Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today on Sesame Street

we learn about sharing...the dog bed. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I was there - honestly!

In spirit at least. Up at 5:20 this morning in time to grab coffee, head down stairs to the big screen to watch the USBCHA semi finals. 

Scott and Don - bringing their sheep around the post.

So far it's been well worth it. Great view most of the time, good commentary, and a fresh pot of good coffee just a few feet away. 

Right now Scott and Don are holding a comfortable lead with a 192. Looking forward to watching them tomorrow in the finals. 
Want to watch?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Homeland Security

When locals find out we have sheep, one of the very first questions they generally ask is "How many have you lost to coyotes?". So far, our answer has been "not a one". As a matter of fact, so far we've had more trouble with stray dogs than wild things. 

However, we're not blind to the fact that we are surrounded by wild things and there's a really good chance that eventually they'll try out the Meanook Valley buffet we've laid out for them. 

A number of our friends have gotten livestock guardian dogs for their sheep and that seems to be the end of their coyote problems. 

Given that Bruce has no desire to chase sheep, I asked him if he'd like to earn his keep around here by guarding the sheep instead. 

While Bruce was happy to take one for the team, he pointed out that his real job is to act as court jester, eat cheezies with Travis, and drag hair and sticks into the house. 

Today I took a more traditional route and went out and bought us a Maremma - a real livestock guardian dog. 

 The sheep feel safer already.

Pretty ferocious looking...

 and already taking his job seriously. 

Of course he needed a name that would match up to the seriousness of his job, so we thought long and hard about naming him after a dog he could really look up to. Of course we wound up naming him after the most famous guardian dog of all.

Who's that you ask? 

Why Sam Sheepdog of course!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Check out my new South African import ram

As some of you know (those that read North Wapiti), my neighbour Karen went over to South Africa last month. She was kind enough to bring back a new ram for me. Dorpers are a South African breed of hair sheep and they make a nice cross with Katahdins - the breed we already have at our place.  How thoughtful of her, given how much of a hassle it must have been getting him through customs. 

Here he is.

Isn't he a beauty?

Especially those blue eyes. 

We still haven't introduced him to Gordon. I'll let you know how they get on when we do.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happiness is

NOT having to share the bed with Bruce

Monday, September 6, 2010

Long weekend buffets...and a sure sign of things to come.

Seen on our walk today:

 The leavings from Mr. Squirrel's breakfast buffet at the famous "Top of Fred's Trail" restaurant. 

Gone and left for other squirrel Labour Day Monday activities, or gone back for more rose hips?

Hmm...pretty in a "six or eight months of white stuff" kind of way. I'm psychic and I predict winter.

Oh, and a rare shot of Ben, AKA "Ears" standing still on the trail.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

I know the suspense is killing you

You haven't been able to eat, sleep, or work while waiting for me to blog about the new addition here. You've been hitting refresh every couple of minutes, hoping that I'd sneakily updated while you were pouring a fresh cup of coffee. Not quite? Close though, right? 

Here he is. 


Now that Kate's well on her way, training wise, I've been doing a bit of window shopping - looking for the next dog. I had pretty much decided that it would be another dog that I could start myself, and it was just a matter of finding the right one. 

We stopped at Randy Dye's to work dogs on the way down to the trials and gee, there was Ben.  Now I've had my eye on Ben for a while and had been hinting nicely since June that Randy should part with him. Hinting nicely wasn't working so finally I took Randy behind the barn and thumb wrestled him till he gave in. Watching a grown man cry isn't pretty, but all's fair in love and war. 

A quick check with Travis THIT (trial husband in training). "Hey, how about adding a 5 month old pup to our Holiday of Dog Trialling".  That should have been enough to cause any normal man to run screaming to the nearest electronics store for...for ANYTHING, but strangely enough he stayed put so off we went - new pup in tow. 

Here's the scoop on Ben. 
He's out of George Stambulic's Kate. Kate was last year's Alberta Stock Dog Association Open Trial Champion and she's out of Scott Glen's Pleat (2004 USBCHA Champion, plus a whole pile more) and George's Gyp who was the 2006 USBCHA Rookie of  the Year. 


Kate stopping a collared ewe in Maple Creek. Of course I had planned to take nice shots of her, but by now you should know what I'm like about taking pictures at trials. 
Ben is by Scott Glen's Don. Don - 2009 Canadian and USBCHA Nursery Champion and 2010 Bluegrass Classic Reserve Champion. Don is out of Eileen Steinman's Star (handled by Alasdair MacRae) - 2 time USBCHA Champion and by Eileenn Steinman's Don. 
A great shot of Don and Scott...which I stole off Scott and Jenny's website. 
And that's the scoop on Ben's pedigree. Not too shabby at all.
Prepare yourself for months of cute puppy blog entries.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Our trip - the readers digest version.

Cleverly, by putting off the "trip" blog long enough, Louanne, Wendy and others have done great jobs of describing the trial fields, sheep, food, camping, etc.. Which means that by now you've probably read all about it and I can just hit the highlights according to Moi. 

EID was its usual well run self. Ian and Joanne Zoerb always do a great  job with this trial. Between the horses at set out, and the tricky terrain Hope managed two poor outruns. The second of which being my fault. He stopped short and in my infinite wisdom I blew a I was whistling it, I thought to myself "that was probably a poor decision I should probably have blown a walk up and he'd have corrected it himself", or more truthfully "oh sh*t" because he took that flank - kicking way out to kingdom come. Eventually we found each other and the rest of the run went well. Actually better than well. Panels have been my nemesis this year. I swear there are trolls out on the field who strategically move the panels as Hope approaches, leading to "panel panic" on my part. Good news - we're back to hitting our panels and it feels GOOD. 
As for Kate, the first day when I sent her I thought she was down in a dip (the outrun had some decent blind spots), when really she had headed to exhaust. Incredibly I managed to get her back on course and out to her sheep - not something she's ever been asked to do before. While the run was a write off I was really pleased with her.  The second day she had the unfortunate luck to draw a group of sheep who bolted back from the set out to the exhaust before she got out to them. Once again I was impressed when she managed to catch her sheep, get hold of them (no small feat as they were very keen to stay put), and bring them back on line through the fetch panels. Another great training run. 

The handler's supper - made by Jerry - was fantastic as always. Travis survived the trial and only mentioned once that "the first coat's dry and it's time to put on the second coat" after a full day of watching black and white animals push black and white animals around a field. He seemed to have good stamina and a keen eye for things - I had a good start on him.  Bruce amused himself by swimming in the reservoir and filling his coat with spear grass. 

Shaunovan, hosted by Jamie Van Rhyn (Great job Jamie - we'll be coming back next year) was on the kind of field you'd expect in that part of the prairies - flat. Hope and I continued to get our act together. Day one he did a great job of getting hold of sheep that desperately wanted to head to the exhaust but fought with me at the drive away panels when I asked him to give up the pressure to make the turn. He crossed his course and things didn't get any prettier on the cross drive so I retired. The second day we put together a really nice run on equally difficult sheep until the pen where Hope decided he'd had enough, took a cheap shot and gripped off. It's been a while since he's done something like that and I was not terribly impressed with him. 

Kate had some difficulty with the horses at set out, stopping short and needing a number of redirects to get her to the top. She did a good job of getting her sheep back on line for the fetch both days given that there was a hard draw with many dogs had difficulty with. However this caused another problem in that she then didn't want to give up the pressure when needed. We wound up retiring on our first go around when she also chose to cross her course at the first set of drive panels and our second go around went...slowly as I fought with her on both the drive and fetch - no drive points as we timed out - but still a score of 45 for the OLF so it really wasn't all that bad. 

Travis amused himself by going to the big city - Shaunovan - for supplies and caught up on his reading. The weather was decent, the pace not too difficult, and I felt that his training as "trial husband" was progressing nicely.  Bruce kept busy by encouraging any and all Border Collies to run great distances across the prairies whenever they were let off their chains. 

Maple Creek and the Western Canadian Finals...I was expecting more of the same after Shaunovan - flat and expansive. What we found was a tricky course that frankly scared the bejeezus out of me when we arrived. That, coupled with +36 weather, a blowing wind filled with dirt, and a tiny flattish space for all of us to camp on  and I thought to myself that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew - what with it being Travis's first trial experience and all. However, eventually you have to see whether they can handle the pressure...or not. 

Hope continued to run well and had no difficulty with the terrain. We happily hit our panels more often than not.  Unfortunately on our first run after holding the single for what seemed an eternity waiting for the judge to call it, once again Hope decided he'd had enough and we gripped off.  Hmmm, something to work on.  Day two we had a good run, but between sheep that just didn't want to split and me safetying up so that Hope wasn't given the opportunity to practice bad habits, there was to be no shed for us. 

Kate had difficulty with pretty much everything on the first day and by the end of the run I was pretty frustrated with her. Frankly I found day one frustrating in general and was not my usual Polly Anna self.  Day two however, was a totally different story. Kate had figured out that horses were not there to eat her, listened well all around the course and we penned our sheep with no trouble. We finished with an 81 - the best nursery run of the trial - with only 2 points off our drive and a perfect outrun and lift. Needless to say I was back to my usual cheery self. With that run Kate moved up dramatically and finished third overall. Good girl Katie!

By Sunday the weather had very much turned and those of us that remained wound up being towed out by of course I finally had reason to start taking pictures! 

Maple Creek mud - twice a greasy as it looks.

Travis entertained himself by keeping the furnace going, making hot drinks, and watching little tractors pull big rigs out on to the highway. 

Travelling by horse was by far the best and only way to get around in the muck.

A few of us stayed over on Sunday night in the hopes that the rain would stop and the parking lot would dry out. No such luck and on Monday morning we pulled out, or more correctly, were pulled out. 
Our truck and trailer are now well and truly broken in. 

All in all, a great trip - great company, great dogs, great competition, great scenery and bit of adventure - exactly why I like trialling so much. 

I'll give Travis the winter off to think about things, and with any luck he'll be keen come spring to get out to the trials again!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


that there might be a new pup in the house

has caused some tongue wagging among the residents.