Sunday, July 25, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First week...

It's been a busy one but a great one!

We (and by this I mean I...) still haven't quite named her. The current short list includes: Rin, Rime, Wink, Jenna/Gem/ma and Jess.

Madam has started a lot of her foundation training for various things.

House training for one. ;)

That-Humans-Find-It-Disconcerting-When-Dogs-Materialize-On-Counters for another. She doesn't jump, I swear... you just blink and all the sudden there's a dog on the counter feeling as pleased with herself as the Cheshire cat. So we're working on a "mother may I?" She's worked out very quickly that the best way to get what she wants is NOT jumping but politely ploinking her furry bum down and waiting. I'm happy to share but I do insist on a polite request! If I can't give them a bit of whatever they've asked for (ex. chocolate - which aside from being bad for dogs is something mumma just ain't into sharing kiddies...) they get something they can have instead.

She's pretty much got the dinner time routine down - which is that my picking up bowls is a cue for get your bums to your mats, ploink and wait till all the food dishes are filled, distributed and you're given permission to eat, then lay down beside your bowls till everyone is finished, they're picked up and you are released.

For obedience we're working on sit, down, come, eye contact and targeting both a touch-stick and a spot on my knee which will be the base for heel work. Come being especially important!

For agility we're doing some of the same stuff we started with Si - circle work, tuggy*, going after toys when they're thrown, driving out to a touch plate, plus a stretch. *While her tug drive and focus is super duper awesome with awesome sauce, she's needing to learn to take it only when invited and release on cue as well as to take it properly in her mouth and not to re-grip mid-session.

She's had two sessions of flyball introduction training and worked on driving over a hurdle to a target, targeting the box and triggering the ball release. She got some calm focus practice in with Hopie as well.

With herding we're working on calm focus - so practicing being able to look at sheep but still listen and look when requested. That mainly means walking around with me while we do chores - feeding and watering them and practicing having to sit or down and wait there when I had to trim the fluff above the heads, clean up legs and bums.

She is a cheeky minx - when I left her on the other side of the gait she stuck her nose under it and started to wriggle under. I told her no and she stopped and backed out. Then that little brain started turning ideas over... maybe I didn't really mean for her to stay in the middle yard... maybe I just didn't want her going under the gate? Perhaps OVER it would work? I looked back up and saw her perched, all four paws neatly balanced, on the fence post waiting to hop down. After pausing for a moment to admire her cleverness I had to say, "Molly, uh uh. Get down." She was the picture of dejection as she hopped back down, flopped into a down and whined.

She's settling in well overall. She's discovered a number of wonderful games and while it was a toss up as to whom would tire out first - her or La - La won! She is as tolerant and gentle with the kids as the girls and a genuine sweetheart.

She is a chewer - big time - and a shredder! She gets this lovely blissed out, dreamy look going while doing so. We prefer the object of her bliss to be a chewie though rather than sticks, decking, books and chairs. though. Good thing we order dog chewies in wholesale boxes! :)

She is a cuddler and a snuggler - she loves to be picked up and cuddled in my lap and will fall asleep held in my arms. She loves beds - particularly snuggling up in them and comfy chairs. The whole house-dog gig agrees with her it seems!

The only 'problem' behaviour we've really discovered is that she hates being confined. Which is not unforeseen considering her history. In a crate, in a room (regardless of size or if there are crates, crates in an ex pen etc) or the car - regardless of if we're there or she's with another dog, she balks, starts barking and digging frantically and trying to escape. It doesn't take a huge imagination to gather why - 12 months of experience tells her being caught by the collar meant she was about to put isolated for endless hours of boredom and nothingness. The thought of it after a taste of freedom must be terrifically upsetting. So we're working on a lot of rewards for going into crate, special stuffed/frozen nomliscious Kongs and such that only appear when she has to be confined, playing crate games, desensitizing her collar being grabbed into a fun game etc. (oh.... MUM moves toward/touches/grabs/lightly tugs my collar and cheese/vitamin paste/peanut butter squirts into my mouth!) She is better than the first few days already so I suspect that this sort of work, along with experience that confinement isn't a predictor for being alone and bored for hours will go a long way to settling that. All in all though she is an awesome little girlie and a real treasure!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The new exciting news at our house...

Meet "Molly"! (Her name is subject to change pending me actually deciding what suits her!)

She is a 12 month old working line Border Collie. She'd been bought at a fair, the last of a litter born on a sheep farm. Her owner was trying hard but in a tough position - on a suburban block, worked all day and of course slept at night, which meant 16 hours a day or so this super smart, brimming with energy, high drive teenager had nothing to do. Her owner felt if he couldn't find someone who could keep her busy, he'd have to put her down.

I've been missing my Veri-blue girl like crazy. I was not coping well without her and prayed for something to help with how lost I feel without her. I am (fingers crossed!) getting a puppy in several months time which I am VERY excited about. I couldn't shake the feeling that while that puppy is going to be fantastic for me, it wasn't Verity's answer to my prayer. I'd seen a BC boy who snagged my eye at the RSPCA. Very odd as I'm not overly keen on BCs as a breed I'd want to own. Nothing against them, I just like the look and style of my Aussies far more! By the time I could've got up there he'd been put down sadly. Then I saw mention of this young girl. Something pinged on my radar and I enquired.

We went to meet her at the VHA trial. I was stunned to see her, she's such a pretty shiny jet black and after having whined about wanting a "black bi with minimal white" she definitely fit that bill too - the only white on her is a tiny smudge on her chin and a little star on her chest.

She got to have a little go so I could see how she was with sheep which went well. She was utterly unfussed about everything going on, let Lily crawl all over her, La had a blast playing with her, good with the girls. She has super awesome tuggy skills and jumps like gravity doesn't exist, has a huuuugge ball drive, manically tugs like there's no tomorrow, is gaga over toys and tested very well with sheep this morning. In short she is the kind of dog most sports people would fall all over! :) As Mandi said to me, "You wanted intense - well, you got INTENSE!" She is sooooooooooooooooo COOL!

And a few videos... little madam on her first day had the beginning of obedience, did several tuggy sessions, went to Hastings with me and had a short session there, got her first look at flyball and figures that's pretty cool and discovered that 4 year old boys with soccer balls are great toys! This is her tuggy session at Hastings - and bear in mind that this is AFTER she's had several long play sessions and is a bit tired! The first night here, she tugged for about 3 hrs straight! That is a LONG time to maintain that sort of high energy play!

And this is from her first day home... out in the yard playing with La and the girls.

She's been getting a lot of training work and exercise put into her as she is so starved for it that she just couldn't get her fill of it. Besides the obedience basics we'll be working a lot on doggy zen, 'countersurfing is not cool', crate/confinement as a safe/relaxing place and calm attention I think as well as other necessities like 'dogs piddle OUTSIDE'. LOL

She is such a funny bean though. Even today she is finding ways to make up funny games. I turfed her, Hope and La out with a totem tennis stick and gave La the paddle. He spent two hours in
gigglefits batting it back and forth while they bopped it back, circled around it and all three are close to tired... they then came inside for tuggy sessions and a rousing round of "squeek the annoying squeek toy nine bajillion times". LOL

Last but not least, nothing to do with the rest of the post - just a cool shot of Air Hopie. Not the greatest photo but it was so funny I love it! She is such a goof, I will try to get some video of her when her new flyball harness arrives running with the team! :)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Hello world!

Yesterday Star gave birth to two little chocolate lambs - a boy and a girl. She is such a sweetheart, having spotted her just after the babies were born she let me pick them up from her corner of the paddock and carry them to the shed following me quietly the whole way. We've had fox problems and nights are quite chilly so it just wouldn't be great for her to stay with newborns out in the paddock. She finished passing the afterbirth in the shed.

I'd meant to crutch (trim the wool around the bum and udder) as well as clean up the scruffy bits on her head, face and legs but having not felt great this wasn't done which means it's harder for bubs to find the milk. Patient girl that she is she let me just lay down on the straw near her, tuck the bubs under and help them attach for their first drink with me crawling halfway under her with them to see despite cold fingers goosing her poor udder. Now THAT ladies and gentlemen is a very cooperative ewe!

She even let me trim most of her icky bits the same way... standing up and just getting treats. It's not the prettiest haircut but it did the job and without stressing her while she was still bonding with her bubbas. I just have a pair of hand shears and let me tell you I have a whole new appreciation for old time shearers who had to do hundreds of sheep a go without electric clippers! Thankfully Star is very docile and loves her treats!

Here's a video of mum and bubs at 1 day old

And while not quite "aw" worthy as lambs, I finally got around to choosing a colour for my hair - that's a Cinnabun tucked in my arms btw

Monday, July 05, 2010

At our herding trial some weeks back I'd brought my camera. As it turns out someone (suspecting La...) unzipped it from my safe and snug bag allowing the camera to get soaked. Suffice to say after 6+ hours of drenching, it went to that great photo lab in the sky.

I had the hard choice between waiting until I could afford a really kick-butt DSLR or a less cool but decent camera now. I ended up going with the later as I couldn't stand missing out on months of photos! So here's a few of the first shots out of the new one:

(Okay, it's a dreadful shot - but it's a cute picture!)

I'm still trying to get used to it. For the first week or so I thought I might take it back. It was just annoying - it felt awkward, I didn't like the casing, it was S L O W. I'm learning to deal.

Lily had her first attempt at solo standing - she stood up unassisted for a good bit of time before plomping back onto her bum to clap herself and blow kisses to us as we cheered for her! My little love!

There's not too much else to write. I've been hauling my sorry-hide to training but being slack practicing as I'm feeling like something even the cat wouldn't drag in at the moment. The doctors reckon ye olde gallbladder needs to come out and there may be some sort of bacterial nasty irritating my stomach. In the meantime as I'm not willing to forcefully and instantly wean Lily, all I can take is a bit of panadol. Apparently all the good stuff is non-breastfeeding friendly. Ah the joys!