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Everything posted by ejano

  1. We do have the electronet on our list of must get ASAP as there are other areas that need either fencing in or fencing out and I could develop a planned grazing pattern for the orchard. Both dogs have a good stay. My plan is to keep the dog with me while I am doing some chore - i.e. trimming trees, cleaning out the spring, rebuilding the wall - sending the dog out if necessary if the sheep decide to drift off too far afield or kite back to the barn without permission. I took Brodie out with two sheep yesterday afternoon and when I sat down, he relaxed beside me, something that surprised me as the whole situation was entirely new to him. But he takes his cues well from his handler and while he has strong interest and ability, he has other hobbies besides watching sheep when he's not working them. Yesterday he kept his eye on them but as long as their noses weren't pointed toward the barn, he was cool about it. We stayed less than an hour but it was a good foundation. Around the barn and paddock, if given the opportunity, Robin lies watching the sheep so intently only his nose twitches, or if standing, his body trembling, until he is called off. (The thumbnail picture below is him, staring at "his" sheep.) Even then, he drifts back at first opportunity to a reasonable distance (the sheep are undisturbed) to return to watching. I severely limit his sightseeing opportunities as he is a naturally strong dog and doesn't need to think up any more ideas - and there's always the possibility that, unable to bear standing still, he might well have a "Hey, lets see what happens if I do this moment." I don't make a big deal of it when he stakes out the paddock as I don't want to punish him for "finding" the sheep or for his strong interest so I call him off quietly and redirect him. If he does it a second time, into his crate he goes until we can do a supervised activity. Is that the right thing to do? We'll see what happens when he has his turn at taking the sheep out - hopefully this afternoon. Thanks, Liz
  2. Our dearest friends are always with us.
  3. I think my boys would sign up with Oreo...they've been feeling the same way lately but things are looking up! -- And Ooky, would love to read that point-counterpoint!
  4. In fencing, the "on gaurd" position, means prepared to attack so I'm not sure that my title accurately reflects my question but here is the situation - my understanding of the Border Collie psyche is that they really enjoy getting something - mine prefer sheep - and putting that thing someplace - at the moment right at my feet (something we need to change but that's a question for another time)- and then doing it all over again - quickly. But what happens when you have the sheep where you want them and you want to stay there for awhile and have the dog help you keep them in the general area to graze without grounding them to an exact spot. Could you expect a young eager dog to be "on guard" without breaking his cool? The "orchard" is comprised of a slope, two 3 acre meadows,separated by a stone wall a 5 acre orchard with a stream running through it and beyond it, the "big field" - a 15 acre hay field beyond the orchard. They are separated by stone walls that are tumbled down in places and have open barways. We won't be running fences in here for some time. The sheep paddock opens up directly onto the slope so the intention is to tumble the sheep out, keep them from doubling back onto the delicious hay grass on the "near field" and push them out onto the slope and let them wander. There are no roads, the small meadow is very open so it is a good place to train the dogs as well. There is also a good deal of work to be done in the orchard. I plan to alternate dogs - taking one each day but I don't want the pups to get too worked up with excitement from the tension of watching the sheep that they will be of no use in helping me getting the sheep back into the paddock. If we are down in the orchard for several hours or half a day - is it fair to ask my boys, both 3 years old with some training (a good down, fairly consistent on their sides, an enthusiastic lift and fetch, wearing well, a wee bit of driving) stay "on guard" with supervision to keep the sheep from wandering too far afield?
  5. This is all great advice and well suited to my situation. I am anticipating some challenges early on, but as you say, once they figure out where home is and how to get there, it should go quite easily (famous last words!) The problem set for the dogs will be to keep them from slipping into the hayfield instead of going down into the orchard when going in and out of the paddock so the dog will essentially be an extended funnel, off to the left as they come out of the gate and vice versa when they go back. The hayfield will be enticing but there is all ready nice green, tender grass on the trail so that may help. If all else fails, encouraging them with a bucket of grain is the last resort. I also won't let all them out at the same time (learned that lesson last fall!). Some things are just trial and error(s), aren't they? Mine are wary with me when I have a dog but the dog will hold them so that I could, if necessary get a hold of them should they need treatment. I was pleased that I could even nab my flighty little Shetland who doesn't let anyone touch her. I do think if I had 20 or more, they would be less personable, but I don't know if we'll ever build up to that many...we'd need more shelter for them, more fenced paddock. Kristen and all, I heed your advice and can definitely see how Lamb Chops could be a problem (he's +/-)140 pounds now) and we've had some long discussions about the results should he change his now friendly attitude and I'm sure that DH wouldn't hesitate to give him up if he became dangerous to me or visitors. I certainly would send him packing. Howsomeever, I did sneak in the paddock with Brodie and two sheep on Sunday (my "puppy" sheep and her shadow, the flighty little Shetland) on Sunday...I just couldn't stand not to...the weather is so perfect right now. I am pleased to say that Brodie has not forgotten to lie down and that my new knee seems well suited to waltzing around the pasture at a fairly good rate. . We both need to brush up on our directional skills before we take on longer outruns - but his wearing skills were good - I didn't feel threatened with him behind me keeping the sheep plodding along. He has a quiet way of working...that red dog has a different style. Now, it all seems possible. Thanks, everyone for your encouragement. This is going to be a very good learning year, I think.
  6. Maybe a different food? Some people add vegetable oil to the food but I'd think fish oil serves a better purpose. Egg is good for the coat as well. If your heat is still running and he's spending a great deal of time indoors, that might be a contributing factor. I also do a deep brushing every week - saves on vacuuming if nothing else! Liz
  7. It might be funny if I was witnessing it happening to someone else...and that person didn't get too badly hurt beyond their pride:). Use the dog to protect me... light bulb moment . We've been working on me stepping aside while the dog pushes the sheep through the "gate" - two cones lined up to mimic the actual gate some yards beyond. I want the dogs to nail that "gate" to get them ready to bring the sheep in and out of the real gate when we're ready for some real fun -- turning them lose on the slope and hopefully bringing them back. I step aside to "close" the gate while they take the sheep through. It's been moderately successful so they may be ready to do things a bit differently if I ask. (I received the same advice about flexed knees. And, from my tennis days, the flexed knee also gives you momentum to move from one side to another more quickly as well.)
  8. Kristen, my biggest PIA is a bottle baby - our whether Lamb Chops. He definitely gets separated from the flock when we are working on new things. Once the dogs have the idea of what I want them to do, I through him back in so that he (hopefully) learns how to go with the flow. He often challenges the dogs, who have learned how to handle him without tearing his nose off. In this first year, more than once I've threatened to send him to the butcher, but he's very popular as he's so friendly with the nieces and nephews (and DH), he's very easy to handle without the dogs and he has beautiful wool... The brace is a good idea - and we'll work on pace and releasing pressure.
  9. April 15 is my target date for getting back into training with the boys...but I'm a bit nervous about protecting my new knee. After some brushing up on the basics, I want to move into longer outruns. This is my fear. Daffodil, my "puppy" sheep comes roaring up like a freight train, bowls me over and there I lie, trampled in the mud! I can keep her out of the mix for awhile, but sooner or later she's got to get with the program as they're all going as a unit onto the slope above the orchard this spring and the dogs will be charged with bringing them back. Plus, there is no guarantee that the others won't also get super friendly with the dog at their heels. I've been working on the "slow" command with both dogs. I plan to make my first outrun practices in fetching the sheep from the barn area to the field so they won't be so darned eager to get to a destination. I'm told that sheep aren't like other animals - they won't go around you but prefer a path straight through you. If that's so, I think I'm doomed... What can I do to prevent a collision? Liz
  10. Busy resurrecting older threads... My Brodie also fits the definition of a soft dog as you use it here - sensitive to both verbal and nonverbal commands. He wants to please but if he is intimidated he gets very wiggly and plaintive. I've noticed that with the sheep (as has been pointed out), he gets a great deal tougher, though he is nervy. For awhile he had to run off and poop when he first saw the sheep. Then he was so trembly with excitement he refused to lie down -- his body was so stiff it was even difficult to physically push him down. He suddenly became very good at ignoring my "growly" voice. It took a combination of patience and firmness to get through this initial stage. As has been said here, I was told by my trainer to not indulge his difficulty in lying down but to become more aware of the pressure and lie him down where he was most comfortable then gradually work to more difficult challenges. It, like most good advice, worked and Brodie, while still passively disobedient at times, has come a long way. I had him at the farm yesterday with the sheep for the first time in several months though we didn't get in the paddock for any serious work training(knee a bit too fragile yet) his barn manners were very nice and he did clear the pen for me while I put out water and feed, holding his "on guard" position without needlessly challenging the hungry crew wanting desperately to get back in the door to bowl me over. Another thing I've noticed with Brodie is that he does much better when it's quiet -- just him and me. He hasn't had to wait his turn in the car or deal with other distractions (DH and Lamb Chops going for a stroll, for example!). His concentration will grow, I'm sure but when we're working on new things, I think it's okay to keep things simple for him.
  11. I do some training outside the paddock in order to teach the dogs "barn manners". I walk the perimeter of the paddock with the dogs as one of the defenses against predatory creatures (Oh, the posts to pee on! What delight!). As we make the turn at the far end of the paddock and start our approach the sheep who are clustered up at the barn, I give the dogs different commands, including "slow", "lie down" "halt" "walk up." I vary it a bit. Sometimes I'll put them on a lie down, then walk ahead; another time, I might let them get ahead at a fast clip then halt them ...that kind of thing. When they were first learning "slow", I held my stick in front of them so they couldn't break the slow pace. It seems to be translating into work inside the paddock with the sheep. They were slowing down when asked. When we start again in a few weeks, I'm going to incorporate TEC's suggestions to get them back in the mode. Liz
  12. I had a similar experience with a rescue dog -- after we were sure he'd come back, I turned him loose in the near field...his joy was pure and simple.
  13. A Border Collie's athleticism is certainly a beautiful thing...and to see them doing the job they were intended to do, breathtaking. I love everything about them. Their heads, the shining intelligence in their eyes, their gently waving tail...whether on the run, or snoozing at my feet. I've never seen a Border Collie I didn't like, but then...okay, I'm biased.
  14. This goes under "other things" I suppose... I've been calculating receipts and discovered to my surprise that in 2011 it cost as much to keep 3 dogs as it does to keep 6 sheep. The two columns were within $100 of each other. Both groups of animals were healthy -- vet bills amounted to less than $200 for each of them. Food cost was about equal for each group...I get my hay pretty cheap and feed Diamond Naturals to the dogs. Liz
  15. It's kind of like that -- enjoy your sweet baby!
  16. Kisses delivered....I've been watching her today and the injury is definately in the joint, not her toe...our vet prescribed aspirin and rest... I wonder if I should put a cold pack on it too, when I am icing down my knee! Liz
  17. The injury (her first ever) brings home the fact that she is aging and is more vulnerable to injury.
  18. Ladybug hurt her paw while running in the near field yesterday. It isn't a serious injury. She favored it quite a bit yesterday but she's improving today. This is a milestone we hoped wouldn't come - it's her first "old age" injury. Ladybug is 12 years old this year - we've owned her for 8 years. She's an adoptee from the SPCA and it was our good fortune to find her the day after Christmas. She is easily the best trained dog we have ever owned - and we can't take credit for any of it. We love her ferocious spirit, her winsome little Ladybug ways, her freckles and ticking on her legs. One sock up and one sock down on her front feet. The barest hint of white on the tip of her tail. She's a pretty little Ladybug. She is devoted to DH, dedicated to chasing balls and frisbees and this past year, she's discovered she has a power over sheep. And she still keeps those boys in line! It is sad to see her age. She's been slowing down for several years, but this year, it's easier to see the difference. We love her all the more.
  19. What ever treat you give him, the crate should be the only place he gets that particular treat. I used marrow bones, which the boys still love. It's not all that much different from teaching a baby to sleep in the crib...Good luck!
  20. Robin is his usual bombastic self this morning. DH saw him poop and Robin has since been playing tug of war with Ladybug at the rope outside, (tried to get a picture but I don't move very fast yet!) chasing around with Brodie and briefly harassing the cat. Typical Robin behavior. We should all be so cheerful in the morning as our dogs! I'm going to feed him another half measure of food this AM and see how he does today but it would seem that he's just fine. Thanks again everyone! Liz
  21. It's a bad day for me too . 10 PM -- he seems fine. No problems after his smallish meal. Did tricks, ran around the yard at full speed (only peed). What a pain in the neck he is -- but he's mine . I'll keep him in the bedroom tonight to be safe. Thanks everyone!
  22. Can't say -- our backyard is fenced in and we just toss them out the door. Their bathroom area is on the other side of pine trees...we'll keep an eye on him from here on out. DH just served half his usual dinner...going to gimp downstairs now to see what's going on. And of course we'd be getting a storm today after such a mild winter! The ER vet is about an hour away! When do they stop acting like puppies...he's three years old next month! But I have the feeling Robin will always have the appetite of a "goat." Liz
  23. I remember the shredded pieces lying on the carpet downstairs. There weren't a great many. I threw the toy away then went for the sweeper but wandered off in a daze...came back downstairs later and the pieces were gone. That was a couple of days ago. I thought DH had picked them up but he just said no. He also noted that Robin drank all of the water in his crate last night and ate all the food. From what I remember, it looks like he threw up what a similar number of bits of hard rubber that I remember on the carpet. I talked with the ER vet - she said to keep an eye on him for a couple of hours and that it was okay to feed him (I agree with Journey - I'm not so sure!) and if he vomits again, after eating or drinking, to bring him in. (I asked the prices for visit, x-rays- quite reasonable!) If we don't go tonight, I'll be sure to take him to my reg vet for an XRAY tomorrow. Wretched pup -- I love him so much!
  24. My husband is home now....I just have to find an ER vet - it's tough living in the "hills."
  25. Robin has in the past half hour thrown up about 2 cups of a thick yellow mucus in which pieces of a hard rubber chewy ring are evident. Ladybug shredded this toy last Friday! He seems fine otherwise - he cleaned up his food dish last night. I haven't seen him drink any water today, though I wouldn't have notice if he had. He ran around outside and doesn't seem distressed otherwise... I'm home alone - can't drive because of my knee replacement. Local vet is closed. What do I do? (Not a good thing - I lost Scotty 3 years ago today!) Liz
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