A Mid-winter Break

Lookit me. Posting again. What an overachiever. ? I decided I’ve been struggling with blogging off and on because I’m really not a ‘heart on my sleeve, need validation, share with strangers’ type of gal. And though I could blog about something else entirely, we all know my muses are not the ‘let’s just keep it in and ignore it’ type of beings. So there you have it. Compromises must be made.

I‘m rather wishing Mother Nature subscribed to that theory. It’s been a bit hard to get any training in for the past month and a half or more. One of the drawbacks to living in the upper midwest. When it wasn’t cold, it was wet. So we had a lot of this…

which was either boot-sucking or ankle-breaking depending on the temperature.

For more than a week, my arena looked like this…

Actually, it looked worse than this. There was a lake there for a while, something we generally don’t see until spring. The pens were a quagmire, and every other training area was a variation of the same theme which made for slick, unstable footing and I don’t really care to tempt fate that blatantly. Needless to say, there are several reeeeeeaaaaaaallllllyyyyy bored dogs here. Anyone have any tried-and-true kong stuffing recipes, pass them my way. The most popular here is peanut butter & Greek yogurt but I like to switch things up every now and again.

To help alleviate the boredom, Jig still gets her morning game of chuck-it and Dillon goes along just for grins and giggles. He’s never really been a fetch kinda dog. Then the siblings go for their morning walk and amuse themselves with massive zoomie spurts, trail racing, and stick wars. That last one goes something like this: Finn finds an overly large stick, or mangles a low-hanging branch or unfortunate sapling to get something suitable (I swear he’s part beaver). He prances about with his trophy, very pleased and very adept at hamstringing us (hence the nickname Tonya Harding). Eventually he’s forced to put it down to do the boy thing. You know, sniff & pee. At which point, his sister swoops in and steals it and Finn pretends not to care until she likewise puts it down. And round and round we go.

It did finally get nice enough over the weekend to sneak in a little training. We had a bunch of errands to run so I didn’t get out first thing in the morning when the ground was actually solid. As the day wore on and that bright orb in the sky (which we haven’t seen much of lately) made an appearance, it got rather soft.

I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, though. I think I needed it as much as the dogs, so I totally made Jig’s day and took her out to sort some groups. I normally use one or the other of the boys, but when they do the sorting two things happen: 1) I get lazy and accept ‘good enough’ so long as the job gets done and 2) their actual training time that day tends to get cut short. I wanted to make the most of this rare chance for mid-winter training so the ol’ lady got the nod. And, so there’s no confusion, I’m referring to Jig, not me.

I‘ve decided Dillon and I are going back to fundamentals. I feel like I’ve said that before and probably haven’t followed through. He’s been watching me even more than normal and if you know me or have spent any time reading these ramblings you’ll know how that behavior absolutely makes me lose my shit no matter how hard I try not to. That hasn’t helped him any. I think I expect more from him and I’m too stubborn or too dense to just take my time and fix what’s broken. I admit, I hardly worked with him last year. He was my main chore dog, my go-to dog for sorting and pen work, but I kind of put him on the shelf. Maybe we both needed it. I don’t know. He’s always been a conundrum and will probably be so until his last breath, but he’s my conundrum and I owe it to him to keep going on our journey.

“Hey, is it my turn yet?”

Back to basics — working on rate in the fetch.

One of the things that bit Finn and I in the backside at Nationals was that the sheep weren’t even close to what we’re used to working. Of course, if we got off the farm a bit more and he had some more miles on him, maybe it wouldn’t have been an issue. In any case, they didn’t move when Finn approached, but turned to watch him. Granted, had he approached them correctly (as much my fault as his. Okay, mostly my fault.) they would have lifted for us. I kept bemoaning the fact I don’t have stock like that to work him on until the other day during chores when Jugs decided to prove me wrong.

This is Jugs.

He’s a something of a fixture around here. He’s out of one of my first registered Katahdins. There’s a whole story behind his name, but most people don’t get it, so I’ll save it for another time. Suffice it to say, he used to be one of my best working sheep. Now, he’s in his teens, mostly blind, and retired. Mostly.

Turns out the combination of Jugs and Linus might prove to be really good for Finn. He needs to learn to push. He needs to learn he can’t just bypass the slow, heavy sheep and chase after the lighter ones in the group. I need to learn to let him work. So I stuck Jugs and Linus in a group and we did some driving and some fetching around, and I balanced on that fine line of helping Finn but also letting him try to figure it out on his own.

There’s so much I like about this clip. After watching it I also realized I should have just shut my mouth.

And Miss Maeve? I started her differently than any other dog, using the techniques I learned at Diane Sobel-Meyer’s clinic. I highly recommend training with Diane if you get the opportunity. I’m sure I’m not doing it precisely as we were taught, but I’m relying on memory and scribbled notes and we all know how that goes. There are a few issues that cropped up but Maeve is very biddable and she learns quickly. I remind myself constantly that she is only 9 months old. I’m also attempting to be very patient and, say it with me, “Not. Rush. Her.”

Yeah, that.

The view from the back seat.

Lastly, for you ASCA folks, two things: If you missed the announcement, I am now the Region 4 rep for the Stockdog Committee. I look at it as my way of giving back to the club and to the breed that has really shaped my life.

Secondly, along with our Stockdogs Rule and Love Dogs designs, the Journey Impressions store now carries several items with the ASCA logo. A portion of all sales made through the store between now and the end of February will be donated to ASCA’s IT fund. I’m sure that’s not the actual name of the debacle situation, but if you keep up with ASCA’s email list or FB, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Until next time…

  • Donna Marsh

    01/09/2023at2:19 pm Reply

    I loved it when Finn (I think) pushed the sheep at the beginning to attempt to move it. Nice, fair first attempt. Are Maeve and Finn full siblings or just siblings in name only because they both reside in your home?

    • KLS

      01/11/2023at3:47 pm Reply

      Yep, that was Finn. He was trying a lot to get them to move. I realized after watching he was hazing the lighter sheep to move them which helped get the sticky ones going. Which is why I should have just not said anything. 😉 And, yes, Finn and Maeve are full siblings. Repeat breeding 2 years apart.

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