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  1. Thought I would get back about our recent skijor adventures. Our first trip of the season could be described as somewhere between a nice wintertime hike with my dog and a bust. Beautiful blue sky, sunny day, and about ten degrees F, light wind. Mostly level 1.5 mile trail covered by about two inches of crunchy snow around a small lake, but ample for our purposes. Josie, my 35 lb lightly built BC, told me right up front that she was not interested in skijoring that day. Lots of sniffing off the side of the trail necessitating redirections/refocuses. For certain sections she pulled strong enough to lengthen my stride/glide by a few inches. This is a dog that in the right snow conditions can pull a heavy hay bale laden sled for short distances on her own . Having a plan to reinforce/review her pull training, we went out today again. Same place, a little warmer, and overcast skies. Loaded a child's plastic toboggan (almost no weight of its own) with a folded lawn chair, camera tripod and other odds and ends found in my SUV to provide a little resistance. Arranged a tow line of about 10-11 feet so that, if she stopped, the toboggan would not immediately slide into her. Attached a brake line of around 15 feet to the front, which dragged on flat areas. On steep downhill stretches and unavoidable traverses across precipitous slopes, I held the line to guard against toboggan veering off the trail, and to prevent it sliding into my dog. Today she was in the game. She showed-up for work carrying a lunch bucket. Just took a little running alongside, with upbeat "Pull, pull, pull" and anything excited I could think to say. Since the load was extremely light, and she was doing well, I added a couple large granite rocks to the front for stability/resistance, and later a big chunk of wood -- never more than approx. 25 lbs, total. On flat stretches she developed an easy running stride, uphill slowing only slightly. She was not easily distracted, but could have focused a little better. For the most part, she understood the task. I'll probably take her out for another hour with an additional 10-15 lbs, so that she steadily improves physical conditioning, never noticing added weight. Assuming she does well, it may be time to try skijoring again . Riika, it may be easier to teach your two dogs to pull than just one. I think there is something in the canine brain that likes company of their own kind, and perhaps a little competition can develop between the two. We had a great time today, and hope our experience provides motivation, and something to go by. I offer the above as a regimen that has worked for us in the past (clearly needs refresher training occasionally, since we only get out a few times/year), and is by no means unique or the only way to go. I will say that it is very similar to a video I viewed recently in which a sled dog puppy was taught the rudiments of mushing in less than an hour. The puppy progressed from pulling the handler's leash attached to harness as they ran (plus intermediate steps), to enthusiastically pulling a dogsled when teamed with an experienced dog following a pickup, handler seated on tailgate. -- Best wishes, and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL, TEC
  2. Here are websites to purchase the needed gear: Skijor Belt X-Back Pulling Harness Dog Boots Tow Rope and Quick Release Buckle If you try some homemade gear to get started, I would still purchase true pulling harness(s) and tow line with quick release buckle. Skijoring is great fun, and provides winter exercise for skier and dogs. I dog skijor on x-country skis. Plan a trip tomorrow, unless the windchills are too ridiculous. The backpack/harness link in your post does not look appropriate for cross country or urban skijoring. It appears to be mainly a backpack, rather than a true pulling harness. Looks restrictive and and excessively heat insulating. Get x-back harnesses similar to the one in the links above. The dogs IMO should not be weighed down carrying anything, in order to concentrate energy on pulling at a good pace. I started my Border Collie in a pulling harness attached to a light plastic child's toboggan, slowly adding more weight as she became accustomed to it. If you use this training technique, be sure to have a rear brake line for control on downhill slopes and stops. I would first become familiar with cross-country skis. Be able to navigate and snowplow stop. Depending on snow/ice conditions, and with one medium size dog, the skier may have to provide a good deal of the power. OTOH on packed snow and two strong dogs pulling, I have seen incredible speeds with little work on the part of the skijorer. Hope you give it a try, and please report back on your adventures. -- Best wishes, TEC
  3. Nice going. The ewe and her lambs were fortunate to have the care of you and your wife, and of course Gla'ma. Out of curiosity, how many daylight hours are you getting in Iceland? We have roughly a little over eight hours here in Washington State. -- TEC
  4. YouTube's automatic closed captioning evidently is based on a programmed phonetic-based model, which regularly misinterprets. It is notoriously horrible, and never fails to provide good laughs. Apparently the algorithm is not sufficiently sophisticated to read context. With a heavy Scottish accent, sometimes it is fun to simply try to figure-out parts on your own. May take a few rewinds. Winter Solstice today. We'll get more light everyday -- TEC
  5. What is it about the Scottish accent and speaking of border collies that captures attention? I liked the video, as well. I agree about good reminders. I thought Amodei succinctly expressed what a good portion of handlers seek to do in their training. It made me want to tidy-up things I am doing now. -- TEC
  6. Recommend having your favorite beverage in hand and carving out a few minutes for one or both of the following resources on training the border collie for stockwork. Below is a well stated essay by M. Amodei on communicating clearly to your dog in a stockwork context. Northface Farm Blog. This is a nice excerpt from " " by Shadowcat Films about shepherding on the British Borders. -- TEC
  7. Congrats Smalahundur. And you still know your neighbors. Bide your time, Alchemist, and hopefully everything will fall into place. If you are dealing through a realtor, play it cool, showing only the right amount of interest, as IME, every show of emotion is conveyed directly to the seller. Good luck. Has anybody had the devilish professor who, wearing a rogue's smile, tells the class that term papers will be held in a stack at the top of a flight of stairs and tossed toward the bottom? This character claims they will then be graded in accordance with the step each paper ultimately rests upon. As I recall, the ones at the bottom got the best grade, and so forth. Was this to encourage lengthy papers that could be flinged a good distance? Even as a student, I did not believe that nonsense, and also never understood the purpose of the tale. Later, after reading a few particularly uninteresting/poorly written papers late at night, I was tempted to give that grading technique a try. Until grad school, I lived by the admonition, "Excess verbiage is excess garbage", but found that some professors (or their graduate assistants) liked to read the same idea stated in multiple ways, so I obliged them. WTH? I sympathize, Alchemist, and somewhat understand your feelings. -- Best wishes, TEC
  8. As you may know, take those dramatic "insulted" type remarks in stride, knowing that realtors who often want to be your pal, in fact have only one client -- the seller. They might not have been as affronted as he/she wants you to believe.-- TEC
  9. That's interesting about the bells. I do not know their exact purpose. Maybe to help keep flock together as they graze widely separated on sparse grass, thus being able to hear one another? Perhaps the belled sheep are in the role of bellwethers -- experienced sheep to lead to good graze, and for when dogs move them. I am just guessing. When things settle down for you, please post your pix and descriptions. I feel certain many on the forum would be interested. Not sure what you mean by "exciting", but I hope things are OK for you and your family. -- Kind regards, TEC
  10. The fjords, rocky slopes and verticality create a stunning landscape for this 2014 YouTube video. Johansen and Eliassen gather their sheep from mountain to a barn in the valley. The theme music and images are for me a perfect fit. -- TEC
  11. Kristen, great story, and sorry for your loss. I think I'll direct that a certain amount of dog hair remain on my lapel when that time comes for me . When my BC reached about 6-7 years, her medium coat became more wavy, and her undercoat grew thicker. Made her look like a larger dog, but the scale said that was not true. I do not groom her enough, frequently preferring the vacuum to correct my neglect. My wonderful wife had a lengthy recuperation at home a few years ago, and it was Christmas Eve. She suddenly decided she felt well enough to attend traditional midnight mass at our church. I was delighted that she was going. She may not have been out of the house in weeks, but I helped her hastily get dressed. House slippers, PJ bottoms, fleece jacket, hair as you might imagine from weeks of bedrest. We navigated the ice covered parking lot, and I helped her to a place in the pew. The church was beautifully decorated for the season, lights dimmed, and everybody was in their best. The lighting must have come-up for the entry procession. As everyone stood in respect, I looked at my dear wife standing next to me, and came to the realization that here was a disheveled looking woman with her arm in a sling, wearing pajamas and slippers, and to make it worse volumes of dog hair covering her from head to foot. I involuntarily began to brush and pick it from her clothing and hair, and stage whispered something like, "Poor thing, do you have a place to stay tonight?". I sensed those seated near us nod in agreement (certain I did not imagine it), and Sheryl and I began to laugh uncontrollably. It was muffled, but a good laugh nonetheless. It was one of those moments that cannot be forgotten no matter how hard we try, yet never fails to bring smiles. We like to think that God was unconcerned about her manner of dress, and that under the circumstances, he gave her a pass on the dog hair. -- Happy Holidays, TEC
  12. At my current veterinary office the exam table stays folded-up against the wall, and everybody gathers on the floor for exam, procedures and discussion. Doesn't even give me a chance to demonstrate how my BC will eagerly jump floor to table on mere suggestion . All the routine things are done in the exam room, e.g. blood draw and cyst aspiration. I hold and comfort her, and it is over within seconds. The office is staffed by a group of young turk veterinarians who had previously practiced in a well-known nationwide franchise. Josie has learned to hop on the scale by herself as we go down the hall to the exam room. The office is small and comfortable. I hope they remain profitable, as they take time to talk and educate, which is appreciated. Last visit the vet gave me a short list of home remedies for various maladies to tide her over until an appointment is available. Always a good experience. -- TEC
  13. Thank you, Paul. I'll try the exercise at first opportunity. You got excellent results, and it makes sense that the dog would understand to bend-out properly for drive flanks. An "inside flank" in this area of the Country is a flank in which the dog passes between the handler and sheep. My dog has no problem with inside flanks, yet my instructor insisted that she not pass behind me (as in your training). Consequently, we have been doing a version of the exercise in your first video for some time now, but with insides flanks, obtaining marginal results. IMHO, had I required Josie to pass to my rear, it's possible she would currently be doing better looking flanks on her drives. Anyway, I am going to give it a try, and find out. Thank you, again. -- Kind regards, TEC
  14. I am very interested in your technique. My BC pushes well on the drive, but her drive flanks are flat/shallow, so that we have a difficult time making finely-tuned direction adjustments. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I will try to paraphrase what I see in the video and your description. You have your dog behind to practice driving, so that it is dog-handler-sheep (in that order), with dog an appropriate distance behind sheep for driving. You flank your dog behind, never allowing an inside flank, and that forces the dog to make nice square flanks, that do no creep in closer to sheep. You do a number of repetitions (how many reps in your case?). After the dog is solidly keeping proper distance on flanks, you practice inside flanks in the conventional fashion. Do you follow along directly behind your dog, or off to one side? Do you change sides depending on the direction of the flank? How far behind or to the side do you place yourself? These are not rhetorical questions. We need improvement, and I am looking for ways to fix her flanks. I am extremely impressed with your and Jack's work. I believe his drive flanks are great. You are getting excellent results with limited sheep time available. -- Thank you, TEC
  15. I can sympathize. My BC has not had a problem with fleas, however previous dogs in warmer climates developed infestations. We invite dogs onto our bed, so fleas/ticks -- we just say no. My BC has picked up a tick occasionally (If I forgot monthly applications), I assume from frequent farm work. The day I brought her home from the farm as a little puppy, she had a tick on her back. Almost named her Tick to match the ticking behind her left ear. We have been happy with Frontline. I'm not sure any product is going to rid a dog of all fleas in two weeks. I'm no expert but this website describes the flea life cycle, as well as the fact that most eggs/larvae/pupae live in the environment, and the pupae can take days to more than a month to emerge from sticky cocoons and reinfest. Depends on temperature and other stimulants for time of emergence. Just a heads-up. -- Good luck, TEC
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