Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mud Puppy and her Sheep

Syd went for another herding lesson Monday afternoon, and she thought it was fantastic.

When we ran the sheep on Saturday, there was about 1/2 inch of snow on the frozen ground, and things were relatively "clean." Yesterday, well, the temps got up to about 40 degrees, and the snow melted and created nice, thick mud in the pen. My dog was basically camouflaged in the mud. And no need to worry about her mis-matched front leg colors, all four of her legs were a matched Muddy Brown set! The lesson was nice, it was relaxed, and mostly our instructor wanted Syd to continue to be motivated and interested. Cathy commented that Syd does some things a little more like a dog working cattle. That doesn't mean much to me, but it had something to do with Syd moving into the middle of the group (not splitting them) at times, and trying to get one sheep to do something in particular. I have a lot to learn, and most things look about the same to me.

I think Syd has some potential, so we'll see. I asked about the breed of sheep, and Cathy said something about Katadan (not sure on the spelling) and Dorper. I don't remember if some are crosses of the two, or if she has both breeds. She stayed interested the entire lesson, and she even inadvertently "penned" the sheep. I thought that was pretty funny, since the "pen" was a gate leaning up against the fence.

Syd was quite pleased and happy when we left the herding pen. She took a few minutes to roll around and get herself good and stinky. What she didn't know was that I was going to get the last laugh. I knew we were off to conformation class later that night, so little stinky was getting a bath! Thankfully, she cleans up well, and went from the herding pen to the show ring in less than 2 hours. My bathtub, on the other hand, was not looking so great when the bath was over!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baaaa-ck to the Sheep

Yesterday Syd started back to herding. We have a new instructor, and after a break of several months, Syd was reintroduced to sheep. I don't remember what kind of sheep Kathy has, and I need to ask her tomorrow when we go for our next lesson. These sheep are smaller than Bridget's Horned Dorsets, and they are definitely a bit lighter. One thing I really liked about them is that they did not challenge Syd. When she went to head the sheep off, they turned and respected her. I hope that will give her confidence. It was a nice, sunny but cold morning, and Syd had a good run. Kathy was pleased with her interest and her ability to work from both sides. We'll go tomorrow afternoon for a second lesson and see how it goes. No photos from yesterday, it was pretty cold and windy, and things were moving pretty fast, so I had no chance of being coordinated enough to manage the dog, the sheep, and the camera! Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now Accepting Applications

Position: Agility Handler for Dark-legged Cardigan (capable of running course and carrying her own treats and toys while doing so)

Description: Individual needed to handle Dark-legged Cardi girl in agility, practice and trials. Relocation to Kansas City a must.

Qualifications: Any interested applicant must be capable of keeping track of quick Cardigan, own feet, and various agility obstacles that might present a hazard if run into or tripped over. Must possess ability to cue dog to correct obstacle, and speak correct name of correct obstacle at same time. Applicant must be able to perform all aforementioned tasks at the same time, while sprinting. Current handler unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Salary: Ha, really? Don't quit your day job.
**In-person interview with Dark-legged Cardigan required.**

Seriously, Syd is coming along really well in agility. She is getting better at taking my cues, and we are running some pretty complicated excellent courses at our class, broken down into two or three parts. We have lots of work ahead of us, but I'm really thrilled with her progress, and the confidence that she has gained from agility. Sometimes when our classmates clap and cheer for her after a run, I think she looks pretty proud of herself, all smiles and wags. :-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Newest Toy...

This is our new-used Contact Trainer. It's very exciting, and something that we can use indoors. I'm working on making the biggest room in the upstairs/attic into our training room. It will allow Kane to get back to obedience training, and it will be a place where Syd and Hawk can work on agility and obedience. The room is not huge, but it's the biggest room in the house, and it's completely open, so it will be better than braving the elements outside when the weather is bad!

The contact trainer is an added bonus, and this weekend we'll be bringing home our new-used A-Frame! Yay! Someone in our obedience club posted a used A-Frame for sale, and I was just lamenting that I needed one at home to work on contacts and confidence on the obstacle (our agility club A-Frame is USDAA height). I happened to be the first to call, and the lady mentioned that she had this contact trainer also, if I was interested. Um, yep... For a bargain, I now have the A-Frame I need, and I have this great piece of equipment that the seller bought new from Clean Run. It folds up completely, is easy for one person to carry, and is small enough I can use it indoors. Perfect.

*Safety Note: Big Nick would like for me to add the warning that when you are a 95 pound, hyper-drive lab/GSP mix, you should NOT, I repeat, NOT run up the stairs, across the attic, and leap onto the contact trainer when it's on a polished hardwood floor. DEFINITELY wait until the mat flooring is put down!