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Sue in France

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  1. I go along with Bill on this one. There are some pups who will react beautifully the first time they see sheep. There are some who need to be with sheep quite often to "turn on"...it is called a declaration in France. And I have an 8 year old dog here who declared at the age of about 5 after watching me train the others. When I tried him on sheep had he had a nice pace and was careful of stock...tended to cut the top corners a bit as he cast out and had a loosish eye. However he enjoyed it immensely. I didn't continue with him as he had a firm background of being a pet and was not really well enough grounded in obeying commands. After five minutes he treated the whole exercise as a game. I do still think he could have made a useful farm dog if I had switched him on to stock earlier. A lot depends on the dog's early experiences. If he has never seen stock he won't always respond. A pup I bred was brought back here for some training and didn't do much...11 months old now. His owners have kept him away from stock. But after ten minutes with my bitch pushing the sheep around him, he began to show some form. Then went back to eating sheep poop. Clearly not old enough or had enough exposure to sheep. Never can tell. Sue
  2. Hi Pixie, You know there are many temperaments in BCs...some can be very laid back and some can be wanting to be on the move all the time. You don't say what your pup does in between the active times you mention so if she sits or lies about she would get enough rest. And you don't say where you walk...40 minutes in a hill environment is not the same as 40 minutes on the flat. And you don't say if your pup does as mine do...explosive running for five minutes and then the noses go down and they mooch about smelling, exploring etc. pretty much using the same amount of energy they would if they were in my yard. A pup will usually tell you if they have had enough exercise. Either they will slow up or they are quite happy just to plonk themselves down and not move until they have had a rest. However they are easy enough at that age to pick up and carry. About HD...the info that you received isn't true. I think the person who advised you confused it with OCD. OCD is the degeneration of the cartilage between the bones of the shoulder. It slowly "melts" away anyway as the dog grows but up till the age of about a year it can be made to crumble or tear by too much running and bouncing on the front feet. This then causes the dog pain and it starts to limp. It requires surgery to correct but almost always the surgery is 100% successful. The predisposition for this is thought to be genetic but it need not necessarily happen if you are careful not to let the pup jump too hard too often. ie no frisbee and no habitual jumping over ditches, walls etc. HD occurs in the back legs/hips and if you want further info on that, go to the USBCA website and I think I am right in saying there is info on it there. Otherwise contact Sally Lacy who is pretty clued up on it. As a rule of thumb, try to make sure that the pup plays on softer rather than harder surfaces. Intersperse activity with thinking games which require concentration since this is an attitude which must be learned at this age. They slow the pup down too. Be sure you have a down and recall every time no matter what the circumstances and I road train mine to lie down when a car comes too. That way you can stop car chasing if the pup is so inclined. Good luck! Sue
  3. Didn't you know that Border Collies can be trained to rotate their tails and rise into the air like a helicopter? Sue
  4. AMEN!! I feel everything that should be said has just been said. In the end, ducks STILL are great solutions to lack of sheep/space problems. Once you work them they become more muscly and of no interest to duck farmers. Mine used to use the barn roof as a runway to practise Concorde-style landings into my pond. My goldfish lived at submarine depth for weeks. However...a propos of sheep, if you aren't a real owner of a viable flock, they too are just toys. Sue
  5. Thank you Mark for some hard facts at last. I found the information interesting and of course we have our own problems like those you wrote about here. The Coypu was accidentally released into the wild as someone was shipping them from one place to another and they are now a problem on some rivers. However I can tell you that your last sentence is where the local truth lies. Ducks here regularly escape their farms and "go wild". I periodically find them in ditches, along the rivrs and in the fields. I usually pick them up and return them to the nearest duck farmer who, even if it isn't his, is pleased to add another to his flock. I do not by any means find them all. There are places here I don't take the dogs because the fencing around the duck population is tenuous and I don't want to disturb the flock so they won't fly/scramble off. I don't have the figures for the annual loss to escape of these market ducks but if my own experience is a true reflection, I'd estimate between 1 and 2%...of thousands. The environment seems to be quite stable...I read agricultural journals and stats regularly. And since, as I said, there is very little other wildlife in and on the rivers because they are used exclusively for irrigation, and if anything has upset that balance it is the presence of man,I honestly can't understand the hoo-haa about 6 ducks. But thanks for takaing the time to offer some real as opposed to frantic information. Sue
  6. Melanie, upon reflection I have to apologise for my curt reply to your more reasonable message. I too dislike toy animals and the ducks I mentioned were for demonstration purposes. I was going away for a while and had to be rid of them. Further I felt that my first message to the thread was a reasonable reply to the question of where to train in the absence of sheep. The subsequent telling off I got was never backed with any substantive evidence that my actions were harming the envronment in any way. I felt that the response was from a textbook and as such, a generality. One cannot speak for all environments...they are too diverse. In addition the reply had nothing to do with the main premise that working a small group of ducks as a beginner's solution to lack of sheep is a possible course of action. What you do with your ducks is not my business. Likewise the inverse. So far I have not heard any real reason why what I did in this situation was not acceptable. I tried to avoid, for the sake of any vegetarians or animal rights members, was saying that whether a duck is eaten by a fox or a human is immaterial. I prefer to give it a chance. If you want to continue the discussion I suggest you contact me privately.However please refrain from the example we heard earlier and avoid speaking to me as if I were a ten year old child. Sue
  7. TBH I am surprised that anyone not living or, I think I am right in saying, ever visiting my environment should tell/advise me on what is or isn't good for maintaining it. If you assume that for some reason I have yet to see justified, it is "wrong" to release ducks to a river, I would love to see a factual series of reasons why. Ones that apply here. If you say it isn't safe for the ducks, then they will end up as dead as if I had decaptiated them so no difference there. Domestic ducks are not carrying disease..;they have been properly vaccinated. I have already said the predator control around here is very important and very effective. As for using animals as "toys" then turn around and talk to all those who own a few sheep and use them as "toys". I prefer to release ducks and let them take their chances in a natural process. 6 ducks in an area of thousands of hectares is no big deal. Sue
  8. Julie, Watch my lips. We don't have predators liks the ones you mentioned. I already explained that. And my sheep do not live/poop outside my front room door. I explained what my neighbours would do with any ducks I sent their way. And ducks still make excellent training for BC's. What you do with them...keep them, give them away or put them in the freezer, it's the same with sheep. Of all the sheep bred, very few are kept for reproduction. Most are on your plate. Sue
  9. Thee are virtually no wild species of ducks, geese, swans, on the rivers in this area. The rivers are used primarily to irrigate the cereal crops which are planted near them. There are, however, tens of thousands of ducks bred for kill. A majority never see water beynd a puddle after it rains though smaller breeders do offer ponds. If they happen to have one. I also live just outside a village of 200 people and the nearest house is 750 yards away. Our sum total of envinronmental impact on what is a very balanced farming area is evidently very small. Since the inhabitants are making a living out of the enviroment I should I can say categorically that anything that upsets their income is immediately mentioned. The only thing bordering the rivers here is maize fields...ducks just love it. Noone builds a house near the river...too damp. Too many pumps going in the summer. The ground is too rich to waste on houses. I am the only one around here kind enough to put ducks onto rivers. Anyone else would have decapitated them and eaten them. Hell, I even bought a turkey still alive the night before Christmas and kept it here on the farm. I guess someone might think that was cruel or non-environmentally friendly too...for some reason thought up by those who live in cities. I raise sheep. I care for them and look after them, catering to their every need until I send them off to the abbatoir just like anyone else who raises meat. But at around five months old, they die.Even the ones I have helped into the world and bottle fed.If you deal with animals, you have to expect that sooner or later they will die. If they don't die, I don't eat. I can't keep ducks here ad infinitum. They are dirty,(my pond is right near the front door and the duck shit isn't carpet-friendly.) I don't believe they should be shut up or deprived of water. I don't even want them in an enclosure since they are meant to be at liberty.I keep them enclosed for the few weeks I have them (only ever had any ducks here twice) but my bitch has a REAL taste for them. I guess I could shut her up too but hey, she's seven in March and is a pleasure to have around. There doesn't happen to be a branch of Duck Rescue in this area. If I gave them to the neighbours they would be canned confit the next day. Tell me, Julie, what would a girl from Elizabeth City do with them? Which all says nothing about the fact that they make excellent subjects to train on if you don't have sheep. What you do with them afterwards is your personal business. Sue
  10. Could you please explain "environmental impact" of half a dozen ducks? I never clip their wings so they can escape any predators which are few and far between due to the hunters who keep foxes down so that their income, ducks, may live?? We live in a very duck-friendly environment. Sue
  11. Margaret, if that is what you come away with from the discussion you haven't read properly. Where on earth did you get that idea? Didn't you read that to call trialling a sport in GB is in extremely poor taste? And don't try it on the continent either..;there are too many Real Farmers who do very well in European trials will kick your ass on the way out if you do. Sue
  12. I live in an area which is riddled with poultry farms. The most common bird is the duck and these have to be taken out of huge hangars in the morning and put back in at night. Often they have to be split into groups for sale etc. The most useful dog to do this is the BC. Now I know it isn't usual to use the BC for herding ducks but it is a solution. They are cheap. They flock, they are pressure sensitive, they are easy to keep, they can be very funny...try pushing six or eight through a small gate or over a small bridge...kids love watching it. Often very experienced people here do demonstrations with ducks (or geese) since they are easy to transport.One man I know plays "bluebird" with the kids in a circleand the ducks in the middle and he herds the ducks between the kids' feet. If you get tired of "playing" with them, you can dispose of them as you see fit. I usually let mine go on the river. Just a suggestion... Sue
  13. OMG!! Of course it was Red Oliver!! My apologies. See...single names can be confusing!! Sue
  14. I think a lot of those working stock with their dogs have met the agility person who, for one reason or another, wants to belittle the real working dog, or conversely wants to inflate the meaningfulness of what they do with their dogs. I have had this conversation too and when I told them that the day their dog can cast out, stop at the right distance behind the A frame and bring it to me in a straight line on balance without a command,I might think about discussing the issue. My young dog is just three years old and has reached Open class before his last birthday. He can do a nice course but I knew something was missing. This coming year I shall do very little trials work with him and use him a lot more around the farm. Already, after two months, I can see a confidence and a more settled attitude to his work. ISTM that to do anything like an Open trial the dog has had to know lots of farm work. To say that a trial is a sport just shows a lack of understanding about the subtleties of what is happening. In addition, in ISDS trials in the UK, the organisers often add elements to test the flexibility of the dog and how he responds to the handler's comands. Sometimes there is a Maltese Cross, sometimes you have to run sheep through a trailer and pen them on the other side. Often the dog has to find a hole in a stone wall or hedge on the outrun. That happened to me when I was trialling there two years ago...I had to be very calm and wait for him to find the hole. Now THAT is reproducing real work and no dog which had just been trained for a sport could have done it. Distance is the other factor. When a dog is working on a farm he is often out of sight of the handler or he has to do blind fetches through scrub, woods etc. He has to have the instinct to do the job. This then translates back to the big courses and no dog which hasn't had this work to do at home can do it in a trial where the stresses and so much greater. These aren't sports dogs...these are dogs which know how to use their genetic inheritance anad have been allowed the opportunity to do a lot of it. I have never sold a dog as an agility or obedience dog because the usual owners of these dogs don't understand what a good BC is and how to use these talents. It is a waste of a well-bred dog. Sue
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