Monday, January 4, 2010

And It Begins Again

The new year of course!

Some reflection when a new calendar starts is always a good thing. Lessons learned, achievements made, and all that much wiser from miles traveled.

This past year was a busy one, but one I can't complain about. Chesney got lots of work, both on stock and off.

But I won't bore you with a walk down 2009's memory lane, what I will do is tell you about our recent stockwork and the strides we've made. Through the end of the year Chesney has continued to gain better feel of his sheep, to a point where I'm not continually blowing a stop or steady whistle at him. I can for the most part stop walking with a group of sheep being fetched to me and have him stopping behind them. No more wearing, no more circling, no more pushing them past me. Finally!

Chesney has grasped the concept of doing a job, he's learned how to stand/stop instead of always having to lie down, and I think my most favorite development in the last year is his eye. He is starting to be stylish while he works, which is from reading pressure better. I will say that his outruns probably haven't improved much and his scope of the field has suffered, just because gathering the flock consisted of getting them out of the feeder. Now that winter and spring are around us and the grass is showing it's lovely face, we can work on sweeping a field.

Shedding has become just another thing we do. If we are playing keep away or having to stop a breaking ewe to the main group I can call Chesney in and he will stop her dead in her tracks. He's listening so well now and really seems to be enjoying his work. I know I am loving every minute of it and can't wait until the next time we're out there.
We ran in a trial in late October, and Chesney did well. I was very pleased with his look back and his control of the stock. It was also the first time I'd asked him to shed such a small number of sheep. His driving is continuing to improve even though he will often take the outside flank when he's reached his comfort distance. We've worked on drawing out his outrun whistle to signify that there is a group farther back behind the group closest to us. This is a hard concept for him to understand that if he gets the group farthest away first that they will join up as he's on his way back. We'll get there soon though.
Early December I decided that his "come-bye" whistle was too similar to his away whistle at a distance which also sounded like his down... Bummer. it took just four times out to work for him to really start thinking about the meaning of his new whistle. This thinking was rewarded by a verbal follow up to help him out. So it was a basics month at the end of the year, which was fine. I worked on setting up situations for him to learn his new whistle whilst working on his pace and line fetching and driving.

All in all, I've been very pleased with my little man. High hopes to make it to open for our next trial are pretty realistic if I can continue building his confidence and distance on his outrun. Thanks for a great year buddy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Break Through

Last Saturday working Chesney was a major break through. For the first time working this little dog of mine, I saw him with stock sense. Stock sense in the way that if found the flight bubble of the sheep. Amazing to see after so long of having to tell him where it is. Until I saw that he could find it, I just assumed helping him was the way it was going to be.

We started off the say with moving the big group with a few new lambs around. His pace was very nice, although he hadn't found the bubble just yet. The main thing I noticed right off the bat was when I asked him to walk on, he walked! No popping up, no power walk, just a nice easy paced walk. I also noticed that for the first time he wasn't over worried about keeping a very close eye on the lambs! Usually he gets locked in on them and ends up following them right up the side of the group. I didn't have to remind him to leave them be. (He is very gentle and doesn't harass them, he's just fascinated by them.)

On to watch some other dogs work for a little. When they were finished penning man Chesney put the group away and took out a second group, which was another thing to be noted. He was super sensible going in to a tight area that most wouldn't send a dog in to get sheep out. In and around he went, out came the sheep! Our man goal at this point, since Chesney was showing lots of good promises today, was to see if I could get him to stop walking without me saying something to him while he was fetch, if I stopped. This is tough for him since he was never really taught from the get go that it was ok to stop moving if he was balanced to me and the sheep weren't going anywhere. So I pulled the group out, just walking about the arena with Chesney balancing the group to me, and at first I slowed way down, correcting him if he got too close to push the sheep past me and corrected him if he started flanking. About five minutes of trying this to no avail I opted to backing to a fence as an aid. This worked like a charm! I think since he realized they weren't going to get away in front of me he was comfortable enough to think about his actions. He stopped! As soon as I got a second or two of a stand walking we went. I tried this for about five more minutes with it being very successful and using less and less corrections.

On to moving sheep around for students after Chesney's little lesson. We had to sort the ram out of the group and move him to the rest of the flock that wasn't being used. Chesney worked him beautifully, putting enough pressure on him to move, casting off when he tried to break away, downing when asked, standing when asked. Truly an amazing thing to watch! We working him as a single back to the flock and put everyone back up out of the way. This was another good working session to add to the list of so many other things that were going well.

Back to the arena again, this time with a flighty group of lambs. This would be a good test of what Chesney gathered from our first work earlier. It took him a few times of pushing them past and receiving a correction to get a feel for these guys. After about ten minutes of using the fence and slowing moving the distance from the fence where I stopped moving, I was able to stop in the middle of the arena with no fences helping and Chesney would stop on balance! Success!

That was our day, that's all I worked on with him, and as basic and little as it was, he made mile long strides! What a day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Back... For Now

Summer has seem some ups and downs with working. We have been going to Search and Rescue once a week for most of summer, but that's about to slow down now with real life kicking back in during the fall and winter. Stock work has been happening for the most part once a week, sometimes once every 10 days. Chesney's work is looking as strong as ever and I feel like we've turned a corner recently.
We've been working on building things we re-learned at Jack's clinic back in mid-May. Chesney had lost his feel for his stock because his silly handler though he needed more help with direction than he really did. The poor guy was being micro managed. After two days with Jack we were back on the road to greatness (right...). I was correcting at the right time and giving no directions, better. Jack said that it was impressive at just how far we'd come since he saw us last.

What have we been working on? Well, we have been working on getting his pace right. We had it right for a little while then I got relaxed with him and things started slipping again. I started asking for a stop at the top again and stopped using a steady whistle which I think helped a lot. Sure enough Chesney is usually on, with good pace and only rarely needs a reminder about not rushing. It's amazing how much better my little guy is reading pressure as well, now that I'm not telling him where he needs to be. He has figured it out and really enjoys being on the pressure. His fetches are straight and he's covering well!
Our last work session was exceptional. Chesney was sent to gather the flock. I wanted to test his freeness on his flanks when fetching so I as
ked him to come all the way around and drive them somewhere away from me, then I recalled him. He was sent on another gather and brought them in to me. We got the flock set up for shedding some off. They stretched out nice and we cut 6 off the group. Chesney drove them away straight and confidently. When I asked him off those he came right back to work the flock to put them up. While we were moving the whole group, the 6 he drove off started creeping back trying to get to the group. I asked Chesney for a look back. This was the first time I saw him just simply look back without taking off for an outrun after the group left behind. It was great, I could just ask him to walk up and he pushed them away again. When I asked him back to the group, he called off, seeming to totally understanding what
we were trying to accomplish, like he'd done it a million times before. Quality work.
After we put everyone up we went back to gather the 6 and work on penning. Chesney loves penning. I simply open the trailer and he will adjust accordingly to put them in without me saying so much as a little get back when he comes in a little close. Two ewes would not go in! Finally we were down to one and she ended up breaking off. Chesney went out to fetch her up and my little dog is a single working machine. He has gotten so good at holding and reading the pressure that it gives me goose bumps to watch him. When he brought her back to the trailer she decided that it was best to join the others, so in she went.
After a break I asked Chesney into the trailer to bring the group out (he's been needing work with unloading). He almost got stuck staring in the door way, I just kept asking him for his flank and around he went bringing out the group smoothly.

I look forward to the next time we get to work, he's getting really fun to work now since I don't feel like we're fumbling around anymore. We've actually gotten to a point that it feels like we're somewhere!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

We've Been Lost

(sorry these pictures have nothing to do with this post other than they are of my dogs, Tucker is included just because)

Ok so really though, we're not the lost ones. We're the ones finding those that are lost. Chesney and I have been working with a Search and Rescue Team. We are official members now! Training sessions with the team are every Sunday, we've been to 8 since February 7th (Just to give you a time frame). Chesney is progressing extremely quickly, I couldn't be more pleased with him. Our first few times out to training consisted of what are called puppy runaways. They are boring in my opinion and Chesney finds them childish... or well.... puppy-ish. We did runaways for 2 weeks straight training everyday on our own then group training on Sunday. By the second Sunday we went out with the group, Chesney understood what was expected of him as far as completing a runaway.

Ok so let me back track a little. The purpose of a puppy runaway is to hammer home the alert you ask for, from your dog, when they have found the subject. So here's how it plays out.
- Subject runs away while the dog watches them.
- Subject hides while the dog watches were they hide (yes it's supposed to be stupidly easy, especially for a driven/focused dog)
- Dog is released with their search command
- Dog finds subject
- Dog is called back off subject to handler (who is not near the subject)
- Dog "alerts" that they have found someone (Chesney is to turn and stare where the subject is, he will either stand, sit, or lie down, or anything in between just so long as I can tell he is focused and locked in on where the subject is... it's his alert)
- Handler asks dog to "show me"
- Dog and handler return to subject
- Big party for finding subject (Chesney just wants his tug rope at this point!)
- Repeat until dog offers a return and alert on their own or with minimal prompt before moving on

2 weeks is a really short time to get this behavior for most dogs... I have pretty high expectations for Chesney however, and I think it's paying off. Plus the more new things we do, the smarter he gets AND the less we have to deal with a sloppy bored dog in training!

Anyways, the last three group training days we went to Chesney has been doing blind searches (where he doesn't see where the person is hiding or doesn't watch them hid for another dog then gets his turn to find them). Last time we searched it was our first time trying it alone. During these blind searches, I still know where the subject is, just Chesney is the one in the dark (hahaha mean I know) The reason for this is to help him feel like he is the one doing it and he can be successful. I try to keep my directions to a minimum with him and just let him work things out on his own, he is really starting to get it and uses his nose FAR more than he did before! Good Boy.

So today we went out to a group training. We had 2 subjects sent in a 120 acre area. We were directed where they were and went on our way to look for them. Chesney was released and off to work he went. Within 5 minutes of us heading up the train (in the wind, with the scent blowing towards us) he picked up the subject and went in to find her. I could see him on the other ridge across a small gully. He had a look like... you can see me, I can see you... Just come over here so I don't have to come all the way back to you then all the way back here. I, at this point, waited for him to realize that I was not going to move until he alerted. He took a reminder (simply saying his name) to get him to come back and alert. Good boy! Ok now back to work. This was new for him to have to go back to working once he found a subject since all the other searching we've done only included one person. We got off the hillside and back on the trail then he realized we were back to work.

At this point the second subject was going to be down wind from us if we stayed on the fire trail we started on. I decided to detour off a different trail before we got even with the second subject and walked up to the ridge with Chesney in the far lead to put him in the scent cone. Once he hit the ridge he picked her up and she was about 100 yards away down hill. He tried to figure out how to get down to her and lost the scent, so he back tracked and I gave him a little hint as to where he should cut in and he was off like a rocket. Found the subject no problem and since he couldn't see me, came back to alert, only he was 20 yards from me when he alerted hahaha. I had to call him back to me then he alerted without a prompt and off to the subject we went. Phew!

It was a really great day. I think next weekend I'll take a video while we're searching.

Tucker doesn't get to do Search and Rescue because my team wont let me train 2 dogs at once even though they would be in two different search types (Chesney is Area, Tucker would be Trail/Tracking). But here's a picture of him just because he's my handsome guy

Monday, March 2, 2009

Catching Up

Chesney and I have been keeping ourselves busy over the last couple of weeks. Sadly none of it included stock work. We both have been going through withdrawals. We have, however, been doing lots of Search and Rescue training. Chesney is totally focused and loves it. 

Through all the hustle and bustle Chesney has kept a good face about it and laughs it off!

Lets see... what else has gone on since last time posting. Oh, Chesney had a birthday. His 4th one to be exact. I really do not know where the time goes. It seems like just last week I brought this little furry thing home. The truck ride home was miserable, you would have thought someone was torturing him in the backseat. Despite his disliking his initial ride in my truck with me sitting in the backseat with him, he loves going for rides now! This little guy of mine just wants to be everywhere I am, even if that means the bathroom. 

So as you can see with as busy as I have been and as lacking of posts this poor blog has had, there really isn't too much to be said. I do have a couple of new pictures though! Which reminds me I need to get some of Mr. Tucker soon!

Oh and just because he's so stinkin' handsome, this is Sam, he does Search and Rescue with us!

Monday, February 16, 2009


It was a cold, cold weekend! At least the sun was out Friday, though the wind was blowing and it was humid so the wind seemed to sneak right through any layers you might have had on. Chesney and I had a late run in the run order so we had lots of waiting, which meant lots of watching. Watching means learning and with the handlers and dogs on the run order for Pro/Nov and Nursery was unbelievable. I was running against 38 handlers that are well known open handlers.

Don Helsley's Blue

Our run went well after waiting for so long and for running on sheep that were being re-run. They were taking any inch the dogs would give. They would break and split, turn and run every chance they got. I sent Chesney to the left on his outrun because the draw was very heavy to that side of the field. I wanted to give him any chance he had to be successful on these difficult sheep. He got behind them at the top in the proper place to counter act the draw. I steadied him and he brought them in fairly well. Around the post they went, he covered them so well. Then we started pushing them on to the drive. He was doing a nice job trying to push them straight but the only problem was he was so far off to the side because of the draw, however he was moving just a little too fast and turned them into the course. I flanked him back around to set them straight and we got into a flip flopping drive. One of the lambs split off to the exhaust, but Chesney brought him back very nicely. He is really very good at working a single. We got them started driving again but the same one singles back off and Chesney went again to get it. At this point I had retired our run because things were a little too far off to make any chance of recovery.

Everyone that was watching was telling me to call my dog off the single he was working, since he was working the single right up against a small fence that several other lambs went over earlier in the day and I think they were worried this one would do the same. Well I didn't call Chesney off because he was working it nicely and not gripping or causing the ewe to panic. Some lady jumped over the fence to try to move it, when none of the sheep that day had any regards for the people like the did the dogs... So that was a little pointless. Then some guy tried to grab Chesney from the other side of the fence! I was pissed. Don't ever touch my dog while he is working a single. That split second of him worrying about the person trying to grab him could have gotten him rammed by the ewe! So fine since everyone had better ideas of how to move sheep, and none of them included letting a sheepdog that was in control of it move it. Sooo.... I called Chesney off and guess what??? The lamb went right over the fence! HA! Stupid people.
My mommy doesn't get very many working pictures of me since it's too hard for her to work me and take pictures. Does anyone want to come take working pictures of me?

Oh well I was pleased with the work I got from Chesney and it was a really great two days watching some good runs and some not so good runs!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tagged - 40 Things about me

Well, lets see here. I have to post a recent picture of my dogs and I and this is the most recent I have from December 27th. I don't like it very much. I look plump because of the snow cloths. Oh well!

1. I am the older of 2 (younger sister)

2. My sister and I are 3 days shy of being exactly 4 years apart. 

3. I love photography and would love to have it be a side job one day.

4. I work at Starbucks.

5. I am a soccer player. I played all through college at a Division 1 school. 

6. I was the leading points per game holder in the state of Louisiana in the 2006-2007 soccer season.

7. I played softball through my junior year in high school and my senior year I got a free letter just for showing up to a few practices. The coach just needed a back up catcher and since soccer was my main focus he bribed me haha

8. I got put at catcher while playing my first season of little league softball because I wasn't paying attention at third base and missed the balls that came to me, so I was stuck at catcher to pay attention at every play.

9. I play center midfield in soccer even though all my coaches think I would make a good forward, they end up taking away most of my skills I bring to the field, like vision and distribution, along with taking longer shots.

10. Margaritas are the only alcoholic drinks I can stand, and it's usually only about 2 of them. 

11. I had braces on my teeth for 3 years and am a freak about my teeth and how they look. I brush my teeth multiple times throughout the day.

12. Chesney is my first Border Collie and one of a kind for me. He's my heart dog.

13. Frank Lampard of the Chelsea FC team is my hero. John Terry is a close second.

14. I had a horse for a little while. He was my best friend until Chesney found me. He works at a therapeutic riding center for disabled children. 

15. I am studying to be a Firefighter. I start classes on the 9th.

16. I've been to Mardi Gras 3 times in a row, the last three years. Everyone should try it once. 

17. I love horseback riding. I can ride english, western, and my favorite, bare back. 

18. I've met Kenny Chesney and have gotten his autograph twice. 

19. I love country music and Irish punk.

20. I used to think I was going to be a movie critic when  I was younger. 

21. I have four cousins, they're all boys ranging from 19-9, all their names start with A.

22. I'm planning a trip to the UK to watch a Chelsea FC home game. Then going to Scotland and Ireland.

23. I have only once traveled out of the US. It was to the Bahamas. 

24. Of all the US states (Hawaii excluded, we went almost every summer until I was in college) I have been to, it was because of soccer trips and tournaments, never for vacation until recently. We went to Florida. 

25. I've sprained my ankles more times than I can count and will probably need surgery on them at some point when I get older. 

26. My sister and I look nothing alike. I have blonde hair and blue eyes with fair skin, she is olive skinned, brown hair and brown eyes.

27. I only started working my dog on stock in the last yeah and a half. 

28. Chesney is the first dog I've owned that I worked and trained myself. He introduced me to working stock.

29. I've lived in a 2 mile radius my whole life, but lived in 3 different houses. People call it Pleasantville when they visit. We just call it the bubble.

30. I enjoy snowboarding.

31. For soccer I was on the all conference first teams in both high school and college multiple years.

31. I just graduated college with a BA in General Studies. 

32. Tucker was brought home as a surprise to my parents on a Christmas vacation from school. They didn't want a dog at the time, but ended up falling in love with him. I never hear the end of how I brought him home, they continually remind me they didn't want a dog.

33. I've only broken one bone in my life. It was my left arm when I was younger. I broke it right before summer started. I was roller blading backwards on a dark sidewalk and hit a crack, fell back and caught myself on the one arm. I had a full armed cast all summer. I made the doctor give me a water proof one.

34. After owning a Mac I will never get a PC again. 

35. When I was getting ready to start kindergarden my grandma asked me if I was excited to go to school, I told her I would never go to school. To this day, I still don't like it. 

36. I hate making my bed. 

37. I am horrible at math, but I love writing. 

38. I had stitches in my knee from indoor soccer. It bled like crazy!

39. I'm very shy until I get to know someone.

40. I don't believe yearly vaccinations are necessary for my dogs!

Ok... So that wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I mean lets face it. I don't have the most interesting life (at least I don't think so).


I've tagged Live Like a Rock Star, The Ruff Mutt Gang, and Walkies.