Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just had to share

Reunion after 14 months in Iraq

I give up....Ranger is sticking to Agility

The subject line says it all.

Ranger more than likely will not be a sheep dog.

Maybe it isn't Ranger, perhaps it is the handler? *sigh*

(this video is from August - I was close to giving up then - but we kept on trying)

Today was not pretty. When he is engaged - he barrels toward the sheep like a bowling ball. Splitting them up and scattering them everywhere then playing a rousing game of chase. When I put any pressure on him to get him to start flanking/circling vs cutting right in he just quits - wanders over to the side of the arena, spreads a little pee, sniffs alot and snacks on sheep dung. When I can finally get him engaged again (after much ado) we repeat the same exercise over again. We have tried him on puppy sheep, spicy sheep & yearlings. Today we put him on 6 yearlings who normally keep him engaged because they move faster. We tried to move them through the gates - he will do that. Then gets bored and wanders off. John even tried to work with him and had the same results.

(this video is from several weeks ago - trust me, it hasn't improved over the weeks)

Today he completely forgot what "LIE DOWN" meant. Turned up his nose and walked away - or just flew past me and grabbed a little bit of wool.

Chris thinks that he has something in him...she said there were worse dogs than Ranger who are now accomplished sheep dogs. I think she saw how discouraged I was. I believe that Ranger can do it...but it will take more time and work than I think I have to give him. I think I need to pick one thing with him and do it well. He loves Agility and he is VERY good at it. Why muddy the water with herding?

So, there we have isn't Ranger? It is me.

I am getting so confused. In agility I am learning how to direct Ranger over obstacles etc by pointing and leading him (front cross, rear cross, push etc). In herding - it is the opposite - you dont point, you use the training aid/flag to fill in the space where you dont want your dog to go. No pointing allowed.

Who can blame Ranger for being confused - heck I am not sure if I am coming or going out there. Then I get frustrated and almost wind up in tears. No wonder Ranger is more interested in chowing down on sheep poop than listening to me...

So...for now I think I am going to discontinue the Ranger herding sessions (he is going to stick to agility). I am going to keep going to herding classes with Chris and work with her established dog Rosie so I can learn what the heck I am doing out there.

When Bonnie is ready - I can start her without completely screwing her up and if Karen Child will take her for a while and get a good firm foundation on her - when she comes back I will have some idea of what I am doing. Because right now I suck... *bigger sigh*

We also tried Oliver on sheep again - it was a disaster. Oliver should NEVER be near sheep again unless he is with an experienced handler that can handle a very strong dog. It was prey drive in overdrive He even scared Chris a little...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving, Turkey, & Oliver

Yesterday we loaded all the dogs up and drove 3 hours to Everson, WA to visit my parents. The dogs had a great time! My parents have a large tree farm behind their 'farm' where everyone had several good runs and exploring. The neighbors have sheep - so we had some fun with that too! (shhh...don't tell the neighbors)

Since we didn't cook dinner this year we were both missing the left overs - so John went to Safeway last night after we got home and bought a turkey. I wasn't expecting him to find much...but he came home with a 22 pounder! So we are cooking a huge turkey today! Leftovers anyone?

Oliver our new foster dog is doing wonderfully! The first night he was here he snuggled with me on our bed all night. He was a bit scared and didnt want to sleep in his crate. Who can blame him, he has been shuffled around quite a bit over the past few weeks. He now is sleeping through the night in his crate and he is 100% house trained! What a good dog ... someone is going to get a magnificent dog when they adopt him!

Here is a link to Oliver's listing on the rescue page." (can someone please tell me how to get links to show up on this silly blogger??)

This is what Oliver looked like when he was first picked up in Oregon next to a freeway (they suspect he had been dumped)

This is Oliver today!

I made a little video of him too!

He has such a sweet face! I love to kiss him on the head. He has a nice big meaty head which is just perfect for hugs!

His first foster mother is the one who brought him through the worst of it. He had pneumonia, was emaciated with a horrible skin condition. Lane County, OR Animal Shelter saw the potential in Oliver and chose to give him a second chance at life (THANK YOU) and was put into foster care. Oliver had been adopted by another family then returned. They said it was because he was 'agressive' when he 'air-snapped' at the mother. No matter how much rescue tried to explain to them that it was somewhat typical border collie behavior - she didn't care - the family returned Oliver after only being in his new home for about a week. *sigh*

All the better for the family that chooses to adopt Oliver! There isn't an agressive bone in this dog's body.

What am I thankful for? My health, my husband, my children & family...and of course my dogs. My life would be sad, lonely and empty without any of you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A New Direction

We are home safe and sound from our trip to Texas. The Austin area is very pretty, but I do prefer the gorgeous green here in Western WA. It is good to be home!

I did find something very strange - I didn't see a sheep the entire time we were in Texas. Cattle, yes. Roaches the size of my fist, yes. Horses, yes. Sheep? Nope...not a one.

All the time on the plane and driving gave me some time to contemplate and pray about the direction I am taking in my life. I have been blessed with an amazing husband. A good job, a lovely home and my health. I want to give something back and make a difference. How can I do that? One way is to use the talents God gave me and follow my passion...Dogs.

Given that Katie came from a shelter the day before she was due to be euthanized and we have three other amazing dogs we got from rescue - I have volunteered to help foster border collies for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue.

We are meeting Bob this evening to pick up our first foster! This is Oliver. Oliver is coming from Eugene Oregon where he spent some time in foster care already. He was adopted, then returned to rescue. I cant wait to meet him!

I am so excited! I will post pictures tomorrow after we have a chance to get settled.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Bonster's Body Double & Other Drivel...

Check out this new listing on the BC Rescue Site

That is Millicent in Kennewick, WA. Here is her actual listing (copy and paste it into your browser - I still cant figure out how to be a link to show up on this blogger)

Now look at Bonnie

Spooky eh?

For a moment there I was thinking about sending an email to Millicent's foster mom about adopting her. But I thought twice... There is a reason why we call Bonnie the Speckled Monster AKA 'Bonster'. I cannot imagine having TWO OF THEM!

Egads I just found this is SUMO BONNIE! (she really isn't that fat!) Wow, that is a bad angle huh?

Doesnt Ranger look like he's had a bit to much to drink?

I love sheep

She loves sheep too.

We are heading off to Texas Thursday. The pups will be boarding at Fido's for the weekend. Bonnie seems to have a slight cough, so like any paranoid mom I hauled her to the vet today. He thinks it is a 'doggie cold'. Dr. K is going to check her out again tomorrow when she is in day boarding (still healing from her spay surgery). Lets hope that is all it is...he also said it might be a little bit of "Swiffer Duster" stuck in her throat from their Pantry Raid yesterday.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sanity Prevailed

Yesterday we journeyed to 378 miles round trip to George, WA. We stopped to see the Wild Horse Monument near the Columbia. Very cool spot looking down on the Columbia. I think this may be the goofiest picture of John ever.

John and I met Nikki, an amazing woman who has been doing border collie & aussie rescue for over 10 years. Tre was cute as a button.
Ranger, Beth and Bonnie really seemed to like him. He got along with them quite well (in the limited amount of time we spent with him). He really is a lovely little dog. If I had my way, I would have brought him (and Donald) home with me, but sanity prevailed (much to my husband's relief).

This is Donald. In the few minutes I spent with him and the chaos of all the dogs swarming Donald was able to focus on me, treats and clicker in hand. He is one sharp cookie! He would make a lovely agility partner. He was just a little to wild and wooley for our pack.

I dont want to adopt another dog just because I lost Katie. Adopting another dog on impulse it the worst think anyone can do. As much as I loved Tre... and as much as I wanted to bring him home - I didn't. We are going to think about it until after we get back from Texas next week. If I feel I cannot live without him, and I am positive that his addition to our family is the best thing for everyone then I will adopt him. If I have any second thoughts - then Tre will make someone else a wonderful loving companion. He really is a lovely dog.

Being cooped up in the car yesterday seems to have taken its toll on the pups. This morning I made the grave mistake of leaving them in the house while I took a shower. I really should have know better...

I came down stairs to this..., "Uh...Ma, you dont look like you are happy to see me..."

The debris surrounding him happens to be what remains of the super jumbo size box of Swiffer Dusters.

Ranger said Bonnie made him do it.

Bonnie said it was a herd if wild monkeys.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Am I insane?

Perhaps I am slowly slipping over the edge...

Maybe I will be one of those strange old people who don't speak to other humans but live with hoards of animals shuffling around a single wide trailer in the middle of nowhere.


Or I am just slightly nuts and just love dogs?

Hopefully neither - but I am seriously thinking about bringing another dog into our home. (My husband on the other hand said he will kill me if I bring home another dog - nah...he wont be mad for long). Afterall there are so many dogs that need good homes. And we have room for one more, in our home and hearts.

That said (questions of my sanity still looming) I am going to meet a lovely dog tomorrow from Border Collie Rescue - however this little guy is an Aussie. His name is Tre and he is one of those few Aussies who was lucky enough to keep his lovely tail. He came into rescue with two if his litter mates from a breeder who was unable to find them a home. His brothers were adopted.

Here is his listing (copy and paste it into your browser - I havent figured out how to insert a link yet that will show up)

Maybe if we are lucky enough to adopt him (only if the fit is PERFECT and I feel that little 'zing' that says this is right)...maybe we can pass him off as a border collie???

Can we still use the name BCxFOUR? Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ashes to Ashes...

Today when I picked Bonnie up from day boarding (she is going until she is healed from the spay surgery) I had a bad moment.

I board the dogs at the same vet where we had Katie put to sleep. I completely forgot we had asked for private cremation. When I got there to pick Bonnie up the gal at the desk (who had the best of intentions) asked me if I was there to pick up Bonnie? I told her I was. Then she said "We have Katie here too if you would like to take her home tonight?".

I was stunned. For a moment I felt like I was in a parallel universe. I must have looked confused because she then said "I am sorry...we have Katie's ashes, they just came today. Did you want to take her home with you?".

I wasn't prepared for that & I burst into tears. She handed me a little box and a clay imprint of her foot, with her name stamped on it.

Then they brought Bonnie out from the kennels - she was yelping & barking from excitement to see me, she washed my face, wiggled and whimpered with joy.

I miss Katie dearly, but I have three more wonderful dogs who fill my life with joy every day. I am blessed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bonnie's Spay Day

This morning Bonnie is getting spayed. It was difficult to go back to the vet just a few days after saying good bye to Katie.

Beth and Ranger dont seem to want to be out of each other's sight. Maybe they think they will disappear next? This weekend was very hard. The dogs have been out of sorts. I cant say they miss Katie, then again I cant say they don't. Perhaps they are playing off my mood?

This weekend Ranger did some awesome stuff with herding. We were moving sheep from one pasture to another through the gates. He had it in minutes. He is so gentle with the stock it is amazing. At one point one of the sheep fell over then got stuck on his back. Therewas the sheep flat on his back four feet pointing straight up in the air - Ranger standing over him - looking at him with a perplexed 'WTF' look on his face. I wish I would have had my camera. It was priceless. Needless to say we rolled him back over and off he went.

We gave Bonnie another teaser with the sheep. She was totally turned on! We kept the drag line on her just on the off chance she went 'alligator' on the sheep. She was a bit snappy, but backed off nicely. She remained engaged through the whole session. Much better this month than her last one with Karen Child. Puppies are so truly cannot judge them at this age.

Here is a link to the latest video of her on YouTube

Beth continues to come along nicely. John had another session with Karen Child last weekend and they just continued to work on 'traingles' and long gathers. Beth is completely healed from her run in with the fence. Altho she seems to be one of the most accident prone dogs I have ever seen. This weekend one of the sheep jumped then landed on her full on its side. Knocked the wind right out of her, but she learned to keep her distance a bit. She is also learning some patience in the field. Below she is waiting patiently while John talks to Chris. What a good girl...three months ago she wouldnt have this type of restraint that close to the sheep. John and Beth make such a wonderful team. Pictures like this just melt my heart every time I look at them. Beth simply adores him...something tells me the feeling is mutual.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our Dogs

The story begins with Katie.

She was alone in the kennel. I noticed the sign hanging on the kennel door. Large red letters written over her vital statistics said “CHICKEN KILLER”.

DOG: Spayed Female
NAME: Katie
AGE: 10
BREED: Border Collie
COLOR: Black, Brown, Tan and White

Katie June 2001 age 10

Her eyes were bright, yet anxious. She licked our fingers through the wire. My heart melted. When I asked the woman who escorted us back to see the dogs if we could visit with her, she sighed and said “Today is her last day here.” That startled me a bit…I asked if someone adopted her. The woman said, “No, if she isn’t adopted today she is at the end of her stay”. She was due to be euthanized the next day. Senior dogs do not stand a good chance of being adopted. Katie had already been in the shelter for over two weeks. Her time was up.

We visited with her in a small room. She loved my son and gave him a thorough face washing. Katie was absolutely beautiful and I was completely in love.

When we were filling out the paperwork I asked them her history. They said if I would like they would contact the family who surrendered her and have them call me. They did the next evening.

Katie came from a farm where she helped tend the sheep. The mother ran a day care in her home and Katie was a happy dog with a job. Then the farmer sold the sheep and the mom quit the daycare and went to work outside the home. Katie lost her job. All that was left were the chickens. Katie like any good border collie without a job, found her own work. She made it her job to kill the family dinner each night. They found chickens on the back steps, nicely plucked of most of the feathers. They tried tying her up, kenneling her, keeping her in the house. Nothing seemed to work. So they surrendered her to the humane society. As the cliche goes...their loss was my gain!

Through the years Katie had been my shadow. She never needed a leash when we walked. She was a true ‘velcro-dog’ rarely straying more than 5 feet from my side. She was my steadfast companion while my life turned upside down.

She was there through divorce, cancer, foreclosure, moving (twice), remarriage, building our new home. She was the neighborhood dog, everyone knew her and loved her. The most friendly dog in the world who would never bite, growl or jump. The dog with the ever wagging tail and smile on her face.

Katie started to slow down over the years. When she was 15, I debated over adopting another dog. Would it hurt her or help her? I knew I wanted another border collie. I understood the neurotic, seemingly insane border collie behavior, endless need for exercise and stimulation. Although she has an elderly dog Katie was still obsessive, persistently nudging a toy into your hands, even as she grew blind and her hearing began to fail.

Would Katie like to have a companion? We had lost our other dog Elmo a few years before and she seemed lonely at times. I also knew given Katie’s age that the inevitable would happen soon. For selfish reasons I wanted another dog before that point – thinking it might make the loss easier for all of us.

I stumbled onto the Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue site and started to read it every day. Looking for just the perfect fit. After many months of reading we found Ranger. 

Ranger and Katie Feb 2008

Ranger joined our family on Dec 26, 2007. Katie seemed to enjoy him (to a degree). He was still a bit of a puppy and perhaps to rambunctious for her. I think I was struck by border collie fever because two months later we adopted Beth.

Beth is like Katie, obsessive, neurotic, endless energy & drive, affectionate yet fiercly independent.

Beth, Ranger & Katie

We started training at Dogs World Training and Agility Center in Sumner, WA. Obedience & later moving into agility. We also started herding at Fido’s Farm in Olympia, WA. 

In August 2008 we adopted Bonnie

Bonnie @ 14 weeks Sept 2008

Bonnie has grown into a lovely dog.  While the hope was Bonnie would eventually be able to work sheep, it was not in her make up.  Bonnie is happy as a companion dog & in training as a service/therapy dog.  Sheep are just not in her future. 

Over the months Katie slowed more and more. We saw the vet countless times. Katie was 17 now. A miracle, in a sense, for her to live such a long life. I hoped that she would live forever. She was slowly becoming paralyzed due to a neurological disorder in her spine. Dr. K said it was only a matter of time. Maybe weeks. She stumbled and often fell. She was blind …but she was still so happy! 

Friday, November 7th, 2008,  at 17.5 years old Katie told me it was time. She was not able to get up, she had quit eating several days before. The light was going out of her eyes. I didn’t want to believe it, my heart was breaking. I called our vet.

I held her in my arms on my lap when she passed. My husband John and friend Vicki where there with us. I wanted to scream NO! But I needed to let my best friend be on her way…she was with me, steadfast, through all the changes in my life. I needed to let her pass surrounded by love and peace.

Shortly after she passed and her body relaxed we all heard a frog croaking outside the window. Vicki said “Whenever you hear a frog croak from you will remember Katie”. I sobbed.

John and I drove home. I walked through the door and stood in the kitchen holding locks of Katie’s hair crying quietly. Then I heard it…another frog was croaking in our back yard. John and I looked at each other. It isn’t often you hear frogs croak in November. We both smiled.

Later we decided to take the dogs for a long walk on the river, one of Katie’s favorite places. Frogs were croaking all over. Maybe it was the warmer unseasonable temperatures - then again maybe not.

I believe Katie was telling me she was still there, by my side…with legs that worked and eyes that could see clearly. Happily running after the ball with the other dogs, feeling pain no more.

It is hard to believe a house could feel empty with three dogs, but it did.  

In April 2009 we adopted a puppy.  Brynn. 

One of the things that drew me to Brynn was the expression on her face. She reminded me of Katie.  When I met her I knew for sure, she melted my heart. 

Two days after bringing Brynn home she fell ill with parvo. 

She spent several days in the vet and made a full recovery. 

She is now a healthy adult dog and securely embedded into my heart. 

Finally, we have Bea. 

Bea's Father is Riggs, the 2010 National Finals Open Champion, run by Patrick Shannahan.   Bea has made a wonderful addition to our pack and we can't wait to watch her grow up.

A big happy family.  
Two adults, five kids, four border collies + Ranger (who is in a class all by himself).
A big happy Family