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Dan and Sue's Excellent Adventure


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#61 Sue R

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 11:08 PM

When it was time for Dan to cool in the stock tank, it was a fenceline tank, and he got his front end in but was not patient enough to get his back end in. You can just see his rump and tail hanging out of the tank as Anna watches and relaxes beside him.

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The mid-day work was on six sheep, the three school sheep and three large lambs. Anna was hoping a larger group would be anchored by the school sheep, lightened by the young sheep, and easier to work with. They were, and I was really pleased as I put into work several things we had discussed - Danielle's suggestion to give the sheep more distance before I asked Dan to walk on (and Anna's suggestion to not let that distance get too far or Dan would get up too quickly); Anna's suggestion to pay close attention to Dan and the sheep, making sure to lie him down before the sheep starting moving past me, avoiding the flying around; a real attempt to walk backwards at a better pace; and getting him to respect the crook (and the lie down) by sending that crook flying in front of him when he blew through a down and dove by.

All those ideas payed off very well as I was able to walk the sheep around the pasture in a number of loops, with some nice, long segments of walking backwards without the sheep pressing on me or even passing me - and being able to see when he was coming up too fast and pushing the sheep, and preventing a problem by good timing and calm, quiet commands. Here is just one photo of what we were doing. He was seeming to develop some feel for his sheep as I developed some feel for Dan and the sheep, and my part in the equation. Anna was very happy, and so was I, and I think Dan found it much less stressful.

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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

#62 bcnewe2

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 08:03 AM

Really enjoying your tales of adventure with Dan!
Your Dan sounds allot like my Mick, only I had no one to tell me he was a control, head freak and I was way to green to figure it out. He was a dog that I battled what seemed like forever, no quit in him. But I can tell you, once the 2 of you figure things out you will love him and his work more than you can ever imagine.

I remember one of the first times I put him on young steers (one of my first times too!) We were in a rather tight alley way, Mick was still young enough to have that fear he was going to lose his stock. He raced under all 7, right through their hooves to get to the head. I closed my eyes cause
I was afraid he wasn't going to come out the other side.

We have finally come out on the other side and are the tightest partners I could ever wish for.

Enjoy the ride Sue!
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#63 ShoresDog

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 11:20 AM

As intense as Dan is with stock, I'm here to say he's a sweetheart at a party. Here he is cuddling Danielle (Chesney's Girl on this board).

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It was such fun to meet Sue and Dan in person. Both every bit as nice as you'd expect from their online presences!

Jan & Daisy & Juno & Star
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#64 Sue R

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 02:42 PM

It was lovely meeting you in person, Jan! And thanks for the photos. I particularly love that other one of Dan and Danielle where he's kind of "melting" onto her shoulder. She worked him on Wednesday and he just loved her! And she gave us some excellent advice, seeing things from her perspective.

What a barbeque! Anna made smoked, barbequed pork ribs (lots of meat on those bones). Jan made a terrific salad. We also had cole slaw, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, artichoke dip, hot dogs, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something delicious! Oh, cream cheese brownies! We ladies sat around saying, "Oh, I really shouldn't but..." during the after dinner chat.

The head count was 11 people (I think) and 18 dogs and pups. A good time was had by all! And Dan enjoyed being the star of the party - all his siblings were there (his mother was in the house, as she would like to bite his head off - maybe she hasn't gotten over him leaving CA for the East), some relatives, and some non-relatives.

And we have leftovers to enjoy for some time to come!
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

#65 Chesney's Girl

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 09:46 PM

This is great! I am now just catching up on your journals, I'm so pleased to have finally met you in person. I can't wait to get back out there this Wednesday. Dan is a super fun dog to work and I think you will enjoy the end product, Sue. You guys did 100xs better just in the work I saw from him last Wednesday. Keep it up.

I couldn't resist posting a few of the pictures I got when I was there. Dan is a very cool dog. He's got a place to go in California is he ever wants to come back ;)

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#66 Sue R

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 09:57 PM

Thanks a bunch, Danielle - gorgeous photos (and I see the whole bunch of them you put in my Photobucket account!)!

No wonder you are Dan's hero - you are my hero!
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

#67 Pippin's person

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 10:12 PM

Great pics and fun journal. Win-win for those of us participating vicariously.
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#68 Sue R

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 10:36 PM

It was a rough start to the day, with a new mother losing a lamb. Anna's good friend, Cindy, worked her Spur on calves and then I worked Dan. Thanks to Anna and Cindy, I have some nice photos of Dan on the calves, and some great video of Dan on the sheep later on.

This was the second time I worked Dan on the calves, and quite a bit better than yesterday, although not stellar. Yet, with Anna's and Cindy's help (Cindy and Spur helped "hold" the calves when they wanted to squirt past me and take off), we had some very nice moments when you could see Dan starting to feel his calves rather than just reacting to them and being so obsessed with heading them. He did some nice gathers, a bit rough at the lift, but progressing.

I've attached a few photos on the calves -

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This afternoon, we worked sheep again. Big challenge - Dan and I had to move school sheep plus a few out of a paddock, take a sharp turn back, and down to another paddock. That was the plan. The execution was not what you'd call "flawless".

The sheep had a heavy draw in the wrong direction, and took off that way. I sent Dan who did stop most of them (he learned a valuable lesson during our "road-eo" or work along the fenced lanes - you go far enough out in front of your sheep that you don't lose any). So, he lost a few. I decided to take what we had the we turned back to go to the next field but I had forgotten the shut the gate to the field we had just left. So we lost a few there.

Fine, we had about three left out of eight. Not good. I tried to have him take the three back to the few in the pasture and, well, it was all downhill from there. Lost three this way, three that way, and two way over by the covered arena.

But, instead of going to Anna to say, "We lost our sheep.", Dan and I picked ourselves up, put on our big girl panties (well, his big boy shorts) and took a hike to find and regain our lost sheep.

First order, up to the arena area to get the two big school boys. It took a little work but the important thing was that he was working with me all the time. By the time we got Big Daddy and Winston about halfway back to the pasture where we needed to work, we could see the rest of the group (well, minus one) waiting along the way, and so we regained them and headed on our way.

But there was that one errant sheep in the original field - how to get him? I asked Anna's opinion and she suggested I take the many to the few. Good idea but a possible problem as that would be taking them back to that corner where they could see the whole flock at the end of the lane. We could lose them all again.

So, we took the many down the lane to the gate to the work pasture and put them just inside that gate. Then I placed Dan to cover, and opened the gate to let the last sheep cross the road and join the rest. And then we went to work! By this time, Dan seemed to have a whole new outlook on sheep work - work with me, not for himself. It was a very good work! Dan was doing well enough fetching that we progressed to short gathers, and he just seemed to get better with each one, taking a better cast, coming in less flat and tight at the top, and taking his downs nicely - putting on the brakes with a cloud of dust at times!
\
No photos though, just video of Dan and myself taking the sheep out of the pasture, up the lane, down to the field where the flock had been, and then on into their field for some well-deserved rest.

I think we've turned a corner - each day, there has been a little progress but this weekend, we seem to have taken a leap together - we are working more as a team, Dan is listening, putting some things together, working for and with me. Life is very good.

Oh, and we topped off the day with leftovers for dinner, and delivering a healthy ram lamb at evening chores. Did I mention that life is very 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

#69 Sue R

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 07:25 PM

Day Six, and an early start as Dan had the opportunity not to put sheep out (from the night pen to the pasture) but to gather the flock up and sort with me. We had to take about 120 sheep (a few school sheep and wethers, but mainly ewes and lambs - 75 adults and 50 babies) with the youngest lamb less than 24 hours old.

Dan and I had to gather the flock (not pretty but some nice and improving work) and move them all into a gathering pen at the end of the second pasture. What a learning experience for both of us! I needed to sort off half-a-dozen or more of animals with a certain eartag color and number (above 25) to produce a light, undogged working group for a person coming to practice outruns.

Easier said than done! I have not very much experience with sheep, and it showed. I managed to let out a large number of the "right" sheep and lambs, but also most of my "wrong" sheep. So, Plan B, was to take the sorted-off group, and then sort them since that group had the required animals.

With this smaller group (and fewer younger lambs), I was pretty successful. Dan's job was to stay back and hold the sheep (not too tightly) to the gate so that I could let out just the right ones. Eureka! We did it, and then helped gather the "candidates" and move them through several different areas most of the way to the 120 acre pasture where they were going to be used, and we just had to hang out and watch.

That was a good experience for Dan because he had to learn (in that big pasture) that any and every command, movement, etc., was not necessarily aimed at him and a reason for him to take off. He learned to relax and lie down and chill, while there were other things happening near and far. Good dog!

We helped bring those sheep back afterwards and then Anna took me along on a trip to the feed store in Valley Center - the highlight of my "tourist" mode. Here's my favorite view from the road coming back from Valley Center -

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The groves on the valley bottom and in rows on the hillsides are citrus, mainly Valencia oranges. The deep green plantings on the steeper slopes are avocados. Surrounded by yum!
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

#70 Sue R

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 07:26 PM

The afternoon was the best part - working calves! It was my choice, calves or sheep, and I chose calves. I think Anna was thrilled, and so was I, to see Dan doing so much better - taking his downs much, much more regularly; getting relaxed and calm and quiet; pacing himself very reasonably; keeping me in the picture. We are still working largely on fetching with just a bit of gathering and a small amount of balancing. Here are a few photos.

Bringing them along, nice and easy -

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Channeling Gandalf in Moria - "You shall not pass!"

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More of nice and easy, a little change of direction and balance -

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Another nice fetch -

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Tonight, we'll be putting sheep up in the night pens. And, by the way, Dan's work yesterday involved some paved road work, with some quick flanks and turns. His pads got a bit sored up but the discomfort would "vanish" once he was on stock. I love the stoicism. I wish I had some of that!
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

#71 ShoresDog

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 01:24 AM

Such nice progress! Yay, Dan and Sue!

Jan & Daisy & Juno & Star
LJ Shores, San Diego CA

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#72 Sue R

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 10:47 AM

Well, Jan, the breeder is trying to convince that Dan's no good and has no future as a stockdog, and I should sell him back to her for what I paid for him - and use that money to buy one of those mini/toy Aussie pups for sale on the bulletin board down at the feed store.

And if that didn't work out, Danielle wants me to give him to her for her to take him on as a project. It's a thought.

Decisions, decisions!

PS - If anyone thinks I'm being serious, please rethink that idea.
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

#73 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 12:13 PM

Ed wouldn't let you back in the house without Dan.

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#74 toney

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 12:51 PM

The mini Aussie would fit under the plane seat on the way back, though.

#75 Sue R

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 01:26 PM

Ed wouldn't let you back in the house without Dan.

You've got a very good point there. Danielle offered to keep him and work with him as a training project for me but I'd better not board the plane without the dog, or it would be pointless flying home. Ed loves his Danny-Boy. So do I.

As for those mini and toy Aussies, I could fit two under the seat. I did see that the Mini Aust Shep Assoc now has a National event, with all sorts of titles, including "herding" and "versatility". I could sell Dan back, get those two pups, and train them for Mini Aussie titles! What a great idea! I wonder if they use mini-sheep and mini-cattle for those events?

PS - Again, leave your credulity at the door on that idea.
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

#76 Sue R

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 01:35 PM

Day Eight is a day alone, with Anna at work, so no photos. Here's my email to her about this morning's (so far) work - Dan, me, four calves.

Yes, we were out working - 50 minutes on the calves. I shut all the gates and we went down and got them out of their hang-out corner. A bit rough at first (no surprises there) and couldn't manage to use my stick effectively but, once we got them headed out to the other end, I called him off and we just walked on out. And, we had been practicing the down whistle on the walk out there and on the walk to the calves in the corner they were in now. Dan interpreted any whistle as cause for excitement, so we will be practicing when just walking about to pick the oranges (next job) and graze the sheep (right after oranges).

He was pretty whipped after that work - we did little outruns and gathers (worked on the down - sometimes my timing was too slow but it was improving) and fetches, but I did not stay in front of the calves well at all, even when he was very slow and calm. That's okay, when that happened, sometimes I downed him and called him off, set up a little outrun, and did it all again. Sometimes, I just asked him to keep walking up quietly and "driving" them down along the fenceline, asking him to adjust when he occasionally looked like he was wanting to inch up too much along the outside.

We worked on putting them in the catch pen between the three fields, and the catch pen where we sorted the sheep. And taking them back out again without a rodeo, even if it took me walking along with him to keep things nice and calm - and let him know that his just being there in the right place got the right results. We varied which gate was the in and/or out gate, and just tried to keep it all low-key and calm. That was the goal. Didn't always happen but each time it didn't, that was a learning opportunity.

He was so tired when we were done - never turned off when working but was dog-tired after. He just walked along behind me as we cruised up to the cooling tank (I like that one in the field by the neighbors, not nasty-dirty like the one in front of the house) and took a short dunk. He was tired but I can't say overly hot. Mentally tired. Sore tootsies didn't help but I was trying to be careful.

We took some walks around the lanes looking for my missing leash, which I may have left in your truck on Sunday but which I think I had out Sunday afternoon. I forgot to check the gate nearest the chickens for that and anywhere else we walk today. I seem to think I hung it up one time, thinking I wouldn't forget it, and we may have left off work in a different direction. I don't remember seeing it yesterday. Do coyotes eat leather leashes?

Well, off to pick oranges and graze sheep. Meanwhile, Dan is out like a light...
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

#77 Laura L

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 03:23 PM

Sue thank you for posting your diary with pictures. It's interesting watching the progress day to day. And Danielle, nice pictures too. There's a lot of talented people on here.
Laura
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#78 Sue R

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 05:54 PM

The afternoon - what can I say about the afternoon so far? After picking the oranges, Dan and I headed out with a good book and had a chair waiting for us in pasture #1. The sheep were with Ms Peggy Sue in #3, but it was an easy move up to the corner and down the lane to #1, where Dan and I settled in to relax in the sun, read a good book (well, the book was for me), and keep an eye on the sheep so they didn't slip under the fence into the grove.

Well, the grove was not the issue! The sheep were grazing in the southwestern corner of #1 for a while, and then started moseying eastwards along the fenceline. That fenceline is parallel to the fenceline along the grove, where I was sitting with Dan, ready to move those sheep away from being tempted to slip under. As the sheep got down towards the southeast corner, I saw Karma (the LGD) slip under the fence! Well, the 76 is a busy and fast road, and Karma does not exactly have a recall.

Here I was, no cell phone, no one to lean on, no copping out and having someone else fix my mess.

So Dan and I got up and got moving, and I have to admit I was grasping at possibilities (not probabilities) by calling Karma's name. So, the best way to get Karma back (and if Karma got in that road and hit, or got gone on my watch...) is to get her sheep up and moving and making a little noise. So Dan and I moved to our left a bit where I could send him on a short cast on the come-bye side, and get those sheep moving back towards the western end of the pasture. I was being cautious with Dan, not wanting any excitement, and not wanting any issues as we also had a horse and two calves tagging along.

That did the trick - Karma's first priority is her sheep and she came right back, looking for her spot to slip back under the fence and come along. When my heart rate got back to normal, I found myself faced with another concern. At the other end of the pasture, the western end, all the sheep (except a few of the very biggest ones) were slipping under the gate and into a small field - that was a little relief as I was afraid they were getting into the yard or away.

Dan and I got into that field, minus horse and steers and the too-big sheep, and gave a good look-around. Thankfully, all the sides were sheep=proof other than that gate they slipped under, and we could take care of that. So our job became preventing sheep from going back through the gate. Dan had a job of his own, lying by the gate while I made sure the field was not only sheep-proof, but also Karma-proof. My nerves could not have taken having her getting out on the road side.

Half an hour grazing in the first field, an hour in the second, small field, and it was time to bring all the mommas and babies and hangers-on back to their original field. Dan really pleased me - he did some pretty decent casts around, fetching when I could keep in front, and walking along behind and keeping things moving to the out-gate when I wasn't keeping in front. No issues with the calves because they, thankfully, lagged back in their favorite corner.

All were seen, safe and sound, to their pasture - at evening chores, it will be Dan's and my job to bring Peggy Sue up to the night pen, and go back for the sheep, and see them safely put away for the night.

And, on the way back home, we stopped to clean the covered section of the night pen. My goal had been to do a lot bigger area, but that one section took me an hour and all the energy and ambition I had. I had to save something for calf work and evening chores, right?
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

#79 Sue R

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 06:00 PM

How to sum up our lessons so far?

For me - quiet voice; better timing; see what's going to happen and be ready or proactive to avoid problems or make appropriate corrections; see what you want and need to do, and work at doing it; work with your dog, not against him; if things don't go like you want them to do, figure out what went wrong and use the opportunity presented by a job gone wrong to learn and to do what needs to be done.

For Dan - listen; take your downs; relax; no cheap shots; just because the stock are moving away doesn't mean they are getting away; fetch to Sue; being calm, taking your downs, walking at a reasonable pace and distance are things that all get the job done much, much better than flying around like a brainless fool.

For us both - don't forget to thank Anna every day! And Ed, for supporting us in doing this.
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

#80 ShoresDog

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 06:11 PM

Ack, Karma! Good save, Sue. Karma hasn't been here long, but she is much loved and appreciated, isn't she? I can feel Dan's growth in your posts every day. Keep 'em coming.

Jan & Daisy & Juno & Star
LJ Shores, San Diego CA

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