This weekend I learned a lot about pacing and that Scot is not as young and in shape as he used to be. But then again, who is?
I have come enjoy working set out and general helping at trials more than actual running. This especially true lately as I have come to the probable limits to what Scot will do. He has a serious issue with drives at distance. The actual distance he will actually drive depends on many factors. Some of which are, how tired he is, how tough I am being with him or how likely I am to ‘impose my will.’ Each of these, depending on severity will lengthen or shorten how far he will drive before he decides that he will over flank and begin fetching the sheep back to me. This seriously frustrating as we are now at a level where we MUST consistently drive bigger distances to compete.
Both days we were competing in Pro Novice, but doing set out for Ranch as well as moving the stock around prior to start. So when it was our turn to run he was SLOW. Scot overshot the outrun and the sheep, at this trial in particular, will head for the exhaust area at any chance. Scot is usually fast enough to cover, but not today. Too much work ahead of his run and too much urban life.
So on Sunday I made a point of making him be still until it was our turn. His outrun, lift and fetch were good, not great, but he didn’t lose the sheep and he and they were under control. They rounded the post and started driving to the gate. He was probably 10 yards from clearing the gate when he over corrected and started fetching. After about 3-4 minutes of trying I called the run.
Most of times when we have had mistakes they were mine or because of me. Not this time, it was all him. Whether it was because he was tired or what, it was his decision not to drive that caused this particular run to implode. ARGHHH!
There is so much fun and frustration. He is a solid dog and I couldn’t ask for better dog to start with, but I think that with my schedule, I am approaching his limits. Time for just focusing on that which we both do well.
The San Diego Highland Games start tomorrow (Sat. June 23). Myself and 5-6 others just finished setting up holding pens, obstacles and fencing to help control the paths of out-of-control sheep.
It’s hot, sweaty work and oh, so worth it. This is the one event I really look forward to every year. I am the primary set out person this year and I am really looking forward to it. It tends to be a little stressful, but the outrun is really narrow and the sheep often have to be ‘held’ in place rather then just setting on the hay.
I tried just competing one year as was bored silly, so ever since I have made a point to work as well as compete in this event. This year I even took a fews days off work to help out with build out and tear down on Friday and Sunday evening. I have yet to have a good run here, but the atmosphere, the event location is so much fun I continue to come every year.
Any time people ask me about herding events this is the one I suggest they come see. It is taylor-made for spectators and even has an announcer who also happens to now be an AKC herding judge as well as running Australian Cattle dogs himself. Although this event is border collie only.
Come out and see us!
As I have said before, one of my favorite dog blogs is The Other End of the Leash. Below are a couple of articles that just re-enforce that feeling.
The first is right up the urbanderder’s need list about dog beds.
Ah, who doesn’t love a good bed? Anyone who has traveled knows the value (and rarity) of finding, Three Bears style, just the right bed. It appears that our dogs share the joy of a perfect sleeping place, and I thought it would be a useful discussion to ask all of you what your dogs like best.
The second post talks about balance, in both the herding aspect and the ‘life with your dog’ aspect.
But easy it’s not, it takes skill and experience. And while thinking about balance (see the photos below), that finding it in many other contexts isn’t so easy either. That’s as true in dog training as it is in sheep herding (not to mention the rest of life). And as with sheep dogs, some balance is innate and some can be learned. Over twenty three years of working with aggressive dogs helped me find a balance between reinforcing good behavior and practical, humane ways of inhibiting ‘bad’ behavior (often just management, but if we’re talking about biting people, the word “just” should be deleted).
From an article from the NY Times
genetic study of modern breeds does not “get us any closer to understanding where and when and how dogs were domesticated.”
Interesting read . . .
Another awesome post by Patricia McConnell over on her blog The Other End of the Leash
A million years ago, my first Border Collie Drift lept up and nipped a man’s nose at the Wisconsin State Fair. Even though the man was clearly not injured, with virtually not even a red spot on his nose, I was shook up and appalled. He was furious. “Your dog attacked me!”
Well, he did. Just because the man wasn’t injured didn’t mean he didn’t feel attacked. And it didn’t mean that I didn’t feel horrible.
This is something as a URBAN herder I worry about all the time. My dogs, while pets are not all that people friendly. My ‘people friendly’ female, Beag thinks you throwing a frisbee is WAY better than pet you can give her. And she is NOT receptive to people invading space, this is even more true if you happen to be canine. She probably wouldn’t bite, but I don’t know that for sure. So if it isn’t your dogs watch carefully and be certain to watch for signs of discomfort from any dog you approach.
A couple posts ago I show a video of Scot and I practicing for this run. This is from the trial. The earlier post describes the course. We did ok, We got a score of 86 out of a 100 and qualified so this was the first of three legs in getting his title in HRD 3. I have hit something of a wall in that I don’t have the time or resources to work Scot as much as I would like and more importantly, needed to win against people who do. This is not a complaint. If those are the only folks that beat me, I’m happy. We can certainly improve, and will, but I was happy.
Judges comments: “Good job – a few glitches, but overall some work!”
I felt that I didn’t keep the sheep calm enough in a couple of places. My biggest down check was losing 6 points on my drive, most lost when I missed a cone. Otherwise it was a good run.
Shedding is when you and your dog ‘break’ a group of livestock into smaller groups. It is against the instinct of the herd and the dog to do this. Instinct is for the herd to stay together and even if they split, they will rejoin if not stopped. The dog’s instinct, particularly border collies, is to also keep the sheep all together as well. Here is Bill, the human, and Russell, the border collie doing a shed in an AHBA trial at Action K9 Sports. The is the last part of HTD 3 run.
At Eagle Rock Park this week. Dinky the English Sheepdog
Totally goofy sweet. And yes, that’s what I said. It’s true
So my instructor told me I should enter an upcoming AHBA trial in advanced in both HTD and HTAD. Now keep in mind I have done one run in HTAD II and have had one run in HTD II plus two 2 runs in AKC’s B Course, which is basically the same as HTD III. So I figured I better get some practice runs in ahead of time.
A: so I would HAVE CLUE in what I would need to do and
B: I could find things to practice on locally ahead of going to compete.
I was able to make 2 runs on Saturday and you can see the first of the two below.
In HTAD III the run starts with a outrun, lift and fetch of 10 sheep from an open field at about 100-150 yards to a pen. From this pen I will need to sort out 5 of the sheep (black or white, yeah, I know how that sounds) into the next pen. Once this is done I need to drive these 5 sheep through the Y-chute and into the sort chute at the top of the pen. Particular to this style of trial the dog needs to follow the sheep into the sort chute which, in AKC we try to teach them to stay out of the obstacles. This makes getting Scot into the chute a bit of an extra challenge.
Once that is done I release the sheep and exhaust them at the end of the arena and head back to the other end of this arena to fetch the other 5 to the hold pen where I need to ‘touch’ each one and then fetch them all the way across the arena and through the pen where they were sorted and back out to the field. Once in the field I need to drive across through a gate and back around where they are loaded onto a trailer. See frustration above.
My buddy Scot has this thing about not stopping exactly when I ask him to, which on long drives leads to him working his way around far enough to fetching the sheep back rather than driving in the direction I wanted to. You’ll see this in the video above. FRUSTRATING! Hence the frustrated swing of the crook at the end.
Our second run was better, since Scot was totally cooked (it was hot) and fried (his brain, 2 runs close together will do that) he had less energy to fight me and so he stopped sooner keeping him in better position to drive in the right direction. So there is hope if I exhaust him enough to have him stop when I want. . .
Yeah, right. Wish me luck!