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Dan and Sue's Excellent Adventure


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#101 Maralynn

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 12:25 PM

This has been an awesome chronicle of your adventure!! I am totally jealous and find myself wishing for an opportunity to go through a similar "boot camp" with Kipp.

Mara
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#102 Sue R

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 09:45 PM

Well, guys, today was our last day at Anna Guthrie's Stockdog Ranch - and Dan and I had a final exam that none of us had imagined!

Anna was not able to get out to do morning chores, so Dan and I went out to do them, as we have done them before. The bonus question on the test was - a brand new first-time mother and her little ewe lamb!

Posted Image

So, to keep things simple, especially since there were four new calves in the field I needed to put the flock, I took out Ms Peggy Sue. Then Dan and I went back for the flock. He was interested in the new family but readily left them behind to help me move the flock out of the arena, down through #10, across the pavement, and into #13. Not perfectly, not prettily sometimes, but functionally!

And back for the new pair. I would pick up the lamb and get the mother to follow me, and Dan would come along behind her. My boy, a bit of a bully-boy, was being so very good - when the new mother faced him and stamped (and I was sure he'd charge and grip), he just moved back slightly and eased the pressure so she could turn around and walk on.

Unknown to me, Anna was watching (she did not even know about that new baby until she saw Dan and myself "escorting" the new little family, and she was really pleased. I think Dan got full bonus points!

For evening chores, we did the same thing but backwards - and with the added complication that the new calves were quite interested in the flock and thought they'd like to come along. So I had to use Dan at times to move sheep; hold back calves; guard the gate; and then go and help me bring the new mother and baby to join the flock - all the while, helping to keep the calves in the original field and away from the gate.

Again, not perfect work, not always pretty work (our inexperience was showing, often, but we were showing improvements), but working functionally and getting the job done. Here's a shot of the flock (with calves) that we needed to bring in for the night. I love that evening light!

Posted Image

We'll be up at 4 am for the ride to the airport and the flight home - thanks, thanks, and thanks to Anna! Thanks to my dear husband, who's been manning the fort at home and totally supportive! Thanks for Danielle for the fabulous photos! Thanks to Cindy for taking photos and video! Thanks to Sharon for helping with the ride to the airport! Thanks to our John and his family for hospitality and airport transports!
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#103 ShoresDog

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 10:15 PM

What a memorable trip this has been for you and Dan! I've enjoyed following your progress.

Jan & Daisy & Juno & Star
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#104 G. Festerling

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:22 AM

How proud you must be of your boy and all the stuff you two have learned. Heck, I am sad not to have your report to read anymore. Have a safe trip home.
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#105 Stoga

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 06:00 PM

What a wonderful adventure for you and Dan. Have a safe trip and post your epilogue after you've had the chance to unwind!
Donna

#106 Sue R

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:54 PM

Epilogue? I'm so tired from all the work and all the travel that I just want a nap!

I do need to report that we are both home, safe and sound. As on the trip to CA, Dan traveled like he'd been doing it all his life. As when Anna and I went to retrieve him at the oversize baggage ramp in San Diego, at Reagan in Washington, he was calmly sitting in his crate watching the world go by - or at least the other travelers in the airport. He was only there seconds when I saw him, and he looked for all the world like a dog settled in for a comfy people-watching session.

After a mostly sleepless night at my son's home (and lovely wake-up hugs and kisses from the grandkids on the way to school and the pre-schooler who's old enough to help me take down the airbed), Dan and I hit the road for home.

And, after being here a bit, I went out to feed my mare and decided to be brave and bold - after putting the other dogs up and letting Molly out of her feeding pen, I utilized Dan to get the cows moving away from the working pens (they were hoping for goodies, spoiled girls!) and back towards the pasture where they are on winter hay feeding. They were not interested in going but Dan convinced them.

It was not southern California conditions - after winter's snow, freezing rain, and then milder temps, everything was muddy and some places were quite deep and puddly. Normally, I would have said to wait for a drier day but, with my anxious nature, I felt I needed to take that first big step and try Dan on (the majority of the) the cow herd.

He needed quite a bit of help at times but was taking his downs nicely, giving me some flanks, and really trying to figure out what I was asking of him. His first, slap-dash approach resulted in a big, unexpected mouthful of muddy cow tail brush - and a face that apparently said, "Hey, what's this - those dry California calves don't have this sort of thing going on behind them!"

He calmed down quickly (this is a relative thing) and we had a satisfying work together, just for five or ten minutes. After a good hosedown, he was glad to get in the house and feel like a big boy, working dog. Life is good!
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#107 Sue R

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:10 PM

Epilogue? That's going to take time and thought, but my first ideas are -

Work on a good down, especially for a dog like Dan with lots of motor. Use that to work on getting pace and feel.

Help your dog. The dog can only do what a combination of its instinct and your clear communication can guide him to do. Don't put your dog in a situation that is destined to fail or over his head. Challenge him, test him, give him the need to think, but don't throw him into something that isn't going to help him progress or, worse yet, will set him back.

Do your part - think! Place yourself where you need to be to help the dog. Move about as needed to allow the dog a place to bring his stock. Don't stand like a deer in the headlights either wishing for something to happen, hoping it will happen, and or preventing it from happening.

Communicate with your dog. Some dogs seem to read your mind but that usually takes time, practice, and experience. Let a young dog know what you want, use his sense of balance to help him learn, use his desire to fetch to help him learn, use his natural instincts to help him learn.

A "head control freak" is a dog with certain compelling instincts that may require a different approach than what you might think. We found that, for Dan (who, as Lana points out, is a "head control freak" typical of his lines), providing more distance between him and his stock, and his stock and the handler, reduced a lot of the flying around to the heads that *all of us being too close* was producing. Use the dog's sense of balance to help prevent him flying around, which you can't do if you are all too close.

Use your voice as one of your two most important tools - be calm, be quiet (this is an animal that can hear a plastic wrapper crinkle from the other end of the house, with the TV goin), be expressive, but quiet. If you yell and holler from the beginning, for small things, because it lets you vent, what will you have to use when you need something "stronger"? And if your dog learns to listen to the calm, quiet voice, you might not need anything "stronger".

Your body is your other most important tool - use it to help the dog develop balance, to block your dog when needed, to be a place where the stock can feel comfortable approaching, to communicate with your dog.

There is a third important tool (or maybe a third and fourth) - the stock being well-suited to what you need to do (and the facility). At Anna's, at different stages and for different purposes, we used experienced school sheep that are calm and stolid; the school sheep with younger, dog-broke but less-dogged sheep to make the mix lighter; well dog-broke calves; less-broke and lighter calves; a full flock with school sheep, ewes, lambs of varying ages, and mothers-to-be. Each group helped teach us something different, and how to work with different animals.

We were fortunate to have very nice facilities with good fencing, good catch pens, and good gating. Each of these things helped us to learn principles without have to "fight the facilities" as I might have had to do at home where things are not set up so handily.

Work on developing a partnership with your dog - work together, learn together, strive and struggle together. Respect what your dog brings to the partnership, whatever his or her style may be. Trust your dog, and let your dog know he/she can trust you. You'll both make mistakes, you'll both be able to make progress if you learn from your mistakes and from good instruction.

Don't be afraid, and be willing to go outside your comfort zone or you will not be able to learn and make progress. Take a risk trying something new when you don't have to worry about things getting out of hand. If you make a mistake or things go awry, figure out how to fix it and give that a try. That's how you learn the most, perhaps more than any other way.

Thanks, Anna, for all your efforts, care, and encouragement.
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#108 DeltaBluez Tess

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:21 PM

What a great read...loved the excellent adventure! Thaks for posting
*************************
Diane Pagel
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www.deltabluez.blogspot.com

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#109 stockdogranch

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:42 PM

"By Jove, I think she's got it!!" (And we *did* watch My Fair Lady here the other night.) :D

This is such a wonderful (and thoughtful) summary of things to bear in mind when bringing up a young dog. I wonder if we could possibly archive this last post of Sue's...
A
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#110 Cody & Duchess

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 05:00 PM

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort- I am going to miss the updates.

#111 bcnewe2

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 05:56 PM

For evening chores, we did the same thing but backwards - and with the added complication that the new calves were quite interested in the flock and thought they'd like to come along. So I had to use Dan at times to move sheep; hold back calves; guard the gate; and then go and help me bring the new mother and baby to join the flock - all the while, helping to keep the calves in the original field and away from the gate.


Just reading this paragraph shows how far you and Dan have come.
So glad we got to share your excellent adventure!
Kristen The world is a magical place...   

#112 Sue R

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 05:59 PM

Thanks to Danielle, here are a couple more shots of handsome Dan -

Posted Image

And, "That's all, folks!" or "All's well that ends well." or just "The end(s)."

Posted Image

And my thanks to the many people who have been encouraging, supporting, and enjoying our most excellent adventure!
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#113 Lana

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:00 PM

Thanks Sue it was very brave and generous of you to make this diary. Happy you are home safe!
Lana Mockler Rowley

#114 Stoga

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 06:17 PM

Yep - that epilogue is exactly what I was looking for! Hopefully, Eileen will pin it in the appropriate spot when she has the chance.

Welcome home Sue and Dan; an excellent adventure indeed. I'm sure Anna is proud of you both.
Donna

#115 Sue R

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 04:07 PM

Last evening, using Dan to move the cows, as unpolished and ragged as our first attempt at home was - I realized that the adventure was not over, it has really just begun...
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#116 PSmitty

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 02:39 PM

This has been great, Sue! Thanks so much for sharing.

Paula
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#117 Donald McCaig

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 03:38 PM

Dear Sue,
A fine, engaging account. Thanks.

Donald

#118 PennyT

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 06:19 PM

The diary and photos were excellent. I have a terrible case of fence envy.

Penny

#119 Sue R

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 09:11 PM

I have a terrible case of fence envy.

Penny

Thanks, Penny, but don't have too much fence envy as most of the paddocks are definitely not lamb-escape-proof and some are not sheep-escape-proof. But basically, very nice, very sturdy, good gates that swing well, catch pens, water troughs, etc.

I have envy on the fencing, too, because it's super fence for cattle...
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#120 Sue R

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 09:12 PM

I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has read the "journal" and commented. It's been a trip!
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown



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