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Bonnie and Sheep


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#161 Maja

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

kelpiegirl,
I showed in the movie the type of movement that I was talking about earlier – I don’t think it has anything to do with being too close. I think it has to do with the shape and the size of the training area, but I am not sure of course.

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#162 Maja

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 12:41 PM

I can't find the post I thought I wrote about Bonnie's parents.

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Bonnie's mother is our bitch Kelly, pedigree name DAY AFTER Excellens Vivarium (I know what a silly name, but it's not my fault :D) . She has no trial achievements for reasons I mentioned earlier - a comprehensive combination of a bad start, with wild sheep, rookie handlers, and two of them (!) and no trainer around. This resulted in a very strong, independent dog. She is indispensable on the farm, most of the time she can read my husband's mind, and her close work is really good, lots of power, control and precision, she has an indestructible herding instinct. She is very fast, very agile. These are traits also important for non-herding homes where most of her pups went. Kelly has in her pedigree the first Polish herding champion. Kelly inherited from her grand-father her protective attitude towards the lambs and she flock and the intensity.


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Bonnie's father is GLAD WITH YOU Gasko Prim (Czech breeder, but a Polish owner), he has not participated in trials either but is a good farm dog, with some very unusual herding solutions. He is very biddable, which was important for me, and he has produced excellent herding off-spring (e.g. Roj and Skip whose videos I showed here) . There is one more puppy from the litter being trained for herding and he shows good aptitude.

(Of course, one has to understand the herding situation in Poland. The first competition ever was organized in 2004. So the whole herding business is very young. the most experienced handler has been herding for 8 years. Now people slowly are bringing in working-lines BCs but so far it is very apparent that the handling matters a great deal. So there is not much hope for poor Bonnie :rolleyes: .

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#163 Maja

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 12:58 AM

Here is our last movie. Seems like I am on the way to straighten out the problem with wearing, and indeed it seems like Bonnie just thought I didn't want her behind the sheep. Her lie down crumbled a bit, because I had lost patience with her earlier (foolish me :rolleyes: ), so in the movie Bonnie breaks out of lie down a couple of times.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Npb2jVlRPAs

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#164 Maja

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:31 AM

Starting today I am going to follow V. Holland's exercises for pressure sensitive dogs. Bonnie seems to fit the description well except that she is working on me. She will bring the sheep to me at all cost. A couple of days ago we were going out of the training area, and she looked back as though she was thinking "hey, boss, we kinda forgot something" and she slipped away and ran back to the sheep. The sheep were then firmly plastered against the fence on the far side of the training area, and Bonnie ran and squeezed in between the fence and the sheep (I could hear the fence squeaking from where I was standing) and peeled them off and brought them to me awful proud of herself :rolleyes: .

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#165 Maja

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 10:54 AM

We are on the second day of balancing Bonnie. Has anyone ever tried what V. Holland suggests?

If anyone is interested in what is looks like when we do it, i can put in a fragment, but it is rather boring to watch.

Bonnie of course is very clever, so i had a bit of trouble with the fact that she realized that I lead the sheep in a very predictable way, so she managed to stop the sheep a couple of times by going slightly on away and out (her non-preferred side is on come-by), and then she'd lie down just as I was turning with the sheep so that the alignment was dog--me-sheep. Whereupon the sheep stopped dead, and the little puppy was lying down very happy. But I don't think Mr. Vergil Holland had that in mind :rolleyes:. Of course I was soon ready for the little rascal and had that stopped.

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#166 Maja

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 03:55 AM

We are now after four days of doing V. Holland's balancing exercise. The fist time was really hard on me and Bonnie. But I persevered, though I thought they'd have to carry me off the field :rolleyes: , there was a lot of what looked like total chaos. But I didn't give up and went in the next day. There was much less chaos, and I was able to walk slower, but no signs of kicking out. The third day Bonnie began to fall into calm work, and even though she kicked out only sometimes, she slowed down a lot, and worked with more precision, and I think it shows in the video that she stared to pace herself better.

In the video, I included some work on balancing but also some wearing in a straight line, although it is still early for her. I did it in one case because I had to show something to my friend, and also I find it very hard to bring the sheep to the gate to end the session by going round in circles. In reality, wearing in a straight line constituted only a very tiny portion of our training, and we did it only on day three and four. We did none on day one and two, and on day one bonnie never had the lie down command until she was very, very tired, the second day was the same. The same thing applies to lie-downs -there is probably 80% of all lie dwons in the video form the four days of practice.
And please note, if you decide to watch the video, that we did loads and loads of walking in circles, but I put in only tiny portion of it in the video.

There is still a lot of work here, and we are going to continue in this direction, but my observations so far are that Bonnie, in spite of working very hard and for relatively extended periods of time, enjoys this immensely, and her keenness has increased and she is very happy.

And one more thing: I am making smaller circles, I think than recommended, but every time I broaden out, Bonnie tries to come from the other side.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=k7-jgHs7C2Y

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#167 Maja

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 04:04 AM

To close this monologue of mine: we went to a herding clinic for 5 days, and one thing is clear - Bonnie has a good sense of balance, and that's why she went where she did in the circle. In the large area at the herding clinic going on a flank never came up, but in all pressure areas she went off the straight line securing the pressure point.
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#168 kelpiegirl

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 06:54 AM

So, what did you do/learn at the clinic? Five days must have been great!
Never wrestle with pigs, you only get dirty, and they like it.


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#169 Maja

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 06:58 AM

I will write more after I recover from it, if you're interested :rolleyes:. The five days were full of hard work :D.
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#170 Maja

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 01:12 PM

I have a move from day two. It's Bonnie's very first time taking the sheep out of the pen so it is quite chaotic in the beginning.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=45oiB4mbLNE

If anybody wants to watch it, later on in the move we move towards an area with a pressure point - at the back there is a gate (criss-crossed boards) that leads to the sheep's home. And here it is very clear when Bonnie shifts from a straight line "off balance" and towards the pressure point.

More information later :rolleyes:
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#171 Maja

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 06:14 AM

So some of the things I learned:

1. Bonnie does not have a problem with weaving.
2. She has an excellent sense of balance and pressure points.
3. She has no fear of going into tight places such as peeling the sheep off the fence or going between the fence and the sheep in a 'corridor'. In fact, it is a self rewarding behavior for her and it causes problems while doing certain exercises such us doing distance by placing the sheep in a corner.
4. I rile her up with my body language. If I am calm, she is calm. It is something I have to work on, because very often, I do not see that I am doing it when I am doing it.
5. While herding I tend to see only mistakes, I don't see the good things she is doing.

So these are the main things.

Bonnie also introduced some variety to herding :rolleyes: . On the first day I was supposed to be inside a small enclosure with the sheep and she outside. Looking at the fence I told the instructor that she will jump it, but he said we'd see what happens. I was wrong, Bonnie Bonnie dashed this way a that for a moment with an apparent zero interest in the sheep and then zoomed inside under the fence withing 30 seconds. Also later on in the paddock, while taking the sheep out of the pen she figured it was silly to run around the pen when it was closed, since she could be just as well inside it. After that the pen was shot, and at home I will have to make the pen with good fencing so that she can't get in. So she is so doggorne keen, sometimes I wish she was a bit less keen.

6. and I have to teach her a stop.
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#172 kelpiegirl

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 12:17 PM

Who gave the clinic? Did they work Bonnie at all? Did you start to learn fetching and gathering?
Never wrestle with pigs, you only get dirty, and they like it.


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#173 Maja

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 01:17 PM

Who gave the clinic?

I don't think the name would mean anything to you. It's one of the two instructors that exist in Poland.

Did they work Bonnie at all?

Do you mean if she worked with someone else rather than me? She worked once with the instructor. Other than that she worked with me only. We worked twice a day about 20-30 minutes each time.
We concentrated on me learning to control my body language and on me sending Bonnie clear signals, on the correct intonation of the commands, the right movement in relation to the flock and the dog, etc. For Bonnie the main task was to improve her lie down and increase her distance. It took a while to figure out what makes her increase the distance because the standard things had the opposite effect on her. Because Bonnie has not figured out yet the "off" command (or "get out" ) we did not do anything like outruns, but we are starting to figure it out, and today at home, Bonnie kicked out on her own a couple of times so I think we are getting somewhere (on the vid in the second half it shows how her distance improved).

We had once a bunch of young rams who did not want to follow me at all, and Bonnie did well making the little guys stick to me, but she had to work hard at it. Another time, we had an 'obstacle course' to complete, but with the previous dog two of the ewes escaped to the nearby paddock, and we forgot about them and didn't bring them back. When started and got to the area where you can see the paddock they reappeared and created a very strong pull for our sheep. But Bonnie managed to keep our ewes from bolting, and we completed the course. It wasn't very elegant, but I was proud of her, because she really was on top of things and the ewes pressed hard to get away.

This is just a collection of things Bonnie did on various occasions (please note that I am using the folded leash just to make a slapping noise, nothing else). Some were not intended by me. At the end I am doing the figure eight letting her do as she pleases to relax her a bit since she had been working very hard.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=KFWzJC8HLCI

We had a bit of bad luck taking the sheep out of the pen. The second time, we had the sheep that wouldn't get out nohow, even the assisting dog took them out with difficulty. So the next time I set things up to help matters, but the sheep basically dashed out of the pen and escaped. And then Bonnie figured that she could easily get into the pen even when it was closed, so that was a problem too.

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#174 Maja

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 12:01 PM

A little movie from our herding at home. It became all too clear at the herding clinic that the training area must be abandoned. So this is one of our first few herding sessions in the larger pastures. Of course the sheep escaped a few times. A particularly vulnerable moment is when I go over to Bonnie, because the sheep apparently are doing nothing and then off they go. Then off Bonnie goes, and then off I go :rolleyes: . The pasture is with quite a lot of tree which is an additional challenge but also a natural obstacle course that makes things more interesting.

At 1'15" there is one of our "driving moments" a short stretch with almost driving.
At about 2'45" I am beginning to get across to Bonnie what "out" means. It is also noticeable that as soon as I start using my arms, she speed up and tightens in.

Throughout I am trying to teach walking away from the sheep with a good attitude. I found that when on a leash Bonnie sees it as an obstacle to overcome, and that she is more willing to oblige me than to give in to something external like the leash. Without a leash is a bit more risky, because of the sheep's weaselly escapist natures, but overall I think it works much better.

Bonnie's stop has improved but the pacing is still so-so. Bonnie is 9 months now.

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=4HaBKejhum0


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#175 Maja

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:36 AM

For all the quiet folks who come and visit this topic :rolleyes: here is a movie from today. There is a very clear "out" which I think I have finally managed to communicate to Bonnie. The rest is just normal stuff. I like the way she is working now, very calm and nice, she is not afraid to lie down and think, when she does not know what I mean.
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=SQEp0bjrMGE
Maja
P.S. I misedited the last seconds of the movie, I'm sorry I didn't mean to show Bonnie peeing after working sheep :D , but I didn't notice it until the movie was uploaded.

#176 Maja

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 07:33 AM

Today Bonnie met the new lamb for the first time. The lamb, Lucy, is 21 days old:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=FFaCsAIJYu8

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#177 Maja

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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:19 AM

And a teenie-weenie outrun of sorts ends Bonnie's 9 months:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=GrwTWWCdYkc

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#178 Maja

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 02:39 PM

I have been reading many topics on this board including the philosophy statement of the Board, it is clear that AKC is something bad for you. Since I have FCI dogs, then you must think badly about my dogs. I don't know AKC so I wont say anything on that topic. There are many things I really dislike about the Polish KC, but in countries like the USA or UK where two separate organizations flourish, and one has a free choice of not only either or but also both, it is all very easy.

However, in Poland the situation is quite different. There isn't and has never been an ISDS branch in Poland, the Polish KC was the only organization where one might find pedigreed purebreds and thus the only place for a person to use as an avenue for breeding if one wanted to do a good job.

And now if you are a member of the FCI in Poland you cannot be a member of ANY other canine organization whatsoever, and that includes ISDS (this refers only to the Polish KC). However ridiculous and incredible it may sound to you, it is true. That’s why there are maybe two or three people in all of Poland who are members of the ISDS. Someone told me once “So why don’t you quit the Polish KC if you principal interest is in herding (oops, stock work that is)?” The answer is simple: where would I breed my other sheep dog the Bernese Mountain Dog? In ISDS? And where would I compete with my great ISDS dog?

Before I have made the decision to breed my dog, I had the following tests done:
Dysplasia:
Hips: OFA - Normal (Fair) (yes, it’s the American OFA, I also have FCI grading, but Kelly is also OFA registered)
Elbows: OFA ED Normal

Genetic tests:
TNS DNA clear
CL DNA clear
CEA/CH DNA normal
MDR-1 DNA mutation – free

Other tests:
Cardiological test by CARD-VET – normal
Ophthalmology Examination – clear two consecutive years before breeding

The condition for the mating was that both the female and the male have normal breeding instincts (so no AI). Further use of Kelly for breeding depended (among other things) on her ability to take care of the pups in a caring and natural manner. The puppies before going to new homes had temperament tests conducted by a specialist (there were very general test on sound sensitivity, curiosity, confidence, etc).

And yes, I had to go to three shows and get "excellent" or "very good". That was the only condition from the KC for Kelly to get a license. Horror of horrors she got "excellents" and she even got one "Best Adult Bitch". So if one asks me if I bred Kelly because she is a stock dog, then the answer is no, I didn't - she had to prove herself in many different ways, and being indispensable on the farm was not enough :rolleyes:.

Because the KC is the only avenue for herding in Poland it is also pretty good. That it if you appreciate the fact that herding in Poland has existed for less than 10 years.

For those interested, the FCI has split herding styles into BC + kelpie as CS (collecting style) and the rest of herding breeds as TS (traditional style). The first exam is HWT - herding working test which is not very difficult for BCs and very easy for non-bcs. But after that there are trials pretty much ISDS style as far as I can tell. There are about 30 dogs that have the HWT in Poland, a few that are in class II trials, and one that is in class III.

Of course now people who have gained some experience in herding bring in also dual registered dogs from other European countries, which is really great.

So I wanted to clarify this. Perhaps you still think my dogs are no better than pet-shop pups, but at least you'll make an informed decision :D . I wanted to put this post somewhere else but I could find a really suitable topic.
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#179 Eileen Stein

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 05:17 PM

I have been reading many topics on this board including the philosophy statement of the Board, it is clear that AKC is something bad for you. Since I have FCI dogs, then you must think badly about my dogs.


I doubt very much that anyone thinks badly about your dogs. Speaking for myself, I rarely if ever make judgments about how people in other countries should handle their dogs' registration, especially when I know as little about the situation in that country as I do about Poland's. I confine my judgments to the USA.

#180 Sue R

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Posted 31 August 2010 - 05:48 PM

I have been reading many topics on this board including the philosophy statement of the Board, it is clear that AKC is something bad for you. Since I have FCI dogs, then you must think badly about my dogs. I don't know AKC so I wont say anything on that topic. There are many things I really dislike about the Polish KC, but in countries like the USA or UK where two separate organizations flourish, and one has a free choice of not only either or but also both, it is all very easy.
Maja

I'm not sure why you got so distressed over this issue but perhaps I can clarify. Yes, in the US and the UK, there are two separate registries (confining our consideration to the primary registries) for Border Collies. Since the AKC and KC recognize the Border Collie in the show and performance sports primarily rather than on working ability (AKC does have a "herding" program that awards titles and the KC does have a title that reflects a working test in addition to conformation showing, although interest in obtaining that has been, historically, abysmal), and the ABCA/USBCHA (registry/handlers' association) recognizes the Border Collie based on working ability (USBCHA sanctions trialing, which ABCA supports), it is easy to see that one group is supportive of working ability and the other supports other, non-working uses of the dogs by providing recognition (titles) of those non-working accomplishments.

In the UK, though, there are dogs that are both registered ISDS and KC because, in order to export excellently-bred working-line pups to other countries (France, for instance) where FCI is the only registry allowed/recognized, the pups/dogs must be registered with the KC, which is the registry recognized by the FCI (as in your case).

So, rather than to say we might look down on your dogs because you are essentially forced to conform to certain regulations pertinent to your country, I would say you (in your efforts to train and work your dogs on stock) are trying to do the best you can in a difficult situation, where you are allowed very little personal choice.
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