Friday, July 30, 2010

John & Bonnie

Things have been a changin' round here since John joined me on the bread line.  Now that he is an unemployed slacker like me,  I can't use the excuse that he is too busy to work a dog. 

John would like to do herding as a hobby;  however, he is not obsessed with it... like me.  Since Bonnie is never going to make a serious trial dog & John just wants to have fun - they are a perfect match.  

When I went to Idaho and left John here with Ranger and Bonnie - they bonded.  She has started following him around the house instead of me. 

Bonnie has been maturing FINALLY.   Thank doG...I was wondering if she was going to stay a puppy forever.

She is taking pressure better and giving the sheep more space.  John and Bonnie even took a lesson with Dianne when she was here last weekend. 

What used to be a uncontrolled run, has slowed to a somewhat thoughtful pace.

She listens to flanks now & actually takes them.  We worked hard on a 'get back' command.  She takes that too. 

Out runs are still difficult for her.  She is happiest driving.

She would drive the sheep all over the field if I let her.

But it isn't me anymore - it is John working her.

I miss her....almost

Okay...wait a minute here.  Do I really miss her? 

It isn't like she is going anywhere - she still sleeps next to my bed every night.

I can enjoy taking pictures while John works her.

He gets to deal with her tackling and somersaulting sheep when the Freckled Monster makes an appearance

Not that it happens very much anymore.

Most importantly she wants to work for him.

She will run her little legs off.

Hopefully shave off a few pounds too.

Maybe I need to be running behind the sheep a bit - doG knows I need to lose weight too.

Although...if my husband ever blew a whistle at me...lets just say the whistle and he would meet an uncomfortable end.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In the Periphery

Last weekend Dianne Deal stayed with us while she taught three fully booked days of lessons in Yelm. 

Dianne amazes me.  She has such a positive attitude - all the time.  Even when it is 100 degrees.  Everyone is grumpy.  Not Dianne - she is going like the energizer bunny.  I think Dianne is powered by solar energy & sun block.  The sun shines and she goes a thousand miles an hour. 

Brynn's littermate Islay came to lessons again.   She brought her handler Una with her.

I mentioned in this blog before that Una has become addicted to herding.  Since the last time Dianne was here Una ran Islay in a small trial at Brigands.  She made the decision this time to send Islay to Dianne for training in September. 

It is like watching Brynn on the field when I see Islay working.  They are very similar in working style. 

It will be very cool to see Islay when she gets done with Dianne.  I can't wait to see them on the trial field.  Helping to put rescue dogs on the map. 

I wish we knew for sure where Brynn's litter really came from.  I would like to have another one from the same breeding.  Alas - they are rescues, and there are so many wonderful dogs out there already.  But I can dream...

As usual Dianne filled my head full of stuff.  She was very happy with how both Beth and Brynn are coming along.  No slippage back ward - only moving forward. 

For me the process has been slower.  I was remembering when I learned to speak German & later Spanish.  At first you have to memorize the words & conjugations.  You speak slowly the whole time thinking in English...mentally translating into the foreign language. 

Then after a while, you are faster, your vocabulary has expanded. Things are quicker, some becoming a habit - but you still think in English then translate into the language. 

You know you are fluent when you THINK in the foreign language. 

It is the same thing with learning this "sport". 

The flanks are coming more consistently.  I don't have to mentally think which direction the flank is every time.  90% of the time I am getting it right.  I am clearly not 'fluent' yet - but getting there. 

I will be fluent when I think in the correct flank.

Now Dianne has me using my whistle most of the time.  This evening  Brynn was taking all of my flank whistles - as long as I get them right. 

We did have a few moments where she stopped - looked at me like I lost my mind - then took the flank when I gave it to her verbally. 

Driving is coming along.  Brynn gets sticky driving.  The trick with her is to keep her moving by giving her small flanks, back and forth so she doesnt hitch up.  She is 'hitched' when she stops and lifts one leg in the air like a pointer. 

Then stands there staring at the sheep.    It is hard to get her to take a step forward. 

One thing I worked on after  Athena - was studying how Brynn listens.  What are the cue's she gives me when I know she has heard me - such as a flick of the ear, or a twitch of her head in my direction.  In the past when I think she was ignoring me - she wasn't - I just didnt give her direction.

Another thing we worked on in my lessons with Dianne was to watch the sheep.  On top of all the new language I am learning I need to grasp a whole 'nuther concept. 

Watch my dog in the periphery.  Keep my dog in my peripheral vision - focus on the sheep.  Where are the sheep going?  Where are their heads pointed?  If I keep watching my dog I miss all of this - in order to place my dog correctly behind them - I need to watch them - not my dog. 

ARRRGGGHHHH!  My head is going to EXPLODE! 

At Dianne's suggestion this weekend we took the sheep out of the field and drove them up the road that is under construction near Cindy's house.  This was AWESOME! 

It is not often you are given the opportunity like this.  No traffic, visual boundaries (ditches) & a nice long straight place to practice driving. 

The sheep were not thrilled to be moving away from their pasture - so Brynn had to push a bit. 

Once we got going - she kept a nice steady pace.  I was happy. 

That changed the minute we turned around to come back.  The sheep wanted to run back to the barn.   Brynn felt that draw and kept zipping to the front and hooking them back to me.  A learning moment for me too. 

I have said this a hundred times.  I really need to keep things calm - not escalate to a bellowing fishwife.  I did it again this evening when Brynn took off on me and tried to take things into her own 'paws'.  Yelling only amps her up - it does not cause her to think - just move faster and morph in to "LAWN DART" mode.

Lawn Dart - is not disobedient.  Lawn Dart is a little dog desperately trying to please me.  And I imagine trying to stay as far away from me as possible.  Like my kids have told me before "Scary Mommy is Ugly". 

Brynn has seen "Scary Mommy" too. 

Cindy took a picture of me tonight in "Scary Mommy" mode.  It is VERY ugly. 

Scary Mommy needs to tape her whistle to her mouth and shut up. 


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silver City's Nefarious Water Monster

One afternoon when I was in Idaho Jodi and I threw the dogs into the car and drove to Silver City, Idaho.

Silver City is a ghost town located in Owyhee County, Idaho.  Founded in 1864 soon after silver was discovered at nearby War Eagle Mountain.  The settlement grew rapidly and was considered one of the major cities in Idaho Territory. The first daily newspaper and telegraph office in Idaho Territory were established in Silver City and the town was among the first places in Idaho to receive electric and telephone service.  Silver City served as county seat of Owyhee County from 1867 to 1934.

Around the time Idaho became a state and the mines were played out Silver City began a slow decline, due in part to its extremely remote location. Silver City was never completely abandoned. Today, the town has about 70 remaining buildings, all of which are privately owned. Many of the owners are descendants of the original miners. There are a three remaining small businesses.

Silver City is located 25 miles southwest of Murphy via a dirt road.

The drive up the long winding dirt road provides some stunning scenery.  While the road is in good condition, it is not for the faint of heart.  If you are as afraid of heights as me - I recommend investing in a pair of Depends disposable underwear prior to embarking. 

Who put the dogs in my landscape shots again?

Gorgeous.  I love the arid landscape.

Are we really that high up?

After a long 20 mile drive on a dirt road we arrived in Silver City.

As we were wandering around taking pictures I made up little stories in my mind about who lived & died here.  Then had the find the bathroom.

I ran to the Hotel.  Begged for a bathroom.  The young man in there pointed me up the dirt road to the nearest outhouse  I ran there as fast as I could with my legs crossed. 

What kind of cruel sadistic person locks a outhouse?   It must have been a man - men who have the ability to pee just about anywhere.  So, I did what any self respecting woman does when faced with a locked outhouse...I dropped my drawers and squatted behind it praying no one saw the large moon rising in the bushes.  

Moving on...

Keeping with the historical spirit of the city I decided to process several of these photos in black and white.  Hope it works.

Old wagon wheels.  

Old Masonic Lodge established in 1881. Okay this picture makes my eyes hurt - obviously I did something wrong in post processing. 

Deadman Alley.  I wonder how it got its name?  Perhaps it was located next to the saloon?   The house if ill repute?  Maybe a woman beaned her hubby with a frying pan? 

The Meat Market.  I think of something entirely different today when I hear the expression "meat market".  Don't you?  It makes me remember smoky bars, well drinks, young men and loud music....and the sting of rejection.  Ahhh those were the days - NOT! 

The drug store.  Think of the drugs they had back then.  Willow bark tea, snake oil, opium, liniment...a hammer. 

Old home with barn

Idaho Standard School

After wandering through the town we hiked up the hill to the cemetery to read grave stones.  It was so hot we decided to have a picnic near the stream running through town.  The dogs enjoyed the break.

Leave it to us.  Two border collie crazy women with camera's to take more pictures of our dogs playing in the water than the town itself.

Then Beth spotted something odd in the creek. 

 What is that?

"HELP!  Come Quick!  LOOK LOOK LOOK!"   Beth shouted out the alarm!

Brynn was equally puzzled.  They had never seen anything like this before.

Brynn decided to investigate.

She got closer....

When suddenly it rose from the depths, like a great white shark...snapping her jaws of doom!

Echo the Water Monster!

No water escaped her wrath

Snapping & churning

Now we know the real story behind the decline of Silver City. 

Can we say "Whack Nut"?

"Who me?"

"Oh yes, Echo.  You have confirmed our suspicions. You are nuts"

Perhaps not...'nuts' ...rather a tad bit unhinged. 

Like most border collies.

"Who you calling unhinged?" 

"Take it back Camera Face...or I will beat you with my stick. "

"Brynn is gonna help me"

"We will show you unhinged"

"You should be afraid Camera Face, be very afraid!"

"Apologize to Border Collie's everywhere or I will shake all over your camera"


Bad dogs.