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She's interested....now what?


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Over the weekend, my wife and I took Sadie to Drummond Ranch to see if she was interested in sheep, and she went crazy. I posted some pictures and video of her session in this thread along with a copy of what the trainer had to say about her.


So, now that we know she might have potential, what do we do? The ranch has a training program that involves weekly sessions that we can do - which is really the only option we know of. I know there must be other ranches in the Los Angeles area where we can work with Sadie, but I wanted to see what the people around here thought would be a good next step.


So what do we do? Ultimately, I think we would like to see if she simply enjoys it, or if she excels at it. If it turns out she's good, then we might be intersted in entering trials, but it will always be mainly for fun.


Any suggestions?


Thanks so much.

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There are many, much more qualified folks here to answer your questions than I am. My advice is that if you and the dog are interested, find a qualified trainer that you can go to even if it involves some travel. That's hard to say in this day of high gas prices but a good trainer is essential. We travel almost three hours each way and therefore only go once a month.


I have been fortunate to be able to attend clinics on occasion with outstanding trainers. I know of some people with well-bred dogs that are only able to attend a couple of clinics a year and their dogs don't see stock in between. The dogs remember what they've learned from one clinic to the next. Not an easy option but a possible one...


One alternative for you might be to travel to attend a clinic by someone well-established and well-regarded, like Jack or Kathy Knox, Patrick Shannahan, Alasdair MacRae, Scott Glen or any of a number of proven handler/trainers. They have shown their abilities by being consistent, successful top competitors in USBCHA Open trials and the National Finals, and by being top clinicians.


Some wonderful trainers put on a "sheep camp" which may run five days in length. I think Scott Glen and Derek Scrimgeour do this (in Ontario and Michigan, respectively) and it's a way to immerse yourself and your dog for a week.


I've heard pros and cons about Drummond Ranch but have no personal experience or knowledge to say if it's a good or bad choice. I perused the website and I'm not into considering and promoting stockdog work as a "dog sport", and listing AKC first in a list of organizations involved in competitive venues. It seems very much oriented towards "hobby herding" but that doesn't mean they don't have capable training. There are some very competent and capable trainer/handlers who have chosen to be involved with and supportive of AKC. I'm sure there is someone on the boards who is familiar with the place and can give you an opinion.


That said, I don't believe an instinct test per se is any real indication of talent/ability/potential but a qualified individual conducting such a test should be capable of evaluating whether a dog shows some potential.


As for becoming competitive at some point in the future, I think it takes a lot of training/work for most folks/dogs to become competitive at USBCHA events. If you'd like, make it a goal but realize it will take commitment. I'm still a Novice after two years of occasional trialing. Of course, a lot of that is my limitations, not my dog's!


Best wishes in making a decision, finding a place to train, and learning along with your dog!

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Basically - you are screwed.


Once you start down this road, there is no turning back. Sure at first it's a couple of herding lessons once or twice a week but after a while that doesn't do it for you any more.


Then, it's "just this one clinic. I know it's 400 miles away but it's gonna be really good" At this point, you still think you can quit any time.


Before long, you're keeping sheep 30 miles from home, sneaking out of work on Thursday afternoon for an "appointment" to get to that trial by Friday monring, stuffing ewes in the back of your brand new SUV, choosing a new mini-van based on how many dog crates will fit in the back, and spending hours online arguing the merits of raw versus kibble, and the proper way to set up a shed.


Get thee to a 12 step program now before it takes over your life.


Hi, my name is Pearse, and I own a Border Collie.

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Sue, thanks so much for the very informative reply. It's likely that we'll be traveling at least an hour or two each way no matter what we do, so I guess we're willing to make the trek if (when) we get hooked.


The clinics sound fun, have you heard of any in the LA area? Where might I find these kind of things posted?


As far as Drummond's listing of the AKC on their site, I can only guess they do it because it's a household name and their with their proximity to LA, they can get more attention from people who might not know about the tension between some BC owners and that organization. They also host USBCHA trials, FWIW. I am interested in exploring other options, but the only other ranch I know of is near Long Beach harbor, and they don't hold lessons on the weekends, so that pretty much counts them out for me. :D Know any others?


Thank you so much for putting my goals in perspective. I realize that serious competition is probably out of our reach without some equally serious commitment.


In any event, does anyone know of a 12-step group that meets in LA? Depending on how our first few sessions go...I might need that phone number... :rolleyes:

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I was looking at Laurie's $printer at Breezy Hill, but it's not as roomy as I might have thought.... Is the back area where the crates would go, or do the dogs get to lounge on the bunk and dinette while we travel? Oh, and where can I safely put sheep? :rolleyes:


Ack! I just looked at the conversion prices. :eek: I'm thinking Robin's idea of a used Ford van is more in the realm of possibility.



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Originally posted by juliepoudrier:


I was looking at Laurie's $printer at Breezy Hill, but it's not as roomy as I might have thought... Oh, and where can I safely put sheep? :rolleyes:



It's truly all-purpose - here's one of the first trips my Sprinter took - to a herding Demo


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Crashless - I am not familiar with your area. You might want to check on www.littehats.net to see if there are trainers listed within a driving distance for you.


As for clinics, I find it kind of hit-or-miss to locate them. I am on a couple of folks email notification lists now so that's how I hear about the ones I go to. Occasionally some are listed on this or other boards or on littlehats.


By the way, littlehats has quite a bit of good info for folks new to sheepdogging (and I'm a cowdogger myself, but it's very helpful).


As for AKC, I was only mentioning that with regards to the emphasis on training, competition, goals, etc., that might be the case at DR. My trainer competes in AKC and holds AKC events, as well as AHBA and USBCHA. I understand your comment and find it sensible as I think that's the case with some other, qualified trainers.


If you are familiar with the "Border Collie wars" and the philosophy of this board (it's at the sticky at the top of the General section), you will understand why the majority of USBCHA and working Border Collie folks are not pro-AKC. As I said, I have no first-hand knowledge of DR and have no opinion other than what I formed from the website.


As for competition, what little I do is done for fun and to see what my dog and myself can accomplish on strange sheep at a strange place. If I took it too seriously, I would not be a happy person so I do it for enjoyment, socializing with the great folks, and to see what my dog and I can do together. Whatever you do competitively, enjoy! If you don't compete, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at USBCHA trials (scribing, posting, running, set-out of sheep, etc.) and it's a great deal of fun, good hard work, and educational.


I hope someone can post about other opportunities in your area. Maybe you could also try posting to Sheepdog-L about that to see if you get any replies. It's a Yahoo group and another opportunity to learn about sheepdogging.


Best wishes!

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