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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 in the dog yard, in the spot that got muddiest. Filter cloth then sand then bricks, all in a frame of (I think) 6 x 6”s. The area right outside said brick area is currently turning mucky because of the heavy equipment/traffic. We’ve put hay down but it’s just disappearing in the mud. I’ll let you know in a year if it’s worth the $$$. We also had major Swamp Control work done just recently in the night pen I use for my lambs. It’s on a slope, and it’s a Quagmire whenever it rains. We just paid $$$ to have a French drain installed; filter cloth put down; river rock (LARGE size) installed on slope; gravel on flatter portion at the bottom. It seems to be helping but it’s only been a few weeks. In past years I’ve had gravel put down in muddy areas directly on the ground (in sheep night pens). Mistake. It gets swallowed right into the mud. I’ll never do this again without putting filter cloth down underneath. Or maybe I’ll just save my pennies (dollars) and have concrete poured. Easier to power wash, and I’ll never need to trim sheep feet (not like I do already; my sheep don’t generally need it). Gravel would be a pain in any area that needed mowing as it would get kicked around by dogs and then by mowers. Keep us posted on what works for you - inquiring minds want to know!
  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 seed didn’t germinate well once planted. Standing water in pastureS *all winter long*. “Poverty rush” (sheep won’t graze, hard/impossible to mow, no effective sprays) grows up throughout Pasture #1 Fall 2019: Pasture #2 overseeded (after brush-hogging a couple of times and spraying to try to control woody perennials that took over newly renovated pasture). No rain for close to two months after seeding. More recently: back to too much rain. Too much mud; hoping sheep don’t develop foot scald. Mud up to my ankles in places. Temps two weeks ago at a sheepdog trial were bitterly cold (as in, people sat in cars with heaters on). Yesterday temps were in the mid 60s and no one needed a jacket. I’d be thrilled with some sort of happy medium.
  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 reasons why people would be willing to part with a fully trained dog. Don’t assume it’s necessarily a sheep-killing or hard-headed menace. I was approached by an Open handler at a trial just yesterday seeking placements for two Open dogs on the older end of things - one of whom has enough points to qualify for the 2020 Finals (but on the opposite coast from the OP). Sadly, we’re already one dog over our 3-dog max. A good place to research classifieds for started/trained dogs (or to post such ads oneself): http://handlerspost.com/classifieds.html Best of luck!
  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 the same thing. A firm "NO!", followed by a time-out. They're bright. They'll figure it out. You won't damage their psyches.
  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 of action. I've actually found them to be less expensive than working with a conventional vet, largely because of the unsedated X-rays plus faster treatment (= fewer vet visits).
  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 my husband asked whether we REALLY needed to insure all four dogs. So, even though we'd incurred $1K in vet bills on the 12-year-old while on vacation this summer (covered by Embrace; the clinic billed directly to them), we canceled the insurance on the two older dogs. Maybe it's me, but I don't think I'd go to heroic lengths to try to save them if they were to develop (for example) hemangiosarcoma. Given that, is insurance really going to help that much? But, I told him, if the 5-year-old were injured - you bet I'd want to do what was needed to restore him to the healthy working dog he is! And if the puppy were to develop OCD - early intervention might make all the difference in his long-term prognosis. So those were the two we kept on the insurance. And, of course, who next needed the insurance? The five-year-old took a tumble working some lambs in mid-November, Ortho vet diagnosed iliopsoas/sartorius strain. Looking at a couple of months of weekly P/T. I'm guessing a couple of $K in PT (including the initial consult) when all is said and done. The devil is in the details. Pet insurance companies are not all created equal. We did a lot of research when we first insured our dogs. We heard Embrace and Trupanion were the two that were good. (And two different ortho vets concur that these are the two to deal with). We went with Embrace, and they've never batted an eye - even approved a multi-thousand dollar expenditure on the now-ten-year-old for medial shoulder instability (we opted for conservative therapy instead, which worked out just fine). YMMV. Choose what makes sense for you.
  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 each day. Duff sorely wants to be a "big dog", but that's not in the cards for now). Each dog needs to think that YOU are the best thing since sliced bread!
  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. Until one night, some friends of one of my roommate arrived in the middle of the night for a visit. Not wanting to wake anyone up, they tried to creep into the house in the dark. I'd forgotten Chris had friends coming, so I hadn't locked Molly up in my bedroom. So the household was roused in the wee hours by the most ferocious volley of barks. I got up only to find these two guests, cowering in the corner to which they'd been pinned by this furious dog. As far as random barking (or alert barking), I have trained most of my dogs not to bark without reason. (It hasn't worked with the one I acquired as an adult). In fact one set of former neighbors asked whether I'd had Duncan "debarked", because he liked to watch them garden through the fence, but never made a sound. They will bark when someone is coming (or if they *think* they hear someone coming, or if they hear a car or a dog barking on a movie I'm watching). But they'll stop if I tell them "thank you" and have them lie down. Ross does have a special command: "watchdog!", which causes him to bark furiously. He enjoys it so much that he'll listen and pick the word "watch" out of conversations I'm having with my spouse, just so that he can have the pleasure of exercising his voice. The person I train with suggested I use "watch" as a command while training my dogs to shed. Um, no, that didn't work while shedding with one dog while Ross was watching from the sidelines - he'd start to bark furiously, breaking my concentration and ruining the shed. We now use "Ready" to convey that I'm trying to set up a shed.
  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 success training a Border collie for agility than, say, a Great Pyrenees. (Livestock guardian dogs are notoriously independent - it's what they've been bred for - and can be a challenge to train beyond the basics). As for being high-strung - it really depends a lot on (a) how they're bred (working vs sports-bred) and (b) how they're raised. A working dog is useless if it has no impulse control. My three (adult, working-bred) Border collies come to work with me (at a university) every day. (I've been off for the summer with the puppy and a broken leg - bad combination, but he's a great pup!). They chill in my office. They're quiet when I'm off teaching a class. They're thrilled when students or other visitors stop by, and when I ask them to "go to their beds" so that we can get on with the business at hand, they'll go there and stay. I've instilled an "off switch" in them, and it's something I've been working on since Day 1 with the current pup. A couple of years ago I had a very long meeting with a former PhD student. I brought my then current pup to the meeting, because he loves meeting new people. After greeting her, he found a chair and curled up to sleep for the duration of the two-hour meeting. Afterwards, she asked me how old he was. "Six months," I said. "Oh. He's pretty small for a German shepherd, isn't he?" I told her he was a Border collie. "Oh - they're terribly high-energy, aren't they?" I pointed out that this pup had slept through the entire meeting. So often, I fear, people create self-fulfilling prophecies. They're told that Border collies are high-energy, high-maintenance. They feel somehow they're "bad owners" unless they set up a schedule in which the pups get hours of structured activities all day long, including far more exercise than is good for young joints. Sure, puppies need a chance to get their zoomies out. But they also need to learn to chill. It's not doing any pup a favor to keep it busy all day long. The trial dogs I know mainly spend hours each day crated. Don't assume that just because they live on a farm with sheep they're kept on the run all day. There's not really all that much work for them to do on most such, at least in my parts (Maryland). I am only using one of my dogs for chores at present. Help push the sheep out in the morning to the correct pastures, put them away in the evening. Occasionally there will be more - help sort out a lamb that needs medicine, or a ewe whose feet need checking, or push the lambs into a packed pen for weighing, or load them on a trailer to go to market. Get the chickens into the coop if I want to shut them up early. If the dogs didn't know how to chill for the rest of the day, they'd drive me crazy.
  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 few weeks. Or maybe it was that he was still on a different time zone... at any rate, he'd wake me up FAR earlier than I wanted to be up, but it only lasted for a week. Now that all the dogs are adults they know we don't like to be woken by them in the mornings. If *we* get up in the night to pee, that isn't an invitation for them to party. That only happens once *we* stir in the mornings. (Which often happens far earlier than would be my preference!) Whyever would you not react? I agree that you shouldn't PUNISH a puppy for peeing or pooping indoors (beat yourselves instead for your lapse of attention) - but if you're going to praise them for peeing or pooping in the right spot, why not share your disappointment for their doing it in the wrong spot, provided you can catch them in the act? I live on a farm, but I still like my sleep. I am a much happier person if puppies sleep through the night as soon as possible. I wouldn't even be providing entertainment (sticking my hand through the crate). They figure it out, and it doesn't destroy their souls.
  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. One ewe was trying to mother four of them - the fifth (doing its best imitation of a dead lamb with the membrane still covering it) was lying behind the ewe that I suspected was carrying triplets. THAT took a while to sort out...
  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 read on a scale.
  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 unless they provide a LOT of exercise. In fact puppies are better with mental stimulation, in addition to learning a clear and consistent set of rules, than with exercise and a regimented existence. I sense the OP is trying hard to be a conscientious owner. I know they are taking pains to avoid falling in the trap of "entertaining" a young dog the whole time (yep, people need time for themselves, whether it be for studying or relaxing or working). Relax the schedule. Teach a new trick every week, be consistent about "manners", and reward calm relaxed behavior. And enjoy your pup!
  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 collar) with two leashes, he wouldn't pull and I could transition to the flat collar. It *did* work like a charm. It didn't take long before he no longer pulled, even with the flat collar. His shoulders healed fine. (Oh, and I have occasionally known highly skilled sheepdog handlers to use a prong collar). I also found he was "over threshold" if walking on a busy street - the moving cars were too much for him. I backed off and restricted our walks to quiet areas until he matured a bit mentally. We also played the "look at that!" game (the OP should definitely purchase "Control Unleashed"). It helped A LOT. He's not been reactive to (most) traffic for years. I still have trouble when I walk out of my office (I work at a university) to find myself right in the middle of a pack of elementary school children on break from tutoring - they're all running around, screaming, and kicking balls. He goes from calm to "over threshold", wanting to participate, in a nanosecond.
  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 wanting to play "fetch", and has a hard time letting it go. And sticks are dangerous). I've known Border collies whose owners tried to amuse them with laser pointers. Terrible idea. I would try to nip the barking and chomping at the fish in your aquarium ASAP.
  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 dog. If they don't know of one themselves, they ought to be able to suggest additional names for you to contact. http://springbordercollies.com/ (ETA: their website also links to several other legit breeders of working Border collies, either in S. Dakota or in states not TOO far away. Again, I don't know whether they all sell to non-working homes, or do health testing, but it's not uncommon for these people to know of young adult dogs that are seeking pet homes. If you have additional constraints, such as "must be good with cats", it's worth asking...).
  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 reason or another don't possess sufficient talent or confidence, or who won't handle the pressure of trialing. Any of the above may be offered for rehoming. Which would you prefer? None of these behaviors might correlate with a desire to play "fetch", or a reactivity toward other dogs. BC "breeders" (of the reputable variety) may have sheep but not necessarily horses or cattle.
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