Thursday, September 29, 2011

TMT Again!

Woot! Laura has more fun questions this week!

so here goes

1. What movie do you love but are too embarrassed to admit you love it?

I don't think I've got one... (boring I know, but it's true!)

2. Ann wants to know: How far do you drive/travel to attend trials, clinics, lessons? How far is
too far?

I drive 30-65 miles (one way) each week to go to SAR training. I'd have no issues traveling several hours for good training. But I'm currently operating on a college student budget/time schedule with really puts a crimp in any sort of training.

3. What is your theme song (circa Ally McBeal)?

Recently it's been "Stand" by Rascal Flatts

4. Laura S wants to know: If you had to choose a new dog activity, one that you had never done before, what would you choose?

Sheepdog trials or USAR.

5. What would your dog choose (or scribe, if you're Pippin)?

Kipp would love to be a full time stockdog. He'd probably also like footstep tracking - lots of food involved!

Kenzi would probably choose agility - she's got serious footwork skills -

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A building search

Kipp was bored this afternoon. And it was raining outside. It's hard to convince a volunteer "victim" that hiding out in the woods in the rain is a great way to spend their time on a Saturday - just not their idea of a good time for some strange and odd reason.

So I asked my little sister to hide in the addition instead.

The addition is about 24x32, with a second floor. It is enclosed, but still under construction. There are some piles of insulation rolls that create a decent hiding spots on both floors as well as a stairway to hide under.

Working indoors is a whole different ballgame for the dog. The air currents work differently and there are lots of places for the scent to pool. A search dog works through using it's nose primarily, not it's eyes. So they may alert in an odd spot if the human scent is pooling there. Today the victim was under the stairs that wrap around the chimney. It's still open with just stud walls so the scent is pretty free to travel around. Kipp went up and down the stairs a few times he kept checking out the top of the stairs and where the chimney came through the second floor. He finally barked in front of the fireplace. I gave him the search command again. And he started checking around the fireplace which led him underneath the step to his victim.

I going to start doing some more building work with him. I've got a couple barns and a hay barn that would work really well and come complete with distractions!

In knitting news, I got another package from Knit Picks today. This box contained yarn for two sample pairs of socks. Gonna sign off now, pop in a DVD and start in on a pair!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Wow - it's been two weeks since I did this. Last Thursday I was caught up in the combined craziness of work and school...

But I'm back for this week!

Going Forward what are your goals for the next 6 months?

Good question! I like setting goals - it gives me something to aim for!

For me

-Have a total of 16 patterns up on Knit Picks (shameless plug alert - Puppy Love Socks went up today - squee!!)

-Further develop and market Woolie Dogs Tugs

- Start writing a book - right now I'm leaning toward doing one with with my knitting patterns and the stories behind them.

(I would dearly love to be self employed by the time I'm done with school, or at least have a good part time income)

- Finish 11 more hours of college and be well into the next 11-14 hours

For the dogs

- Get Kipp to where he can help me with barnyard chores

- Get Kenzi certified as a wilderness SAR dog

- Perfect the recall and the "leave it" command -They've both got one, but I want a nice, sharp, head spinning recall and leave it from both of them.

Those are the goals - It'll be fun to look back 6 months from now to see how I did!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

National Sheepdog Finals

If you love watching real working dogs in action, check out the National Sheepdog Finals going on through this weekend. The Best of the Best Border Collie in North America are competing there. The dogs are simply amazing and the handlers are top notch. Even better there is a live webcast so you can watch these incredible dogs in action this weekend. To learn how check out this short instructional video.

One of these years I'm going to make it there in person.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The bell collar and other successes

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time for Kenzi to start wearing a bell collar when practicing searches. I probably should have done it a while ago, but anyways...

I brought it out and was reminded of why I'd put it off. She didn't like the loud clanking bell next to her ear and was like "whoa - what's happening to me?!?!" I did take the bell to the collar to muffle it just a bit but after that I ignored her response, did some upbeat training and took it off her. The next day I put it on her before playing ball. Just as I suspected, the desire to play ball trumped the uncertainty of the clanking bell. We repeated a few more times.

This past week at SAR training, I put the bell on her and she worked beautifully - no issues with the noise. It reminded me about what I loved in her from the get go - her adaptability. She'd had limited human interaction for her first 6-7 months, yet she is adaptable. Give her a little bit of time to figure out a new situation and she is fine with it. I love that about her! As an added bonus that night, she worked within the search area (no turning a four acre search into a forty acre one...), recalled beautifully while searching and ignored the dead deer at the edge of her section. I was quite happy with all of this.

The other success had to do with the cat. Ferdinand to be exact. I took Kenzi out in the yard to work her and Ferdy was sitting there. Joy. I expected brain freeze from Kenzi. Didn't happen. She was very aware of him and glanced a couple times in his direction but that was it. We did healing, recalls and send outs with really nice focus - I even sent her out where she had to run past him and she stayed on task. This to made me very, very happy. I was sure to convey that pleasure to her!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dogs and college part 2

And a follow-up of yeaterday's post. Today the college is throwing their biannual campus bash - ie, a controlled party for college kids. They have music, food, huge inflatables, some sort of airsoft range set up by the Army, a firetruck, etc.

I heaed out to see if I'd like it. Umm, not really my thing (though I did take advatage of the free food and got a free t-shirt). But it did look like another awesome training opportunity!

After I wandered around for 15 minutes I headed back to the car and grabbed Kenzi. I stayed at the edge of the mayhem, away from the bulk of the people, but there was still plenty for her to take in. She did really well. She had great focus in short increments and was interested but not at all worried or too distracted about the nosie and commotion in the distance. After about 15 mintues I could tell that her brain was starting to fry so we left. I was happy with how things went!

I'm thinking that by the time the spring bash rolls around, that I'd like to have her to the point where she can walk in amongst the crowds with me. We'll see!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The dogs go to college, too

I've decided that my college campus is the perfect place for dog training. It's a good size campus (for a community college) with lots of large grassy areas. I can work the dogs near buildings and people if I want to work the dogs under distractions or go to the edge of the parking lot and have the area all to myself.

I'm already there three days a week and since the dogs are almost always crated in the back of the car anyway I don't have drive anywhere to get to a new training area.

Today I worked at the far edge of the parking lot away from the distractions. I opened up the crates in the back and alternated calling the dogs and sending them back to their crate - I'd call Kipp and Kenzi had to stay put. Then I'd send Kipp back to his crate and call Kenzi while Kipp waited (in the open crate) I had never done this exact game before with the dogs and I was impressed at how well they did. I only had to remind Kipp once and Kenzi twice that they were supposed to stay in the crate when the other dog popped out. As I was working them one of the college maintenance guys drove past on a golf cart. He paused to watch for a minute and when I looked up he smiled and called out "I've got a German Shepherd at home you can train!" :D

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Yup it's time once again for Crooks and Crazies

1. What is the biggest thing that grossed you out over the past week?

The sight of the cooked cat food. Yup, it's gross. My uncle cooks food for his barn cats because, well, they've always cooked food for the cats on that farm. The tradition dates back to my great grandmother at least. But these days the food is truly gross. He pretty much cleans out the fridge, adds some rice, oats or cornmeal and cooks it up. ewwwww. Don't ask me why because cat food is both cheap and easy these days. But he's always done it and always will. And the cats all hang around and none of them has dropped dead at the food pan yet. I keep telling myself that it's probably better than some commercial foods, but still...

2. What do you feed your dogs?

These days it's a mix of raw and The Honest Kitchen. They love it and do great on it so I'll keep them on it as long as I can afford to. It's about the same price as a premium kibble (Canidae, etc) and I like the idea of "real food" when I'm able to feed it. When I'm pinching pennies I feed Diamond Naturals - great price and good ingredients.

3. If you could move anywhere where would you live?

A big ranch in the middle of Colorado or Wyoming...

4. What is the funniest thought that occurred to you (or thing that happened to you) this week?

Swapping college stories with my SIL and brother. First week of classes gives one some doozies. The best one was of the individual who stated in introductions that they hope to finally pass the English class (third try), but then spent half of their writing time watching pokemon videos on the computer where they was supposed to writing a paper. Yeah. go figure.

5. If you couldn't have your breed of choice what would be next on your list?

Malinios or Papillon - depends on if I wanted a big dog or small one!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

And summer is over far too soon.... Well, summer freedom that is. I head back to classes tomorrow – sigh...

I am really glad that the summer weather is coming to a close. I just don't do 90+ degree days really well and we've had plenty of them this season. I was rejoicing at the deliciously cool high of 63 today!

In knitting news, I finished the Puppy Paws Blanket sample last night! I ended up knitting the paws twice because the first time around I miscalculated on the yarn and ran out – oops! Fair isle takes me forever to do – especially the second time around. But I decided it was soo worth it as I looked at the finished product today. The blanket turned out incredibly adorable! After classes tomorrow I'll start writing up the pattern so I can get everything sent off the Knit Picks.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Starting back in with the whole stockdog thing...

I took the dogs for a lesson in stockwork today. Kipp is a whirlwind and Kenzi in a bit of a spaz and these combinations are not conducive to beginning work in my set up. But I need a chore dog. I haven't thought about it for the past several years because Missy was just there. Ready to help when I needed it. The sheep respected her and it made routine chores go smoothly. She knew the sheep, knew their quirks, knew what I needed and was delighted to handle the job.

Once you're used to that, it's really hard to make do without. I don't expect the other two to become her, but I still need a chore dog. Trying to deworm a dozen sheep on my own drove that point home. I was crying at the end out the combination of frustration of trying to do it myself and the hurt of missing my girl like crazy.

Watching Kipp today reminded just why I love that little dog. He has stretched me, frustrated me, blown me off, scared me half to death. But he tries everything I ask him to try. He figures it out, he doesn't quit. He has drive and work ethic. While he can make the journey pretty, umm, interesting, he can deliver in the end.

I've seen and appreciated it in SAR training. But the place where all of those qualities mesh the best is on stock. He hasn't been on stock in 11 months. Today he went into the round pen and started out tight in and in overdrive. By the end of the session he was giving the sheep a nice amount of space and becoming a team player as opposed to a one track "must control sheep" mind. He'd take a correction, learn from it and keep right on working. I have a really nice working dog in that little package. Now to mold it and shape it.

Kenzi wasn't quite as stellar, but I was pleased with the way her lesson went. She had good, sustained interest (much better than last fall) and was starting to get in the grove of wearing the sheep to the handler by the time she was done. Time will tell with her, but at least today was a good start.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tell me Thursday

Five new questions from Crooks and Crazies this week!

1. What five things can't you live without?

Laptop Computer
Water bottle
Cell Phone

2. How do you transport your dogs?

The back of a 2003 Saturn Vue. I love this car - basic, no frills with really decent gas mileage! It's a good thing that Kipp is a compact Border Collie and fits in a small crate! I know it's a bit cluttered, but it's all dog related stuff crammed in around the crates...

3. What role does obedience play in your training or running of your dog(s)?

It's there, but I don't stress it too much. They need to have manners, they need to come when called, they need to pay attention, but other than that they need to think for themselves and work independently too. My end goal in training is a partnership with my dog

4. At what point do you start putting commands on your dogs?

Once they start getting the idea of what they're supposed to be doing. I try not to name the behavior until I can get predictable results. In reality this doesn't always happen, but that's what I aim for...

Of course Missy broke all the rules when it came to dog training theory so with her I'd just show her what I wanted, name the behavior and she'd do it. Consistently.

5. Do you talk to strangers in elevators?

Not really. I suppose I would if it were a long elevator ride, but other than that I'm kinda quite...