Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Having our own sheep has brought a whole new dimension into our lives.  

I never thought I would see my city born husband on the ground, smiling and laughing while holding a sheep as it was sheared.  


Nor did I imagine him building fences, hanging gates or or gently stroking a ewe and talking to her while I cleaned a wound & shot her full of antibiotics.  

I never thought I would hear him tell me that he 'liked sheep'.  

His only experience with a dog growing up was with a crazy German Shepherd named Bongo that jumped through the front window a few times, terrorized the house and ate his shoes.  

That has changed.  Now we have five dogs that eat his shoes. 

When we married I already had three kids and two dogs.  I think the biggest shock for him was the kids, the dogs were the easy part.  

Katie loved him from the first time she met him. 

He was the only one who would let her lick his face.  She had some nasty breath at the end, enough to curl your toenails - but he let her love on him.  

John fell in love with Beth when he met her.  

He started Beth.  It was a family affair.  

When he had to start working mandatory overtime for several months I took over Beth's training...and kept her.  

He tried working with Bonnie in the meantime.  

He hung out with Ranger.  

Slowly he came back to working Beth.  

Until circumstances would change and I would end up with Beth again. 

He missed her.  

This coming weekend (Labor Day Monday) John is going to run Beth in N/N and Ranch in his first trial in Yelm at the Rocky Ewe SDT. 

Join me in wishing them the best of luck!   

It has been a long time in coming for them both.  They make a good team. 

Ego, I haz it.

I might not be someone's first choice, but I am a great choice.

I may not be rich but I am valuable.

I don't pretend to be someone I'm not, because I'm good at being me.

I may not be perfect but I don't need to be.

Take me as I am, or watch me as I leap away.

I am me, one of a kind.  

Ranger, danger dude. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell me Thursday

1. How do you teach recalls to your dogs?

It all depends on the dog.  I used a long line with foster dogs, and if they didn't come, I just calmly and unrelentingly walk them down until they got it.  I used positive reinforcement with Bonnie, because she was so food driven.  Brynn was not as food driven, from the moment she was a puppy I would call her back to me in every situation.  I varied the reward, from petting to food.  I never had to walk her down - she wouldn't stray out of my sight from the time she was a pup.  Bea has been another story.  She has not been easy.  I had to do a lot of walking after her.  She is stubborn and can be a wee bit sneaky.  Her recall is about 75% reliable now.  I just make sure I don't put her in a situation where I cannot get to her.  Distractions are difficult.  Just time and miles with her, she still has some growing up to do. 

2. What is your favorite Restaurant or type of food?

Favorite Restaurant:  I love good old fashioned American diners, where the staff know your name.  We have a place here in Orting called Around the Corner Cafe that serves good 'stick to your ribs' food.  That type of place can't be replaced by big chain restaurants.  We also have another restaurant here in Orting called Los Pinos - it is a Mexican place, owned and run by one of our neighbors.  My son used to work there washing dishes.  You know you have been to a restaurant too much over the years if the waiter has your order written down before you even tell him. 

Favorite type of food: I am blessed my husband is an avid fisherman. I adore fish. I could eat salmon morning, noon and night happily. My favorite food is salmon. Tomatoes follow a close second. (We wont mention Cheetos puffs or chocolate...shhhhhhh!).

3. What is your favorite interest outside of dogs/livestock/sports?

There is life outside of dogs?  I think I would have to say my favorite interest outside of dogs would be photography.  Wait, does that count if I am always photographing dogs? 

4. Describe your path from where you started out to where you are now.

I have been doing this 'herding thing' with my dogs for three years now.  We are barely out of Novice.  I have run Beth in novice/novice, ranch and pro-novice.  I ran Brynn in nursery (badly) and we are now running in pro-novice (still badly, but improving/learning every trial).  I cannot express enough the importance of finding a good trainer and sticking with them.  Do not bounce around to different trainers - stick to one and train with people who are familiar with their techniques to reinforce what you are learning.  I made the mistake of bouncing around from one trainer to another when I started and the only thing we accomplished was confusing the hell out of myself & Beth.  Dianne Deal has been my choice for a trainer & I am very happy with how we are progressing.  If it is financially feasible invest in sending your dog for training - it helped me immeasurably.  Being a novice it is very difficult to train your dog while you are learning - I was  fortunate with Beth that she was so forgiving.  Many people say you will ruin your first dog while you learn.  Thankfully I got help with her at the right time and she was a strong enough dog to get past it - I really hope I don't damage Brynn with my awkward handling. 

5. Is there a dog that you raised that, if you knew then what you know now, you would have raised them differently? Question posed by Jodi.

I would not have let Brynn get away with snarky-snotty behavior or resource guarding & been more assertive in protecting her from bad situations where she could get in trouble or make a bad choice. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lacamas - Day One

Thursday last week we loaded up the car and Camera Face drove us down to Lacamas Valley Sheep Dog Trial

We arrived early Thursday evening, just in time to set up camp with our friend Gloria and her two dogs Nick & Gael from Nevada.  

 We slept in a tent next to Gloria, away from all the other dogs who like to pee on tents.  It was very peaceful.  Gloria was smart and brought a bunch of x-pens to surround camp and her tent.
Next year Camera Face will remember to bring our x-pens too. 

Camera Face told me that Gloria had two dogs.  At first I didn't see them.  

They like to hide, like giant field sharks...ready to strike as you pass by.  

At first their game freaked me out.  Until I learned how to play it too.

They liked to sneak up behind me.  

 They would get closer ....

and closer

and then GOOSE! 

Nick would dart, Gael would dash and the chase was on.  

They would chase me as I captured the ball. 

Nick is a slobber monster.  Ranger would like him.  

His face is made out of elastic with giant gold marbles for eyes.
He is running Bio-Hazard. 

We had fun running around the field, then we noticed the sheep were in the same field behind us.  That stopped our fun toot-sweet.  

Nick is a dog of many talents.  

He kicked butt in Pro-Novice this weekend.  Friday, Gloria and Nick placed 8th.  Then Saturday they placed second just behind Patrick Shannahan and Andi.  

Gloria and Nick at the post. 

Gorgeous drive.

 And one of the few pens of the day.  

The joy was contagious!

A happy dog & ecstatic handler.

 Tomorrow I will tell you about my runs, we got letters not numbers, again.   But Camera Face is still very happy with me and has been focusing on what she is thankful for.  Just small steps on a long journey.

Like Yoda said to young Luke "Much to learn, you still have."

Soon, my day will come and I will kick some sheep butt too. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things that Make me Smile

Peek-a-Boo, I see you.

Beth has a problem with grass.

Sheer determination

Big Mouth Bonnie Brat

Beth unfazed. 


Perfect camera moment.  

In order to capture these pictures, I had to sit on the ground while Brynn brought the sheep and I prayed she listen to my whistles - lest I was trampled.  She listened and I was able to capture my new favorite shot of da Brynndollynn.  

If you didn't already know this, I love watching her work.  
Just thought I would tell you again, in case you forgot.
I am helpful that way. 

I don't play favorites.  Brynn is NOT my favorite. 

And there she goes...NOT my favorite dog.

My favorite ewe

Our Romney ewes - with requisite flies on their faces

"Go away and take the damn dogs with you."

Happy Bea cooling off in the stock tank after chasing sheep around the field.  I want to know where my stock tank is.  She has four legs, I only have two.  I had to chase her while she chased the sheep.  We wont mention my face plant in the marsh grass. 

See what I mean? 

Did you know if you shoot on a shallow depth of field - with a dirty lens you can create a oil painting effect in the bokeh? 

Photography makes me happy.  I like happy accidents.

I often wonder, what would Beth choose first?  Sheep or a tennis ball? 

Long tongues make me giggle. 

Longer tongues make giddy.
Wait, that didn't sound right.  
Get your mind out of the gutter.  Sheesh...

Tres Amigos


Collision avoided.  

Air time! 

What goes up....must come down.
With the oogley-googley eye-ball-peepers.

Bea stalking Brynn, being stalked by Beth, who is being stalked by Bonnie.  I had a stalker once.  He peeped in my windows and freaked me out.  I wonder if the dogs feel that way too?

Pretty prick puppy ears. 

Not such a puppy anymore, at 10 months old.  



If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there.  Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to disentangle them.
~Pam Brown, b.1928