01/08/2017 When Not to Close the Gate

A couple weeks ago I was working Dillon under Deb's watchful eye. We were taking a group of sheep out of the pen and it didn't go smoothly. Why would it? Dillon's just a youngster and we haven't worked a whole lot. We got the job done after a fashion. It weren't purty. Once the sheep were out, I laid Dillon down, and closed the gate. "Why are you closing the gate?" Deb asked. "Huh?" I tend to lose all ability to form coherent sentences when questioned as to my motives when I just know there's an ulterior reason behind the query. I looked at the empty pen. Looked at the sheep. Looked at Dillon. Shrugged. "Well

12/23/2016 Photo Friday ~ Out for a Romp

It seems like ages since I dragged my camera out. Judging by the quality of the photos and the fact I forgot to check my settings, I'd guess it has been ages. In any case, Jig & Dillon RRREEALLLLYYYYY needed to get out and blow off some steam, and the weather was actually decent. I'm just glad they can play together now. For the most part. Until Jig can't any more and pins Dillon and I have to break things up. Before and after, they have a grand ol' time.                  

12/17/2016 And Now For Something Completely Different…

I don't often use this blog to pimp my writing endeavors (beyond the link over there --->), but I'm doing a bit of a media blitz this weekend, so bear with me. (And if you make it to the bottom of the post, there is something dog-related. Really.) If you read epic fantasy (with just a touch of romance), or even if you don't but might like to try it, now is your chance to get my complete Darkness & Light Trilogy as one bundled e-book, complete with six, full-color illustrations, currently on sale on Amazon for $2.99. That's right, all three e-books, one unbelievably low price. Have you already read the books, or just want to whet your appetite? You can get access to a private gallery of the illustrations by signing up here. You will also receive a free, short story entitled A Brief Interlude. What is the trilogy about? Glad you asked,

12/12/2016 That Time of Year

It finally arrived, complete with single digit temps and sub-zero wind chills that freeze the snot in your nose. Winter. Don't get me wrong, for the most part, I like winter. Seriously. I love the nights when the silence is so thin a single whisper fractures it, the way the stars sparkle, and the way the wind dances with the snow across the open fields, spiraling it upwards in crystalized waterspouts. The thing I hate about winter is that, for the most part, training comes to a grinding halt. Sure, there are those rare days when the temperature is bearable, the ground's not a frozen accident waiting to happen, and I can actually swing the gates, but those are few and usually hit during the week when the dayjob sucks up all my daylight hours. This year it's going to be even worse. Not winter, per se, but my impatience with being unable to work the dogs

10/04/2016 Influence, Control, and How My Dog is Like a Kite

For those of you who don't know, when I'm not at the dayjob, spending time with family & friends, or doing something dog-related, I write. (If you're interested in knowing more about that, please visit my author site and, if you're extra crazy, sign up for my Guaranteed No Spam newsletter.) Because I write, I read quite a few author blogs. One of those I frequent is terribleminds, the home of Chuck Wendig who, according to his intro: "

09/28/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Altered States Part 2

I love when a trial photographer is on site. It's usually the only time I get shots of my dogs working. It also helps me realize that perhaps my runs weren't as bad as they felt from the inside. It's always extra special when Dick Bruner is that photographer. Not only is he a great guy, he has a talent for catching those moments when it appears things are actually going good. Here is some of that calm, flat-footed duck work I mentioned in my last post. The drive up to the panels in one of our better sheep runs. For as reactive as these sheep were for Jig, she remained fairly relaxed. I, on the other hand, was a bit twitchy. No way could I give commands quick enough to keep things under control. Thankfully, this girl knows how to read her stock. And, finally, one of our best cattle moments happened

09/26/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Altered States

Anyone following this blog may have noticed I've been a bit down in regards to my trialing. It's gotten even worse since what I feel was my horrendous job handling in July, and I've been really struggling mentally: beating myself up, comparing myself and Jig to other teams, and waging war with self-doubt and frustration. There were a few times I honestly questioned why I keep doing this. I have a good dog with quite a bit of talent and I feel as though I'm failing her; that I'm not holding up my end of the team, and I keep having doubts as to whether or not I'm capable of bringing that talent out, or showcasing it in a competent manner. Yes, I have even, on more than one occasion, thought about throwing in the towel. Thing is, I'm a wee bit stubborn. Yeah. That's a well-kept secret, right? Several weeks ago, with the RRV trial looming, I started going

07/30/2016 Dillon’s Day

Yes, for once, a post about a dog other than Jig. Hard to believe, right? Well, up until now, Dillon hasn't done much training besides dry foundation work, a few twirls in the round pen, and one time in the small arena. Other than that, he's just been hanging out, going lots of places, socializing, and learning how to be a good puppy. He did get to go along  to my friend Diana's farm last week, where he met cattle for the very first time--on line, of course. Once Jig explained the proper procedures to the heifers, such as, 'if you put your head down and come toward me, you're going to get bit' and 'when I say move, I mean get to hoofing', I introduced Dillon to them. He wasn't the least bit intimidated by their size, and even brought out his big dog growl and held his ground when

07/05/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Unmet Expectations

They're double-edged swords, personal expectations. They can lead to disappointment when they go unmet, which can, in turn, create frustration and the desire to just throw in the towel and give up. Self-doubt raises it's ugly head and whispers, "You're not good enough. Not talented enough. You don't have what it takes." Long rides give me far too much time to reflect and, on occasion, wallow. I despise wallowing, yet, I fully admit, I succumbed and did a bit of it on the drive home from the That'll Do ASC trial Monday. Although we had some 'blue ribbon moments' over the weekend, Jig and I did not perform even close to the level I wanted us to. In fact, I came out of more than one run feeling about as inept a handler as I ever have. I'm not looking for sympathy here, or a pep talk, just laying it out there, because the other edge of that

05/23/2016 Jig’s Journey ~ Sticking With It

One of Jig's regular jobs around the farm is to move the sheep to their temporary grazing area. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rQXkDB_qEU] This time of year, that happens on a near daily basis. It's a challenging job because it's very rare that the 'gate' remains in the same location more than two days in a row. The electrified netting gets repositioned into often very creative shapes around the open field, wherever the grass is in need of trimming. Not only does that change, but the route we take to get there varies. With the adults being grass-whores, and the lambs being… well, lambs, the job can frequently test Jig and I to the extremes of our patience. Me, more so than her. Over the past month I've been getting very frustrated with some of Jig's antics once we're in the open. For instance: her reluctance to take the flank I want her to take, her