Thursday, April 30, 2009

a sad day

We have made the decision to return Teal. We made some progress with her, but she has also continued to get worse over the time we have had her. I am not going to elaborate much more on why, other than to say that it was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make and we truly hope that she lives a long, healthy, happy border collie life. She is a sweet, highly intelligent dog, that did not fit into our family as well as we hoped she would. We are sad and despite everything, we will miss her sweet face.

Ben has been posting on Deltabluez Anson, the one year old border collie that he has for a trial period. I have been admiring Anson for a long time, so I was not opposed to testing him out. Our original thought was that he would be great as a sport/herding dog for Ben to take the pressure off of Teal. We were going to slow down with her flyball training and focus on general training. The ideal outcome would have been to keep all three border collies. Unfortunately things do not work out as planned. The trial period has gone very well and Anson will most likely stay with us. We expect that he will get along well with Indigo, since he is very soft like her.

I hope to get updates about Teal as she settles into her new home.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Herding Lesson with Anson

You met Anson a couple posts ago. Well, he is still a sweetie. And I think he is having a good time here at the house. He really likes to cuddle and, to his delight, I have let him and Ari up on the couch to cuddle a few times. He also gives a very good hug- he really hugs around you tightly with his arms. Other things he is good at: being quiet in his kennel, sticking close, coming when called, quieting down in the house, not whining to come inside, deal with Mr. Grump (Ari), resource sharing and generally being cute.

He also happens to be a good working dog too. Today we went for our first herding lesson together. I guess cuddling him and letting him on the couch was all he needed to want to work with me because he listened very well out in the pasture. The only thing he sometimes forgets is to come when I call him, but only because he wants to keep herding. Diane has already started him so he knows his flanks pretty well and can do short outruns. Mostly I just walk around the pasture and he keeps the sheep behind me. He is very good at this and wants very much to keep the flock together. Diane took a bunch of pictures of us herding- what a great day for it.

After herding we took a rest and then went to the park at sundown. I am trying to figure out if Anson will be willing to play flyball. I am still not sure, but he seems to be on his way. Today at the park we worked on retrieving the tennis ball and tugging. This is the second time playing with the ball and the first time tugging. He played with balls out at Diane's, but his mom, Tess, always gets the ball so he hasn't had much practice getting it himself. It took me jumping around and acting goofy to get him excited about the ball, but by the end of our session he was running fast to get the ball, and bringing it back at a quick trot. He doesn't bring it back every time, but probably 75%, which I will take for only his second try. He also started tugging! This was pretty surprising since he can be a little submissive and I thought tugging might be too much for him. Again, after a couple minutes jumping around like a monkey he was interested in the tug. He quickly started chasing me while I ran away from him dragging the tug. And he put up a pretty good fight once he got it in his mouth. Not quite like Indy yet, but for his first time it was great. We quit when he was still really jazzed so hopefully we can pick up from there tomorrow. I should have taken picture of this, but I really didn't think I was going to get such good results- next time. It was obvious tonight that is going to do whatever he can to please his handler. I am getting pretty attached to this little guy- uh oh.

And just so you don't think I forgot about Ari I took a picture of him lounging around the house. He managed to reinjure his knee the other day, so he is back to leash walks. At least it seems to be getting better much faster than the initial injury. I was worried that he had finally torn a ligament, but since he is healing quickly I don't think it was all that bad. Just the same he is only getting leash walks for at least another week. He is such a good dog, so easy and very sweet. He is the perfect dog for people that don't want to have to do much with their dog except pet him, walk him a little, and give him tons of love. Oh and maybe a big chunk of sheep every now and then. What a cutie!
So these pictures are not in order. I don't like the way Blogger adds the newest photos at the top, and I am too lazy to move them around. You get the idea anyway.

We were pushing about 60 sheep around toward the end. I think we both handled it pretty well.

You can really see all 60 here.

We started out in the round pen, but it is too small for Anson already. We are working on "steady" so he doesn't put too much pressure on the sheep. He will soon learn that he does not need to be so close to move the sheep. Diane says its better to have a pup with a little to much push at first. It is much easier to tone it down a little than build it up.

What a good looking guy!

Summer Weekend in the Spring and Hellpuppy is Now Known As Misunderstood Puppy

My parents came for a visit this weekend. The weather was perfect. The humid smell in the air reminds me of summers in NJ. We have visited almost every attraction in this area except for a of these is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture book art. I enjoyed looking through the gift shop at my favorite classic childrens books.

We went to the Black Sheep Deli for lunch, which has an amazing selection of pastries, salads and sandwiches made on site. We sat in a park in Amherst, ate lunch and soaked up the sun.

We also made a quick stop at a place called Flayvors. This is one of the most impressive little dairy markets I have ever seen. Its on the site of a cute little dairy farm. The happy cows are on the other side of the parking lot from the store, which sells very fresh dairy products and of course homemade ice cream. Only in New England.....

We also went to experience some local history at the Quabbin Resevoir. According to wikipedia, here is some background information on this place.........

"The Quabbin's creation required the flooding, and thus the dissolution, in April 1938, of four towns: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott. The land remaining from the dissolved towns was added to surrounding municipalities, including Belchertown, Pelham, New Salem, Petersham, Hardwick and Ware.

When the buildings in the towns flooded by the reservoir were destroyed, the cellars were left intact. The remnants of the buildings and roads can occasionally be seen when the water level is low, and old roads that once led to the flooded towns can be followed to the water's edge. Not all elements of the towns were flooded, however. Town memorials and cemeteries in the four towns were moved to the Quabbin Cemetery, located on Route 9 in Ware, just off the Quabbin's lands. Many other public buildings were moved to other locations.

Because of state restrictions, most areas around the reservoir are accessible only by foot, through fifty-five surrounding gates. Few people ever go into the deep woods, and it has become a wildlife area. Bald eagles, moose, bears, foxes, and wildcats share the habitat. Large portions of Dana are on higher ground, and its remains, predominantly cellar holes, as well as the former town green (where a historic stone marker was placed) can be visited. Much of Prescott is also above water, on what is now known as the Prescott Peninsula, but it cannot be visited because of state restrictions, although there is an annual tour of the town conducted by the Swift River Valley Historical Society. A few houses and roads exist which were once part of North Prescott (now New Salem), and there is a town line marker just north of the gates, indicating the former town line for Prescott."


Today was the first good day I have had with Teal in awhile. Im learning a lot about dog behavior in a very short amount of time and am finally realizing that Teal has been very misunderstood by me. She did well in flyball practice today. She went over puppy jumps and mostly came back to me for a turkey reward (no tugging yet). We also did some work with the chute and she was able to snap on and off fairly well. Every other dog in the building was in a crate, so there were few distractions, but it was still improvement for her. Hopefully we will practice again next week.

Okay back to her being misunderstood. Today I learned that Teal, does in fact want to work and may even be biddable. She just needs to be micromanaged......extremely micromanaged. She needs her entire life controlled for her so she doesnt have the pressure on herself to control her life. She also needs to learn that all the food in the world does not belong to her. In very controlled situations that we set up today, she made amazing progress at a very rapid pace. Now we will see how well I can keep up with the techniques I learned today. Our first big challenge will be to do a 30 minute lie down and stay. Sounds really intense, but Im doing it now as I type and its working very well. I have to remind her less and less and she is finally settling.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

the impossible decision - can we live with Teal?

I finished reading Ruff Love by Susan Garrett and am following the recommendations.
Teals Rules:
1. No off leash time
2. No toys unless she is playing with me
3. Only food is given out of my hand
4. Nothing is free
5. Wait to go in and outside
6. Wait to get out of the crate
7. No opportunity for self rewarding behaviors

She is doing well with these rules in the house. Life is a lot less stressful when we both know exactly what she should be doing at all times. She still has no self control with distractions. Obedience class was going well for awhile. We practiced sit, lie down, touch and look at me when I say her name. She did well with everything and seemed to enjoy herself. It was all over when a dog ran past us. Her prey/herding drive kicked in and she started barking her head off and lunging at every dog we in the building. We left the building, not very gracefully.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Goodbye To Race (Quicksilver Record Time)

Indigo and Ezri's (Joy's BC) father Race died on April 9th. I never had a chance to meet him, but I am extremely thankful to him for my little girl. He sired many amazing flyball and agility dogs and I am lucky enough to have one as my best friend. She inherited many of his amazing qualities and he lives on in her and all his kids.

From Orion Border Collies website.........

"We lost Race on April 9th. He was the backbone of our crew, and is greatly missed. He was my heart protector. His loss is felt by many. He was the best babysitter, and always enjoyed having many puppies in the house. He could brighten any day with his smile, and his roo roo. We are so glad to have his kids and grandkids to carry on his life."

Monday, April 13, 2009

ptown plain and simple

Carly, a friend that I have known since I was 14 called me on Tuesday. She needed a weekend away from her busy schedule and Im always willing to accompany friends on weekend getaways. We quickly decided that we wanted to go to the beach!

Carly picked out a condo for us to stay in Provincetown, MA on the tip of cape cod. It could not have been more amazing or in a better location. We were right on the beach and right outside our front door was the main shopping area of the town. We were a short walk away from all the essential things for vacation. Joe's coffee shop with fresh scones made daily, the lobster pot with the best oysters, a cute little video store, homemade chocolates and ice cream, a cheap wine store, and numerous art galleries, used book stores and restaurants.
Home of the Scones

On Saturday it was rainy and windy and unbearable to be outside. We spend a lot of time relaxing on the comfy sofas in our condo and eventually we managed to go out and take a driving tour of the area.

It cleared up a little bit on Saturday night, making it a bit more enjoyable to take a walk for a seafood dinner We went to the Lobster Pot, a quintessential beach-side restaurant packed with a combination of locals and tourist and a massive menu. It was so good that we went back again on Sunday night.

Carly and I both enjoy entertaining our dogs, playing on the beach, stopping at every market and general store and driving around and looking at beautiful homes. So that is exactly how we spent most of our time.

We went out for another drive on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine. We stumbled on a beautiful vineyard that was opened and offering wine tastings.
Our favorites were....
Cranberry Red dessert wine (Tasting Notes Fresh and bold, red Beaujolais character blended with delicate Cape Cod cranberries. Super with roast turkey, duck, or pheasant.) and the
Sauvignon Blanc (Tasting Notes Bright golden color, clear and radiant. Aromas of white flowers, pear, peach and honeydew melon. Nice tropical zip and zing typical of Sauvignon Blanc. Perfect served well chilled with oysters, clams, mussels, grilled fish and spicy cuisine.)

We found the dog park in Provincetown, which was not especially impressive but was fun to chat with the local dog people and watch the dogs play in the gravel.

Otto and I finally bonded