06/30/2017 Moving Backwards to Move Forward

What a glorious weekend we had for the Steve Shope clinic here at the farm last weekend! The weather cooperated wonderfully, and the group of handlers and dogs was one of the best yet. All eager to learn, all super-supportive of one another, and all at various levels with their dogs. We certainly gave Steve a work-out. He, in turn, pushed some of us outside our comfort zones in order to get the best from our dogs. For some handlers 'outside the comfort zone' meant merely turning their back on their dog. For others, it meant moving outside the pen. Literally. Talk about exercising trust in your dog while losing the ability to micro-manage them. A trap I fall into far too often. I was one of those who Steve had work their dog from the opposite side of the fence. Yes, I put Jig in the round pen with the stock, closed the

06/20/2017 Jig’s Journey ~ A Blast From the Past

This clip of 5 month old Jig showed up on Facebook's 'See Your Memories' thing. According to my post that day: Took Jig into the small arena today, just for grins and giggles, and Tija was able to catch some of it with her phone. At first Jig was obsessed with one of the ewes that wanted to stick to me, she just kept circling me and the ewe, trying to get her to move by heeling her a couple times. I put the lead back on her so I could direct her a little further, put the sheep back together and then just wanted to see what I'd get when I released her. Got lots of promise, that's what I got. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdXYeJYM9Xs] Sometimes, to see how far we've come, it really helps to look at where we started. Five years and a lot of miles later Jig and I are *finally*

06/03/2017 Jig’s Journey ~ A Little Help From My Friends

I think if I worked on it for a day, I could come up with stockdog related lyrics to that song. What would you do if I gave the wrong flank? Would you take it or do what I meant? Right. Okay. Um

04/06/2017 Jig’s Journey – An Update

I threatened you with promised an update (whether you want one or not) on Jig's training, so here it is. The best thing I ever did for this dog was invest in cattle of our own. I wish I would have done it years ago, but something else always came up. Plus, even four steers are a bit commitment of resources. In any case, we won't know until the SEMASA trial Memorial Weekend if our hard work is paying off, but I'm feeling a bit more confident in our chances. Trialing on cattle has always been tough for us because Jig likes them a bit too much. So much, as a matter of fact, she tends to forget I'm out there with her. That's not to say we haven't had our moments. They just happen to be few and far between and the rest have been

03/11/2017 Rebel’s Big Day

Yesterday was a big day here on the farm. Yup. Mr. Rebel Kitten officially assumed his position as Barn Cat. Given the speed at which he moved from place to place, and the efficient manner in which he kept an eye on absolutely everything, I'd say he's going to do things his own freaking way. Then again, that seems to be the theme around here.   Since Rebel seemed occupied with coming to terms with his new responsibilities, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and firm footing (that's something of a rarity this time of year) and get some training in. The calves have been here a week and, though they've met the dogs, I haven't done anything beyond having Jig walk in on a nose to turn them. Having her own steers is going to do that girl a world of good. Okay, it's going to do us both a

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: "

09/26/2016 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