Sunday, August 28, 2011

Introducing Woolie Dog tugs - With a giveaway!!

Over the past couple months I've been working on perfecting a felted wool tug toy for dogs. Much like the ever popular poly fleece tugs but made instead with 100% natural, renewable wool. These tugs are easy on your hands and great for dogs that like to really get a grip on their toy. Made from strong, dense felted wool they hold up very well to rigorous Kipp and Kenzi testing (as seen in the above picture!)

This week I'm having a giveaway on the Woolie Dog Facebook page to introduce the Woolie Dog Etsy shop. To enter, like Woolie Dog on Facebook, then post to the Facebook wall telling why your dogs would love a Woolie Dog tug (pictures are great, too!) The entry deadline is Friday Sept 2nd at 11:59 PM. On Saturday Sept 3rd my impartial judge (ie, 18 y/o dog loving brother with a great sense of humor) will choose up to 5 people* to receive a free tug toy!

Basic rules - one entry per person, open to residents of the US and Canada, after the winners are chosen I will contact them through a FB message to get find out what size toy they need and to get a mailing address

*I will give 1 toy per every 10 entries for up to 50 entries.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell me Thursday

It's once again time for

Brought to us by Crooks and Crazies

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?

Start out with a long line and keep them on it for a while... But then I use chase games and treats. And after they are pretty solid they get walked down if they blow me off.

2. What is your favorite Restaurant or type of food? Clearly I have food on the brain much of the time.

Chinese food - or at least the American version of Chinese.

3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?

Knitting - especially socks!! My mom taught me when I was about 5 y/o and I did a few things in the next several years but it kind of stayed on the back burner. After I got sheep and started spinning yarn in my mid teens, I got back into knitting and a few years ago I decided that I love to knit socks. I've probably knit 60+ pairs in the last 8-10 years (8 pairs so far this year...)and started designing sock knitting patterns earlier this year.

4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now! (For example, how did you get from Novice to Open? How long did it take? Train dogs? Buy dogs? I'll take answers for any sort of discipline, or even how did you go from wild dog that didn't listen to well behaved dog - interpret this however you like.)

I'll tell you about Kipp :-) I got Kipp with the intention of training him for a farm/trial dog but switched gears a few months after I got him and got into SAR instead.

Kipp was 1.5 y/o, highly driven, and didn't think he needed me when we started out - he was fond of people, but didn't *need* them. And had a serious cat obsession. Like he learned that "Pepper" meant "cat" in about three repeats and for the next 6 month the mention of "cat" or "Pepper" he'd break off from whatever and go into cat hunting mode. VERY annoying. We did lots of NILIF, lots of drive building (schutzhund style), focus work and corrections because, nipping and chasing cats is not allowed.....

I had moments where I thought "what in the world was I thinking getting another dog?!?"

The SAR group I joined had very talented trainers that mentored me through the long process of training a search dog. And for all the frustrations I'd had with Kipp, he was a driven little dog with lots of try. So we kept plugging away and making progress. I knew it was working the day I set up a search at home, a cat followed my "victim" out to the woods and Kipp ignored the cat and alerted like he'd been trained too!

Just over 2 years after I joined the group and started training, Kipp and I passed the final leg of our wilderness SAR certification.

I still refer to him as "brat" sometimes, but we've become partners and buddies and I can't imagine my little dude not being in my life. Now as I train with Kenzi I love getting Kipp out and working him on a mock search because he's just a solid, dependable worker. It's hard to believe that he was so ADD at one point.

5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently?

I've had started Kenzi out a bit differently. Because she was pretty well balanced and seemed ready to go I expected too much too quick from her. If I went back I'd go slower and stick with foundation work a bit longer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Current Knitting

I designed a baby blanket for the Knit Picks program and am working on knitting up a sample. The yarn I'm using is Knit Picks Swish Tonal in the Springtime colorway (LOVE this color!) and this project seems to be going FAST! I'm used to fingering yarn on size 2 needles and now I'm using worsted weight yarn on size 8.

Yes, it look a bit like a bag right now, but that's because of the circular needle it's being knit on - when it's flat out it will be square!

I started a project just for me this week using the yarn I just got from the Michigan Fiber Festival. The colors aren't quite true in this picture - the red is a bit more salmon, and the blues are more turquoise, navy and purple. the socks have a braided cable running down the outside edge - similar placement to my Winding Road Socks. It's a fun project to work on - enough detail to keep it interesting, but simple enough to work on while watching movie or having a conversation.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Michigan Fiber Festival

Today was awesome – I spent it at the Michigan Fiber Festival (think wool, angora and mohair fiber, not all bran!) and met up with some great friends!

I've been attending this festival for about 15 years now! I can hardly believe it's been that long – I was a vendor at the first several and had a great time seeing people and forming friendships with other vendors. I quit the vendor side of things a few years ago as I became busier and busier with work each summer, but I still love catching up with those friends every year. And taking in the colorful, soft, luscious fiber goodness.

This year the day was cut a bit short by a huge storm that rolled through (and the fact that I, umm, slept in this morning) but I still got a chance to to check out most of the vendors and find a few goodies for myself. I was very good in the yarn department and got just one skein – it has fun, bright and colors and I'm thinking that I'll turn it into socks (what else?!) Since I've got enough yarn to last me for 4 years, plus all the stuff I dye, I managed to resist the rest of it, even though there was some really awesome stuff there...

I did get an awesome print done by Joan Arnold. I've admired her work for the past couple years and decided to treat myself to something this year. The picture I got has a Border Collie and sheep and is titled - Turn Around Ewe.

I also sampled some sheep's milk cheese made at Tirrell Centennial Farm - it was very good! I love to see the way local farms diversify and find a niche for themselves.

Then the storm clouds rolled in so I headed out to eat with friends that I met up with there - a really great way to continue the fun a bit longer when the rain cut our festival time short!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Thursday again!

Time for Crooks and Crazies "Tell me Thursday" I love reading what other people write and have fun answering the questions so here goes

1. Who is your newest dog? Where is he/she from, and why did you choose this particular dog/breeding? This question posted by Jodi

That would be Kenzi - though I've had her for almost two years so she isn't exactly new. She came through Border Collie rescue after being abandoned at 4 m/o so I have no clue as to her breeding.

I had just certified with Kipp for wilderness SAR work and I wanted another training project/SAR prospect. So my criteria was a dog with a stable temperament and good toy drive and she had both. I'll admit that the fact that she was a long coated female didn't hurt either.

2. What traits drew you to this dog or breeding? (also by Jodi)

The Face. I saw her pictures (below) on Petfinder and I fell in love.

Of course she had to pass my other criteria before I actually got her, but that bright, happy, eager face definitely was the reason I started the application process.

In actually she doesn't have some of the traits that I most appreciate such as a serious no nonsense attitude when it comes to anything that might possibly work and calm focus. But hopefully the calm focus will improve with age and if it doesn't, well, she's just so happy that I guess it doesn't matter THAT much!

3. What's on your feet right now?

Eastland leather sandals

4. What are you reading right now?

Umm, err, nothing.... I do love to read, but I'm in the middle of a three week break between summer and fall classes so I'm taking a break from reading right too.

5. What upcoming trials are you looking forward to? If you don't trial dogs I'll take whatever activity that you're looking forward to.

Getting the dogs started on sheep - hopefully next month I'm going to take a long weekend and go somewhere where I can get some help getting a good foundation on both of them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Knitting Away

I realized the other day that most all of my knitting this year has been for pattern samples. Not a bad thing by any means, but one of these days I'm going to start a sweater or something just for fun.

In the mean time, I just finished up the first pair of Puppy Love socks - Yay!! Now to get the perfect picture and finish writing the pattern so I can send everything off to Knit Picks. I've taken about 50 pictures and am sorting through them to see what will work. Always amazed at how hard it can be to get a perfect sock shot.

In other dog loving knitter news - My other dog themed pattern - Woof! Socks - is in the latest Knit Picks catalog. I got a heads up email from KP a couple weeks ago and have been impatiently waiting for the catalog ever since :D

And stay tuned -I've got two more dog themed patterns in the works. It's fun combining dogs and knitting!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Simple things

Yup, those made my happy today!

First off, Kenzi grasped the whole concept of "tunnel" today. A bit of back story - Part of the SAR eval has the dog go through a tunnel to show that the dog takes directional cue and can confidently work in tight spaces/enter them on command.

But the problem with Border Collies is that they're smart and so sometimes I tend to skip over the teaching phase. Because, hey, tunnel is easy you point at it and the dog goes through, right? Except you don't take into account that everything else you've pointed at you've expected the dog to "hup" up onto. This is called handler error and as a result I had never really taught her what I meant by "tunnel".

So I finally borrowed a couple of collapsible kiddie tunnels from a friend and took time to show Kenzi what I really meant when I said "tunnel". Amazingly enough it worked!! Tonight I had a dog that was begging to run through the tunnel. Then she'd get her frisbee reward and run back through it - frisbee in her mouth. Silly dog.

Number two on my "simple things that made me happy today" list - My Knit Picks Options Knitting Needles arrived today. Yup, really. Knitting needles make me happy :-) I could finally justify ordering this set as I'm working on a new pattern (dog themed again :D) that requires at least 3 different sets of circular needles. I'm happy with it! I received the yarn for the above mentioned project last week and I LOVE the color! Can hardly wait until this current sock socks is finished so I can get going on the next idea!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just for fun - Tell me Thursday

I've been reading the past couple of posts on Crooks and Crazies and decided that I want to play along this week - because it's fun being random and reading about other people (and realizing that there are people just like you that have like 3 crates for each dog).

So here goes -

1. In sheepdog training (or lets call it *any* type of training), how do you keep from taking yourself, your dog, your lack of progress too seriously?

I like serious when it comes to my dogs, I really do. Love the "let's go get the job done" mentality. Thank you Kipp!

But then I also ended up with a dog like Kenzi - Seriously, could you stay serious with a face like that looking at you?!?

And just for kicks, train some weird random behaviors every once and a while - like how to walk up stairs, backwards. Hey - as long as I have a happy go lucky dog, I might as well do something crazy with her.

These sort of thing really help you not kick yourself too hard when your dog forgets a couple things during SAR evals...

2. How many crates do you have? For reals.
I have six - you never know when and where you might need to stash a dog. And look at the bright side - when I get a new dog, I won't need to buy a crate so I'll save money then...

3. How do you keep your dogs in shape?
I usually like to run then in the field, but that is overgrown with corn and soybeans right now. So I bike with Kenzi and play ball with Kipp (who doesn't seem to understand the purpose of biking)

4. Who is your favorite movie/tv star eye candy at the moment?

eye candy, sheesh. I'm in school, I have sheep, two Border Collies (I know - hardly any) and work on the side and design knitting patterns for fun. I haven't thought about eye candy for a while. But I've been catching up on the White Collar series and that Matt Bomer guy is kinda cute...

5. What is your livestock situation? Have your own? Borrow? Herd the cats? (You can subsitute other equipment for livestock if you don't work stock with your dogs)

I have Sheep! That's why you get Border Collies, right? :D I'm currently down to 7 ewes, a ram and 5 lambs. And yet I don't work either dog on them right now. That was Missy's job and she did really well for me so I stuck to SAR for K&K. I'll be working on remedying that in the near future... Stay tuned.

Kipp would dearly, dearly love the opportunity to herd cats but he was over the top obsessed with it when I got him so I don't let him go there anymore...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why I'll always have more than one dog

I though about this a bit 6 years ago. In the space of 2 months I lost a childhood cat, dog and my favorite sheep. It was pretty depressing. But I had Missy, in her prime, exuding joy for life. It made me smile, it made me happy to get out and do things.

The past few weeks I've had Kipp and Kenzi. At 6 and 2 they are very much full of life and ready to go. It's good to have a dog to get out and do things with. To hook Kenzi up to the bike and watch her lean forward in excitement to GO! To make me smile and laugh. They certainly can't replace Missy, but they are themselves, full of life, looking at me with eagerness and excitement begging to get out and do something. And it's good to get out with them.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Yeah. Those. It's been a week of adjustments. Mourning what is gone but also very grateful that it changed my life so much for the better. I haven't really cried too much in the past couple days but now the tears are coming as I write this.

I've stayed out and about a lot this week and that has helped. But I still half expect to hear the bark when one of the guys walk into the house. Still look for that nose to nudge my elbow at the table, still expect a my girl to follow me upstairs or come lay beside me whatever room I may be in.

I find myself talking to Kipp the same way I talked to Missy. He doesn't understand the way she did, but he tries. He cocks his head looking at me taking in the words, trying to figure it out.

I started riding my bike to the other barn at chore time. It's not that far and the back seat of the car was just too empty. I take Kenzi along. She's a bit wild and crazy but the run does her good. I'll tie her to the fence while I do chores. I want her to learn how to settle down and act sensible around the sheep so she's in a better frame of mind when I'm able to start training her to help with chores.

It's good to get out and do something with those two. Even though it's so different I'd be totally lost without a dog to do something with.

My locket came in the mail today. I'm not really a jewelry person, but last week I decided I wanted a locket to keep a lock of Missy's hair in. I have a bit that I trimmed from around her ear. Soft, silky and I loved to feel it as I'd rub behind her ears. The locket I got is silver with a black onyx heart on the front. I found it on ebay and it just seemed fitting for my black dog - simple, yet beautiful.