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Finding Herding Trainer in PA, WV, VA, MD, NY or OH


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#1 Ross Bash

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:08 PM

I have a young Border Collie (ABCA) who will be a year old in June. I have no herding experience, but would like to see him develop as a good working dog and, if we both have the knack (his potential is no doubt way better than mine!), to try some trialing. He's getting pretty solid on basic commands. I'm in need of names of trainers within 150-200 miles (farther if necessary) of Pittsburgh, PA, which would cover most of western Pennsylvania (probably about as far east as Carlisle, PA), northern WV, northern VA, western MD, western NY or eastern OH (guess you can tell that I'm willing to travel!). I'll appreciate any suggestions folks can make.

#2 Liz P

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:21 PM

Are you looking for lessons or board and train?

Most people who do board and train take reservations during the spring and summer, then they do the actual training during the winter (off season for trials).


You can start with these names.
Lyle Lad (OH)
Barbara Armata (MD?)
Warren Mick (NY)

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#3 Ross Bash

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:43 PM

Thanks for the leads! I'm looking for lessons -- for both my pup and me. I'm hoping that there will be opportunity for some extended training sessions of a few days to a week or so.

#4 Liz P

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 09:49 PM

This is what I would do for my start as a sheepdog handler.

http://www.bordercol...showtopic=30694

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#5 Ross Bash

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:08 PM

Thanks, again. The link is really helpful (and the timing might be about right for my pup). Do you think a clinic is as effective (or maybe even more effective) than the herding lessons I've seen offered on some websites? And is it useful to do several clinics or does this run the risk of mixing up training methods because of different trainers? I really appreciate your time and help.

#6 Sue R

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:43 PM

Welcome!

You might contact Mark Billadeau (he is on these boards) who is located just a very short distance east of Hagerstown MD.

Kathy Knox will be doing a three-day clinic near Chestertown MD (that's quite a bit further) in early April at Victory Farm. Victory Farm has a website and I think the clinic info is there. If not, I can forward it to your email address.

I think there is no problem with learning with different instructors as long as either their methods are reasonably compatible (and suitable for you and your dog) or that you have the experience to be able to pick and choose what works for you and your dog.

Very best wishes!

PS - Warren Mick is located in the Albany NY area, which might be a bit far for you. Lyle Lad is located in OH, somewhat southwest of Columbus a ways, and may be a bit far.
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#7 Liz P

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 10:56 PM

Thanks, again. The link is really helpful (and the timing might be about right for my pup). Do you think a clinic is as effective (or maybe even more effective) than the herding lessons I've seen offered on some websites? And is it useful to do several clinics or does this run the risk of mixing up training methods because of different trainers? I really appreciate your time and help.


I can tell you that Bobby is an absolute genius at starting pups (best I have ever seen) and that clinic would be the perfect opportunity for you. I would go every day and immerse yourself. Follow him out onto the field when he works ALL the dogs because you will learn from each one. Don't hesitate to ask questions during breaks in the action.

*Even if the clinic doesn't have any working spots left you should go as a spectator (you still have to pay a small fee).* It is worth it because you will learn so much about handling techniques. And, sometimes he squeezes in extra dogs at the end of the day if you are really nice to him. B)

It is possible to mess up a dog if the training methods are really different. Bobby likes to focus on laying a solid foundation, teaching the dog to be calm (use its head) and helping the dog work correctly from day one. You would have to ask people who know how each clinician trains before deciding if one was incompatible with another.

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#8 Donald McCaig

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 08:51 AM

Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

Clinics are invaluable. Almost all clinicians are - like Bobby and Kathy - top trainer/handlers and working with them - or just seeing how they work will help you evaluate your chosen instructor. There are dud "herding" instructors out there and, indeed, any trainer/instructor who described him/herself with that term should give you pause.

As willing as you are to travel, you shouldn't have any problem finding an instructor. Many open handlers routinely help novices. To find them, attend a couple nearby trials. When I travel for fresh sheep or fresh insight, I go down the evening before, work dogs in the cool and then again in the am before going home.

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#9 juliepoudrier

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 09:05 AM

There are lots of good open handlers in PA and MD--you shouldn't have to travel great distances to find one. See if any are listed on the Littlehats site: www.littlehats.net. The listings there probably aren't up-to-date, but if you contact one of the folks in PA or MD, even if they can't help you they might be able to point you in the direction of someone within a reasonable driving distance.

Clinics are great, but if you can find a mentor then you can get more regular instruction, which is what it seems you want. Personally, I think complete novices gain more from *auditing* clinics rather than entering a dog. When you're really new, you just don't have to skills to replicate at home what the clinician does during the clinic. If you go without a dog, then you can concentrate on general methods, the slight variations made to that method to accommodate individual differences in dogs, and so on. If you take your dog, you're more likely going to be worrying about your dog and paying less attention to what's going on with all the other dogs in the clinic.

Good luck and keep us posted.

J.

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#10 Ross Bash

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 10:24 AM

Thanks to all of you for your kind help and advice -- makes me feel as if I'm standing at the dessert table while trying to decide what to sample first from all this good stuff in front of me! I've also noted the possibilities on the clinics forum (I missed this initially) and one or more clinics this spring and early summer seems like a good place to start -- both by way of a knowledge base and to get to know some trainers who could prove to be one-on-one sort of mentors. Also, I don't want this to to go to your heads (individually or collectively), but all of you who have taken your time to reply to help a novice with good suggestions and advice makes me realize what a wonderful group of folks this Border Collie community really is (and that, no doubt, comes from our association with such good dogs, huh?). Anyway, thanks to all of you!

P.S. Without taking advantage (too much) of your good will, do any of you also have suggestions about how to get my pup to lie down at a distance (20 feet or more)? He's great at it when he's beside me, but when I tell him to lie down at any distance from me, he always starts back toward me before lying down (which he "almost" always does, but not at the particular spot where I first give him the command). Maybe it's his way of shortening the distance between him and me (me with the chicken treat!) as fast as possible, huh? And while I'm raising questions that have been bugging me, is there any harm (including later working with sheep) in my pup gleefully chasing our cats? He's fascinated by them, engages in interminable "stare down" contests with them, herds them at every opportunity (including nuzzling them when they flop down on the ground or floor), but he's never mean or abusive toward them (other than engaging in "drive by" cat food snatching from their bowls on his way to the water bowl -- the water bowl being his standard defense when he gets caught as in "It's not my fault...that damned cat food just got in my way as I was headed for the water bowl!).

Sorry for such a long post, but you folks have made my day, so I felt comfortable in opening up a bit with my questions (I'll be better and more succinct in the future). Thanks again to all.

#11 dream spirit

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 10:42 AM

Barb Armata is located in NY , Lives not too far from Warren.
You may also look for Nancy Obeiner .She is located in coatsville PA. I don't know is she gives lessons outside of friends though. Lyle would be a great person to work with. Bruce and Linda Fogt might be with in you driving range Joyce Geier is in western NY near Rochester.
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#12 WildFlower

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:08 AM

And while I'm raising questions that have been bugging me, is there any harm (including later working with sheep) in my pup gleefully chasing our cats? He's fascinated by them, engages in interminable "stare down" contests with them, herds them at every opportunity (including nuzzling them when they flop down on the ground or floor), but he's never mean or abusive toward them (other than engaging in "drive by" cat food snatching from their bowls on his way to the water bowl -- the water bowl being his standard defense when he gets caught as in "It's not my fault...that damned cat food just got in my way as I was headed for the water bowl!).


Welcome!

I am a novice at stockwork but I will also mention how wonderful clinics are. Not only do you get a chance to learn and work with your dog but you get to watch others learn and work with their dogs. Many clinics are open to a variety of levels.

I take regular lessons (usually bi-monthly) but supplement my training with clinics (about 3 a year). Clinics are a great place to get a new perspective on an issue that you may be struggling with. Sometimes all it takes is to hear the same thing from a new teacher in a different way to make the light bulb go on! :lol:


On the cat issue, in my opinion, it is not appropriate for a dog to stalk or "herd" your cat. Your dog is not really is not "herding" your cat - he is chasing it. I would work on eliminating this behavior.

For the lying down, start very small. Ask your pup to lie down a few inches in front of you and reward. Gradually increase the distance. It may take some time but eventually he will catch on. :)

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#13 rushdoggie

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 11:20 AM

And while I'm raising questions that have been bugging me, is there any harm (including later working with sheep) in my pup gleefully chasing our cats? He's fascinated by them, engages in interminable "stare down" contests with them, herds them at every opportunity (including nuzzling them when they flop down on the ground or floor), but he's never mean or abusive toward them (other than engaging in "drive by" cat food snatching from their bowls on his way to the water bowl...


I would guess if you were to ask your cats, they would agree that there is a lot of harm in this. B) Seriously, though, its never appropriate to allow your dogs to harass your cats even if it is amusing. Its not fair or nice to the cats, and could lead to more overt and aggressive displays down the road (including either the pup or one of your cats getting really hurt).

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#14 juliepoudrier

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 12:22 PM

On the cat issue, in my opinion, it is not appropriate for a dog to stalk or "herd" your cat. Your dog is not really is not "herding" your cat - he is chasing it. I would work on eliminating this behavior.


This.

I would guess if you were to ask your cats, they would agree that there is a lot of harm in this. Seriously, though, its never appropriate to allow your dogs to harass your cats even if it is amusing. Its not fair or nice to the cats, and could lead to more overt and aggressive displays down the road (including either the pup or one of your cats getting really hurt).


And this.

Aside from potential harm (physical and mental) to the cats, ISTM that you would want a future working dog to learn from the start that some things are appropriate to work and some are not, and under all circumstances, no work happens without your permission (no freelancing). So even if you're convinced that your dog means no harm with his behavior toward the cats and would never hurt them, you may be allowing behaviors that you will find difficult to break later when you do put the pup on stock (because what the dog is thinking in his mind while he does these things is something you can't really know, but you can bet he's thinking things that he will later apply to stock). But even aside from that, I think it makes sense to have a household rule that no small animals are harassed, period.

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#15 Alchemist

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 02:12 PM

This.



And this.

Aside from potential harm (physical and mental) to the cats, ISTM that you would want a future working dog to learn from the start that some things are appropriate to work and some are not, and under all circumstances, no work happens without your permission (no freelancing). So even if you're convinced that your dog means no harm with his behavior toward the cats and would never hurt them, you may be allowing behaviors that you will find difficult to break later when you do put the pup on stock (because what the dog is thinking in his mind while he does these things is something you can't really know, but you can bet he's thinking things that he will later apply to stock). But even aside from that, I think it makes sense to have a household rule that no small animals are harassed, period.

J.


Not an expert on training stockdogs, but I agree 100% with all of this. Just want to add that it's not only a bad idea to allow a future stockdog to chase cats or other small pets - the rule extends to squirrels, wild rabbits, birds.... Read Bruce Fogt's "Lessons from a Stockdog", where he describes the problems that resulted from his allowing a pup to chase sheep.

#16 Ross Bash

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 10:56 PM

Re: my cat question -- nothing like a unanimous opinion! I had some reservations about by this early on (20-20 hindsight), but it's mostly occurred with one particular cat who also stalks the pup to get him to play, including chasing each other (it's almost like they take turns). With the other two cats (all three are Siamese), he generally just stares at them lying on the bed. So I'm open to any suggestions about how to correct/eliminate this behavior with the pup -- any ideas about how to also then correct/eliminate it with the one cat whose agenda seems to be getting the pup to play chase (not that the pup needs all that much urging...)?

We named this particular cat (who we found abandoned) Dalai for the Dalai Lama. Major wishful thinking on our part -- never was a cat more inaptly named. It's but a slight exaggeration to say that he is to peace and tranquility what Al Capone was to law and order. But he does seem to find his present accommodations to his liking, at least compared to his former living arrangements -- and he is very affectionate (most of the time anyway...) even with his hyperactive Type-A personality.

Thanks, again, to all for your honest replies (honest enough to sting some!) and sound advice -- I'll see to it with the pup (but make no promises as to any potential for success with the cat...)

#17 Alchemist

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 07:11 AM

Re: my cat question -- nothing like a unanimous opinion! I had some reservations about by this early on (20-20 hindsight), but it's mostly occurred with one particular cat who also stalks the pup to get him to play, including chasing each other (it's almost like they take turns). With the other two cats (all three are Siamese), he generally just stares at them lying on the bed. So I'm open to any suggestions about how to correct/eliminate this behavior with the pup -- any ideas about how to also then correct/eliminate it with the one cat whose agenda seems to be getting the pup to play chase (not that the pup needs all that much urging...)?

We named this particular cat (who we found abandoned) Dalai for the Dalai Lama. Major wishful thinking on our part -- never was a cat more inaptly named. It's but a slight exaggeration to say that he is to peace and tranquility what Al Capone was to law and order. But he does seem to find his present accommodations to his liking, at least compared to his former living arrangements -- and he is very affectionate (most of the time anyway...) even with his hyperactive Type-A personality.

Thanks, again, to all for your honest replies (honest enough to sting some!) and sound advice -- I'll see to it with the pup (but make no promises as to any potential for success with the cat...)


We broke Duncan of chasing our cat (half Siamese, by the way) fairly soon after we brought him home as a puppy. He'd known a cat at his breeder's who was friendly with the puppies, so he wanted to make friends right away with Purcy, who (never having known a dog before) soundly rebuffed his overtures.So Duncan decided that, well, if he couldn't PLAY with the cat, maybe he'd CHASE the cat. Our strategy was to give him an IMMEDIATE verbal correction, and to whip him into the (adjacent) bathroom for twenty seconds at a time of solitary confinement. It only took a few tries before he decided that being sent to purgatory just wasn't worth the pleasure of chasing the cat.

In your case, you may be dealing with an entrenched behavior (though you've got better odds if your dog is only doing it with one cat). Once Border collies start to become obsessive about something (and they can do so VERY quickly), it's nigh-on impossible to break them of a behavior.

Best of luck in both pursuits! (locating a trainer, breaking the pup of cat-chasing). Had to laugh at your comment about training the cat - there's a reason why they call dealing with intransigent people "herding cats", after all! And welcome to the Boards!

#18 Ross Bash

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:12 AM

Thanks for the suggestion -- will give it a try. The pup (Uri's his name by the way) has always been very responsive to all kinds of training, so I'm confident about his capacity to learn the right behavior on this; it's my capacity to do the right thing by him and his training that gives me pause.

"Entrenched" is probably too strong a descriptive word for his behavior, except maybe for his interest (fascination) with cats; we found him once sitting in front of a picture resting on the floor of a Siamese cat, just staring at it. So his feline "interest" has always seemed pretty hard wired. Nor do we have any shortage of cats -- two (Checkers and Chess) who live on the porch (both abandoned/rescued), two older Siamese (Lucy and Maude) who basically live on (and rule) the bunk beds in the spare room, and Dalai (also abandoned/rescued) who also lives inside. In terms of actually acting on his interest, Uri generally just stares at the older two cats when he's in the spare room -- if he makes a move, Lucy will hiss and/or move over to a bookcase; Maude simply stares back at him -- rarely have they shown any concern about him even being around. The other three (especially Dalai) love to play with him; they actually come on to him and follow him around, then take off inviting him to chase; that's where my question was actually grounded initially -- is that type of playing chase (for ex., he and another of our dogs love to play chase with each other) a bad thing (especially later on when it comes to herding) when it involves cats? However, we also have a lot of deer where we live and I've observed the same (or at least similar) "give chase" look in his eyes when he sees them. The difference (if it is a difference) that I wondered about with the cats is separating what seems to be mutual play from what I certainly agree would otherwise be tormenting them (or them tormenting him as someone else mentioned).

I've added this reply post for two reasons. There's a lot of expertise and experience (me excluded) among the folks who read and post here -- if I go to see my doctor with a problem, I try to give him all of the symptoms of which I'm aware, and then trust the doctor to sort out what what's important and what's not. No doubt I've shared way more information on this than necessary -- and apologize for that -- but I trust those with the experience to sort out what's important and to steer me in the right direction with Uri the pup (and with the cats as well, although I wish you better luck than I've had as far as training cats...)

Second, I have a bad habit (or good; I guess it really depends on your perspective) about enjoying humor, including that which is self-directed and/or involves some exaggeration at times. I'm afraid my attempt at humor (lame?) in describing the relationships among the menagerie in our home was misread by some -- that somehow I allowed, intentionally or unintentionally, our cats to be tormented or even abused. We have five cats (inside and outside) at the moment -- three were abandoned. We have four dogs at the moment -- three are rescued. The Border Collie I lost to cancer last year (after twelve too short years) I found abandoned on a trip and and brought home. Apart from the occasional family squabbles, they're all pretty happy (and return to us way more happiness to boot). So I hope that any/all who misread my attempted humor will give me a second chance -- if we ever meet in person, I'm sure I can give you far better reasons to not like me than the lifestyle (which isn't too bad at all) of our cats!

I was unsure about Uri's behavior in re the cats; I really did/do appreciate the comments and advice given and will act on it. But am I understanding correctly that even what appears to be his mutual play with the cats, if it involves any chasing, is bad behavior requiring correction? Thanks, again, to all.

#19 Alchemist

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 07:59 PM

Ross:

In my opinion... a lot depends on what Uri is reading into things. You are better equipped to answer this than I am, as you can read his - and Dalai's - body language because you're there on the spot.

Duncan is still interested in our cat; he greets Purcy with his tail up, waving it gently, though he takes a generous detour around Purcy when Purcy is clearly looking for trouble. To me this is signaling that he'd like to be friends but isn't sure he can trust Purcy (wise on his part). It's completely different from his behavior around sheep - then he's totally focused, intent, tail down, can hardly WAIT until he can start to work them. Not an expression I'd be happy to see on his face around the cat.

When he sees squirrels or bunnies when we're walking together, he often pauses or slows his pace. If I were to let him get away with it, I'm sure he'd be delighted to chase them, but it wouldn't be remotely like the "play bow, tail up, let's be buddies" sort of "chase" game he does with other dogs, it'd be all business. Instead I say "leave it!" and he remembers this isn't allowed.

So, to answer your question - if Uri has his tail up, and is doing play bows, and there's clearly a lot of give and take, then there's a good chance that he's just treating Dalai as a play buddy. On the other hand, if he's crouching, staring fixedly, with his tail down, it's probably something you should discourage.

(And I do appreciate self-deprecating humor...).

#20 Ross Bash

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 10:52 PM

I've observed the difference you're describing (tail up vs. tail down and play bows), but I haven't been quick enough (or maybe savvy enough) to act on the difference -- now I'll be watching more closely for it and allow or correct accordingly.

When you're walking Purcy and he sees a squirrel or rabbit, do you have him on leash or off? (I'm assuming off leash). I don't have enough confidence yet in my voice commands with Uri to walk or run him off leash if we're somewhere where there's a real chance that he'll go chasing after whoever or whatever runs by (for ex., we have an old Lab who likes to run alongside when we walk in the field or one of the "porch cats" will come trailing along behind and then do a beeline right by Uri). He does better though day by day. Yesterday I was doing a program (not dog-related) at a camp that had a big wide field; after the program, I left him run in the field (his reward for patiently waiting in the truck) and he did great -- responded to every recall without a hitch -- we had a great time!

Thanks for your help and encouragement!


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