Sunday, February 24, 2008

Millie's Next Step

I had a loose plan for training Millie. She's been living in the main sheep field, sans sheep, for the winter. She needed to burn off some of her puppy energy, get in touch with her guardian instincts, and spend time next door to the sheep, now locked in the smaller paddock. This has worked pretty well. Charlie goes in with her occasionally, and she's learned about patrolling fence lines, marking territory, and general good behaviors from him.

I had planned to put a smaller enclosure in her territory, but the portable fencing deal I made fell through, and that really needed to wait for better weather. She couldn't go in with the sheep until they lambed - no upsetting pregnant sheep allowed! So Millie has been mostly alone in a very large field, with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and more to watch from a distance, and ravens to chase off close up.

Today as I was feeding and then getting set up to restore another shelter roof, I noticed a big white in with the sheep. I didn't remember putting Charlie in there. And while large, this dog was smaller than Charlie. Millie! She broke through the gate between fields, and was strolling around the sheep paddock. I watched from a distance as she checked the perimeter, sniffed the shelter, and did some digging for gophers. She was calm, the sheep were calm. All my new mammas are in a separate field now, so I thought I'd leave Millie while I was outside and keep an eye on her.

After a half hour or so I saw a white streak. Millie cornered a ram, and he was taking a stand. I calmly went into the field with a leash, merrily calling to Millie, saying "Leave it!" when she started being rambunctious, but mostly letting things play out. She did some chasing, but the ram kept stopping to take a stand. Millie let me walk up to her and clip on her leash. We then walked over to the group of sheep still lolling around the feeding area, sniff everyone, and slowly make our way back into her field.

I fixed the gate, played with Millie for awhile, and then got some really good food for Millie's lunch.

This was the next step I had planned, Millie just thought my timing was off. I'm very pleased at how well she did. She was much calmer than I expected her to be, and while she did chase, she didn't burst into the knot of sheep to disrupt them. She was playing, not trying to hurt them. I'm feeling more hopeful for her working future. She is more exuberant than I would like to see, but she didn't rush in and start chasing. She's growing up and learning.

I was also amazed at how much coat she's put on. Somehow I hadn't noticed that before. Her guard coat has come in, she now has a mane and a nice, full Pyr coat. And muscle. She keeps herself in shape!

Testing the Shelter

Trey had to test out the new tarp/crate/dog bed combo I set up for him. The winter's wind storms destroyed all my shelters, and had a very unsatisfactory fix in place for the "back of house" dogs. Berna tested out her favorite spot before I'd finished setting everything up, and Trey was next checking out his fav crate.

Squeak the irrepressible cat snoozes on Charlie's porch dog bed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More than Just a Pretty Face

Meet Nickel - Can Ch GrCH Alchmys Magic Tin Nick-L Blues RA JHD CGC

I had the pleasure of meeting Nickel and her poodle family when I met her owner Vikki Kauffman at Fido's Farm outside of Olympia. Vikki was taking Nickel for some herding practice, and I tagged along to watch.

As you can see, Nickel is a Standard Poodle. The letters in front of her name and the first picture show she's a champion show dog. The letters at the end of her name say she's done Advanced Rally (RA), has a Junior Herding title (JHD), and has earned a Canine Good Citizen certificate (CGC). She has also done hunting field trials.

Herding? Poodles? Check it out. Poodles started out as working dogs, mostly water retrieval but many other tasks as well. Including herding.

Vikki and Nickel - another pair out to prove that dogs can do it all. A well-rounded poodle with a fun personality, a lovely smooth gait, lots of talent and a beautiful face.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Favorite Places

I've "re-discovered" some sites recently that I'd like to share.

One is Seymour Stained Glass. Karen Seymour is a very talented artist, and her glass creations are a joy to behold. Check them out! She even has a window depicting her husband's obsession - a Meade telescope.

Kerin Gale and Charley Slaughter create jewelry and other art out of found items. See it at Remnants Of Olde. This couple is embarking on a new adventure, moving to the south Oregon coast to be inspired by the sea.

And Veryl Anne Grace has a new creation pictured on her blog, Fiber in Paradise. Masquerade is a collaboration with her husband Glenn, and is glorious. There are also pictures of her lovely Maremma, Keanani.

A recently discovered blog that I've been enjoying very much is My Anatolian Dog Otto, very well written and entertaining stories about Otto and his family.

I discovered the above blog by reading Semavi Lady's Turkish Dogs blog. There's always something interesting here, including wonderful pictures of Anatolians and other LGDs.

These last two are part of the Anatolian Blogroll listed on the right. Lots of great blogs in there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I took Jesse with me to the feed store and stocked up on my diminished supplies. Jesse loves going to the store, and had to be talked into getting back in the van to come home. There were two people there who hadn't cuddled him! It smells so good there! The guys were charmed by Jesse's woo woos of complaint, and the way he uses his body to let me know he doesn't like what I'm asking him to do, and makes it very clear what he does want me to let him do. They were also disappointed I hadn't brought Charlie. "Where's that big dog? I don't know his name, I call him Polar." This about the dog who gets in their faces as they try to load my van with hay and feed sacks. He's not aggressive about it, but he really isn't sure about people coming in his van, even if they are putting things in. He wants to get a good smell of them. I have to get in and keep him from getting out to really check out the place.

Charlie was locked in with the sheep, so when I got home I just opened the gate to unload.


Jesse and Ursa took the opportunity to go walkabout. Millie had been barking down at the corner of her field, but the neighbors were out making noise, I thought she was barking at them. I had forgotten that the last time I let Jesse and Ursa out together while I did chores, they took themselves off for a walk.

Last time they went up the hill, where we go for walks, on our property. I found them on their way back. That's the most interesting area, so that's where I went to look for them. Usually I go down the hill first to find any missing animals, since that's the area towards danger, but up is more interesting, and up is where they went last time. No footprints. Not of dogs, that is. Nice footprints of a raccoon heading up, and very clear, recent prints of a deer heading down. No dogs. So I went down the hill. No footprints, but this direction is gravel not mud. No dogs. No answer to my calls.

The neighbor dog was barking, and I've been curious about whose dog that is and what kind, so I walked up the road towards the noise. This large, grey dog, obviously young, is tied out a ways away from the house, poor thing. No wonder he barks a lot. As I was walking back down the road I saw some moving white in the trees. I waited until two cars went by to call out, and sure enough it was Jesse. Ursa wasn't far behind. They were checking out the log house, the one that's been for sale for ages, the one that the sheep liked to go visit to mow the lawn last summer, and that has a new car and trailer parked there. They probably followed the deer scent down, and then got interested in the new rig.

Jesse came up to me with that "you really love me and aren't mad, right?" look. Ursa laid down on the grass.

Ursa, 13 with severe arthritis and a tumor hanging off her jaw, was tired and sore and didn't want to walk back. I massaged her back and legs, and she agreed to move to our road. We spent a long time walking the 1/4 mile back to the house, stopping frequently for rubs, rests and encouragement. Once home she got all her feel-good pills, and another massage.

This is the dog who was walking out on the county road, crossing the road. Thankfully those two cars I waited for were the only ones to come by while we were there. It isn't a busy road. But really, a gimpy CO and a Samoyed with two bad knees, on a road with no shoulder. There aren't many cars use the road, but it only takes one car to hit a dog.

They are both such stick-around dogs, I used to have them out with me all the time while I did out-of-the-fence chores. Until one day several months ago they went walkabout. They haven't been out since except for walks with me. Except for today, when I forgot I could no longer trust them. Tonight we are all inside the fence, and we are all tired.

It Must Be Spring

Besides the usual sorts of things - tree buds swelling, grass growing, increased wild bird activities, lambs being born - my roosters are starting to squabble. My tom turkey has become a complete and total jerk, albeit a pretty one. And I collected a dozen eggs today. A dozen. Pretty soon, if I don't improve my distribution plan, my fridge will have room for nothing but eggs.

The dogs have also become more playful. While there is still enough snow in the mountains to keep passes closed, it's warmer down here and supposed to be sunny. Any time now.

It must be spring.

...did I mention the mud?

Friday, February 15, 2008

February Morning