble.]   At the trial, the shedding was taking quite a while, as the sheep were not playing the game any more, and the dog had to run and run.  By the end of my run, the dog was ready to keep going, and in great shape.  I have seen dogs at the end of their run just beat dead tired!

    In sheepdog herding, hesitation, will get you in trouble at home and at trials.  Not only does hesitation show the dog your lack of confidence, but the dog’s trust in you is also in jeopardy.  I have seen a dog that didn't trust its handler.  Eventually, the dog gave up listening to its handler, due to hesitation on the handler's part, and worked sheep the way it wanted to.  A while ago, I dog sat the dog for two days, and worked sheep with it.  It listened to me and basically did everything I asked of it.  I was then convinced, that it was the dog not trusting its handler that caused all of the headaches.  Eventually, due to frustration, the handler gave away the dog to some people who needed a dog for their ranch.

    Late in the afternoon, I got out the chuck-it ball launcher, and again threw the ball for the dogs.  They should now have all of their energy expended for the night.  Until tomorrow!

  101. My friend Roland came over to work sheep with his dog Jessy.  Last week, Jessy had been spayed, and Roland hadn't been able to sheepdog herd with her for a while.  Decker had also missed Jessy.  They are best friends, always playing and chasing each other as fast as they can run, around the house and back again.  Often, we will see Decker on his back, with Jessy straddling him, as they mouth fight.  

    While Roland did some sheepdog herding with his dog, I went over to the other side of the house to stack wood.  The forecast in the afternoon was for rain.  Since we heat our house with wood, it is pretty important to have our wood under the tarp, nice and dry.  My husband had just finished splitting all of the wood, and didn't have enough time to stack it.  So I thought I would help him out.

    When I got done stacking wood, I was able to do some sheepdog herding with my girls.  I had a lesson with Shelley, my trainer, last Saturday.  Since then I have been working with both of them not to slice the end of their flanks, the part where they want to stop and start to drive.  Since the flanks start good, its just the end that I have been working on.  I am trying to make them understand not to close in on the sheep, and to keep back and lesson the pressure off of them.  This will help in trialing.

    Decker has been introduced to driving.  Last week, I just touched on it.  Today, I let him drive further.  I was expecting a struggle.  When I changed training strategies on him before, we both struggled for several weeks.  When I went from him circling the stock, both directions, to fetching, I was constantly blocking him wanting to circle.  After several weeks of this, he settled down and accepted that I wanted both, circling and fetching.  But I wanted it when it was appropriate.  When I am walking backwards and asking him to walk up, he, by instinct, is to bring me the sheep.  Now, he fetches very well.  I no longer have to use the fences, and am out in the open field.

    I am quite impressed with the amount of instinct that he has.  While driving today, he did fine.  I was ready for a challenge, but didn't have one.  Roland was watching, and commented that maybe he is a driving dog.  Driving dogs are drivers by nature.  That is what they really want to do.  You will find them in all of the herding breeds.  I actually think it is just a little early to tell if he is a driving (line) dog.  And to tell you the truth, I am starting to have fun working him.  It has been somewhat of a chore to train him.  But now that he is starting to drive some, that is more fun for me.  

    I am still working on him to learn his flanks.  I feel that he is just starting to get the idea, that away means something, and come-by means something.  I am thinking that he will know them in a couple more weeks.

    Earlier, I mentioned that I would let you know how the male wrap is working for Decker.  Great!! :) I wish I had used it sooner.  He is also learning to stand on command by having to put on the wrap when he comes in the house.  Also, my house is rejoicing, as there is no more leaking at all.

  102. On Tuesday, I started introducing driving to Decker.  Like most dogs, he was reluctant.  He wanted to bring me the sheep instead of driving them away.  I only just touched on it so not to really make a big deal about it.  Just little bits at a time.

    Today, I worked more with Decker on driving.  This time I stretched out the distance I had him drive.  But really, it is just a tiny bit, just enough to give him a taste.  He still does not know his flanks; so driving will be more difficult to teach him.  I intend to not push him on driving, and take it slow.  

    On the other hand, I have been pushing him that he learn his flanks.  He kind of shuts down a bit when he gets corrected, but he will get over it eventually.  It is time that he starts thinking about what he is doing and where.  But he is the type of dog that does not like getting into trouble, so he tends to slither (kind of a half walk, half lay down, if you can picture that).  Or he will start to leave, which is typical Aussie, which I can't stand; I just keep encouraging him to keep going.

    He never shuts down completely, but he is sure feeling the stress of having to make a decision of which way he is to go.  I can see him think about it.  He really has to take responsibility for making a wrong or right decision.  I give him lots of positive reinforcement when he makes the right decision and goes the correct way that I told him to.  I do expect in about a week, he will be desensitized to the pressure, and take it in stride.  

    I know he is smart.  No dog that I know can learn to shake hands in 10 minutes flat.  So hopefully soon, he will be taking more and more correct flanks, getting instantly rewarded.  When I am training him on his flanks, I usually start with the easy ones, first with me on the opposite side of where I want him to go, opening up the direction where I would like him to go.  Then as the lesson progresses, I start making the correct path harder, changing my position in relation to the sheep.  When he wants to go one way, (I see him leaning toward a certain direction), I will send him the opposite, then immediately scold him for going the wrong way.

    If he really hates being wrong, then he will catch on fairly soon, and listen to what I am saying, and respond accordingly.

  103. Last night, I decided to start teaching Decker how to shake hands.  I was curious at how long it would take him to catch on.  I used a high-value food, and initially he had a hard time concentrating, wanting the food badly.  After several minutes, and driving my Border collies crazy, as they offered all kinds of behaviors that they have been taught, Decker was able to control his emotions toward the food.  Once his emotions were under control, he was able to learn quickly.  I thought it was a fluke, and he just happened to give me a "shake", after only one training session.  But I told my husband about it and he said "I bet he won't do it now!"  He did!.  I even tested him this morning without food, and I got my shake.  Of course, he got many pats and good boys, which he relishes.

    In addition to teaching him to shake, I had been advised to start training Decker on agility.  Many people look for a nice agility dog, and one that works sheep too; there are many people in our area that cross disciplines and train their dogs both in agility and in herding.  Previously, I had only been messing around with him in agility, while at Sandy's house.  But now, I guess I will have to step it up and train him in agility also.  This afternoon I started him in "formal" agility training.  I will train him in agility as formal as I know how to do with out going to an agility class.  

    I have been fairly successful with my two border collies at half-heartedly training them in agility.  Hopefully, if I step it up some, I can get good groundwork in agility done with him.  We will see in the next few weeks.

    Decker has been doing fairly well in herding lately.  I still haven't started driving with him, but I have been laying the foundation for that, by introducing a little off-balance work.  Decker has also been taking to whistles.  A couple of weeks ago, I introduced him to whistles while herding.  By the end of the first session, he understood the down whistle and the walk-up whistle.  Now he is fairly solid on those two whistles, and I have been working with him on his flanks.  I now want him to know just what come-by and away actually mean.  So he has been getting a few drills, but not too much to sour him.  By having Decker know his flanks, will make driving with him easier.  And once he know his flanks, its all down hill from there.  And on to winning Aussie trials. 


  104. Today, my friend, Roland came over to start his pup, Jessy, on sheep.  She has done a little with sheep, but he wanted to do a regular longer workout with her.  A few days ago, he told me that she was about ready to start her.  I know that he has been real anxious to start her, but has tried to be patient and let her grow up some.

    Kate and I sorted out some sheep for Roland and his dog, ensuring that I picked the docile ones.  I am very choosy with my sheep, when I pick them out for somebody else to work, or for me to train with someone else's dog.  Sometimes sheep can make or break a dog.  

    Some sheep can turn aggressive, and charge a dog.  When a young dog is starting on sheep, they need to be successful.  The sheep need to move away from the dog when the dog comes near.  But at the same time, they should not be too flighty.  That is the other end of the spectrum.  I don't want a young dog to either face fighting a sheep or having them run far away from the dog so he can't catch them. So that is why I am choosy when picking sheep.

     I have worked sheep that fought.  I had one fight the dogs, two weeks ago when I did the demonstration for the Humane Society.  If that sheep was fighting my dog at home and the dog was seasoned and not just starting out, I would let the dog work the sheep for a while.  There is a point at which I will call off the dog if progress is not being made.  Seasoned dogs are allowed to "lose" but not all of the time, and not if no progress is being made.  If progress is being made, and the sheep is starting to submit to the dog, then by all means, I will let the dog work until the sheep has been retrained.  Unfortunately, when sheep get nasty and fight the dog often, they usually have to leave the flock.  While working sheep like that on occasion is good for the dog, all of the time is not.

    I watched Roland and his young dog for a while.  He has worked very hard on socializing her and exercising her, and laying the foundation for a nice pet and trial dog.  Today, I saw some of his previous work with her pay off.  Most dogs when they first come to sheep, don't have a mind.  It leaves the head the instant they walk into the round pen or sheep field.  For many dogs, it can take weeks for the dog to find his brain again, and start thinking about what he is doing and not just reacting to his instinct.

    Jessy had a brain the whole time she was in with the sheep.  I think that as long as Roland gets good consistent instruction in herding, while training her, she will be a nice dog for him.  She is not crazy like one of his past dogs; she listens to him and is responsive and respectful.  

    When it was Decker's turn in the field, Roland told me that he really wanted to see him work.  Occasionally, during his lesson, he did the Aussie thing, breaking them up a few times.  But I am starting to work him in the whole field and not just in a large corner.  He is fetching quite well now and I have started to use whistles with him.  He still doesn't know his flanks, which I need to drill him on a bit.

    I would like to start driving with him, but I feel that he is not quite ready.  Roland told me today, that if I still had him by this coming spring, I should have no trouble selling him.  He also said that I might get more money for him also.  Yeah, I should get more; he will have had quite a bit more months of training under his belt.  Usually trainers will get 4-600 dollars a month for training a dog.  And he is also talented on top of that!  I am sure he will be fine in an active working home.

  105. Several weeks ago, I wrote that problems might arise with the discipline methods that I use with Decker.  Well that problem happened.  I ran my truck in to the local oil change place.  I was going to leave Decker inside the back of the truck, but changed my mind.  I thought that he might not be so comfortable around the guys, as they worked on changing the oil.  When I opened up the back of the truck to take him out, I asked the service man not to look at him as this was a challenge to the dog.  I told him about Decker's past, as Decker wiggled in elation about getting out of the truck.  The service man said that he seemed like a real nice dog. I brought him inside the lobby with the girls to wait with me.

    Right away, he acted up a bit.  I heard a growl when a gentleman walked in to also wait for his oil change.  He got corrected, and then it was all over.  He settled down until one of the workers walked in to show me my air filter.  Decker growled again, and got in trouble for that too.

    After about 10 minutes, of which he was fine, a lady walked in.  He promptly growled at her and I promptly "touched" him on his side with my foot.  Well, that move opened up a can of worms.  By the way, that really was a touch, a "snap out of it" touch to his side.  

    The lady came unglued!  She was all over me, telling me that there were other ways to correct his behavior.  I don't take kindly to nosey people telling me how to deal with a potential liability.  I did not act as nice as I should of, and let her know just how hard that I touched him.  I touched her on her shoulder with the same force that I touched Decker.  

    That was not good enough.  She obviously knew much more that I did at handling aggressive dogs.  I told her about his past, and that he had bitten twice before.  I let her know that I had rescued him so he would not be put down.  All of that was not good enough for this lady, as she was the expert.

    Decker growled at her again.  This time his discipline for that behavior was to be "bit" with my hand on his neck.  I held him down on the ground until he had relaxed, then I released him and he remained laying on the ground, just like any normal dog.

    The lady was super emotional, and upset with how he was being treated (which in my opinion, was swift, to the point, then over).  I again, not very nicely, told her that maybe I should just kill him right now, and not give him a chance at a normal life.  She insisted that there were "better" ways to change a dog.  I wish that she would write a book on that, so I could study it.  She told me that she had a mind to report me to the SPCA.  I told her to go ahead! (Little did she know, that they have no authority here in this county)

    After my truck was done with the oil change, we all went outside to leave.  The lady was out there crying!  Crying?  Man, what a baby!  We again got into it, right outside the oil change store.  My truck was pulled up to the front of the store, so the dogs and I walked through the working end of the oil change store, to get to the truck.  The two guys working there asked me what was going on.  I promptly told them that there was some bleeding heart out there that knows more than any one else in the world, how to deal with an aggressive dog.

    Then I loaded up the dogs and left.

    Upon arriving at Sandy's, for dog day, I was early.  I unloaded everything to her.  It sure makes one "feel guilty" and second-guess oneself.  And ruins your whole day.

    It's funny though.  Jim, Sandy's husband told me that afternoon, "Decker is sure not the dog that you brought over here two months ago. He is a changed dog". 

    Jim didn't know what had gone on earlier that day, so it was an honest opinion of Decker.  My methods stand, time tested by Cesar Milan.


    Today, I am getting ready for an upcoming trial at the end of the week.  I, as much as the dogs, need to practice on my sheepdog herding skills and especially my timing.  Timing is critical in herding, and the hardest to learn.  Depth perception is also hard to judge, but does not take as long to learn or excel at, than timing does.  If the timing is not right, all kinds of things can happen.  Usually over flanking is seen and occasionally under flanking.  Under flanking is a lot easier to correct, just give another little flank and the dog gets into the position originally needed.  

    Over flanking looks and feels terrible.  The dogs will zig and zag the sheep all over the place.  Part of that can be reduced by getting more distance between the dogs and the sheep.  Dogs that are right up the sheep’s butts, that's when over flanking is most exaggerated, and really looks amateurish.

    When sheep get really dog broke, the same thing can be triggered.  The sheep get heavy and a lot harder to move.  Then the dogs will work harder to get them to move, and the result is dogs that are on top of the sheep- and zig zags occur. 

    My sheep are getting heavy and harder to move.  That is why I like to breed them, and get fresh sheep every year with a new crop of lambs.  Lambs are very hard to work.  They don't have a leader in their early months, thus are all over the place.  The result of being all over the place, is it is very difficult to drive or fetch straight lines with lambs.  And straight lines are what competition is all about.  This teaches the dogs a lot about sheep.  Dogs that work all different types of sheep and terrains are the most well rounded types of dogs.  Just like when we go to college.  They won't let us just take our core classes; we have to take all of the other support classes too.  Once we are through with college, we usually have learned how to think critically, and know more about the world, because we have been forced to take classes other that just what our major is.

    The same is with the sheepdog.  The more exposure a dog has to different sheep and terrains, the more he learns, and becomes seasoned.  The better seasoned, the better thinker  and problem solver they are.  And in case a problem might arise on the trial field, hopefully the dog can handle it and not shut down, because he can't think for himself.  We want our dogs thinking and not to be robots responding to our every word.

    This seasoning is why I strive to work different sheep on different fields.  The more the better.  I have even driven some distances to work on different fields, just because of how valuable it is for our dogs.  I remember Kate's first ProNovice trial.  It was a flat field.  She had never worked on a flat field before.  I had to hold her up and show her where the sheep were and tell her to "look".  Her first run was terrible as she couldn't find them, but buy the next day rolled around, she was on to it and had no trouble finding her sheep.

    Working the dogs on sheep today, Kate was pretty good.  I practiced on my shedding the most, as that is where I need the most work.  Kate's weak point is the shed.  All dogs have strong and weak points, as none of them are perfect.

    Tam's weak point is her lift.  She has a lot of eye, and not as much push as Kate has, so in the past I have had a little trouble with her lifting the sheep.  About a year and a half ago, Tam could not lift my lambs off of hay.  She was very young, but did not like working the lambs at that point in her life.  I just let her age a bit, and kept her on older sheep for several months, gradually mixing in lambs until she was able to handle them.  Today, I practiced the shed with her as well, but concentrated on her lifting and driving smoothly.

    Decker was pretty good with his sheepdog herding today.  He was especially anxious about working, and even wanted to keep going when it was time to stop.  I do like to see that.  He sure likes his sheep.  I worked him out in the field again.  He was a little bit of a handful at first, splitting them up and singling out one to chase.  But after getting corrected firmly for this bad behavior, his second go was nice.  He is coming right along in his learning.  And he really gives the sheep lots of room.  He still has a flat outrun, but I see him thinking and starting to make sure that he includes all of the sheep when he gathers them.

    I was able to get him to fetch several times for quite a distance.  He has almost completely stopped his wearing and almost walks up straight.  He really has some instinct.  He should make someone a fine sheep-herding dog.


  107. Decker pushed my buttons today, and I finally exploded at him.  I have been dealing with my online dog supply store, Operation Sheepdog Herding, not generating any money.  It generates some, but not enough to pay for the minimum orders that I have to put in, to order a customer's product.  Usually, the orders are low, but with my shipping charges fairly high, all of that combined makes it hard to absorb all of the added expenses.

    Financially, I did terrible at the Humane Society Fund-rasier "dog fair".  I brought in several hundred dollars worth of product and only sold a couple of items.  I did not sell any Bella Bowls, which I dearly love, and my dog's actually eat out of; no sales for the In and Out Crocks, which are real nice for crates and I even own one; I didn't sell one dog collar at all.  No dog collars sales really surprised me and I even had gotten the girls new Flying Dogs collars to show what those neat collars look like.  In the spring, I had a booth at another dog event fair, and I sold a couple of collars.  But Saturday, I had a much better selection and much lower prices, with no interest.  I even had Halloween and Fall design dog collars.

    I had interest with sheepdog herding though.  This was the first time that this event, in it's 18 year history, that it had ever had sheepdog demonstrations.  I was occupied, but was told that tons of people were fascinated by the dogs working the sheep.

    So this morning, I was dealing with a product that I had shipped to me and actually sold.  I found out today that the shipping charge, with a weight of only one pound was 13+ dollars!  That was almost twice the product cost.  Then I figured that I had lost money on it.  I was fuming about it!  While I was getting ready to go outside to feed the livestock, the dogs were being restless.  I just opened the door and told them to get out.  Kate and Tam went out with Decker hanging back.  I am not much of a sweet talker, and was not about to lower my status, just to have him feel more comfortable near me, and maybe get him to go outside also.  So I took a breath, kept my anger at bay, and walked over to Decker and repeated to him to get out.  He did not budge.  I touched (and I mean literally touched)  him with my foot by his rear, then he bolted out.  I was not mad at him, inside or out until I saw that he had leaked again.

    That's when I exploaded!  I screamed and yelled at him and told him that that was it.  He is getting a male wrap.  I have them on the website, but have never used them.  I have used the female diapers for heat cycles for over 20 years, but never a male wrap.  The female diapers that are on the site are super durable, and mine (I have 4 of them) have lasted for over 20 years!

    Yesterday, I had just steam cleaned my carpet to get rid of his "scares".  I can't take it any longer.  I can't discipline him in the house.  Well, not any longer.  He is going to get it!  Rain or shine.

    I will report on how well the male wraps work, but I guess they will be the best thing ever, and my house will be grateful.

    Well, being mad at Decker, and he knew I was, and had tucked himself up underneath the pickup truck, to hide.  After feeding the animals, I had to go into town and was not taking the boy with me.  I was still mad at him.  I put him into his crate on the front porch, gave him some water in the In and Out Crock inside the crate.  I loaded up the girls and left, glad for the separation.  I was gone about 3 1/2 hours and was glad that I left him.  I needed some distance from him for a while.

  108. Today we all went to San Luis Obispo to a Humane Society fund-raiser.  I was asked back in the spring by one of the managers if I would consider bringing sheep and doing a sheepdog herding demonstration.  I have spent a lot of time the last few days getting ready for that event.  I was also going to have a booth at this "dog fair" and hopefully sell some dog supplies.  

    I have ordered several types of cute dog collars and even fall and Halloween design dog collars.  I also brought in a few crate dog bowls, and travel bowls and several toys.  I have just started selling dog id tags and was able to bring a real nice display that the owner of the dog id company sent me.  I was fairly excited about going, as I really needed to sell some supplies.

    My husband Matt was rooked into going, as I needed the help.  He wanted me to bring Decker, thinking the exposure would be good for him, aiding in his desensitizing.  So all five of us packed up the sheep, and all of the accouterments for the sheepdog herding demo, and all of the dog supplies that I had brought in for the event, and tables, ezy-up, chairs, etc.  On top of that, I have been having truck trouble and yesterday was changing the spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor.  All of which I succeeded in messing up.  I was in total despair with the truck, and called out to a friend who is a mechanic and he came over and rescued me. 

    So today we get up early for an early start to the Humane Society event.  I put Decker in the truck while Tam and Kate loaded the sheep.  I thought it would be fun for him to watch, and also contain him not letting him interfere with the loading too.  All of the morning loading went fine and we only left 15 minutes later than I had originally planned.

    We arrived slightly after 8am and was immediately disciplining Decker for growling at a parking helper helping me with where to park the horse trailer full of sheep.  This was just a taste of what was to come.

    Decker was the most anxious that I have ever seen him be.  He wouldn't settle down, he wouldn't stay on the Coolaroo bed that he always uses at home, he started anxious whining and wouldn't quit, and the whining was just about to drive me crazy.  He was constantly moving.  He would barely settle for a second or two!  This went on all day.

    I would correct him, then Matt would correct him, over and over again.  Being at an event like this, we have to be careful how we discipline a dog, we never know who is watching.  Lots of people don't understand about correcting a dog, let alone correct a dog in a weird or strange way.  I usually will correct my dogs like other dogs would correct them.  I try not to hit or yell.  I much prefer to correct with a touch on the side, or a submission down, just like a alpha dog would do in a pack.  It did not matter what kind of discipline Decker got, it was not working.  I basically gave up on making him be still.  We started putting him into the cab of the truck.  We should have brought a crate for him, and the next time we go to something like this, we will.  I guess, this was all to much for him.

    He did want to work sheep, but he has never acted like that at Sandy's house.  He is fairly calm.  But when I first brought him to Sandy's, I would immediately put him into a crate.  I fear that is what he needed for today.  He would have been more secure in his crate, and probably have been a smaller step for him.

    I didn't let him work the sheep as I only had temporary electric mesh fencing set up and it was not energized.  If the sheep would have had too much pressure from a dog, the sheep would have pushed the fence, and we would have had lose sheep.

    At the event, my friend Nancy came to help me with her dogs.  She was letting interested people work the sheep with her dog briefly in the temporary pen.  This worked out fine.  

    Later, I was doing a demonstration.  Steve, the Humane Society manager and I had met for lunch one day and came out to the event site to discuss the logistics of dealing with the sheep.  There was a steep large hill right next to the event and still in the park.  I wanted to set the sheep half way up the hill by the fence, then with everyone being able to see, send a dog on an outrun to retrieve them.  When the time came for me to do the demonstration, it went pretty much like clockwork.  I put the sheep on the hill, then sent Kate to bring them back.  They really gave her problems, but she was finally able to convinced them to come back down the hill.  Tam was not quite as successful.  

    The sheep were quite happy being up there on the hill and away from the crowds of people.  She was trying to lift them and taking direction from me, but two of the sheep were giving her trouble.  I let her struggle for a little, then released Kate to back her up.  After Kate made her way back up the steep rocky hill, the both of them were able to bring them back down.  Steve and I had talked about bringing the sheep into the "ring", and working them in there also.  I remembered about that right after I had the sheep brought down the hill for the second time.  So I leashed Tam and had Kate fetch the sheep as I walked over to the ring.  

    Booths were set up in a circular fashion around the ring.  So I had to squeeze the sheep between two booths with about three feet of space, and lots of people and dogs around.  The sheep were very reluctant about going between booths, and I had to have Tam help Kate and I had to also help.  They needed a little pushing from me to get going.  Once we were all in the "ring", I let them work the sheep around a bit and  then took the sheep out.  I wish I had thought of demonstrating a shed with the girls, because that is pretty cool to watch.

    The funniest thing happened when I was taking the sheep out to put them away.  They didn't want to leave, of course!  But also, they were stopping and looking at all of the dogs, nose to nose.  They have never seen little dogs, and that is the ones that the sheep were curious about.  They were sniffing them, trying to see what they were. 

    The sheepdog herding demonstration was successful and I have been asked to come back next year.  I told Steve, the manager that I would, unless I had a sheepdog trial scheduled. 

    On the way home, none of the dogs made any movement, they were all fast asleep all of the way home.  Decker must have worn himself out!

  109. We just got back from next door where my neighbor has two cattle.  Both of them have never been worked by dogs, so they have to learn, and cattle don't like to be bullied like sheep do.  But never the less, I needed to work them with the dogs.

    Decker needed exposure to cattle if he is going to get placed in a working ranch.  There is a local dog and horse sale coming up in a few weeks; and since I will be out of town at a sheepdog herding trial, I asked my neighbor, Babs, if she would take him to the sale.  

    Babs is a big "dog rescue" person.  She lives what she says, and has rescued many dogs.  She does not place them in other homes per se, but usually keeps them and gives them a good home with her.  She was excited when I rescued Decker, and seemed truly glad that I had him.  I have told her that I ultimately will find a home for him, once he is better.  Yesterday, I told her my dilemma, and asked her if she would consider taking him to the sale for me.  She said yes.  Wow, that was really unexpected!  But she will be a great person to walk him around at the sale to generate interest.  She did ask me if I wanted him to go on that day, and I said no.  I want to make sure that whoever wants him, is the right person for him, and he has the right home environment also.

    What I needed to do today was get him familiar with cattle and working them.  He was excited until it was his turn, then weary.  These cattle needed to be somewhat trained for a dog to work them, especially a young dog used to sheep.  Against my really wanting, I had to use the two Border Collies to "teach" the cattle how to respond properly to dogs.  I don't work cattle.  And there are several reasons for that.  One primary reason is I don't want my dogs hurt.  Cattle kick, and they can roll a dog also.  I have seen accidents with cattle and dogs, and have chosen not to work that kind of stock.  It would be different if I owned cattle or a cattle ranch, and needed the dogs in a real situation, but I don't, so I won't.  On-the-other-hand, Decker might need to work cattle in the future, so the cattle needed to be trained.

    It is hard doing two things at the same time.  Training cattle with sheepdogs is one thing, and then trying to train a dog on reluctant cattle is another.  I had to run around the cattle to protect the dog and at the same time, work the dog, so he starts to understand what I am asking him to do.  Kate and Tam were easy enough to work, allowing me to concentrate on the cattle.  So I would back-up the dog with my presence, so both the dog and the cattle thought the dog was moving the cattle.  Cattle are not the brightest either.  But after several attempts, I think they were getting the idea.  I was able to move them up and down the fence with out too much trouble.  

    With Decker, he was anxious to work them, and then once he was out with them, he gave them space.  Maybe too much space.  These cattle needed the dog to be able to get into its space in order to make them move.  Decker wasn't listening to me, taking opposite flanks that I asked him for; showing to me that he was stressed.  I understand that.  Your used to working and being next to animals that are just your size, then suddenly you are asked to work these huge things, towering over you.  I was also stressed.  None of that helped matters.

    He also became afraid of the stick that I had.  The first time I worked Decker on the cattle, I used the training stick and the whipflag together.  It was good for teaching the cattle, but not so good for any of the dogs.  It is too strong for them.  When I use the flag with the dogs and the sheep, I have to use it very sparingly, or they can either become numb to it or shut down from being sensitive.  I would be correcting the cattle, and the dogs would think that the correction was for them, and would be responding to it.  Once I realized that the flag was causing more of a problem than it was helping, I dropped it, and just used the stick.  But by this point, Decker was somewhat turned off.  He was afraid of the stick.  I will have to 'pet' him with the stick every day, several times a day, to help desensitize him to the stick.  He is not your typical hardheaded Aussie, he is fairly sensitive and responsive.

    Later this week, I will work the cattle again.  I like to see what the dog has thought about during their absence from working the cattle.  Many times with sheep, the next time you work the dog on them, the dogs have thought about the lesson, gained some confidence and work better the next time.  I will see in a few days.

  110. Yesterday was dog day again.  A friend Daun arrived from Colorado, just the night before.  She usually comes out once a year to visit with her relatives and friends.  It was good to see her as I arrived at Sandy's in the morning.  I parked and pulled out the dogs on leash.  She had never met Decker, nor did I email her about him.  I introduced her and him, noting that he is human aggressive.  

    Decker being an Aussie, and Daun being an Aussie person and not being afraid of dogs, eventually reached her hand out for him to smell.  He sniffed, and not sensing any fear from her, accepted a pat on the head.  I feel that this is a break-through for him (at least I am hoping it is).  We all stood and talked awhile, then went into the agility field.  

    I worked both of the border collies in agility, and during some of that excitement, Decker started barking.  I can't really control his barking while being out in the field, as I am too far away.  None-the-less, I made several attempts, and ran to discipline him and Tam for barking.  Eventually, others started helping.  Pat was there, which Decker now adores.  She was able to get him to shut up, and for that matter make Tam shut up too.  Bark collars will work, but I don't have any, and Sandy does not bring hers out for us to use any longer.  So I am stuck for the time being, with verbal or physical corrections at a distance, which really don't work that well.

    Later in the hour, while I was not available, Decker got his leash wrapped around his leg.  I was not aware of that as I was dealing with sheep at the time.  Sandy noticed it and mentioned the problem to Daun and others.  Sandy was apprehensive about reaching down to Decker's leg to aid in the removal of the leash around his leash.  When I heard about that I was taken back by that, as he has NEVER growled or made any move of fear aggression at her house what-so-ever!  Daun stepped in and helped unwrap the leash from his leg.  Sandy was able to come to Decker's head and feed him treats while Daun was rescuing his leg.  This worked fine, but Daun and I both thought it might have been unnecessary as he is pretty calm at Sandy's house.

    About a half hour later we were sheepdog herding in the sheep field and the round pen.  This time I was going to see if Decker could hold it together out in the sheep field.  Sheepdog herding with him is quite different than working the two border collies.  I train naturally.  I have encouraged my dogs to think for themselves, and to take action if necessary to correct the sheep.  They don't always wait for me to command them on what to do, and that is the way I want it to be.  This method is the method of Jack Knox.  I study and follow to the best of my ability, his method.  "Don't make the rights, just correct the wrongs".  

    Making the rights is mechanical.  That is not the way that I have been taught.  Though it works for many trainers, I have to be different!, and train my border collies naturally (as natural as possible).  Sometimes, sheepdog herding this way may take longer for the dog to catch on to what you are asking for.  But ultimately, when the dogs catch on, it is more deep-rooted into their brains.  They are basically rewarded with working their sheep for good behavior, and called off for improper behavior.

    Sheepdog herding with Aussies is totally different than the natural style that I train in.  They have to be trained mechanically.  So I have to adjust my natural training behavior to accommodate this breed.  So Decker is sheepdog trained mechanically. 

    I started Decker out in the big field in a "closed-in" part of the field.  This was to help stop the mad escape of the sheep running to the other end of the field.  Since Aussies do not have natural outruns, and they have to be developed, this maneuver would help ensure success for Decker.  It worked!  Decker was able to keep all 25 sheep together.  I was even able to get some fetches with him.  He has never worked such a big flock of sheep, and he did real well.  He even got complimented from Pat about how far he has come.  He has only been working sheep for about 1.5 months, and I am getting a fetch on him.  I figured that I have trained him in sheepdog herding about 10 to 12 times total.  I am please with his progress.

  111. Last night I was in town and has several minutes to kill.  I was heading to my church home group.  We meet at a church member's house weekly.  Our church is fairly large, so small groups have been developed to allow for close personal contact among members.

    I passed the vet clinic, and it was still open.  I have been wondering how much more weight Decker had lost, so I turned in.  I asked permission to weigh him and the two girls.  Decker weighs in at 72.1 lbs.  Back in late August, when I first got him, he weighed a whopping 84.9 lbs!  He has now lost 12.8 lbs.  That's great!  I still feel he has more to loose, but he is moving better now and keeps up with the girls better.

    Tam weighed in at 37.7 lbs. She has gained over 11 lbs. since her obstruction and surgery this summer.  She is maybe a pound or two lower than where I would like her to be.  I keep shoveling food at her!

    Kate was weighed also.  I don't weigh her too often, as long as I think she is right in line with a proper weight for her size.  She weighed 37.3 lbs.  She has dropped a little, but I like where she is, so I will work on maintaining her weight at that level.  She is a smaller dog than Tam, not as tall, and a more petite, so it stands to order that she should weigh less than her.

    All-in-all, I was very pleased with all of the dog's weights, but especially with Decker's.  I figure that Decker has lost  8.5% of his original body weight.

  112. Decker stole bread right out of my hand today.  It was the end of the day, and the border collies were herding in the chickens.  Decker is too rambunctious right now for chicken herding.  I had brought out some old bread, to give to them once they were brought into their coop for the night.  I pulled four pieces out of bag and was walking toward the chicken coop.  Then all of a sudden, I felt a tug at the bread in my hand and most of the bread was gone!  

    Boy was I mad!  I yelled at him, and he took off.  I followed him, yelling, (probably not the best way to handle things) until he stopped and then he got in trouble for stealing the bread right out of my hand.  I can not stand a dog that doesn't have manners.  Manners are not inherited or figured out by a dog, they are taught.  Just like with children, they have to learn self-control and be able to resist temptation and use impulse control.  He has more to learn.

    Later I had collected two eggs and held them down toward the dogs.  Tam was there and she just froze, not making a move toward the eggs (which she loves).  Decker started to go for them, which he got corrected for.  Two more times he had to get corrected with the eggs before he understood what I was trying to communicate to him.  I will do more training with food with him so he is not such a "scarfhound".


  113. It rained yesterday and all night, and forecasted to rain all day.  What to do?  Fortunately last year, I bought a used treadmill just for days like these.  Kate and Tam, the Border collies have been on the treadmill, so do not need to be trained on it. 

    I put Tam on first.  She does the treadmill just like a typical dog would on the Cesar Milan show.  She puts her head down, concentrates, and migrates.  She stays on the treadmill until I come in to turn it off and walk her off.  

    Kate was next.  She has always been a miss socialite, so her typical way to do the treadmill is with her head up, looking from side to side, tail medium and waging.  She never has gotten into the grove and 'migrated' on the treadmill.  She has no trouble staying on it until I come for her, she just does not 'get in the groove'!

    This is the day for Decker to learn how to use the treadmill.  I had had him on it previously for about 30 seconds, just to see how he would react.  He was fine that first time.  This time, he went through a slight learning curve, then accepted it.  He didn't freak out or jump off or act scared in any way.  For him, it was a new concept to learn.

    At first, he kept putting his front paws above the top of the belt, this made only his back feet move.  I chuckled at it.  He did that twice, then with guiding with the leash, he settled into a brisk walk.  I stayed with him his entire 'trip'.  

    After about 10 minutes, I sped him up to encourage him to break into a trot.  Eventually he did, and I let him stay in that gate for a couple of minutes, then slowed the treadmill down until he was walking again.  Then three more minutes at the walk for a cool down.

    All-in-all, Decker walked on the treadmill quite well, even for a beginner.  He may have trusted me, so accepted it, but what ever the reason, he seemed to enjoy it.   When he stopped, he was excited and wiggley.

  114. We are refinancing our house, and the appraiser came over in the morning.  I had Decker out to monitor his behavior and how he allows a stranger to the door.  I knew when the appraiser was arriving, so I met her at the door.  Decker was terrible!  He growled, and wouldn't relax.  I instructed the appraiser not to look at him, or talk to him and just simply ignore him.  He was corrected for growling, and having her leave him alone, he soon decided that she was no threat.  

    I stayed outside on the front steps while she was doing all of the outside measuring and picture taking, protecting her, as Decker is still a liability.  He did fine.  After she was done outside, she went inside to do the same.  I told her that I would be on the computer, working, and when she was finished inside, I would feel comfortable if I escorted her out.  The appraiser was fine with that and understood.  When it was time for her to leave, I escorted her out, and Decker was fine and showed no aggression.

    I wish I could afford to have a party here.  I would love to invite all of my friends over for a barbecue and hang out for a while.  That, I think would be a good way to help him quicker.  Perhaps sometime in the near future, I will be able to have some kind of party with many people, in order to further help him.

  115. I have noticed recently that Decker has been going back and forth about growling.  I don't know exactly what is going on in his mind right now.  I had the plumber out for a repair, and Decker didn't growl at all.  I had the plumber feed Decker treats and a minute later, he was petting him.

    Two days later, the plumber came over with his wife and a friend, to see all of my animals.  That must have been too much at once for Decker.  He was totally uncomfortable with having them here.  Every time that I heard a growl (3 of them), I submitted him, and he urinated.  I stayed outside with the guests in order to protect them, just in case.  After a couple of minutes, I handed the guests some treats for them to give to Decker.  

    This was the most nervous that I have seen him since I got him.  Two days earlier, the plumber had petted him, and now he wasn't sure.  Treats were the icebreaker.  He started accepting them, and was a gentleman.  My guests were giving him commands for the treats.  I really liked this.  That is one strategy that I have used in the past with Kate.

    When Kate was just about 6 months old, when she was recovering from her surgeries, a child frightened her.    She loved kids before that incident.  Sometimes it takes once and dogs can have trouble for a lifetime.  I have been working with her to not be afraid of kids for several years now.  I don't trust her, but I am now more relaxed with her around them.  I still seek the right kids to help her work through her fears.  Kids that are not afraid of dogs, and thus don't suck a dog in to wanting to defend themselves.  And throwing the ball for her and feeding her treats, was a break through for her.  Just recently, I saw her coming over several boys, to get attention from them.  

    And at the same time, I work on me, needing to let go.  I can actually keep Kate in that fear state, by my own energy and lack of confidence in her.  So my dilemma, with both Kate and Decker,  I have to protect the human, first and foremost, then have to allow the dog to grow.  Now with Kate, she accepts older kids, but the toddlers, she is still leery of.  Decker still needs more work, exposure and discipline.  He needs lots of exposure to people, especially at the house, and corrected immediately when he growls.  I additionally think that sheepdog herding with him will raise his self-confidence, and allow him to be more accepting of other people.  

    Sheepdog herding will actually do several things for Decker in addition to raising his confidence.  Sheepdog herding gives him a purpose, a job in life, what he was born to do, have a job.  It gives him structure and discipline in life, just what ALL dogs need.  And it gives him affection.  When he is out in the field sheepdog herding, and when he works nicely, he gets feedback from me.  That is affection.  A "good boy", "good job" or a smile and a pat are all affection.  When a dog's needs are met, their minds can't help but be balanced.  

    That is my goal with Decker, to attain a balanced mind, and keep it there.

  116. Mia my new student and her dog came for her second lesson.  This would be her dog's fourth lesson ever.  I thought that he did real well last week, so I decided to give him a try in the field on his second turn.  I worked him in the round pen first and he did reasonably well.  Decker followed and did well also.  

    After the two girls out in the sheep field, it was time for Connor to give it a try.  Many times Border collies don't do as well in small enclosed areas such as round pens.  I thought this might be the case with him.  He had a fairly good stop, and I was confident that he wouldn't crash the sheep into a fence or gate (always a concern when trying a dog in a field situation).  

    Connor started out fine, kicking out and giving lots of room for the sheep.  Then he shut down.  He wouldn't go to them.  I tried everything I knew to get him back on them.  I even had Mia come out in the field with us, but nothing worked.  He would get close, but that is all.

    I worked Decker out in the field for the second time, and he did fantastic!  He only split up the sheep once.  I was able to get some short fetches on him and move away from the fences.  By the end of his lesson, I was impressed with him, as he did great.

    I brought Connor back into the round pen to help regain his focus on the sheep.  He really was shut down.  Time for the next step, I grabbed a sheep by the leg to get him excited.  That move will usually get a dog going real well.  Nope!  Eventually, I brought Mia back into the round pen and still he was off the sheep.

    Its kind of weird that he was still off of sheep.  Mia and I were noticing that he was shying to the vineyard cannons going off.  They can sound like gunshots.  He must not like loud noises.  I knew that dark would soon fall, and with that, the cannons would stop too.  But I was hoping to be able to desensitize him to the cannons.

    Connor's next try in the round pen was finally successful.  Though the cannons were still sounding, I brought Kate in the round pen to help him.  I have done this a couple of times in the past to help dogs.

    Kate is extremely focused and loves to do ANYTHING with sheep, even if it is round pen work.  By adding her in with Connor, the "pack mentality" can kick in, and Connor can get his confidence back, borrowing some from Kate.  It worked!  And Connor was back in the grove and able to work sheep again.  This time, I made sure, that he was still wanting to work the sheep, before I quit him.  Now he may be set up right for next week.

  117. In the morning I threw the ball for the dogs.  I wanted to burn some energy off of them and was short on time this morning, so the ball would due for a while.  I used the Chuck-it launcher along with a Chuck-it Ultra balls, for added distance and durability.  Since the dogs are so fast, and I am a terrible thrower, I thought I needed the advantage of the Chuck-it thrower.   This would also let the dogs run farther, thus getting more exercise. 

    Kate, my eldest Border collie, is a tennis ball popper.  It only takes her a few minutes with a new tennis ball and she has it popped.  That popping of tennis balls is a waste of money to me.  Pressure-less tennis balls are better, but a lot of dogs will "skin" them.  And after Tam got a piece of ball lodged in her intestines, which required surgery, I don't take any chances any longer, out they go.

    I have had heard rumors that the fuzz on regular tennis balls can be pretty abrasive to the dog's teeth.  We all have enough problems with our dog's, to add something else to the list, such as dental problems.  I would recommend that if a dog chews and chews on tennis balls, that the owner change the type of ball that he is allowed to chew, in order to minimize problems with abrasion.  

    I have used the Chuck-it ultra balls for many years, with no problems, even with popping.  They don't pick up stickers nearly as much as regular tennis balls.    When in use and wash-off easily.  I really like these ultra balls.

    There is one more ball that I really like for my dogs to chase, and that is the Huck ball by West Paws Design.  The Huck ball is heavier  than the ultra balls, and depending on wind, will not fly as far as the ultra balls, but they are stronger and almost indestructible.  I have given them to some of the most aggressive chewers that I know, and only one, a picker, was able to touch it at all, and was very minor damage.  Usually I don't even see a tooth mark!  This ball is solid with raised parts on the outside, which can massage the dog's gums and teeth.

    During the early evening, I met my neighbor next door to get some zucchini for Decker's meals.  She had never met him before, and I called him over to us as we talked.  He was fine at first, then he let out a little growl.  I excused myself and immediately corrected him, on the ground.  I am suspecting that he is afraid of hats on people.  Every time that he growls at someone, they are wearing a hat.  I guess that I need to be wearing a hat around the house more often to help desensitize him.   

    When Kate was young, about 2 years old, she was afraid of hats.  I was at a trial walking around with her and a friend of mine walked by.  He was wearing just the hat off of a coat.  No coat at all!  She came unglued.  I had to correct her several times for it.  Later, I worked on desensitizing her with hats.  Food can be your friend!

  118. Today we walked around Atascadero Lake again.  This time it was a little earlier in the morning and there were more people and dogs walking around it.  This was good news for me, I can use this for Decker's training.  There were lots of people walking both ways around the lake.  This means that there is more opportunity to help Decker.  I was able to pass several groups of people while walking, and Decker had to deal with having people behind him.  He is very insecure with that.  After the second group was behind us, he was starting to relax, though not completely. 

    I glanced at the Border collies, and noticed that they could care less if anyone was behind them.  I was hoping that they would influence him a bit more.  He just kept turning his head, trying to see the people behind us.  He kept getting corrections until he relented and quit looking and was not as nervous.

    Decker and the girls didn't get to do any sheepdog herding at dog day.  Sandy and her husband were on vacation, and left the sheep out in the agility field to help mow it down.  I walked into the field with the dogs and saw the sheep.  The gates were closed and apparently some of the sheep had closed the gate and been caught in the agility field.  I just turned around with the dogs and went to the pool area to let the dogs swim.  Nancy, one of my friends, was there with her Aussie.  I mentioned the agility field to her, and she said that the sheep must be caught in there and can't get to water.  Later I went back into the field to let the caught sheep back in their other pen with the rest of the flock.

    The dogs swam and swam, with Tam getting scolded often for constantly drinking gulps of water.  I am pretty concerned about her water drinking while swimming.  She drinks tons of it.  I know that people can die from drinking water too quickly, why not dogs?  When she is allowed to swim for long periods of time, later, she pees and pees, sometimes for almost a minute!  And a half of an hour later, she is needed to urinate again.  So I am thinking that her water intake is not too healthy for her.

    Even though none of the dogs got to do any agility or sheepdog herding, they had fun with swimming. 

  119. I managed to get in today to get Decker weighed at the veterinarian's office.  I get a more accurate weight loss using the same scale.  Also, usually veterinarian's scale are quite accurate.  I promptly walked in, asked if I could use the scale, then with out hesitation walked Decker right on the scale and told him to sit.  He did as he was told.  I couldn't believe my eyes, it read 76.3.  I took Decker off of the scale, and zeroed it out , then put him back on for a second reading.  I wanted to make sure that the scale was correctly reading his weight.  Yep, just about; his weight has been recorded as 76.5 lbs.

    I told Roland yesterday, that I just thought that I was starting to feel his ribs.  He said not to get carried away thinking that I am done with his diet; because he still needs to loose more weight.  I knew what he meant, but seeing him every day, I don't get to see the progress, now I am starting to see some.  Today visit confirmed it, Decker has lost 8.4 lbs, so far.  I still think that more weight needs to come off, maybe 4-5 lbs, but time will tell.

  120. Roland and his little girl Jessy came over for more socialization.  I was in the house and the dogs were outside.  Decker and the girls greeted Roland and Jessy with no problems at all.  Later during the visit, Decker came up for attention from Roland.  He did this several times.  Roland told him that he would take him home if he had the room.  He is such a nice dog.

    In the afternoon, the FedEx man came to the door to deliver a package, while Decker was outside.  I rushed to the door and asked the FedEx man, "Did he give you any problems?', he said no, not really.  That was assuring to hear.  Little by little, this boy is being turned around.

  121. I had a lunch meeting with one of the managers from the San Luis Obispo Humane Society.  I had decided to take all of the dogs with me because its always much cooler toward the coast in San Luis Obispo.  It was going to be a scorcher today at an estimated 106F.  When we left to head down to SLO, the weather was getting hot at around 90F.  As I am driving down the hill toward SLO, I noticed that the weather was getting hotter instead of cooler.  Wow, that is sure weird.  Only once in a blue moon is the weather reversed like that.  It is usually always hotter in north county than is SLO in the summer, and colder in the winter.  San Luis Obispo is always milder that north county.

    Well its just my luck!  Its boiling down here in SLO and I have the dogs with me!  I found some pretty good shade and made sure the dogs had water and open windows.  I found out that it was 103F, so I went from 90 to 103F, it figures!  I was early, so I looked around in a nearby store for a few minutes, then rechecked the dogs.  Not happy with the shade, I moved the truck to a shadier location.

    Steve (the Humane Society manager) and I met for lunch and discussed an up coming event that I am involved in.  They sponsor a yearly dog walk and fair called the Wiggle Waggle Walk around the park.  It is a fundraiser for that local organization.  I am going to be doing sheepdog herding demonstrations. 

    We discussed the event during lunch then headed over to the park where it is going to be held in order to work out logistics.  Their will be booths with vendors set up in the dog park located inside the Laguna Lake park.  Steve and I needed to discuss where and how, I would be doing the demonstrations.  Since we were at a dog park and the dogs were hot, I let them out to play.  I kept a cautious eye on Decker as there were two other people at the dog park with their dogs, all having fun chasing the ball.

    I had all of the dogs leashed, then once "inside" the dog park (no real fences), I unleashed them.  Decker and the girls had a wonderful time running and playing, and chasing the ball.  One lady walked by and I simply told her to ignore the Aussie.  That made me fell better as Decker had been coming right up to her as he was playing with her dogs.  He really like her dogs too, and seemed drawn to them.

    After discussing the event on October 23rd, it was still fairly early in the day.  I decided to take the dogs to the beach, since I was almost half way there.  The beach was beautiful.  The temperature was about 75 or 80 degrees and not much wind.  The tide was in, and people and dogs were everywhere along the beach, enjoying each other and the water.

    The dogs were leashed and remained so until I reached about 50 feet from the water.  Then off with the leashes, and time to run.  The girls took off and Decker followed.  They ran up and down the surf, chasing birds or balls, what ever came their way.  They even played a little with other dogs, but not too much as they have a priority of running!  I walked up and back down along the surf, checking to see what was up a head.  I was looking for joggers.  I had been warned that Decker might go after joggers.  Being a herding dog, I don't doubt that.  There were no joggers at all, just lots of dogs, balls, people and water.

    When the dogs got a little too far from me, I used my sheepdog herding whistle with the "that'll do" command on it, and they would tear back to me.  Decker doesn't know what the recall whistle is, so he would follow the girls back to me.  More and more I would whistle, then use a verbal command, so he would understand what I want.  

    As we were ending the beach excursion, Decker was getting it.  He was coming back to me better and better.  I was pleased with his progress.  I think that he is coming around just fine.  I am now considering starting to look to place him, but I will be picky as to what kind of home he goes to.  I have a lot of me inside him, and I don't want him to revert back to how he used to be.  I also think that he needs another active dog in his pack to play with.  Being only a year and a half, he still has puppy in him. 

  122. I had 6 goats and a sheep, Ma, the Border Leicester, who all needed shearing.  I am so done with doing it myself.  It usually takes me at least 1 hour per animal and that makes the shearing job, take all day.  I can't struggle with goats and sheep all day any more, as I would get too tired after several hours.  So the job goes to Jose, a local sheep shearer.  I was prepared for him when he showed up.  I had decided that I could not deal with three dogs while holding goats for Jose to shear.  Tam and Decker were tied in the barn aisle, out of the way.  I would use Kate as she is the most obedient dog of the three and would need the least of my attention.  

    We sheared them in the barn aisle, so all of the dogs got to watch.  How fun for them!  Decker was very excited.  I must have told him 20 times to either lay down or sit and shush.  After about 45 minutes, he finally was quieter and settled some.  I had told Jose earlier, that he was human aggressive and to just not pay any attention to him.  After a while, Jose was even helping me to keep him quiet.  Good for Decker's mind.  Jose is not afraid of dogs, and Decker could sense that as he acted fine around him and listened to him like he was a pack leader.  

    After the shearing was completed, I released Decker and Tam and they all ran around excited.  Decker was curious about Jose's dog in the pick up and went to greet her.   

    After Jose left, all of the dogs came in the house and were quiet for several hours.  I guess watching goats and sheep is a lot like watching sheepdog herding trials, the dogs watching "are there" correcting the animals in their minds.  This is a total workout for them.  Most of the time when we go to sheepdog herding trials, the girls watch all day, they only get to work once, for 10 minutes.  They get potty breaks and a lunch break, but all-in-all, they just watch all day.  When the trial is finished for the day, they are simply exhausted!  In their minds, they worked those sheep the entire day!

  123. I received a call a few days ago out of the blue.  She had had my number for over a year and wanted to restart sheepdog herding lessons.  She had had two previous lessons with another instructor about two years ago.  She has a Border collie that she rescued from Animal Control in San Luis Obispo.  The two lessons her dog had in the past, showed promise and she said that he really liked it.  

    She was very excited about getting a lesson, and we set one up for the next evening.  My new student, Mia, was ear to ear with a smile the whole time that she was here.  She reminded me of myself, with my very first sheepdog herding lesson.  I had sore muscles the next day, just from smiling for so long!

    Right now we are just working on her dog and then later we will work on Mia, herself.  It always takes longer for the human to learn sheepdog herding, than it does for the dog.  It seems like everything moves so fast, and when one is new at something, fast is not what one wants.  

    She has a real nice petite male dog, Connor, which reminds me of a little fox.  He had a tail full of stickers after we were done with sheepdog herding.  I showed Mia my Border collies working.  She had never seen real working dogs work sheep in person.  Mia had only seen working dogs on the movie "Babe", and that is when she fell in love with the sport of sheepdog herding.  She was amazed by my dog's speed.  I told her that they may be fast, but you don't always want a speed demon out there on the trial field, we need control first.  

    I explained the "eyed" dogs versus the "loose eyed" dogs to Mia.  After explaining eye to her, I took Decker out into the round pen to work him.  She noted that she could see the difference between the two types of dogs.

    Decker was very good with Mia and her dog Connor.  There was no posturing between the boys, and every one got along fine.  Mia and Connor will be coming back next week, and we may try the field already.  He may be able to handle it.  It won't hurt to try.  When I was starting Kate, she was never in a round pen.  I have gone to it for advanced work later, but I never needed it in the beginning.  Tam was only in the round pen for two weeks, then she was in the field.  I feel as long as the dog is not wanting to kill the sheep, and I have a reasonable amount of control with him, then why not give the field a try.  We will see next week.

  124. Decker had an excellent day today.  I left home early so we all could catch a walk around Atascadero Lake Park.  The lake used to be a low spot in the town, where the rain water would collect.  Over the years, Atascadero lake has been developed into a recreation area where many people walk, run or ride bikes around.  That was the sort of area that I would benefit Decker.  He needs people behind him, and coming at him.  This will help in desensitising him toward people and things.  He did real fine, but at the same time I made sure that I had a firm hand on his "head".  That is the key, to have his mind.

     He got to come with us to Sandy's for dog day, and visit with everyone, and get treats from many people.  Pat, my friend was there and Decker was especially glad to see her.  He has bonded with her, it was incredible to see.  

    This is how I figured it went.  He is a weak dog, like many dogs are.  He needs a strong leader to follow.  He sucked in to me being a total follower of me and totally respecting me.  Last week when Pat disciplined him, he sucked into that strong leadership.  He seems to love her almost as he loves me. (if dogs love).  He couldn't get enough of her.  

    He got to sheepdog herd in the round pen and did fairly well.  I am working on his walk up, and its just starting to take shape.  He does tend to still want to go to head all of the time and I have been stopping that some, as I encourage him to walk up and let him know when he is right.

    Sandy gave me a bamboo pole today to use with Decker.  I was complaining that I needed one for him as when he was sheepdog herding at home he has been splitting up the flock.  The use of a long bamboo pole is standard procedure to use with newly started Aussies.  They are dogs which come in straight at the sheep.  That behavior needs to be corrected.  They need to be able to give to the sheep and curve around them in their outrun, not coming in straight which can cause a split up of the flock.

    The long pole with encourage him to just that, curve around the sheep and get behind them.  This in-turn will position the dog to be able to fetch the sheep to the handler.  Just what we need.  I will have to give the pole a try in the next few days.

    Though the long pole is a mechanical type of training and I usually teach a natural style, the pole will assist me in getting the point across to Decker just what I want, the sheep between him and me.

  125. Today my friend Roland came over to socialize his pup again.  Decker almost couldn't wait for her to get out of the truck.  He kept trying to jump in.  All four of the dogs played for quite a while.  I was waiting for another friend to come over and join us with her young dog but she never showed up.  After the dogs played, I decided to give them sheepdog herding lessons.  

    I sorted out the sheep with Kate and put three non-combative ones in the round pen for Decker.  I worked both of the girls once then it was Decker's turn for sheepdog herding in the round pen.  He worked about the same as before, a tiny bit better on the walk ups.  Roland watched, and commented how good he was working.

    After I was done with Decker for his first go around at sheepdog herding, I asked Roland if he would like to sheepdog herd with his young dog.  He hasn't had her on sheep much at all, but he said that he would give it a try.  He worked her in the round pen while I worked the girls out in the field.  

    When he came back from the round pen, I asked him how it went.  He said OK, but both of them were not used to such a tight area, the few times he has sheepdog herded with her they have been in the field.  I offered him to sheepdog herd in the big field as soon as I was done with the girls.

    While I was working Decker in the round pen, Roland worked his dog on sheep out in the field.  He had a real good time; we had a large group of sheep for his dog to herd.  She had never herded a large group before but she did real well handling all of them.

    After sheepdog herding, the dogs cooled off in the dog pool and I started throwing the ball with the Chuck-it ball thrower.  The Chuck-it thrower really lets you throw the ball a lot farther that just your arm alone.  Back and forth the dogs ran expanding their lung capacity and keeping their weight down.  I like to have the dogs really pant every few days expanding their lung capacity.  This kind of sprinting helps keep them in shape for the  up coming trial season. 

    Several times during Roland's visit, Decker came up to him for treats or just for pats.  I think that he really likes him.

    In the afternoon, Decker and the girls were outside and wet from swimming.  I was in the house.  I heard Decker barking and barking.  I ran out and the UPS man was there.  I took off after Decker while telling the UPS man that I would be right with him as soon as I disciplined this dog.  Decker took off!  So the chase was on.  I chased him all over the front yard, around the truck and around the planter until finally Decker looked at me and stopped.  

    This situation reminded me when Tam was a pup.  She was a runner, and I had never had a runner before.  One time, when she was in trouble, I was through with her running, and I chased and chased her until suddenly she stopped and turned around and walked toward me.  She never ran again.

    I dragged Decker all the way over to the front of the truck where the UPS man was standing, made him lay down and "bit" him with my fingers on his side as he lie there, and growled a No to him.  After that, he was fine.  And I was just thinking that we were through with that stuff, he has been so good for so long.  It just shows you that this fear that he has is not a quick fix.  He just needs some more exposure and more sheepdog herding.  Maybe tomorrow, its dog day!

  126. Still energized by Suzy Applegate winning the Meeker Sheepdog Herding Trial (which is a very prestigious trial), I went out after lunch to work the dogs on sheep.  The temperature was in the mid 80's, and I was being a little lazy.  I really didn't want to especially put sheep in the round pen for Decker.  I wanted to see how he would do in the field.  

    Field work is a more advanced level of sheepdog herding work.  No close fences to help guide the dog, and the dog can really get the sheep going.  So fast sometimes, that they can run a sheep right into a gate or fence.  Keeping that in mind, I still wanted to see where we were, as far as getting out of the round pen.  

    At first I thought that I had made a mistake, and it was way too early for him to be out in a big field, but he proved me wrong.  After about 30 seconds or so, he started to settle and think about what he was doing.  I was amazed by him.  Granted he wasn't a perfect Aussie out there herding, but he really hasn't been herding that long.  I was able to guide him around a smaller part of the field, using the whipflag to get him to bend around the sheep, and a little part of the fencing.  He still split up the three sheep that I was using occasionally, but not as much as he could of.  

    I have seen some crazy dogs out there in the field.  Dogs chasing with predator mode turned on, in their brain, ready to kill what ever is in front of them.  I have seen some dogs so fierce, that if they were to continue in herding, would need a muzzle put on for damage control.  Sheepdog herding is probably not their forte.

    Putting a dog in the field can improve a dog's attitude toward sheep herding too.  Some dogs get bored with round pens and will start acting slugglish when working or will turn off completely.  Others will have the sheep so close that they are extremely fired up and quite hard to handle.  With Decker, he was slightly sluggish, but he is a little hard to read for a dog anyway.  When asked to lie down, he still would leave the pressure of the stock and walk away to lie down.  With lots of encouragement, I am able to keep him holding his pressure on the sheep and lie down at the same time.

    With Decker in the field, I do have to move around more than in the round pen because I need to position myself better for Decker to understand what I want him to do.  I try to get him to succeed.  He doesn't know his commands yet except the lie down-at a crawl.  This lesson allowed me to have Decker fetching the sheep for quite a distance.  The more that I can set up these kind of scenarios, the faster he will learn.  We did fetching the sheep several times until he looked like he was starting to understand and relax when fetching.  

    I started using whistles with him today also.  Probably to early for Decker, but I would like to see a good down (I don't even care if he just stops, but not leave) on him with a whistle.  And maybe a walk up with the whistle too.  I won't push any other whistles commands on him for quite a while as I want him to learn what the verbal commands are first.  It usually only takes a few weeks to have the dog understand the whistle commands anyway, so there is no rush.

    All-in-all, all four of us had fun in the field today.  The girls got to retrain sheep and Decker got his first experience in a field.  They all went for a swim after their sheepdog herding lessons, in order to cool off.  After I had gone back in the house, I heard a bark and saw Decker and Tam, wet, wrestling with each other on the lawn.  To be a dog!

  127. Today everybody had lessons in herding.  Energized by Suzy Applegate winning the Meeker, a trial I hope to be able to go to next year, I wanted to tune up the girls for the upcoming trial season.  I am real proud of Suzy, a California girl, for winning the trial with her dog Buzz.  Buzz won the Meeker trial just two years ago in the Nursery level.  While Suzy is a great handler, it also takes a great dog to be able to handle these tough range ewes.  And winning both the Nursery level and then the Open level, that dog is going somewhere in dog history.

    Buzz is Tam's uncle, so I emailed Suzy and congratulated her and thanked her for increasing Tams value, and if I ever breed her, increasing her pups value too.  I am just excited that Suzy Applegate won the extremely challenging Meeker Sheepdog Trial, almost as excited as if I would have been the winner.

    After I gave that terrible demo the week before the Creston Rodeo at the rodeo grounds, when I had rocks for sheep and they wouldn't move, I was anxious to get the sheep fired up.  I do a lot of steadying up with the sheep, making the girls steady and walk the sheep slowly and in control.  I have been working on actually getting two gates on them while fetching or driving sheep.  The walk and the trot gates are just about totally trained with both girls.  Its nice to have both gates even when trialing.  If I have plenty of time at a trial, then I can have them walk the sheep in a nice controlled pace.  If I am in a hurry, and short on time, I can speed them up with a trot command.  Though the trot is not as smooth as the walk, in a pinch I have that gate with the dogs to fall back on.  So the sheep are kind of trained to go slowly now.  Time for retraining.

    I made Kate get them up, encouraging her to make them go faster.  The sheep didn't know what they were in for.  Of course, when I fire up the sheep to encourage them to be a little lighter, the dogs will also get fired up.  Kate took several bites, one on the flank which she got verbally disciplined for.  The ram also thought he wasn't going to be pushed around and presented his head to her, which she took advantage of to nail him on the nose several times.  I usually don't work the ram, but he was in the mix and I was trying to separate him out but he had other ideas.  I finally won and was able to separate him from the sheep that I wanted to work.

    Kate and I separated four sheep for Decker and put them into the round pen.  Working Decker today was great.  I made him heal off leash all the way from the sheep pasture to the round pen (about 200 feet).  He was totally under control, and every time he would start to go ahead of me, I would give him the Ceasar "tsst" noise and he would immediately come back to me in a heal position.  No crazy dog here, just control.  I have a hold of his mind.

    He worked sheep pretty well, not really ever shutting down.  I have started teaching him how to fetch, which he thinks he doesn't really like, and he needs lots of encouragement walking up.  He is real bitable, so is learning quickly.  I think a couple more lessons in fetching and he should have it.  He does like going around the sheep more that straight up in a fetch.

    Decker is starting to split up the sheep when I give him an away or come-bye command.  This is common in Aussies and a outrun needs to be developed with them.  I didn't have a whipflag with me, so I was ineffective in getting him to bend around the sheep.  Aussies typically come in straight at the sheep and we need them to bend and include the entire goup, and that has to be learned by the dog.  I will need to get a log piece of bamboo to work with.  I usually don't like to use such an artificial way of training, but Aussies need more development of their outrun; so many trainers have been using long bamboo poles now to train with.

    Early this morning the dogs and I went to our local community garden; I had to do a little hand watering and pruning.  The rodeo grounds are immediately next to the garden.  Lots of people were gathering at the rodeo grounds to park their cars and catch a shuttle to go to a memorial service.  Several people were even walking over to catch a ride.  I saw all of the commotion, and decided not to let Decker out of the truck.  I needed to work, and would not be able to watch him every second.  After a couple of minutes, I had a change of heart and let him out.

    He behaved well and a few people walked by pretty close to all of us.  Decker just looked, in which I promptly gave the noise "tsst". and redirected his attention back to me.  I could feel his energy and see his calmness in his body.  He didn't utter a sound.  I was very proud of him.

  128. You hoo!  Dog Day again.  All of the dogs love this day of agility, sheepdog herding and swimming.  What a great day to be one of our dogs.  I had a few errands to run before I showed up at Sandy's house for 'everything dog'.  

    Arriving at Sandy's house, Tam is always excited, and has been a goal of mine to try to keep her calm.  Decker is starting to pick up on Tam's excitement and is getting excited some too.  I had forgotten my leashes and so was scrambling for spare leashes in the truck.  I found two.  If I had dug further, I would have found another one.  Two it is, and I put Tam and Kate on one and Decker on the other.  You think that having a dog supply store, that I would have plenty of leashes, but in due time, I will.

     I have given Decker a new collar.  When I got him, he had a choke collar around his neck with a tag.  I don't like keeping choke (training) collars on my dogs unless I am working them.  There have been too many stories about dogs getting hung by these collars and I don't want to take the chance.  I would never forgive myself if something terrible happened.  None the less, it took me a couple of weeks of getting to know Decker to feel comfortable about taking the choke collar off.  I wasn't sure how he would respond to a buckle collar, if he would even feel it as we went on our walks.  He does fine with the new collar and it sure makes less noise.  No more clanging of metal to metal, every time Decker moved.  In sheepdog herding, the general rule is not to have your dog make noise with their collar.  This noise could possibly scare the sheep.  We want to be cognizant of this especially at a sheepdog herding trial.  Herding sheep is hard enough by itself, than to have extra excited sheep to handle.

    His new collar is a green tartan plaid buckle collar, one inch wide.  It sure looks nice on him and goes with his coloring.  A few years ago, I had purchased two of those collars for the girls.  We were going to a Scottish Games sheepdog trial and I wanted them to wear Scottish plaid collars at the trial.  I have had those collars now for over three years and they still look brand new.  Now, I am proud to be selling the same brand collars on my sheepdog herding website, and I know that they are a quality US made product, because I have personally tested it!  Decker wore his new collar to Sandy's house for dog day.

    Decker was happy to be there,and after settling everybody down, I asked my dog friends if they would feed him some treats.  He started accepting a pet or two, and seemed more comfortable around everyone.  

    When we went over to the other side of the property to work sheep, Decker started whining while I was out in the field working Kate and Tam.  A friend from Visalia (about 2+ hours away) had come over to join us too.  She is a dog trainer and doesn't put up with much flack from dogs either.  Several times I had yelled at Decker to shut up, and was getting tired of it, and soon was going to have to quit the sheepdog herding with the girls out in the field,and run over to him and make him shut up; my friend said that she would correct him.  That was good for me.  He needed correction, and needed it from another person, and needed it instantly, not waiting for me to come in from the field.  I had a water bottle with me and noticed earlier that he responded to it for a correction.  My friend picked up on that, grabbed the bottle and brandished it every time he started crying.  It worked!  And for the rest of the sheep herding time, Decker watched quietly. 

    Decker also got to work sheep himself.  Someone asked me what his breeding was, because he seems to have a lot of instinct.  I told them that that is what I saw in him too.  And that I was hopeful that once trained, I could place him on a ranch where he could work and get lots of stimulation.  That is just what working dogs need; jobs.

    After sheepdog herding, the dogs all went swimming in Sandy's pool.  The girls absolutely love it, and now so does Decker.  He jumped in numerous times from the side of the pool with no hesitation.  He is also starting to retrieve the balls in the pool.

  129. Tuesday went real well.  In the morning, my friend Roland came over with his pup for socialization.  Decker greeted Roland as his truck drove up.  He was really glad to see Roland the owner of this wonderful pup that he plays with. They played and played, driving the girls mad.  I drug out the Bumi for everyone to play tug with.  They all had a great time tugging that toy.  I had never seen 4 dogs all tugging the same toy all at once.  But Decker and Jessy the pup had something different in mind.  They soon got bored playing with the girls and set off to wrestle in the grass.  Those two dogs sure love to mouth fight.  This went on and on, for well over an hour.

    When it was time to bring in the sheep from the pasture, Jessy got to watch being on leash.  Decker seems to have a lot of instinct and gets real anxious when either taking the sheep out or bringing them in.  He kept running from one side of the barn to the other, in order to get the best view possible.

    He has warmed up to Roland, and he repeatedly approached Roland and let him pet him!  Bingo!  The first real noticeable breakthrough.  No food involved!  

    Later in the day, I went into town to run errands, and I brought the dogs with me.  Decker in the back rides on a Coolaroo dog bed.  I thought this summer in the back of the truck the floor would get pretty hot and I wanted him to be protected.  It took a little getting used to for him to lay down and stay down, but he seems to like the Coolaroo dog beds.  I have one on my front porch and I see him on it quite regularly.

    While in town, we pull up to a signal and a motorcycle with a rider in full helmet comes up to our rear.  Decker was scared.  He starts pacing then barking, not knowing what the strange thing behind us is.  It was some kind of motorcycle Alien!  I was able to reach back through the window and grab him at the neck.  Then every time that he barked, I would give him a little shake and a big NO!  I think he might need a little more work with that scenario, as he didn't get a chance to relax, we had to drive off. 

  130. Monday morning the girls, Decker and I went again on a 2 mile power pack walk.  Decker was great and gave me no problems during the walk.  Later, my Dad, who was present when I initially took possession of Decker, came over for a visit.  He brought his dog Stewy with him.  Stewy is a senior Aussie, who gets along with everyone and every dog.

    Decker had never really met Stewy the time that I brought Decker over to my dad's house, as he stayed in the truck.  Decker met my dad at the car and my dad did just what he was supposed to do, no touch, no talk, no eye contact.  Decker was fine with my dad's presence.  Stewy likes to come to my house, and was anxious to get out of the car.  The two boys met and did a ritual pee and everything was fine.  

    My dad and I visited a while while Decker and the girls played. Stewy being a senior dog, is not interested much in playing anymore, and just laid down beside my father.  A lot of Aussies are followers and stick to their owner like glue, following them throughout the house and yard.  Stewy is that type of Aussie, so was Bonnie.  It used to really bug me that she would follow me around everywhere.  When she died, I missed it!  Tam developed that behavior, and pretty much follows me around everywhere I go.  Usually bitches are more independent than that.  Stewy follows my dad around everywhere, if he can.

    After my dad's and Stewy's visit, not much else happened the rest of the day, it was pretty quiet.

  131. The girls and I had been invited to help with the sheep at a local rodeo.  Mutton busting has been around for over 20 years, and is a kick in the pants to watch.  Little kids climb onto the backs of sheep, grip on for dear life, and then the sheep are released into the arena.  The event is much like bull riding, in that the kid who holds on the longest, wins.  

    The rodeo in the past had been using people to try to hold sheep into a group in the arena.  Every time a sheep and child are released, that sheep needs to be gathered and held on the opposite side of the arena in order to draw the next released sheep across.  Sheep don't work too well for people, and they had been running all over the arena during the mutton busting event.  

    When I got invited to help, I thought in the back of my mind a different scenario, which I was skeptical of.  I thought that a sheep and kid would be released and once the sheep was free of the kid, I would send a dog to exhaust the sheep back out of the arena.  Working just one sheep is not fun.  They just can't think for themselves.  I learned that lesson along time ago.  Never work just one sheep.  Take the group to the one then work the group.  With this set-up, there would only be one sheep at a time and it would not be pretty.  

    Instead of one sheep at a time, they wanted us to just hold the "used" sheep into a group across the other side of the arena.  "Is that all?"  I said.  This would be fun.  Sheepdog herding at its easiest.  I decided that since the sheep were range ewes, and might need some extra convincing, that I would herd with both Kate and Tam together.  This worked perfectly.  I didn't have to hardly move myself at all.  I just stood there and the girls held the sheep in a group.  What could be easier?  Usually when I am sheepdog herding in front of people, I am under a lot of stress, there was no stress here, I could relax and enjoy the event.  The girls have a look-back command, and when a child left it's sheep, I simply whistled or said "look-back", and immediately they would look and retrieve the lone sheep.

    It was a hot day, and during the event, I decided that one of them needed to leave their sheepdog herding job and get a dunk and a drink to cool off.  I would tell one dog "that'll do" and to go and get a drink, then when she got back ready to continue holding sheep, I would do the same with the other dog.  This worked out great and they didn't get overheated.

    I got tons of complements, and even people telling me that they would have arrived sooner if they knew that there were sheepdogs herding sheep.  It went over so well, we decided that we would hang around for the finals, and do the same.  Matt and I ate lunch and kept the girls with us in the shade.  

    The finals went well and the girls were working perfectly together in a brace style.  If one of them worked close-in to the sheep, the other would back-off and work the back area.  They would take turns working the back and the front.  Again, I had them take a break in the middle of sheepdog herding and go and get a drink, which both did when directed.  I was still getting complements, as the girls were herding sheep.  One guy, who must have been totally captivated by watching the dogs, kept saying (loudly) wow!, or excellent!.  A few minutes later, I heard him say, "Are you Married?"   I just slightly turned my head toward him, then a minute later, handed him a business card.  

    I have heard nothing but complements about the mutton busting event at the rodeo and the dogs sheepdog herding work.  I hope that I have generated some more interest in sheepdog herding.  I couldn't bring Decker with us (though Matt wanted to).  There were no dogs allowed, and I thought it might be too much for him yet.  When we got home, he was in the dog yard happily waiting to greet us.

  132. Saturday I was getting a sheepdog herding lesson at my trainer Shelley's Place in the Carissa Plains.  The Carissa Plains are a flat semi-arid area of Central California which border the central coast of California on the west, and the Temblor Range on the east.  Temperatures can exceed 115 degrees f. in the summer, and can get quite cold in the winter, with temperatures often falling below 20 degrees f.  I live 25 or so miles west of the Carissa Plains in a quite different climate.  

    California is noted for it's extremely varied climates, and the Carissa Plains fits one of the extremes.  Winds storm through the area with nothing to divert or slow them down; often breaking the tops of trees right off, or scattering rows of heavy metal lawn chairs across the yard.  Mornings are the usually the best time for working sheep and dogs and getting sheepdog herding lessons.  The winds are calm, the air is cool, and the sheep are fresh.

    Shelley has a wonderful area for training sheepdogs in herding.  Her property has rolling hills, mixed with a few steep grades, and meandering gullies just waiting to confuse your dog as to where he is in relation to where the sheep are.  This great training facility gives the dog the opportunity to get much exposure to many different terrains.  There are only two different terrains that her property leaves out; totally flat land, and land with a lot of trees.  I have had one of my dogs have trouble with a trial on totally flat land, which she over came after her first trial, and Shelley has trouble in trials with land with trees.  She thinks that the dog might not be able to negotiate through a grove of trees as well as an open field, due to lack of exposure.  Regardless of the faults of the land, this property offers more challenges than most and is a wonderful training tool for the dogs in sheepdog herding.

    I brought Decker with me to my herding lesson.  I thought that he needed as much exposure to the world as possible.  When I arrived, Shelley and her husband Randy were at the barn.  Randy was saddling his horse, getting ready for a ride.  I let the girls out, watching out for Shelley's male dogs as Tam came into heat last week and there is no way she is going to breed with her father or brother.  Decker was in the back and I let him out.  Randy was right there and Decker got scared (I don't know if it was from the horse or Randy) and growled a little.  I started chasing him in order to discipline him.  Around we went around and around the truck until finally he was reminded that the growl was not proper behavior.  

    After that episode, Decker acted like a normal dog.  After being tied to the fence with the rest of the dogs for a little while, Randy, who is not afraid of dogs in the least, approached Decker, wanting to visit with him.  Shelley and I both said the Ceazar montra:  No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact.  Randy approached Decker from a non-confrontational stance, Randy's side to Decker's side.  Within about 30 seconds or less, Randy was petting Decker. (there goes the no touch!)  I noticed that he was petting him on the cheek and on the underside of the neck.  That area under the neck, makes low self-esteem dogs feel better about themselves, it will elevate them a bit.  

    We worked sheep for about an hour in to the sheepdog herding lesson, and then Shelley suggested that she wanted to come over to Decker and pet him too.  She did, and he enjoyed the interaction.  Shelley said that he was a really nice dog.   After we finished our lessons, my other friend Nancy (she was getting a herding lesson too) really wanted to take Decker for a quick walk.  Leash in hand, Nancy did just that.  I turned away and they left the opposite direction.  Nancy was in control.  The more humans that are in control of Decker, the better.  He will learn that all humans are to be submitted to, and that nothing bad is going to happen to him.

    After we were through with our sheepdog herding lesson, we all decided that it would be fun for all of the dogs to cool off in Shelly and Randy's pond.  Watching out for Tam in heat, I kept her on leash while all of the other dogs tore down the drive toward the pond.  When I arrive with Tam in hand, none of the dogs were in the pond yet.  I yelled, "jump"  and my two girls along with Decker dove in.  The rest followed.  The dogs played and played in the pond and had a great time.  Tam doesn't have much hair, and is rather thin, and because of that she tends to get cold rather easily.  Later, she sat on the edge of the pond with teeth chattering, just like a little kid.  She loves the water so much, and for her it is so fun, that she would rather freeze that not get in the water.

    On the way home, there was utter quiet in the truck.  The dogs were curled up sleeping all the way back.  They all had fun at Shelley's place during our sheepdog herding lesson.

  133. I have decided to add pumpkin to Decker's food.  He is loosing weight very slowly, so in order to speed up the process I am replacing pumpkin for some of his food.  He didn't give it a second thought and ate his dinner right up.

    I have also been giving him Missing Link, a dog food supplement made from whole foods.  This dog food supplement, which I carry in my sheep dog herding supply online store, is an all-in-one Omega 3 Superfood supplement for dogs.  I feel that since Decker is on regular kibble dog food, he needs additional supplementation of essential nutrients and vitamins.  I have had the girls on supplements for dogs, all of their lives, and on Missing Link dog food supplements for over 9 months now.  Their coats are glossy, and their eyes are bright, and they have tons of endurance.  

    Everyone now is on the Missing Link with Joint Support to ensure their joints have all of the nutrients for maintenance and repair. In addition to Missing Link, they get extra fish oil tablets and glucosamine.  Decker should loose weight faster with the addition of pumpkin in his diet and a little less dog food.

  134. Yesterday Decker was an angel, today, not so much!  

    Yesterday, Thursday, was a day that I give sheepdog herding lessons.  My student came and Decker greeted nicely, but he was tied to the fence, awaiting his turn to for sheepdog herding. I have started treating him like a normal dog, giving him the benefit of the doubt, as far as greeting people and coming up to them, but in the back of mind, ready to jump in and correct him if needed.  He had a great time working sheep in the round pen and then after sheepdog herding work, playing in the pool and then with all of the dogs out on the lawn.  I had my friend feed him some treats, but not to many as he is watching his figure, not to EXPLODE!

    My friend Roland came over to let his young dog socialize with the pack.  Decker ended up greeting Roland as he drove up.  I had a wheelbarrow in my hand and Decker was determined to see him and would not come to me, and I couldn't force the issue either as I was dumping the wheelbarrow at the time.  He was happy to see Roland, then smelled the puppy and was anxious to get to the puppy.  

    Everyone played and played.  Decker and the puppy have a habit of playing right below our feet as we sit and talk.  I decided that I was done with that and "fenced" the dogs out from the front porch.  The fence is a piece of chicken wire stretched across the stairway.  I usually put that wire up to contain the dogs, but this time it was to contain the humans!  Anyway it worked, and the dogs left us alone. 

    I gave Roland a bag of treats to feed to Decker, and all of a sudden, Roland was the most popular person on the planet!  He instantly got three dog's attention with the scent of dog treats in the air.  So throughout Roland's visit, he intermittently gave treats to Decker.  Decker did good at accepting them too.  I made sure that he didn't get too excited and remained calm and not aggressive toward the treats.

    After lunch, I had a friend come over from the local garden club.  She came to pick out some plants for a section of the town garden that we were landscaping.  I was in the basement when she arrived.  Decker was on the porch.  I ran up when I heard noise, but I was too late, Decker had growled at her and he was hiding around the corner of the house.  My friend was not afraid of him at all, which was probably good for him, because he didn't get the reaction or the wrong energy that he usually gets when he growls at someone.  When I found out that he had growled, I promptly put him on his side on the ground.  He urinated.  
    After his discipline, he was fine with my friend the rest of the afternoon.  I gave her a couple of treats to give to Decker. 

  135. I forgot to mention how much Decker weighed.  The day after I first got him, he weighted a whopping 84.9 lbs.  I thought that he needed to loose about 15 lbs, but now I think 10 lbs might be enough.  Yesterday, Wednesday, Decker weighed in at 83.9 lbs, with 9+ pounds to go.
  136. Yesterday was dog day again.  The pack and I came and this time I brought treats!  This proved successful.  I handed several people some smelly treats and asked them if they would give them to Decker.  He showed no problem taking them from anybody.  Later I played some with a toy with him in the agility field.  He acted like a normal dog at my friend's house.  

    Later we all went to the other field and worked sheep.  Decker did fine in the round pen, but cried some while being tied up awaiting his turn to run.  He got in trouble for crying but most dogs have to be taught to be quiet while waiting for their turn.

    I stopped at the vet's office to weigh Decker.  It has been 2 1/2 weeks and I was anxious  to see how much weight he had lost.  One stinking pound was all he had lost!  Can you believe it?  A friend of mine suggested pumpkin added to replace some of his food.  I had forgotten about pumpkin, so I will be adding it to his food as soon as I pick up a few cans at the store.  I must be hallucinating at his weight loss; thinking I was seeing a waist developing and a slimmer underside.  He will get a waist now as his food is cut even further and the pumpkin will help with that loss of food.

    My friend Sandy, who's house I go to on Wednesdays, commented on Decker's state yesterday.  She said how well he seems to be doing and is a far cry from when I first brought him there.  That was good to here.  When you are close to someone or something, you don't tend to see changes very clearly, because you see him daily.  But Sandy's comment made me feel that we are on the right track.

  137. Decker did reasonably well over Labor Day weekend.  There was only one incident with a growl, and that was directed at Matt.  He had just gone outside and saw Matt and uttered a growl.  He had never growled at him before, so I told Matt that he better address it.  Decker went on his side and that was that. 

    During the weekend, I had several friends come over.  Decker was good and didn't growl or act shy in any way.  My neighbor came over for dinner on Sunday.  He was a gentleman but as she was leaving, he would lick her hand, but not really approaching further.  He is not very responsive to others for affection.

    Today is dog day.  I will bring the pack over to my friend's house again.  This time, I will bring dog treats with me for everyone to offer him.  It's time for him to learn that other people are nice too, and they have FOOD!  We will try to win him over with his nose, and his stomach.

  138. The rest of yesterday went fine.  No problems at all.

    Today is going great with Decker.  He has been on his best behavior all day.  This morning, while I was turning out the sheep, I had the middle stall open.  The sheep were heading out to the back pasture and Decker saw them.  He took off through the middle stall and through the sheep pasture (where they were not) to try to get to them.  Fortunately for me, Decker was stopped by a fence.  I was surprised by how far he went.  He basically did an outrun of over 100 yards.  I think that his herding instinct is fairly strong in him.  And he came back quickly when called and was told that'll do.

    Later in the morning, I was expecting a friend with her two dogs over to work sheep and get a lesson.  Before she arrived, I decided to work my two collies and Decker.  This would give the sheep a chance to rest and cool down before my lesson arrived.  Decker is still improving.  My neighbor next door watched and commented later at how fast he is lying down for me.  She seemed impressed at how hard he worked when the temperature was so hot.  I explained that his instinct is strong enough to over ride a desire to rest.  

    When my friend arrived with her two dogs, Decker was tied to the fence close to where I was working sheep (so all of the dogs not working at the time, can watch).  I warned her about him and she started to hold back and be real cautious.  I told her that he was not dog aggressive and did not have to worry about her dog at all, that he was tied up and she could come and sit down on the bench.  I told her that if he growled at all, and if I didn't here it, to let me know and I would correct him.  Well, he was perfect!  My friend said that he seemed excited to see her dogs and he was well behaved the entire time my friend was here.  He swam with everyone, and ran around and played after herding was over.  He looked relaxed and happy.  

    After lunch, my next door neighbor came over for about a half of an hour.  As she approached the door, I directed her to wait, she knocked, and the collies were a little too excited.  I stood in the entry way to see if Decker postured at all.  Nope!  He was a gentleman.  I directed all of the dogs out of the foyer, in order to give the dominate humans some room.  My neighbor came in and was accepted by Decker.  As the visit progressed, we went upstairs and also into the basement, with Decker following.  He just acted like a normal dog.  That was nice to see and feel.  Hopefully he can keep it up.

  139. Yesterday, being dog day, I took everyone to my friend's house to socialize.  Decker was fine and in hand visiting with all of the dogs.  Nancy, another friend came in the yard with her dog after us, and I herd a little growl from Decker.  I promptly and literally put him down and put my knee on him biting with my hand.  I waited until he relaxed, then let him up.  I heard nothing out of him after that.  Later, when everyone was swimming, I was able to take the leash off of him and let him relax in the pool.  He sure likes to swim.  In and out the whole time.  He ignored all of my friends and accepted their presence.

    Bible study started for me last night.  And as usual, the dogs come with me and wait in the car, Decker included.  When we were leaving, I opened the window of the camper shell and was petting Decker.  I mentioned to my bible study leader that this was the new dog that I was working with.  She is not a dog person so basically glanced at him.  Decker growled.  My hand was on him so it turned from a pet to a scruff on the neck and a "bad - no!".  My bible study leader was loading her truck and I was getting ready to leave when I heard a growl again.  I immediately got out of the truck and opened up the back.  Decker saw me coming and sucked up to the cab and kind of put his head down.  Too bad, that's not good enough.  I jumped in and pulled him partly out, scruffing him firmly and my face was in his face.  More "no"s and that was that.  This is the first that I have seen him aggressive while in the truck.  

    Today we all went on a two mile power pack walk.  We met up with a dog running at us but with a fence between us.  Knowing what I know about dog psychology, I needed to stand my ground, in order to not let this dog think that he scared us off, thus creating a future problem.  I stopped us and turned toward the dog.  He was staring with his tail up.  I noticed that my chest was not turned directly toward the dog but at an angle.  I rotated my upper body more to be directly facing him.  In about two seconds, the dog got the message and lowered his head and tail, turned and left.

    That is good for the pack to see me control the encounter.

    Ten minutes later we turn back onto our road on the way home, and a dog in his yard, spots us.  Bark, bark, bark.  Then another one in the same yard comes and does the same.  I have had previous problems with these dogs before, and frankly was tired of it, and I don't really like being barked at.  Time to take a stand.  Empowered by the previous success, I turned and faced the nasty dogs.  These dogs are non-socialized dogs, who even run the humans who own them.  I kept my pack sitting and slightly behind me.  Decker started whining, wanting to see the dogs.  I corrected him and made him sit again, slightly behind me.  I was in charge, and I wasn't taking any more crap off of these rotten dogs.  I just stood there, chest out, head up, in charge of the world.  After about a minute or two, the dogs were getting bored with the game.  A well ingrained game on their part, as they do this to the whole neighborhood.  They were leaving and I started walking again.  They came back to the fence barking.  I noticed they looked over to the house several times to see if their human was going to call them out of the predicament they were in.  No help from the owner.  These dogs are just lawn ornaments anyway.

    They continued to bark while looking at their house for their human.  About a minute later, they decided to leave.  I WON!  Ha Ha.  

    This was real good for Kate to see.  Her trust in me as pack leader is strengthened even further.  These two dogs have been trouble for us in the past.  She has been attacked by them twice before.  And there will not be a third time.  If push comes to shove, I will protect my pack.  Even to the point of killing if necessary.  Matt has told me the same.  If they attack us one more time, he will come over and kill the dog(s) too.  While I think that is a very drastic move on both our parts, I understand the emotion.  They are our kids, and will not be hurt further.  Being successful today with standing my ground was a win-win situation.

    The pack is safe and secure, the troubled dogs don't get further "pumped-up" with being dominant with their territory, and I look better as the pack leader.  I just hope the rest of the day goes as well.  We will see.

  140. Decker did well today.  My friend came over with his pup to socialize her again.  Last week, Decker acted up right when my friend was leaving.  This week, Decker was just about perfect.  My friend even said he can tell that he is happier and more relaxed.  He has noticed a difference in him in just one week.  

    Decker killed one of my chickens yesterday, so I can't let him have free rein any longer.  I moved a crate onto the front porch for him when I am busy.  So to protect the loose chickens, he will either be in the house or in the crate when I need to be on the computer.

    During sheepdog herding today, Decker did even better that last week.  He was able to lay down several times in the middle of the round pen with out much coaxing on my part. So now I can get him start to hold pressure on the sheep when I stop moving.  That's nice.  I am still working on his fetch and expect that to take more several weeks. 

    Tomorrow is dog day.  I will be taking the dogs to my friend's house to socialize and play.  I might work him on sheepdog herding there too.  

    I am very satisfied at Decker's progress.

  141. Decker went to church with all of us on Sunday and did fine waiting in the truck with the girls.  After Church we needed to pick up some groceries and he waited while we were in the stores.  The last store was the grocery store.  When we got back to the truck, we loaded groceries into the back end of the bed.  Decker was very interested in what was in the bags.  A few "hey!"s and he stayed out of the groceries.

    Later in the day my brother came over for a brief visit.  I put Decker on leash in the house and instructed my brother not to challenge him by looking in his eyes.  Decker did fine and had no aggression problems.  No correction leaks on Sunday either!

    Today,  all of us went on a four mile- 1 hour- power, pack walk again.  He did fine with barking dogs but he "keyed in" on a walker passing by.  I don't know if he was just looking but he needs to concentrate on the walk, so I kept correcting him when he perked-up his ears and looking at the walker.  After we passed the walker, Decker still kept turning his head, and getting corrected for not paying attention to the migration.  Soon after the walker incident, a neighbor was watering and walking around his yard and Decker was nervous as we passed him.  He doesn't seem to like people behind him, even at 100 yards away.  We will work on that trust issue.  I think that a walk around a near-by lake where there are a lot of people walking around and jogging and riding bikes would be a good set-up for him.  The more he acts up, the more corrections he will get, the faster the learning will take place.  At least that is the theory.

  142. The girls, Decker and I went on another four mile (1 hour) power pack walk this morning.  He did excellent until we turned onto on road.  Apparently there was a jogger approaching from the rear.  Decker was nervous about it and kept turning to see him.  I just kept correcting him until he quit looking back and started concentrating on the walk.  

    Later this morning, we had a friend come over to the house for a visit.  I instructed our friend not to look in Decker's face, so not to challenge him or make him real nervous.  Things went OK with him until our friend pushed Decker a little too far.  He started growling and was immediately taken to the ground and bitten with my hand.  Decker was not real comfortable with our friend, but this visit was good because our friend was not afraid of Decker in the least.  Decker needs to feel that energy.  A little later we were playing with the girls and Decker on leash was beside me.  The play got close to Decker, and he half-a s tried to bite our friend's foot.  Granted. his foot did get real close to Decker, and I know that Decker's buttons had been pushed.  But unless he makes mistakes, and gets corrected for them, he will never be rehabilitated.

    This visit was real good for Decker in that respect.  He growled several separate times, and got corrected.  I noticed that Decker was trying to avoid our friend.  Perhaps this is one of the first steps in his rehab.  Dogs have four responses to stimuli; flight, fight, avoidance, submission, in that order.  Decker has done the first two responses, and is starting the third.  I can't wait for the last!

  143. Decker urinates when he gets scared.  While shaping the way that I want him to play with toys, (I know, control freak-but I don't want the girls toys ruined instantly), if he insists on doing what I am telling him not to do, he gets corrected sternly, and sometimes lets his urine loose.  Man, that is irritating!  I might put a male wrap around him while he is in the house to help curb the damage caused by those slips.  So I can't chase him through the house when he runs from me, because he is letting loose here and there!  Working with that insecurity problem is tough.  Kate was submissive and for her first two years of life, when ever she greeted anyone, she would flip over on to her back and let it loose a bit.  Sometimes getting her butt wet too.  But Decker does this as he is creeping away from me.  

    I don't like dogs that run away from me anyway.  Stand up and face the consequences for the behavior!  Tam started out running from me.  Man, I chased her down a couple of times and let her know that was not the behavior that I wanted.  It didn't take her long, I saw her actually stop in the middle of running away from me, turn around, and walk back towards me.  I won!  Now she comes even if she knows she is in trouble.

    Decker does have that problem of trying to get away when I am correcting him.  I just keep pursuing him until I catch him and drag him back to where I was when I started the correction.  I warned my husband about his urinating behavior, and he looked at me with a "just great!" look on his face.  He does try to help with Decker when he gets home at night.  Matt's personal goal is to try to teach Decker not to body slam Kate when he gets home every night.  We all try to protect Kate as she is our million dollar baby with two hip surgeries in her past.

    Letting a dog get away with improper behavior is what got Decker in this mess to begin with.  He growled and barked at a stranger, he was insecure anyway, his owner didn't know how to properly discipline the improper behavior and it escalated to biting.  He is also a high energy dog and needs his energy expelled on a daily basis.  He has fear aggression.  Even Cezar Milan says that this is the hardest bad behavior to deal with.  Real mean aggression is easier and faster.  With fear aggression, Decker's confidence will have to be built up.  That usually takes a while.  The sheepdog herding will help and getting his energy out and so will a lot of exposure to the world.  I think correction after correction will help toughen him up emotionally, and the urination problem should dissipate.

    First thing this morning as Matt was leaving, I let Decker out to pee.  Matt opened the garage door and startled Decker.  He took off running about 15 feet or so and I was talking to him (in a low growling voice) to knock it off.  I was trying to let him know that I didn't want him to react like and be scared, because there was nothing to be scared about!  Depend on the human, not yourself.  That is not your place, it is the pack leaders place.

    This morning we went for a two mile power "pack" walk again.  About a half of a mile in to the walk a cat starts coming up toward us.  Decker was pretty cool about it and doesn't seem to want to get cats.  When we got within about 10 feet, the cat decided to hiss and run away.  On the way back there was a person riding her horse in an arena.  Decker kept "keeing" on it.  Ears perked and head turned, body tense.  There was a chance that he had never seen horse and rider before, but he needs to let me handle the pack,  I will protect the pack, not him.  I kept letting him know that he needed to knock it off.  Correction after correction, until finally he quick "keeing" on the horse and concentrated on what we were doing, migrating.

    Later in the day, I took Decker and the girls next door to my neighbor's dog pack.  She had another person there visiting and I phoned before I came over and gave the usual instructions not to look at Decker in the face.  At first he was swarmed by dogs and was distracted by smells.  Us three woman talked outside while all of the dogs were greeting, sniffing, and playing.  Eventually my neighbor was able to have Decker approach her.  A little later, I had my neighbor take the leash and walk away with him.  He didn't cause any problems, accepted it, but kept looking at me.  We will repeat this exercise a few times a week to see if this helps break his dependence on me.  I don't think it will, but maybe he will at least start getting used to other people being in charge of him.  That is what he needs, is trust.



  144. Today was herding day again.  I wanted to see if Decker improves again.  His first day was pretty nice, and I was impressed, did he have more to give me today?  I had been noticing that when I ask him to lay down, he would slither away and go to a wall, fence or couch to be against something before downing. 

    Doing that while we were working sheep, was driving me crazy.  I don’t want him to leave the pressure he has on the sheep, go away to the far end of the round pen, and lay down there.  When I tell him down, I mean right there, where and when I said it.  So that was one of my goals today when working him on sheep.  I needed him to lie where I told him. 

    Decker is getting more confidence on sheep.  As typical of the Aussie breed, barking is starting.  He is also starting to relax and enjoy what he is doing.  I like to see a dog come off of sheep, but on the other hand, when they like it so much, and they have trouble coming off, that is nice to see too.  You know that there is stuff in that head to work with.  Decker did have a little trouble coming off of sheep, but he is new at it, and not expected to just turn off when told like a light switch, at this stage. 

    We worked on him lying down where and when I told him to.  He was not so good at first, but after a while I got him to lay down in the middle of the round pen with out too much difficulty. 

    Toward the end of his lesson, I was able to walk to the left and then to the right, and with little effort on my part; he was keeping them with me.  Maybe this is beginner’s luck, but I don’t believe in luck, so I am hoping that he has some real talent!  Now I can’t wait to see how he does next week.

    Just after the herding lesson, we were coming back up to the house and I saw the FedEx truck on its way.  I grabbed Decker’s collar and continued walking to the house.  As the FedEx man got out of the truck, I instructed him not to look at this dog’s face and that I was training on him at not being aggressive.  My dogs were all over the FedEx man, happy to have someone visit.  I had Decker with me.  Decker uttered a very slight growl, not even a half of a growl and that was all.  The intensity of my correction fit the intensity of the incorrect behavior.  Decker didn’t have to get corrected hard at all!  This is the first real progress at the house that I have seen.  I hope that is what it is.

  145. Today is Wednesday.  Its dog day.  Late morning, on Wednesdays, I take the dogs over to a friend’s house for socializing and some work.  There are anywhere from three to eight of us who bring our dogs to have a good time and train.  We usually meet in the agility field, which is an irrigated large yard with grass and a very large oak tree in which we huddle for shade. 

    I arrived a little late. This morning I had a friend come from down south looking to buy sheep.  She was buying for several clients, and I didn’t have enough sheep for her alone.  I suggested that we go over to my trainer’s house and look at those sheep she had for sale.

    When she arrived at the house, Decker was leashed.  He did his usual growl and got corrected.  He also growled several other times with additional corrections.  Man, I just wish he would warm up to people.  We sorted my sheep then got ready to go to my trainer’s house.

    I contemplated what to do with the boy.  I had not left him since I had rescued him.  Would he jump our four-foot dog yard fence?  Will he bark the entire time that I am away and drive my neighbors nuts?  I could crate him, but hate doing that if I don’t have to.  I looked over at the kennel (with a shade cloth roof) and decided that would be the safest place for a short time.  He couldn’t dig out, as there were stall mats on the ground.  Jumping a six-foot fence, while possible, I guessed that he wouldn’t, because the kennel was real small and he couldn’t get a running start.  I put the girls in the house and Decker in the kennel with water and we were off. 

    Upon returning, Decker was where I had left him, in the kennel.  He must have played in his water, which was empty and it was even snapped to the fence.  I left him in the kennel while we loaded my sheep into the trailer to keep him out of the way.  When we were finished, I leashed him and took him out of the kennel and closer to my friend.  Again he started growling, and again he got corrected, firmly!

    Right after my friend buying sheep left, we packed up to go to dog day.  I wonder what we will be in for with a group of people and dogs?  The day was getting hot.  I got to my friend’s house around 11.30 am and the girls were ready to go.  They really enjoy going over there every week.  

    A while ago, my trainer told me that she wouldn’t change anything that I was currently doing with Kate (real submissive, and working on building her up) as she was working sheep real well and strongly.  So dog day is for Kate. 

    The girls and I entered the agility field and I secured them to a fence in the shade.  I let my friends know that I had rescued a people aggressive dog and would like to bring him in.  Everyone was fine with the request.  I instructed them NOT to look at his face when he came in.  I didn’t want him to think that anyone was challenging him. 

    The entrance was as smooth as silk, and I put him into a crate for safekeeping.  I worked the girls in agility and all of my friends worked their dogs too.  We usually will train several of the dogs on sheepdog herding after “playing” agility, but the last several weeks, it has been too hot.

    We will go have a dip in the pool instead.  Most of dogs at dog day just love to play in the pool.  And most of them eventually learned to jump in.  The pool is a standard rectangle built-in.  A real nice pool, unheated.  It was 80 degrees just with the sun heating it!  I let the girls in and go back to the crate for Decker.  He will have to be on leash for the swim.  I led him to the pool, and with no hesitation, he was in.  We walked around for several laps and then he came out.  I showed him where all of the steps are, just incase he might panic wanting to get out.  He was a trooper.  He enjoyed swimming a lot, got along with other dogs, and never growled at anyone the whole time he was at my friend’s house. 

    Now he needs work at the house where he is on familiar ground.

  146. Sheepdog herding with Decker went fairly well.  He respected my presence and gave to me when he was asked.  I put him in the round pen three different times, with improvement every time.  The boy is out of shape, but seems to like sheepdog herding more, than getting tired.  The third time that he went in with the sheep, we had the whipflag in with us instead of a training stick.  He responded well, giving when the whipflag was in his way or close to him.  Usually Aussies are a little more determined to get to the sheep than he was, so care will be taken not to be too strict with corrections.  I will make sure that he is really "hooked onto sheep" before putting too much pressure on him.  I feel that Decker has had a good start on sheep today.

    My friend Roland came over with his young border collie (socializing her).  I had warned Roland about Decker on the phone before he came over, so he was prepared for him. He didn't give us any problems with aggression.  Decker sure liked playing with the young Border Collie.  They played and played and had the whole lawn, but chose to play right under foot where Roland and I were sitting.  It figures.  

    When Roland was ready to leave, he had forgotten his leash around the back of the house.  Coming back from getting the leash, Decker alerted to his presence, and came off of the porch to the lawn.  I proceeded  to run after him and put him down on the ground with "bite" corrections, along with NO!  He seemed fine as Roland prepared to leave.

    Around noon, the FedEx man came delivering a package.  I went to the door and said hi and thank you to the FedEx man as he was leaving.  I grabbed the package and Decker tore out of the house apparently after him.  I dropped the package and and was barely able to hold on to him.  That was a close call!  He got more corrections for that.  The way I see it, if Decker doesn't make any mistakes, then how can he learn what is acceptable behavior or not acceptable behavior?

    Later in the afternoon my nephews came over for a visit.  I invited them in and Decker started in again.  I really got on him this time, and I was in his face, as he was being "bitten" and on his side.  He was scared!  He peed on the dog bed that he was on when I went after him to protect my family and correct him.  

    So that seems to be a large part of his problem.  He is not "protective", he is scared and doesn't trust me to protect him.  Later during the visit, he did warm up to my nephews.


  147. Rehabing Decker – Helping an Aggressive Australian Shepherd

    While visiting with my Dad, I was made aware of a neighbor dog that might be put down.  Apparently he had already bitten people twice.  This blog, at least for a while, will be about my efforts to turn this dog around, making him into a well behaved, obedient, member of the community.  Good or bad, I will let it be known what happens and how it happens.

    My history:  I have been training dogs for about 30 years.  I came from an obedience background, and like a lot of dog trainers, am a bit of a control freak.  I did quite well in the obedience venue; of course a lot of it has to depend on a willing partner.  I even dabbled in protection training, which my dog loved.

    My obedience trainer had a pack of Border Collies.  As I got to know the dogs, I fell in love with the breed.  Someday I wanted to own a Border Collie and learn to herd sheep with it.

    Later, my husband and I moved to Idaho.  Nice and rural.  He saw an ad in the local penny saver for Border Collie x Australian Shepherd pups.  The name Border Collie intrigued me, but I had just one good dog at the time and really didn’t think that I wanted another dog.  My husband wanted to go and see the pups.  And there we were, picking out a little pup.  She was real young and we told the breeder that we would pick her up the following week.  Giving us time to prepare for the coming pup, and also giving her the needed additional week with her dam and littermates.

    Bonnie, we named her, was a pistol, and full of energy.  I had never owned a part or pure Border Collie before and was surprised at this bundle of energy.  I started her in obedience work, which she didn’t care too much for.  But we had to live with her and she was going to mind!  I also over did it with her in obedience as she had the sensitivity of a Border Collie and couldn’t take tons of pressure at that early age.  I backed off some and just taught her the stuff that I thought she had to know, like down, sit, here(come), and stay.  I think those are the Four Golden Commands for dogs.  They could save their lives! 

    Like most Border Collies, Bonnie needed a job.  She decided that job was herding the horses.  This was dangerous for her.  She got kicked several times.  But she had that instinct to “work” livestock, and I wasn’t giving her a job, so she chose the horses.

    After we moved back to the central coast of California, the horses got completely fenced away from Bonnie.  She could no longer go in and work them whenever she wanted.  After the final kick in the head and a concussion, she was no longer allowed to be with the horses at all.  Unless we were on a trail ride, which she was always rabbit hunting and leaving the horses alone, she would be separated, I didn’t want her killed.

    What about herding sheep with the Border Colllie?  That thought was still in the back of my mind.  I really wanted to learn sheep herding.   I finally got around to contacting a trainer and we got our first lesson.

    At first, Bonnie (6 years old) couldn’t take the pressure of herding sheep.  She left the round pen several times during the first lesson, and for a couple of additional lessons after that.  Eventually, she toughened up and was able to handle the pressure of corrections and working sheep together, and she quit leaving the round pen.

    Bonnie and I did well in trialing.  Placing first and second most of time.  While she was not a natural out runner, she was wonderful at close in work, and did real well in the Australian Shepherd Club Assoc. (ASCA) trials.

    After several years training Bonnie, I had learned quite a lot and it was time to get another dog, so I could venture in to field trialing in the United States Border Collie Handler’s Assoc. (USBCHA) venue.  I got my first purebred Border Collie.  As usual, she had to have her obedience work on her.  She did very well in obedience, but I had lost a lot of interest in it, while gaining more interest in herding.  Kate, the purebred, was a natural and super fast.  So fast, I felt that I almost had to learn herding all over again.  I couldn’t think or react fast enough.  At one year old, after a major physical setback with Kate, we won our first Border Collie trial.  Wow, I couldn’t believe it!  That class that she won was a novice-novice class, right where we should be.  Unfortunately, there are not many novice trials offered any more, and we moved her up into ProNovice soon after.  I have made mistakes with both Bonnie and Kate in herding training.  That is the learning process.  I believe it is harder for the human to learn this sport, than it is for the dog.  And humans and mistakes go together.

    My next pup, Tam, has been the toughest dog that I have ever worked with.  Turning her into a housedog has been extremely challenging.  She didn’t want to do anything that I wanted her to do, she had her own agenda.  Bonnie and Kate were really easy, compared to her.  If she had had a middle finger, she would have given it to me a lot!

    Tam’s deal was independence, and dominance.  Now, she has turned around.  The eight months of complaining to my husband that I was tired of being so hard on Tam, are over.  And I am glad that I persisted.  She is great, and a wonderful housedog.  She is always easy to train on sheep, and a total natural, she just didn’t want to conform to the house rules.  If she had been sold to someone else, Tam would have been a kennel dog.

    I have been training in herding now for over eight years and am now teaching others.  What an addicting dog sport.  My life has changed dramatically since herding has taken over.  A clean and wholesome dog sport, I challenge the reader to try it.

    The Aussie Transfer - I am waiting at my Dad’s house, as the neighbor comes over with Decker, I glance over and comment, “Wow, he is big!”  Then immediately I see Decker key on me and “Growl…BARK, BARK, BARK, I ‘m going to EAT you!!!”  I immediately reach for the leash, turn and walk off with him, keeping the dog out away from my body in order not to get bitten.  I continue to walk around keeping my head up and chest out and mind calm, but in control.  That’s what this dog needs, someone in control.

    As I walk around, I started getting in his space, making him yield to me, insisting on it.  I claim the yard, always making Decker give to me.  After walking around and “taking charge” for about 7 – 10 minutes, Decker is calm and accepting me as the one in charge. 

    He had never been in a crate before and knowing that he bites, I wasn’t going to push, pull or force him in.  We took the crate apart.  Then carefully coached him into the open bottom.  By this time I had Decker literally eating out of my hand.  No trauma for the dog, the top of the crate was then put on slowly and carefully, and we lift him into the truck.  

    When we got home, the girls, Decker and I went for a four mile (1hour) power walk.  It was hot that day, but he needed this.  When we got home, I asked my husband to take the leash (that was the scary part for him) and walk around for a minute.  Decker did quite well.  

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