This morning I'm off to work the dogs for what might be the last time before the Hotchkiss trial next weekend. I hope we have a better day than the last time I took the dogs out. We went to the smaller, narrow field again, and didn't have a great work session. Craig would not take my whistles at a distance no matter what I did (which eventually involved running up the field and screaming at him at the top of my lungs—not one of my better moments). He took everything I asked for when he was close to me, but not when he got a bit further away. I am not sure if this was a fluke or I have a problem on my hands—we'll see today, I guess. I didn't have much more success with Taz. He didn't really want to take my whistles either. He'd take them when they made a lot of sense to him, like when the sheep were breaking or when he was set up to run an obvious direction, but he seemed to have no idea what I was asking of him when I whistled him along on a cross drive. I will be the first to admit that my whistles are not always the most consistent, and they certainly are not the most pleasant sounds on the planet, so I think more practice for me without the dogs is in order here. And Taz's driving didn't look so hot last time out either. He wasn't wanting to take my direction while he was working, and he stopped to look back at me a bunch. I think he is just still unsure about what I want from him, but we don't have very much time to work it out if before next weekend. We'll see how he does today...wish us luck!
I live in Erie, Colorado, and—despite the clear lack of sheep in my suburban backyard—I spend much of my free time working my border collies on stock. Sophie is the dog I started this journey with—she is a border collie x aussie (x maybe chihuahua, at least according to the canine genetics folks) who, as a misbehaving adolescent brought me to my first glimpse of the stockdog world. I didn't learn very much with her, but our experience piqued my curiosity about working stockdogs. I then got Taz to learn how to work with dogs and stock for real. I started Taz myself and have learned a lot about what not to do along the way! Taz spent a few months in Canada last winter with Scott Glen, who fixed some of the mistakes I made training him—I am really enjoying working Taz again and seeing what we can do together. Craig is my oldest border collie, given to me a few years ago to help me improve my handling skills and now retired. Meg is my newest prospect; she's just a pup now, but she's a firecracker and I can't wait to start her. Right now, I trial Taz in pro-novice/open ranch. I am hoping that keeping an online journal of my trials and tribulations will help me work through my training challenges and keep me on track. I am very fortunate to have a few skilled and accomplished folks helping me, and I have no doubt that this blog will be a source of great amusement for them. It's also a fun way to share the pain with others also suffering the anguish and humiliation of trying to figure out how to guide another species to effectively interact with a third species to a standard of skill developed by people living in another country hundreds of years ago . . .
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He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.