I was doing some website updates, transferring domain names, switching servers, panicking when I thought I lost everything… again, etc. etc. and suddenly realized it’s been over a month since my last post here. Yikes, right? But, you know…

And then there’s been this stretch of heat and humidity which are two of my most unfavorite things.

Okay, enough with the gifs, that’s not what any of us are here for.

Let’s see, short recap; my last post was about how I was talked out of benching Jig and only running her in farm trials because I wasn’t having the success I thought I wanted. Since then, a second person whose opinion I value, concurred with the first. Actually, several folks concurred. So, I’m sticking with it and with Jig because I have a lot to learn yet.

Jig has some stuff to learn as well. Stuff I should have taught her right from the start. Stuff Steve Shope helped me recognize when he was up to give his yearly clinic at the end of June. He watched me work Jig as though we were trialing, which proved to be extremely helpful. Granted, I didn’t handle her exactly like a I would at a trial, and the stock knows us both, but Steve was still able to point out several of our weaknesses. One of the biggest (outside of my handling), is that Jig doesn’t pause on her There, or pretty much any time I ask for it. I’ve likely created the monster by letting her run the lift right into the fetch. That results in me attempting to make her stop, generally at the wrong time by telling her to down, which she fights because it causes her to lose her stock, which in turn requires her to have to re-establish control, and it’s just ugly.

Under Steve’s guidance there were a few times I was able to get Jig to simply check her pace. The sheep would settle almost immediately, and didn’t even consider bolting toward the draw because Jig had them right at the edge of the bubble. It was a thing of beauty.

So, it’s back to working on some sloppy foundations for Jig. As for my handling, I need to be proactive instead of reactive, and that’s going to take time and miles.

Dillon and I had a breakthrough as well. All it took was a bottle full of rocks. All my dogs are familiar with the ‘boogy bottle’. I find the noise it makes to be a very useful training aid with some of them. I hadn’t been using it with Dillon because I didn’t think he needed it. Turns out, he kind of does, but only to remind him to get the hell out of my bubble. Seriously. He’s so bonded to me, and so much my dog, that he has a problem working at any kind of distance – until I grabbed the bottle. Now a simple shake will convince him that he needs to do what I asked instead of bouncing around and staring at me. And it’s proven to me that not only does he know the commands I thought he did, but he also knows some I didn’t think he did, like inside flanks. Yeah. Way to prove me wrong, dog.

Dill is also getting to be quite handy in tight spots. He and Jig are about as far apart as you can get in their approach to putting sheep somewhere they don’t want to go. Jig is this ball of energy with a ton of push and an attitude to back it up, and she doesn’t quite get the whole hold-the-pressure-and-let-them-move-off thing. Her approach is more like, “I said get the hell in there NOW and I meant it.”

Dillon, on the other hand, is far quieter, worlds more patient, not so pushy, and he’s willing to allow the stock the opportunity to make the right choice as he holds his pressure. Sometimes I need a bit of Jig in him, and sometimes I need a bit of him in her.

And Cian? What’s up with that boy?

Adolescence.

He’s been leaving the arena during training sessions. Sometimes to socialize if someone’s watching, and sometimes for no reason I can figure out. He comes right back and keeps working, though, so that’s a good thing. I might have attributed the behavior to the meds he’s on, if not for the fact that his litter brother (who has been visiting for a couple months) has been doing the same thing.

Like everything else, we’ll work through it.

On the seizure front, Cian’s had two breakthroughs since our last ER visit in March. One where I employed our cluster-buster protocol and spent a night with very little sleep. Not because he had more seizures, which he didn’t, but because apparently diazepam does not make him drowsy and sedate but jacks him up to the point where all he wanted to do was play. All. Night. And, yes, I had to go to work the next day. About a month later he had a second seizure. This time his post-ictal phase was nearly non-existent. In fact, within moments after the seizure he was completely normal. Although I did administer some extra meds, I didn’t feel the need to employ our CBP. Currently, he’s sporting a Fitbark on his collar as part of a 6-month study being done by UW Madison vet school, which you can read about by following this link.

So, there’s my update. No training lately because of the weather. Next trial with Jig is in August. I’ll try to post some more in between times. I also have some random photos and video clips to share. In the meantime, remember…

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