Interesting article on origin of dogs, or not

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 . . .

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Preventing Dog Bites

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.

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My HRD 3 run

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.

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Nice shed

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.

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My friend Dinky who is not . . .

At Eagle Rock Park this week. Dinky the English Sheepdog

Totally goofy sweet. And yes, that’s what I said. It’s true

-urbanherder

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Practicing for HTAD III

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!

– urbanherder

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It’s about ‘Balance’

A great new post on balance from Patricia McConnell on her great blog “The Other End of the Leash

“Balance is a term used by sheep dog handlers, but I find myself thinking of its value in so many other contexts related to dogs.

“In sheep herding, “balance” refers to a dog’s ability to place itself exactly where he or she needs to be to take control of the sheep without frightening them. It refers to two things really. One is the distance between the dog and the sheep. Too far away? — no control, no pressure. Too close? — forces the sheep to run away in a panic, or to turn and fight. Just right? Exactly at the point at which the sheep will turn and move away from the dog without panicking. . . [READ MORE]

Not only does it ring true with herding it fits what I believe we should look for our urban dogs that have no interest in herding. Check it out.

-urbanherder

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Another hike : Christmas Day

I had intended to hike the Lower Sam Merrill trail up to the Old Echo Mountain Hotel site, but there were so many people there I swung over to the Millard Campground hoping to hike up towards Millard Falls, but apparently it’s closed. I am pretty sure it was opened since the fire, so I figure it must have been the wind storm. In any case that meant walking the other direction toward the Dawn Mine area.

Amazingly clear day, as you can see in the video (assuming you do) the ocean, Pales Verdes and Catalina behind it are all visible. The waterfall was beautiful and, again, the dogs loved the water.

I was sore for the next couple of days. Cycling I can handle, but hiking seems to work very different muscles. Good exercise though.

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“Oh! You mean THAT awee.”

This past Sunday (12/18/2011) I went to an American Herding Breed Association trial held by my club and at my instructor’s place, Action K9 Sports

Now to be fair to Scot we have had very little practice in the last few months due to several things including me looking for and starting a new job. That on top of lack of light in the evenings, plus to be fair, a certain amount of slackness on my part and we have done very little work so prep was on the low-side.

I have done one AHBA trial before this and it was only HRD II. The video below is from my first ever HTD II run, but it is basically the same course as AKC’s B course.

You’ll note the van behind the post. The rain had started a little earlier and instead of throwing up a canopy or other choices she decided to drive over and sit in the car to judge. Fine by me, but a bit entertaining . . .

Scot did an OK outrun and fair fetch. Things were fine as the sheep rounded the post. The draw is back to screen-right where the sheep are penned so I need to watch that. As I fetched the sheep toward the first set of panels you can see I was trusting Scot to do as I commanded so my eye was on the stock. All was well at first then you can hear me give an ‘awee,’ but Scot decides he would rather ‘go bye.’ As you can see I didn’t notice until the sheep didn’t react as I would have expected them to . . .

So as soon as I realized I stopped him and tried to get him around. About the time he finally took the correct command you can hear Bill who was recording for me utter the title of the this post.

All in all it wasn’t an awful run and we did place 3rd. We also placed third in HRD II which would have been WAY better had a practiced placement some before hand. I made a couple of dumb mistakes, but Scot was much better.

Not a bad effort all considered.

SPVHC AHBA Trial Dec. 18, 2011

Russell and Otis wait their turn. Click to see more photos . . .

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Why don’t I do this more often?

I really meant taking the dogs on a hike, but it certainly could refer to how often I have been adding posts to this blog. For some reason I can’t seem to stay on top of it.

Sunday afternoon I took the dogs on a shortish hike on the Gabrielino Trail near JPL in Pasadena. Just a couple of miles from the house. Scot has developed a limp I can’t quite figure out so I wanted to not do frisbee or ball chasing to see if that would help.

As you can see from the video below they clearly had a good time. Especially once they found the water. Beag, in particular seemed energized by it.

As anyone local knows we had a tremendous wind storm here last week and the effect in the canyon was staggering. Almost all the trees were ‘topped.’ Literally had the tops snapped off.

trees damaged by wind

trees damaged by wind

Nature can be beyond astounding. I am humbled by the damage done here and am more than a little curious about what it was like in this canyon when it was happening.

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