Jig’s Journey ~ 2015

Happy… spring?

*glances at calendar*

Sure. We’ll go with that. Happy spring!

We managed to somehow avoid Mud Season this year — that’s not a complaint — and now we’re full tilt into the year with nearly 4 months behind us, and decent weather for working dogs. That means a continuation of Jig’s Journey (cue Piggggssssss in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace).

The ASCA Nationals is in TN this year and I plan on going. Whether or not I actually enter Jig has yet to be fully determined. She’s in open everything and we have a lot of work to do. Right now, we have three clinics planned — one in June, one in July, one in September. As for trials… a lot will depend on her progress. Looks like IA in July will be the first, just to test the water and see how good or bad we’re doing.

I’ve only worked the girl a handful of times so far and she’s doing what I will term ‘okay’. The list of things we currently need to focus on includes:

  • The ongoing take pen issue
  • Dealing with her propensity to suddenly act as though she’s on crack, or has at least had five pots of coffee and all the sugar in three counties
  • Firming up her drive
  • More cattle experience
  • Getting her more comfortable holding pressure and coming into pressure. Which also includes being able to hit a nose and then release. By which I don’t mean she latches on and doesn’t let go, I’m talking pressure again. Once she hits a nose, her switch tends to flip and then… see the second point.
  • Getting her to hit heels. I’ve seen her do it in the pen when she has no other option. I’d like to nurture that and see her do it when she needs to.

So, yeah, that’s our wish list of sorts. I’ll keep you posted.

 

stockdogsrule

A Passal of Warm Fuzzies

As usual, it’s been a while since my last post. But as I mentioned before, not a whole lot goes on around here during the winter. With spring comes lambing season, although mine began as somewhat of a surprise a couple weeks ago. No one looked even close and I wasn’t expecting lambs until… well, now. It hasn’t been the best. In fact, it goes down in my books as the worst. But, on the bright side… there’s these…

"We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, they're no friends of mine."

“We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine.”

ear

When mom’s busy, your sister’s ear apparently acts as a fine pacifier.

levitation

Lamb levitation.

puppy

Puppy? Lamb?

Queen

I have some lambs with attitude this year. I call her Queen of All I See.

Ram

And this is Mr. I Think My Shit Don’t Stink. (But he is quite handsome. Just don’t tell him I said so.)

scratch

“Look, I can touch my ear with my toe and not tip over!”

stuck

“Who wants a ride in the rocking tub?”

suspicious

My photographic efforts were being met with a bit of suspicion.

suspiciousduo

“Why is she laying on the ground with that thing stuck on her face?” “I don’t know, but I suggest we back away slowly… “

trouble

Trouble in the making.

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Touching Base

I know I promised I’d post more, but really, there’s not a lot that happens around here in the winter. Not with the frigid weather we’ve been having. Chores, chipping ice out of buckets that are supposedly heated, and trying to keep the dogs from going stir crazy. Especially Jig.

What I do during these times, is try to get caught up on inside projects that are languishing. One of those is the portrait of Shaine that’s been laying on my drawing table for…well…a long time.

This was far and away the most difficult portrait I’ve ever done. Even now. But, outside of a few tweaks, it’s ready for matting and framing so I thought I’d share it with you, just to prove I’m still here.

shaine

It’s not the best photo ~ it looks better in person. I took it with my phone, in the kitchen, hanging on the fridge. (Sounds a bit like Clue, doesn’t it? Mrs. Peacock, in the observatory, with the candlestick.) Okay, and I wasn’t hanging on the fridge, the picture was.

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Jig’s Journey ~ Revisiting Nationals

Just a quick (photo-intensive) post to share some of my favorite photos from our cattle runs at the pre-trial and National’s trial. Thanks to Lori Herbel of XP Photography for the excellent shots. (You’ll notice our National’s run was much calmer than the pre-trial run.)

Had to include this one because it just cracks me up. Look at those legs!

Had to include this one because it just cracks me up. Look at those legs!

ptOops

And this one…I think it was one of the few times she realized I was in the arena with her! Love the expression on her face.
“Oh. Hello. When did you get here?”

She likes the heads. Yes, yes, she does. One of the things we'll be working on is getting her not to like them quite so much.

She likes the heads. Yes, yes, she does. One of the things we’ll be working on is getting her not to like them quite so much.

ptWhitey

Jig and this cream cow had issues. “Like my pearly whites?”

ptGroup

Going to turn the group — I’m guessing it’s one of the times I wanted her behind, not in front.

And turning them to do our re-pen.

And one of the times I actually did want her in front — turning them to do our re-pen.

The start of our much calmer National's run, helping Jig with the pen so it stayed quiet.

The start of our much calmer National’s run, helping Jig with the pen so it stayed quiet.

The start of a nice walk up to the first panel. I believe I was doing equal parts threatening her and telling her how wonderful she was.

The start of a nice walk up to the first panel. I believe I was doing equal parts threatening her and telling her how wonderful she was.

Nationals

At this point I was thinking, “Holy shit! We may actually make it around the course!”

A nice cover if I do say so myself.

A nice cover if I do say so myself, but boy! is she focused. Look at those eyes.

You all knew it couldn't stay completely calm and quiet, right? ;)

You all knew it couldn’t stay completely calm and quiet, right? ;) But I believe this was turning them back for the re-pen so I’ll accept it.

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A Tribute to My Narcoleptic Puppy

Quinn turned twelve on the 8th of November. He has no clue. Seriously. Outside of exhibiting some signs of going deaf, it’s hard to tell he’s a ‘senior’ now. He still tears across the yard with his brephew (brother-nephew), makes snow angels, barks at me in his big-dog bark, and hops around like an absolute fool when he thinks we’re going to do something fun. Or when he’s in a good mood. Which, with Quinn, is almost always. He is the most mellow, relaxed dog I’ve every lived with; at ease just about everywhere, with everyone. And yes, as a puppy we swore he was narcoleptic because any time you picked him up, he fell asleep. I remember him as a tiny guy, laying in the palm of my hand, legs draped over the sides, happily snoozing away.

Last month, I officially retired Quinn from the trial arena. I had hoped he would retire with his WTCH*. He didn’t. But he came damn close. We needed one Advanced Cattle leg to accomplish my goal, and we would have likely had it at the Coyote Classic in October had I not made a very conscious and deliberate choice to cross the handler’s line. I made that choice for reasons. I’ve thought about it many times since and, if given the opportunity, I would likely do the same thing. For the same reasons. None of which are really important to anyone but me.

And, at the end of the day, a WTCH doesn’t mean anything to Quinn. It’s a human thing. But don’t think for one second it was easy for me to give it up. It was something I’d been working hard at for quite a while. Something that took me on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, and tested my partnership with my dog. Something that, at one point, almost cost me that partnership. But it also, ultimately, taught me a lot. It wasn’t always the best journey, but it was one that, like Quinn himself, I wouldn’t trade for the world.

And so, to celebrate Quinn’s retirement, and our partnership, some pics over the years of him just being him.

Here he is, just a newborn pup. I knew as soon as I held him after he was born, that he was mine. There was no going back on that one.

Here he is, just a newborn pup. I knew as soon as I held him after he was born, that he was mine.
There was no going back on that one.

And, sound asleep on Dave's stomach because...yeah...narcoleptic puppy.

And, sound asleep on Dave’s stomach because…yeah…narcoleptic puppy.

Wrestling with one of his littermates.

Wrestling with one of his littermates.

I think he was about 4 or 5 months old here. Probably his first time on stock.

I think he was about 4 or 5 months old here. Probably his first time on stock.

I snapped this pic after he had treed a squirrel and was doing a celebratory dance.

I snapped this pic after he had treed a squirrel and was doing a celebratory dance.

Snow angles remain one of his all time favorite things to do in the winter. he gets very disappointed when the snow is frozen.

Snow angels remain one of his all time favorite things to do in the winter.
He gets very disappointed when the snow is frozen.

And, of course, my #1 all-time favorite photo of him and I.

And, of course, my #1 all-time favorite photo of him and I.

Thank you, Mr. Quinn. Here’s to many more years of snow angels, and big dog barks.

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 *A WTCH is a Working Trial Championship. To earn one, a dog must earn its Advanced working titles in cattle, sheep, and ducks through the ASCA Stockdog Program.)

Jig’s Journey ~ ASCA Nationals Part II

Yeah, this is a bit late, but I’m still trying to catch up from being gone for ten days. First, from the Brazos County Expo website, a much better image of the grounds than any I could get. I would gladly go back. The grounds were great, the hosts wonderful, the stock some of the nicest I’ve found at a Nationals.

The South Arena (140'x310') was sheep; cattle in the North Arena (130' x 241') and ducks in the Warm Up Arena.

The South Arena (140’x310′) was sheep; cattle in the North Arena (130′ x 241′) and ducks in the Warm Up Arena. We were camped in the lot to the right of the South Arena.

When we set out for Nationals I had a goal: finish both Jig’s remaining started titles. I’m pleased to say we accomplished that goal. Did we do as well as I had hoped? Nope. But did I still have a blast, and do I still love my dog? Absofreakinlutely.

Time and miles. Jig needs both.

Our sheep runs fell completely apart, which served to catch me totally off guard because on the home turf in training she does very well. We got in that looooonnnnngg arena, and suddenly I no longer existed in her world. Our National run was very short. After she blew me off, and then didn’t respond even when I did get in her face, I knew it wouldn’t get any better. I do love the way she watches her stock, but it would be nice to be acknowledged from time to time. Geez.

Cattle went better. I was able to keep her behind, and even get her back there after I had to send her to head to stop one, or tuck one in. I almost managed to blow our run, though. Our three minute warning came up at the second panel. Plenty of time to walk the stock down and re-pen, right? Sure. Unless you totally brain fart and lollygag around. Thankfully one of the voices in my head reminded me that three minutes had been called and I sprinted to get the gate closed with a full 56 seconds to spare. O_o

Ducks were fast and furious. There were a lot of complaints about the ducks (aren’t there always?) but really, they were ducks. Young mallards. Quick, light, more than willing to flee the predators. Jig had way too much push. I don’t know if we Q’d in our National run because we left before score sheets were handed out. It would be close if we did. There were some very good moments and some wildly insane “watch her!” moments. But since we had already finished her title at the pre-trial, some of the pressure was off.

Overall, I have to say I was very pleased with how Jig handled the entire venue. She can be a bit…concerned…about things. Traveling with her sister was even more of a test, as the two girls have been known to not play well together.

Jig and litter sister Tam who makes her look like a scrawny, leggy beast and who, with owner/handler Gail Winnick went Most Promising Started.

Jig and litter sister Tam who makes her look like a scrawny, leggy beast (because she is) and who, with owner/handler Gail Winnick went Most Promising Started.

But they actually did have a few moments of silliness. I stress moments.

This is probably what Tam really thinks of her sister.

This is probably what Tam really thinks of her sister.

So, what’s next?

Lots of training. LOTS. And more time and miles. Because for Jig and I, the journey is just beginning.

stockdogsrule

Jig’s Journey ~ ASCA Nationals Part I

We arrived at the Expo center in Bryan, Texas at noon on Friday. The trip down had been fairly smooth and uneventful. Just the way every trip should be. Jig handled it well. For her. There were only two minor incidences. One involving getting her neck and front leg so entangled in a canvas bag Gail had in the back seat that we were forced to cut the strap to get it off her. And one involving her chewing nearly all the way through her harness. The part on her chest, I may add. Quite a feat if you ask me. Thankfully I had a bicycle harness along to replace it with. Mostly, she spent a lot of the trip doing this:

Yes, lying down, glaring at me. Or Gail. Whoever happened to not be driving at the time.

Yes, lying down in the back seat, glaring at me. Or Gail. Whoever happened to not be driving at the time.

We did finally hit on something we think may be her issue while traveling: speed. She’s pretty calm and relaxed until around 70 mph. Then she starts to get a bit panicky. Funny that a dog who has no problems with speed on her own four feet, doesn’t seem to care for it in a moving vehicle. She does eventually settle, and even her panicking isn’t as bad as it has been in the past. Hopefully with time and a few thousand miles more, she’ll become a more relaxed traveler.

Friday was a day of getting settled in and acclimated before the pre-trial on Saturday. The arenas are huge, covered, environments unlike anything Jig has trialed in, or even seen.

The cattle arena.

The cattle arena.

The sheep arena. The cross-drive seems shorter than my big arena, but the length is far longer.

The sheep arena. The cross-drive seems shorter than my big arena, but the length is far longer.

I have to say, all things considered, for a young dog without a lot of trialing experience, Jig handled this venue well. A bit too well in the sheep arena. Our open run was not pretty. The stock were marvelous. Jig was full of herself. My handling was off. We made the first panel, missed the second, played ring around the rosy at the center as I tried to get her to listen and stop running amuck. I ended up calling our run. Actually, I thought the judge called it, but the HCT on my score sheet told me otherwise. In either case, it needed to be called.

After sheep I received a few words of wisdom which I applied to our duck run. And although Jig was a bit fast on that as well, I handled much better. I put myself in a better position to keep pressure on her when she needed it, and finally got into her head a bit. Unfortunately, that run was doomed. First we had a duck lie down and play possum. (Yes, they do that.) We took the pressure off, hoping it would get back up and join the others, when it didn’t I decided to work just the four. No sooner did we get rolling again, when a spectator and her dog crowded the fence on the cross-drive. I didn’t see her because I was concentrating on getting the ducks out of the corner. The judge stopped our run, got the woman to move, and offered me a re-run, which I gladly took. No possum duck that time, and we qualified with a respectable 78 to finish Jig’s Started Duck title.

We finished our day with cattle. Far and away Jig’s very favorite, though we have only worked them a handful of times. Cattle was course A, which means a take pen, one of our worst things at the moment. I’m not sure if Jig was intimidated by the size of the arena, if the three-day 1200 mile car trip had finally caught up to her, or if the fact that the pen was one she could easily get into by slipping under the fence had anything to do with it–perhaps a combination of all three-but she had the quietest, nicest pen she’s ever done. Went under, around to the back, pushed the cattle out, then laid down while I closed the gate. Though we didn’t qualify on our run (we made it to the first panel, lost them to the back fence, then re-penned) she did some very nice work. I take my blue ribbons where I can get them, and she gave me quite a few. The biggest was the fact that I could actually keep her off the heads and get her to stay behind. She took a flank to stop them coming off the side, then kicked back when I asked her to instead of heading in for a rodeo. We had one steer, however, that insisted on turning back and, of course, Jig insisted on stopping him. I tried to get things rolling again once we got everyone back together, but by then we were running tight on time, and I wanted to finish on a good note.

We have the next several days off, so we’ll be watching finals and cheering on Deb & Ruby, relaxing, visiting, and just hanging out until our Nationals runs later this week. I’ll try and snap some more pictures to share. Until then, remember…

stockdogsrule

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