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Alchemist

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Everything posted by Alchemist

  1. We are seriously ready to be done with mud here in N. Maryland. It’s not just the four Border collies and all they track in - it’s also some of the night pens for the sheep that have been ankle deep in muck. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about the toxicity of wood chips - my dogs were past the point of wanting to eat them, so that wasn’t a concern. We did try wood chips in the dog yard a year or two ago. They just floated in the puddles during the year when the Rain Would Not Stop. This year we’re (literally) in the process of having a brick “patio” installed at the base of our deck i
  2. Northern Maryland here. Weather is all over the place. I’ve been trying to renovate one pasture per year for the past several years. The process involves planting grass seed (not cheap: think $500/acre, not counting cost of labor/fertilizer/lime) in late summer/early fall, and doing a rain dance so it germinates before grasses go dormant in the fall. Fall 2017: Pasture #1 renovated. No rain for six weeks following seeding. Fall 2018: Pasture #2 renovated. Incessant rains (2-3x annual average that year) made it impossible to plant seed on a normal schedule. Waterlogged soils meant see
  3. Agree 100% with what Mark and others have said. There are often fully trained Open dogs available, in addition to dogs not quite at that level, for prices less than stratospheric. I learned legions from such a dog. Sometimes they just aren’t competitive with other dogs owned by the same handler (you’re lucky to be able to run 3 dogs in Open at any particular trial). Sometimes they’re just creeping up in age and would be better suited to (Shorter) novice courses than to (bigger outrun) Open ones. Sometimes they just don’t work range sheep well but would be well-suited to farm flocks. Lots of re
  4. Late to the party, but totally second (third?) Linda Tesdahl. She's in Mt Airy, MD. She's probably 1 hour 20 minutes from you if you're in Bel Air. She also hosts clinics twice each year with Patrick Shannahan - appropriate for young dogs/novice handlers (or not) as well as for more experienced dogs/handlers. I can't think of anyone closer to you who I'd recommend. She doesn't sugarcoat things, but I appreciate her candor.
  5. Nothing to add, but so sorry she is having these issues...
  6. It's not quite the same issue, but I convinced a young Border collie puppy that chasing the cat was NO FUN some time ago by locking him in a "time out" in the bathroom. It only took one or two times locking him up before he realized that the consequence was NO FUN. I used the same approach to convince the next young Border collie that jumping on people had consequences (grabbing him and hustling him into a crate, from which he had NO access to exciting visitors). Again, it only took a couple of incidences before he stopped jumping up on people. If I had a pup that was over-nippy, I'd do t
  7. I don't know where you live, but I swear by my specialist ortho vet. A regular vet rarely has much expertise in diagnosing ortho injuries, let alone figuring how best to treat them and to return a dog to regular activities. I've had several situations where a regular vet will offer sedated X-rays (bloodwork for anaesthesia, half-day hospital stay) - very pricey! (In one case the X-rays proved "inconclusive"). Whereas the specialist ortho vets have been able to do unsedated X-rays right on the spot. They're used to diagnosing different sorts of injuries, and to formulating appropriate courses o
  8. Between these three choices - I'd say "it depends on the dog", but I lean towards (1). I have four Border collies - one 12, one 10, one 5, and one 7 months. We got the 10-year-old one insured after running up thousands of dollars in vet bills when he was a puppy (bilateral shoulder OCD, then bilateral CHD. Surgery for the former, followed by months and months of PT. There went that vacation we'd been planning on taking that year...). With the second puppy, we got him insured as soon as we brought him home. Ditto the third puppy. The 12-year-old came to us as an adult. This year
  9. The older one (at 10 months) is still a puppy, so you shouldn't have much in the way of issues, unless one has fear/resource guarding issues. Of course, things are often easier if they're of different genders (you didn't mention). More to the point - please make sure you're giving the new puppy plenty of "alone" time (time in the absence of the older dog). Otherwise it'll bond to the other dog, and not to you. (I currently have a 3.5-month-old BC pup who has never been allowed unsupervised with the other three adult BCs, and only is allowed to greet the other three for brief intervals eac
  10. I think it's hard to predict how good a watch dog any dog will be until it's put into the situation where it thinks it needs to take action. As a kid growing up, our two Border collies were the sweetest, most submissive dogs on earth. Until once, a workman coming into our back yard opened the gate, knocking my youngest brother (a toddler at the time) over. That sweet little Border collie immediately went for him. Fortunately someone was nearby to call him off. When I was in grad school, I would have sworn that my Border collie at the time would have been the sort to help the burglar
  11. Border collies have been bred for generations to be "biddable", so in general, yes, they're easy to train. (My current pup, at age 3 months, knew "lie down", "sit", "spin", "leave it", "that'll do [come]", "kennel up", "release" (and not to leave his crate until he'd heard it), and "stay"). Not claiming that the recall or stay are rock-solid yet, of course, but it doesn't take but a few minutes to teach each one after he got the hang of my asking him to do things with his body. Of course, as with any generalization, there will be exceptions to the rule. But I suspect anyone would have greater
  12. I'm so sorry, Donald. I enjoyed meeting Fly in person, and also reading of your and her adventures together. She was quite a character... - Lynn
  13. I've acquired puppies at anywhere from 7-8 weeks. Some sleep through the night from the get-go, others don't. The most recent one that didn't sleep through the night from the get-go refused to pee from the time I picked him up from his breeder's in Idaho at 4:30 AM, wouldn't pee at the Boise airport, wouldn't pee on the pads in the "family" restroom in SLC, wouldn't pee at the airport in Baltimore... wouldn't pee until I finally got him home, easily 12 hours after I'd picked him up that morning. So he certainly *could* hold it for an inordinate amount of time. He just *preferred* not to for a
  14. Yep, that's exactly what you told me, in a nutshell. And of course I meant a *prong* and a flat collar, not a *plain* and a flat collar. Lambing, yes, I can relate ... just FINALLY came indoors at noon from "morning" chores! (And I wonder where my day goes at this time of the year). HALF of my ewes this year have decided that at least one lamb is an Alien Invader (only had this once in previous years), and the mother of my second set of triplets was slow coming into her milk. The very first day of lambing I walked out to the barn to find two ewes who had just given birth and FIVE lambs. On
  15. I used Eileen's suggestion. We would start walking toward a local reservoir where the dogs could be off leash. Great excitement, of course, and my young dog would start to pull on the leash, anticipating the fun he'd have. I'd immediately reverse direction. I can pinpoint the moment where the light bulb went off when he realized we would NEVER make it to the off leash area if we kept up with this back and forth. He let out a loud groan/whine, and stopped pulling on the leash. That was the last time we needed to play that game.
  16. I used that growth chart with my last Border collie puppy as well. He consistently tracked at 1 lb per week of age. The chart said he'd be a 20-odd pound dog. Instead he's 35 lb of solid muscle (not an ounce of fat on him). I kept him lean through his entire puppyhood. Lean puppies are far healthier (and less susceptible to joint problems) than fat ones. Don't let your puppy become roly-poly. The tables on the back of dog food bags would generally have you WAY overfeeding a puppy. Feel your puppy's ribs to assess whether its weight is correct - don't base your feeding on the number you rea
  17. (Emphasis added in bold italics by me). I'm surprised no one else is commenting on the amount of exercise. I've always heard that the rule of thumb should be "five minutes max per month of age" for duration of walks. Moreover, no one should play "fetch" until its growth plates have healed (stick with a couple of "rollers" only). Too much exercise before then will destroy the dog's joints. Any exercise involving jumping in the air is particularly bad. Unfortunately, there seems to be a myth that Border collies require a LOT of exercise, and many new owners believe they're "bad" owners unles
  18. On prong collars: one of my Border collies had bilateral shoulder surgery at 6 months for OCD. The rehab vet was adamant that I not let him pull on a leash - she was worried he'd jeopardize proper healing of his shoulders. She recommended a prong collar. I was horrified - they looked like medieval instruments of torture. The rehab vet was adamant that no other choice (e.g., any sort of halter) would work - any twisting of the neck would compromise healing of his shoulders. I got reassurance from several here (Journey was one) that it would work, that I could use two collars (a plain and a flat
  19. Welcome! Link is adorable (as is your toddler). One thing about Border collies that you might not be aware of - they can develop odd behaviors. Fixations. And while you might laugh the first time your pup fixates on a moving reflection of light - it can quickly become ingrained, obsessive behavior that's very hard to break. I have my own regrets: that I didn't discourage a Border collie I owned in the 1970s from obsessing over rocks (she ruined her teeth). That I ever threw a stick or a ball or a frisbee for a Border collie I acquired nearly ten years ago (he is totally obsessive about
  20. I've tried to associate a command with alert barking - "watchdog!" worked well with Ross (to the point where he'll bark if we're just talking about a wristwatch). Somehow once you associate a command with it, you'll find dogs are more likely to only bark when asked to do so. Not to say that I don't still get alert barking (if a dog hears a car coming down our driveway, for example). But I now can shut it off with a "that'll do, thank you!".
  21. Electric - as in "invisible"? I'm not a fan of invisible fences for a whole host of reasons. A real fence (and yes, I know they're pricey if you're fencing a whole acre) will keep your dog much safer.
  22. These people are legit, and they're in South Dakota. I don't know whether they sell puppies to non-working homes (I suspect not). And I don't know whether they do any health testing. But they might be able to give you a lead on a young dog (either one of theirs or one they know through the trialing community) that is seeking a pet home. I think a rehomed "trial dog washout" would be a great bet for you. Such dogs are typically raised by dog-savvy people, and are good with other dogs. Nothing wrong with them except they don't have the temperament/confidence/innate skills to be a top trial
  23. "Failed farm dog". I'd guess that some fraction of that is clueless owners. There's a HUGE difference between a dog that shows no interest in working stock (this CAN happen, even with the best-bred of dogs) - and one whose owners haven't instilled the proper manners, such that they've allowed to chase horses or other livestock, to the point where it's a danger. One has no interest in stock, the other has been allowed to fixate on such to the point where it's an incurable obsession. It's not "black or white" - there is a third category, dogs who are interested in working stock, but who for one
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