Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Washington road trip

We headed down to Washington on Friday for a couple of hours of lessons with Scott Glen.  The topic:  penning.  In the history of sheepdoggery, I do not know that there is a more inept penner than I.  Of course, in the past, I've blamed my failure to pen every year at Calgary on my dogs, but since they've started to livestream the event, that lie will no longer hold up.  Thus ... two hours of penning lessons.

Scott was very patient with me, and he's also got a great sense of humour.  He actually got Lou to bend on a close at hand flank, something that dog hasn't done in about 5 years.  And then New Rex came out with his fancy stops and pace and shizzle, and he did well too.  He even got right underneath the lamb's nose as she was grazing, and that lamb still has a nose!  My god!  Have we turned a corner?

As much as I would have loved to stay at Fido's Farm for the weekend, it was off to Elma, for the RAT agility trial.  I haven't run USDAA in, like, forever.  I want to say it's been 6 years, but it might be even longer.  Wick was entered in the tournament classes only because I can't remember where she was in the titling program from 6 years ago.  Rex was entered in everything because I knew he must be in Starters.

It was quite a successful weekend for both dogs.  Wick had a nice run in Steeplechase, or Performance Speed Jumping, or whatever it's called, but she had an off-course.  She also ran a really nice Grand Prix, but got called for a refusal on the 3rd from last obstacle.  Drats!!!

Rex did quite well too.  He Q'ed all of his Starters games classes and got a Steeplechase Q to boot!  That was pretty cool, especially since we had a big bobble in that run.  Thank goodness for running a-frames!  He missed both DWs in Standard, so I'm going to have to figure out how to fix that.  Still, he was fine with the tire, didn't jump the chute, and overall exceeded my expectations.

Best part of the weekend was seeing people I haven't seen in, well, 6 years!  Also got to meet a lot of people I've only known through Facebook.  Oh, and thanks to my Nexus card, there were no border line-ups.  A pretty good weekend altogether!

Here's a mash-up of most of Rex's runs.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

National Hug a Sheep Day 2012

October 27 is National Hug a Sheep Day.  Did you hug a sheep?  I did.  :-)

Monday, October 08, 2012


The dogs and I went down to Klamath Falls, OR, to watch the 2012 USBCHA Finals.  What a great venue, with tough sheep, stunning views, and volunteers who made sure every detail was covered.  Awesome vendors too,

We cheered on friends, laughed way too much, and when the dust cleared (literally - it was wicked dusty), the champion was Patricia MacRae and the handsome Cap.  Because, you know, it would be a shame if the title went to someone NOT named MacRae.  But Cap had much the class run of the finals, with the only clean turn-back, nice fetches and a decent drive.  Congrats!

I took loads of pics, as the light was just dreamy.  Here are some of them - thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Wasn't that a party - herding version

Part two of Doggy Palooza involved flying to Kingston, ON, to run Lou in the Kingston Sheepdog and CBCA Championship trials.  Two days after AAC Nationals.  Yeah, seemed like a sane thing to do.  As I once told Amanda, when I'm lying on my death bed, I probably won't be thinking, "Gee, I sure wish I'd spent more time at home, resting."  So onto Kingston!

First of all, big shout-out to WestJet.  They were super about letting Lou check in at the very last minute (we hung out at Tim Hortons at YVR for an hour).  I was a bit nervous about flying Lou, but he didn't seem fizzed at all by the experience.  When I picked him up from oversize luggage at the Ottawa airport, he looked like he just woke up from a nap .. which he probably did.  :-)  Grabbed a rental car and hit the road just in time to enjoy a torrential rain storm.  I thought I left Vancouver behind?

Got to the trial field around 10pm.  Everyone was settled in for bed, so after a quick run, and a bit of dinner, off to bed we went (despite the fact that it was only 7:30 back home).  My roommate, Lee, was up early with Chica, so we set the alarms for 5:30 (that would be 2:30 am back home!).

Lou ran later in the day, and he had trouble moving his group along on the crossdrive.  His outwork was lovely, and he only needed a few whistles to bring them to my feet.  I believe he lost 4 on the outwork.  Unfortunately, he timed out at the crossdrive panels, so we lost a whole lot more than that on the drive!

That evening, prior to the CBCA AGM, Lee and I decided to have a quick bath in the St Lawrence river.  Now I can mark off the bucket list "bathing in an iconic Canadian river".  Actually, it was quite nice, and very clean.  We weren't the only ones bathing in the river either.  Who knew I could be so outdoorsy!

Lou spent a lot of time playing in the river too.  Here he is, showing off his very best "Handsome Rugged" look.

Blowing in the wind

Our second run was marginally more successful than our first, in that we completed the drive.  We missed both panels and never really had a line.  I think we got more points for our shed than our drive!  Oh well, whaddyagonnado.  (Answer:  drink wine and eat kettle corn).

For that second run, I wore the fascinator that Amanda made.  She made one for each of the woman handlers.  I love mine, and it's now framed for posterity.

I borrowed Lee's crook.  I didn't want to deal with the hassle of flying a crook (even the HKSS), but Lee flew with three dogs, two pieces of luggage and a crook.  Lee = crazier than me.

The sheep were easy to shed, though it could be tricky to put them back together once shed!

Thanks, Lou.  It's been a helluva ride.

Now that Western Canada had been shut out of the double-lift, we were content to drink.  (photo by Robin French)

Really enjoyed watching the double-lift finals on the Sunday.  Felt really bad for Dawn Boyce, who went to the post in a pretty pink shirt and hat, and then the skies opened.

There were heavy casualties in the hander's tent.  Here is just a partial body count.

When it was all done, Amanda and Roz won.  As an extra bonus, Amanda won a mountie.  This caused much excitement.

And then, just like that, Doggy Palooza 2012 was done.  Nothing left but to pose for a few last pics, get on a place and reunite Collie Nation.

Lou says he could stay here a few more days.

I'm really glad that I went to Kingston and experienced the spectacle.  Mark that off the bucket list.  Now to plan the next bucket list trip.  Hmm, how tough are those Meeker sheep anyway ... I'll bet Rex would like them ....

Oh yeah, here's a slideshow summary of the trial.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wasn't that a party - agility version

It seems like a lifetime ago, but I suppose it was only a few weeks back that we were loading up and heading to Nanaimo for the AAC Nationals.  At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, everything was perfect!  The ferries were on time, the weather was gorgeous, the hotel was as wonderful as I'd remembered it, the site was great ... getting nauseous yet?  :-)  But seriously, I can't think of much that I would change.  From the fantastic volunteers to the friendly judges, everything was just spot-on.

This was Wick's third Nationals.  My only goal was to get a placement in one of the Jumpers rounds.  Wick is a really good Jumpers dog, but at the last two Nationals, we've had absolute trainwrecks in Jumpers.  On Saturday, our goal was met, when Wick ran a nice clean Jumpers 1 and placed 3rd in her class.  Because she is such a good jumpers dog, I wasn't surprised so much as relieved.  But when she got the gamble in Gamblers 2, plus a ton of opening points, and earned a 9th place ribbon (yes, they give placements to 10 - wahoo!), I was totally and utterly floored.  Two gambles in a month?  After almost a decade of futility?  Just ... wow ...

Speaking of wow, Rex blew me away at Nationals!  That he qualified was a huge surprise, and I had zero expectations of him.  Boy, did he bring it!  On the first run of the day on Saturday, Standard 1, he went clean and 20 seconds under time!  Holy #$@!  Then he went clean in Jumpers 1!  This is a dog who seems to be stuck in Advanced Jumpers, for goodness sake!

On Sunday, Rex had another surprising performance - only one bar in Jumpers 2.  Filled with enthusiasm, after waiting for what seemed like hours, Wick and I took to the course ... and promptly blew up.  WTF?  I think we had at least two off-courses,  one my fault and one hers.  Arrggh! So much for a podium finish for the Wickens.  Both dogs ran well in Standard 2.  Each had a refusal on the same jump - perhaps a handling issue?  :-)  So when all was said and done, Rex ended up out-pointing Wick by 10 - whodda thunk?  Wick finished 16th of 34 dogs in 16" Vets, and Rex was 36th of 84 dogs in 22" Regular.  And I, I was bloody happy with both of them.  For complete results, click here.

And here's a video of some of the highlights of our time in Nanaimo.  Next up - the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Let's do this

It's here - doggy palooza!  First up is the AAC National Agility Championships, in Nanaimo.  Wick and Rex are competing, which is nice as they are at opposite ends of their careers.  For Wick, this is her third, and probably last, nationals.  For Rex, this is his first of what I hope are many nationals.  But who knows, I said that AAC Nationals in 2010 were Wick's last nationals, and I was wrong about that!

After the AAC Nationals, we come home, do a quick bit of laundry, and then Lou and I are off to Kingston, ON, for the Kingston Sheep Dog Trial and CBCA Championships.  Like Wick, I think this will be Lou's last CBCA Championships.  Like Wick, that's what I said last year LOL!  What is it about my old dogs refusing to get old?  Well, whatever it is, I'm glad for it!

So as I sit on the eve of doggy palooza, I am reflecting on how blessed I am to have three great dogs who love what they do.  Looking forward to seeing all my friends from near and far.  Let's do this!

Monday, July 23, 2012

What a long strange trip it's been

The quest for ATChC is finally over!  On Sunday morning, under grey skies, Wick got the last Q she needed to finish her ATChC.  Ironically, it was on a teeter gamble (the teeter being her least favourite obstacle EVER).  Whatever, we'll take it!

She had a very good weekend overall.  Her first Gamblers run was such a disaster, I wanted to retire her right there and then.  She seemed to understand that I was less than pleased with her efforts, so she stepped it up, and hit for the cycle (Qs in each of Standard, Jumpers, Snooker, Gamblers and Steeplechase).  At Nationals next week, we'll have to run 2 Gamblers courses, but after that, you'll never again see us in the stinkin' gamblers ring!

And the obligatory music video.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life is a highway - part 2

On the Sunday, the World Stock Dog Championship started.  I suppose it's worldly in that there were both Canadians and Americans competing.  Anywho ...  Lou was up first for me.  He had a good go, and then, as in previous years, I sucked at the pen.  Watch, wince, do not do what I do!

Rex was wild!  I mucked up the top end and had to give him some very fast flanks to make the obstacles.  By the time we turned the post, he was pretty jazzed.  Then he ate one, and I plucked the fleece out of his mouth (to the delight of the crowd) and we did the walk of shame out of there.

On the second day, Rex went first, and he ate one again, though not as dramatically.  That dog definitely needs more time on sheep than the 10-20 minutes a month that he typically gets.  Too much agility, not enough sheep ... DQ.  We'll be ready next year - promise!

Lou had a more difficult set than on Sunday, and they did lots of stomping and stalling.  However, he got them going and then there we were at the pen again.  I tried not to be as much a spazz as on Sunday, but I don't know that I was successful.  One ran in the pen, and then another, and I really thought the third one was going to run from the far end of the arena into the pen.  She didn't ... jerk.  Still, two in the pen is (sadly) a career high for me.   Maybe next year, I'll actually close the pen?

For another year, then, we were spectators for the finals.  Before it started we watched some Stampede events like Cowboy Up.

And of course, how can you not watch Team Penning?

Then it was time for the finals!  Louanne Twa was up second, and she and Meg lay down a smoker!  She was the leader until that darn Dale Montgomery ran.  For the 7th time, he won the $10,000 first prize.  Louanne and Meg were reserve, and she also won the stock trailer - yay!  The princesses were very happy with the result.

And thus ended another great road trip.  Good times, good dogs, and good friends.  Yeah, we'll do it again next year.  :-)

Life is a highway - part 1

Another road trip is in the books!  For the 5th year, the dogs and I loaded up and headed east for some great Alberta trials.  First stop was the Wild Rose Classic in Bowden, AB.  In what is now a tradition, a tornado rolled through nearby Olds the day before.

But by the time the trial started, the storm had passed.

The dogs didn't run great.  Lou wouldn't take a flank to straighten out the fetch.  The drive was a bit wonky too.  My timing was a bit off, and Lou was clearly rusty.  Still, he had some nice moments.

Rex had a nice outrun and lift, but absolutely no brakes on his fetch.  It was dead straight but oh my goodness was it fast!  Managed to get something of a handle on him for the drive, but I was mostly training on him, and didn't really care about the panels, because I was going to get my point across.  We ended up in the shedding ring in the middle of a lightening storm (because shedding with Rex isn't scary enough, let's add the possibility of death).

The next day wasn't much better.  Rex still had no brakes so I left the post to meet him on the fetch.  The little rotter saw me coming and ran FASTER - who does that?  Lou drew up late in the day and the sheep were heavy.  We missed the drive away panel so I retired the run.  Then we were off to Calgary for the Stampede!

Saturday was a day off, so I took the dogs to the Southland Park off-leash dog park.  It's 80+ hectares of doggy fun, complete with river access.  Rex and Lou found the water and stayed in it most of the 2 hours we were there.

Then it was a quick trip to the Stampede on a very hot Saturday.  We watched the dancing at the Indian Village.

I made a couple of new friends.  :-)

And generally played tourist.  Look, a sheep!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

It's Stampede time!

26/52, Time to cowboy up by voteforbear
26/52, Time to cowboy up, a photo by voteforbear on Flickr.
We're off to Alberta for the Wild Rose Classic, then the 100th Calgary Stampede. This is my 6th year going, and I think I've tried every kind of deep-fried food they have. :-)  Who knows, maybe there will be something new and disgusting to try!

I hope it's summer in Alberta, because it sure isn't here on the coast.  Blech.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Two good dogs

Well, Collie Nation has returned from the BCYR 2012 Agility Regionals with some very good news - they both qualified!  This is Wick's 5th or 6th time qualifying, and I fully expected her to make it (though after Sunday's performance, I was a bit worried!), but Rex, who has only be trialing for a year, and who may not know all of the equipment yet - I was absolutely thrilled that he pulled one off.

In addition to qualifying, each of the dogs earned an individual placement in Jumpers.  Wick came 2nd in Jumpers 1, and Rex, the dog who often forgets how to do a tunnel, came 4th out of 68 22" dogs in Jumpers 2.

We've about 50 days before Nationals, and there's a lot we need to practice.  But before that, there's the matter of a few sheepdog trials, including the Calgary Stampede.  Wick gets to sit those out, but Lou and Rex, get ready to switch gears - set focus on sheep.

Here are a couple videos from the weekend.  Turn down the volume, my dogs are LOUD!



Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Motivational thoughts before Regionals

DS4_3558 by voteforbear
DS4_3558, a photo by voteforbear on Flickr.
Whether or not you win this thing, you’ve got to decide how you’re gonna walk out of here when it’s all said and done.  Because the game is going to go on ...and there’s only one rule you’re going to need to know about:  “There are no second chances.”

There’s only this moment and the next moment.  Every one of those moments is a test that you get to take ONE time and ONLY one time.  So, if you see an opening, tear into it!  If you get a shot at victory, make DAMN sure you take it.  SEIZE that moment!

That moment is a crossroads where everything you want will collide with everything standing in your way.

You’ve got momentum at your back.  Fear and doubt are thundering like a freight-train straight at you.   And all you’ve got – the only difference between making history and BEING history - the only thing — the ONLY thing you can count on at any given moment is YOU!

It’s you versus “them”
… you versus “no”
… you versus “can’t”
… you versus “next year”, “last year”, “statistics”, “excuses”

It’s you versus “history”
… you versus “the odds”

It’s you versus “second place”

The clock is ticking.  Let see what you’ve got.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happy birthday, Rex

5 years old. How can my puppy be 5 years old?!?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I believe I can fly ...

I believe I can fly ... by voteforbear
I believe I can fly ..., a photo by voteforbear on Flickr.

This is really all you need to know about Rex. :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring means lambs

I love lambs.  I love most sheep (except the ones with wool on their faces - they give me the creeps), but I especially love lambs.  Here. then, is the 2012 crop of Keepmore Farm's mixed hair sheep flock.

They kinda look like a street gang.  An adorable street gang.

Don't you be getting all up in my grill, dog!

Ewe's not that tough

Every year, there are at least a couple bottle-fed lambs.  This year, it's Billie and Flower.

Lou will work anything, even bottle-feds.

Some sheep wear their hearts on their hocks.

And finally, here is your shaky video for the week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

... but what I really want to do is direct.

Still over-the-moon happy with the new camera.  One of the things I was looking forward to trying was the video.  So far, I've not been disappointed!  Today, a friend played around with the camera while I tried to get the dogs to do something interesting.

I sure hope the weather holds this weekend, so I can get some video of the lambie races.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New addition

No, not another dog.  But the next best thing, perhaps!  A new camera!

It's really big and pretty and it shoots so well in low light.  This is, get this, ISO 12,800.  Crazy!

Speaking of crazy ...

So to reiterate ... no new dog, yes new camera.   Dogs = 3.

Wick says perhaps that is 2 too many.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why dogs kill their owners, aquatic version

I've been taking my dogs to Waterworkz for swimming.  I think it's good exercise for them, and they seem to enjoy it.  They = Lou and Rex.  Wick stays in the truck and naps.  Until last Friday, that is, when she had a swimming lesson.  Let's just say it wasn't spectacular.  :-)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wicked bad handling

My trusty partner, Wick, and I had some fun runs last weekend, but man, was my handling bad! In gamblers, I sent her over the jump in a way that made getting the dogwalk near-impossible (and I got to hear her scream about it for a full 24 seconds). Then in Steeplechase, I added a tunnel to the course, just because I thought the run was going too well. Finally in Jumpers, I omitted a jump (perhaps to make up for the added tunnel in Steeplechase?). I scratched her from Standard because I wanted to eat lunch. Her Snooker was lovely, but of course, I don't have that on tape.

Still, there is no dog I'd rather run. She is fun in a loud, fast little black and white body. I can't believe she's 11 (or maybe older - who knows). Run Wick run!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Two Sides of Rex

There's a lot of talk about breeding for versatility and dogs that can "do it all".  Well, I think the most versatile dog is a well-bred border collie.  Drive?  Check.  Biddability?  Out the wazoo.  Athleticism?  Work all day on a huge mountain, get up the next day begging for more.  Off switch?  Yup, because you don't get to work the big mountains every day.  The whole idea of breeding border collies for agility and flyball just seems weird.

I like to do dog sports.  I started in agility over 10 years ago, but lost interest when I started herding.  Over the past year and a half, though, I've started competing again and I really am enjoying it.  Besides my trusty, loud and crazy partner, Wick, I have Rex.  He is 4 years old, and was raised as a sheepdog.  He competed in the 2009 CBCA/Western Canadian Championships, finishing 4th.  He also ran at the USBCHA Nursery Finals that year, qualifying for the final round.  Then he came home to me where he became a house dog.  :-)

Here are a couple of videos from this weekend.  The first is from Saturday, where the boys practiced their shedding.  The second is from Sunday.  Rex competed in agility trial, where he had 4 qualifying runs, placing first in 3 of them.

Monday, February 06, 2012

More handsome dog photos

What a great little stretch of sunshine we've had!  Apart from drying out my lawn, the sun makes photographing my dogs a lot more fun.


Did I mention it's impossible to get a bad photo of this dog?


Just a picture-perfect day :-)