Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Herding Clinics - WOOHOO!

HOORAY! Scott Glen is coming back to Fido's Farm March. The All Breed All Levels Clinic is March 21-22. Private lessons are available the week prior.

Shhhhh....Don't tell my husband, but I enrolled him & Beth for two private sessions with Scott and the entire weekend for the clinic. (John, if you are reading this...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

I am going to audit the clinic again and I am going to have a private session with Bonnie! WOOHOOO! She will be ready to start seriously training by then. (If it all goes as planned - I will be able to walk backward with out falling over by then too).

Then April 11-12 is a Karen Child Handling Clinic, "Tips & Tactics for Success on the ISDS Trial Course". By popular request Karen Child is once again offering her handling and rules clinic for novice, pro-novice and open handlers. I enrolled us both in this clinic.

"During this clinic you will run the ISDS course with Karen Child at your side. Through discussions, demonstrations and hands-on working sessions you will hone your handling skills, learn trial guidelines, gain knowledge of how to work around a tricky situation and find out how to get the most from your team during trial runs. As the clinic finale you will run a trial course while Karen scores your run.

That gives me until March to save the money to pay for it all! I have a new "Herding Fund Accumulation Strategy". Every time I go to to the grocery store, Costco or anywhere that allows me to get money back when I use my debit card - I am going to take $20.00 or $40.00 and hide it (hopefully I won't forget where I hid it this time). I figure by then I can pay for this without having to fore go paying for any of the kids braces, food, shoes or coats. (I know... my priorities are wee bit misaligned eh?)

My favorite picture of John & Beth

We are so blessed to have two incredible instructors available to us.

I love Fido's Farm....When I die I want my ashes spread in a sheep pen.

Fido's Farm - My Nirvana

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wii + Border Collie = Bad News

Did you know if you have a group of teenagers playing the Wii in your living room, bouncing around & in general having fun - that this will make a border collie (who was before this point rather calm and happy) very agitated and upset?

Friday Night:
John and the kids were playing Wii baseball. Finn & the other dogs were excited and bouncing around the living room with them. Then Finn suddenly nipped John hard in the back of the leg. John corrected him and Finn backed off. Then Grace took a turn, Finn circled around the chair and nailed Grace in the leg from behind. John corrected Finn again & they stopped playing the Wii and found something calmer to do.

Saturday Night: The kids were playing the Wii again. I let the dogs inside from the backyard. Finn came flying into the living room and bit Zach so hard in the leg that it broke the skin through his pants. Then he went after Evan.

I understand border collie behavior & why Finn was lunging and nipping. He is a herding dog, it is his instinct. I decided to work with Finn Sunday. Shaping his behavior with positive reinforcement, by marking the behavior hopefully modify Finn's reactions - basically desensitize him to the kids movements with the Wii. I had all the kids start playing the Wii again. Then when Finn ignored them, I clicked and treated him. He responded beautifully. After several sessions throughout the day Finn started to ignore them and looked to me for direction.

That was reassuring to me. He is trainable.

Later on though he started growling at our 10 y/o Grace and showing some aggressive behavior to the other kids when they would walk by him. That sealed the deal...

I could not trust him with the kids - which is not unusual for the breed. Finn is a young border collie who is very trainable. However he needs more than I can provide him in our home and he should not be around children at this time. Between the separation anxiety (cannot leave him alone & we haven't slept through the night in a week), and the biting I had to send him back to Bob (the breed rep for rescue). Bob has the experience, endless knowledge, patience and facilities to work with Finn. He can give him so much more than the very little I can...

I made arrangements with Bob to meet him this afternoon.

Finn cuddled at my feet all morning - I felt like such a traitor. That feeling lasted until Bonnie walked into my office & Finn started aggressive resource guarding - in a split second he shot out from under my desk and refused to allow her within 5 feet of me. *sigh*

I knew I made the right decision - Finn needed to leave. For my children and dogs safety.

I feel terrible....Finn has so much potential - but it seemed the more comfortable he was getting in our home the more aggressive he was getting.

It isn't his fault. I should have been paying more attention and not allowed Finn to be in a situation where he could fail like that.

Oddly enough...I am going to miss him. However I am REALLY looking forward to snuggling with my hubby and sleeping through the night - we get our bed back! YEAH!

Goodbye Finn

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snow Dogs! Part Deux

Today we kissed goodbye to the latest round of snow. In memoriam I wanted to share some pics from our last snowy walk. Ranger & Bonnie loved the snow. Beth is very happy it is gone so she can see her ball again. Pa is happy it is gone too...so he can find all the tennis balls that disappeared into drifts.

Bonnie met her new archenemy. She spotted him down the trail...

This is Mr Stump-man. Bonnie did NOT like him much - she said his hair freaked her out. She barked, growled and fussed until we left him behind.

Ranger was so happy to be out playing in the snow again he did a little jig!

Beth jumped with joy too! Okay, she really jumped to catch the flying snow. Check out her mouth. What is that? Any ideas?

A giant bubble maybe?

Remember the game "Where's Waldo?". Here is a new version... "Where's Ranger?"

It was amazing to see all these icicles hanging from the cliff wall. This picture does not do them justice. They were crashing into the river below the entire time we were at the river.

I love the jumping shots. In the absense of a tennis ball (most of them have been lost in the snow) the poor dogs had to settle for flying snow.

Bonnie gave Ranger an earful about the dangers of playing with sticks.

Bonnie thought she saw Mr. Stump-man again.

We like the snow... but grass is so much nicer on the paws.

To see more of this snowy walk please visit this set on our Flickr page. The pictures are not the greatest, the lighting is bad and for some reason most of my snow pictures come out blue. I harbor no illusions that I am a photographer... :-)

More Snow Dogs Dec 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Introducing Finn the Fantastic!

Who needs socks! I have a new footwarmer!

You too can have a new footwarmer! This footwarmer is soft and silky and even comes with a toe washing feature that turns on automatically on those days your tooties are a bit funky.

Power out? No problem! This footwarmer only needs love and groceries to keep on warmin'. He is versatile and ready to serve...following you everywhere (including the bathroom) ready and waiting to warm your toes all over the house.

You too can bring this special footwarmer home with you!

On Wednesday I received a call that there was a intact male border collie in a shelter in Bellingham. Bob, the BC breed rep with Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue was already at the shelter, there were three border collies and he only had two crates. The timing was perfect, there was a nice break in the 'blizzards' and the major roads were passable - so we hopped in for the three hour drive to Bellingham.

After getting stuck in over 16 inches of snow three times we finally made it to the shelter. Where we met Mr. No-Name 1 y/o Intact Male Border Collie.

We named him Finn. This gorgeous little 39 lb boy was a stray, found wandering the streets of Whatcom County.

Finn is your typical hyperactive insane young border collie - but he also plays very well with others and settles down nicely when praise and treats are offered. (Finn is the 1st butt on the left)

He is sweet and loving to the other dogs...(for now). That may change as he gets more comfortable with our pack dynamic.

The first day out on our walks, we tied a 20 ft soft cord to his collar (so we could grab him easily) on the off chance his recall wasn't reliable. We have since removed it, his recall is spot on beautiful, reliable so far with distractions. He was a stray - and I find it a bit difficult to believe that he left his home on his own - my guess is... he was abandoned. Finn will not let any of us out of his sight, indoors or outdoors. Then again who knows...he may have succumbed to the urge to find a girlfriend.

He is housebroken, he will need to be neutered ASAP as he did mark the first day in our house (he has since learned the err of his ways and stopped it). Someone trained him the basics before they abandoned him. He would make an awesome agility dog! Today he hopped backward up the stairs. (*sigh* I have been working with Ranger on that for over a year and he still doesn't have much rear end awareness) Finn is sharp, fast and watches EVERYTHING!

We are going to put him on sheep the first chance we have after the snow melts.

The only issue I have seen so far: Finn has .... the dreaded SEPARATION ANXIETY!!!!

The first night home....he didn't sleep, neither did I. As a matter of a fact, no one in the entire house slept. Finn hates his crate. He howled, barkscreamed and freaked out most of the night. I couldn't take another night of it...so he is sleeping with in our bed for now (I know, I know...this may be a big mistake) I just couldn't do it to him (or myself) another night. We will work on slowly exposing him to the crate over time. I am glad I have the next week off from work to take time with him.

There is one odd feature. Something happened to Finn's tail somewhere along the line. It seems to be missing about 5 inches. He has a little scar at the end too. My guess is - accident.

Finn is the long haired version of Beth. Beth is relieved that Finn understands and respects her position as the ultimate "Ball Queen" and doesn't challenge her possession like Oliver did.

Ranger thinks Finn is cool. Finn thinks Ranger is cool too.

Finn has figured out to stay out of Bonnie's way when she looks like this...

What a motely crew....I dont know if I will be able to let this guy go!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Border Collie Fashion Show

Being cooped up all day (due to the blizzard) requires a bit of entertainment. Armed with a clicker and a big bag of treats I had some fun today! (It is remarkable what you can get a food driven border collie to do).

Beth was suspicious when I walked into the room with the treats and clicker.

She said she drew the line at the agility nonsense. There was no way she was putting on human clothes. She told me I was a pathetic old lady torturing dogs for fun - then bolted from the room.

Just in time for the Holidays and those long cold winter days!

Border Collies Modeling Winter Fashions!

Featuring children's sweaters designed and hand knitted by my mother.

Ranger models a wonderful Thomas the Tank Engine sweater. This lovely combination enhances Ranger's striking black and white coloring.

Adding a masculine hat brings together Ranger's classic ensemble. He is ready for those cold winter mornings.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Bonnie models a beautiful dusty pink sheep themed sweater designed and knitted by grandma. In these warm stylish outfits Bonnie and Ranger are ready for a cold snowy walk along the river.

The pink sweater & scarf are versatile - easily going from work to lounging at home. Perfect for any busy Border Collie.

Many classic fashions are unisex - Bonnie has added Rangers masculine hat to her ensemble giving the hat a truly feminine touch. The pink and grey combination really makes Bonnie's freckles POP!

After a break for wardrobe change Bonnie the Superdogmodel is back - this time she is sporting a beautiful Fair Isle Collection. Bonnie said she felt right at home in this outfit - featuring a traditional knit of her ancestors from the British Isles.

Bringing together the dog paw print polar fleece scarf and the fair isle collection might seem daring for some, but Bonnie pulls is off with ease. What a gorgeous combination!

Wrapping up her appearance here today - Bonnie has decided to pair the simple dog paw print scarf with it's companion hat. Bonnie suggests wearing this with a classic black jacket and gloves.

Ranger and Bonnie would like to thank you for taking time to view their fashion show!

***No dogs were harmed in the course of this photo shoot.***

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Dogs!

After the wild and wooley weather we have had it was wonderful to get out and enjoy fresh powder snow, brisk temperatures and gorgeous sunshine!

Look Ma ... White stuff! It is EVERYWHERE! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Wait for me!

What is this stuff? There sure is alot of it!

Who cares about the white stuff...If I look cute will you please throw the ball?

What is that? What just hit me in the face?

That ain't no stinkin' ball!

Who is throwing the white stuff?

Hey this is kinda fun! Do it some more!

Yeah! Throw some more!

WEEEEEE! Catch the white stuff!

I got it!

Bonnie and Oliver are wondering what the heck Beth is doing...

Bonnie thinks Beth is nuts...

Beth doesn't care...she is proud to be a snow freak.

Thank doG...finally she is throwing the ball!

Uh Oh...Oliver got it!

My turn, my turn! I got it...just kinda did a little face plant...this stuff is slippery too!

Wait, Ma...didn't you say this dude was, like, leaving, or something? Sunday right? Is it Sunday yet?

Tired snow dogs...

Insane snow dog...

Okay..I am tired too...only because I think my lungs have frozen solid.

See, it doesn't always rain in Western Washington.