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Rebecca, Irena Farm

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About Rebecca, Irena Farm

  • Rank
    Together, We Can Move This Mountain
  • Birthday March 18

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  • Website URL
    http://www.facebook.com/irenafarm
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Profile Information

  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Pilot Mountain, North Carolina, USA
  • Interests
    Sheep (dairy), assistance dog (SD/full access and Emotional Service Animals), general training, stockdog trialing, dock diving, lure coursing, flyball
  1. Exp handler in NC looking for help getting back into sheep and stockdogs after long break. Currently in Northwest of state but willing to drive...moving end of year to Charlotte area. My dog is well bred, was well started, but we are both rusty as an old harrow left in the weather. Can and will trade flock grunt work (hooves, shearing help, worming, etc). Contact Becca Shouse: text is best, (276)Four F1ve One-4315
  2. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Early Takeoff Syndrome?

    In a phobia the sensitivity (where one sees a reaction to a trigger) has crossed the line into dysfunction (inability to function normally around the trigger). Dr. Dodman's protocols are largely behavioral (training) - so seems odd to me to hear he is ignorant of training. It was during discussions with him (for another reason) that I got my approach to dealing with thunderphobia - one which is 10% pharma based and 90% behavioral mod (training). The pharma is so subtle that I can usually use herbals (valerian, camomile, l-tryptophan, GABA, melatonin). The point isn't to sedate but to modify brain chemistry to overcome the inability to "stand down" that defines the border between a phobia and a sensitivity. This was ten years ago I last talked to him (maybe Mr. McCaig has talked to him more recently? But I doubt Liz's information is less informed, lol!). And behavioral modification has advanced a great deal since then! Not to mention our understanding of how the meds work. Humans have gotten less shy of applying human protocols in the veterinary field, as they have realized the result is that advances happen more rapidly there, many times! This is a topic very close to home for me - and I had no idea when I first worked with Dr. Dodman many years ago how important it would end up being for me personally.
  3. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Red Dawn Border Collies?

    Because breeding is super important, and breeders are important to the breed (lol), it's easy to step on toes. Public internet forums are difficult places to say things that can be sensitive. It's easy to keep discussion pleasant on general topics, and not give offense. When one gets into names, and individual cases - it's very natural to feel defensive. After all, one never knows who is out there reading these things. A careless word is impossible to take back.
  4. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Early Takeoff Syndrome?

    Kristine/Root Beer, sent you a PM re: noise phobia. I think Sue hit the nail on the head here. It's a year later now - Working livestock is where the ideal of the Border Collie breed lies. It doesn't matter how many wonderful, amazing things individual dogs can do. Come to Rural Hill, NC - the sheepdog trial - in November and there will also be dockdogs there. You will see, I hope, my Sam jump 22 feet straight off a dock into a pool. Also jump eight feet out off the dock and five feet up to grab a small bumper off a pole suspended above the water. It's very cool. It is not what Border Collies are all about though. He's also my service dog. You can see him do that, too. Not even that is what Border Collies are all about. Turn around and watch the Open trial. That's it. Sam won't be ready yet but Ted will be there. This isn't to say looking for health issues isn't a worthwhile cause (dang, lots of negatives there ). But here we run smack up against selection decisions. The big problem, of course, is that when one starts making decisions about what to exclude (and what to concentrate) - which is different from how the breed was selected before, one will end up with a different type of dog. Ipso facto.
  5. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Life is full of corrections

    Tea, you illustrate what I have believed fundamentally for a little while now. I live with my working dogs, with little "noise" other than what's needed to keep the peace and keep from tripping over them. For these, I expect them to react to the most subtle movements and quiet commands or, "ahem." (ah-ah is like a vocalized throat clearing or the buzzer noise on a game show - I use it for a sharper correction). My philosophy is that, even though when I do step in and retrain something, I take a positive approach, it is still aversive because I have to interrupt the daily routine. I can see this in rescue dogs. A routine of crating and lots of silent walking for a few days helps them find their happy place far easier than "love" and training. I like marker based training because one can make it very low key while being very precise. It is NOT "YAY!" constantly. It is exactly analogous to shock collar training, except in that the dog works for something, rather than to avoid something. It is the marker, not the reward, that is motivating. In the case of working training, I deal with two types. One, my dog has few external cues that he is correct. There ARE some - as he matures and understands his job, he has picked up on some behaviors that get desired results, and improvised beyond them, on the fly (I LOVE my Sammy!). He knows he is not to interact with people. Thus, he is learning how to position himself to discourage outright mauling, mostly just curling up small, or facing me if we are standing. I had to overcome his natural WalMart greeter personality with, yes, cookies, however. If I had corrected him for greeting people, even gently, you can imagine what would happen. What happens if Sam gets distracted? I depend on him for balance. It often doesn't look like it, but if he is suddenly not "on duty" it will make his job more difficult for the rest of the day. In fact, I will have to cut our day short. This is not a life or death issue. But before I hit on the idea of training Sam for this, I had gotten too scared to leave my bed, much less my house. Then, there is sheep training. Sam is precisely the same dog. But he has a lot more external reinforcements. It's fun to chase sheep. It's fun to hold them in corners. There are things that are not so much fun. I cannot work on some of those things now. Oddly, this is NOT life or death. I have a fake!Farm and in fact am training my girls to be dairy sheep. It is rough here, though, and it still takes a good dog to graze them on the ridges in the woods. Sam is keen as fire, bull headed, and a know it all. He is awesome on the graze. Not so great on the trail. But, he can catch and settle sheep in any terrain. Just put your judging pencil away. If you start fighting him, he will just get more excited. But like Tea said, if I catch his eye at the right moment and say GD, lie down! He will. And he learns. Well, except my go-to phrase is, "I FEED YOU MAN! LIE DOWN!" Right now I try to keep from using him where I haven't been able to let him learn good habits. He can't get POSITIVE input from the stock, or environment, and I have gradually learned that no human reinforcement in the world can truly make up for that. This is something to mull over. Soon
  6. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Life is full of corrections

    The service dog trainer trains many artificial behaviors. It takes years from birth to partnership. Very intense, tough training. For the majority of service dog teams, life and death is most certainly on the line. These dogs are very effectively trained in a wide variety of methods. There is little inherent motivater in the work, unlike hunt/herd/protection. Yet the dogs have still been meeting these high expectations for generations. Can we say then that, "X is okay for you, because you do this, but anyone doing that other thing with their dogs should never consider it"? I just get wiggy about categories and generalizations now.
  7. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Life is full of corrections

    Thank you muchly. I spaced out a bit there and when i reread it AFTER posting, it didn't seem lucid. Ish. I really wanted to respond to the assumption that positive training comprises no pressure, no consequences. I read a few pages and was shocked no one picked that up. But then I evidently saw a squirrel. First, most sport people and many working dog trainers know the importance of stressing puppies mildly, from a very early age. Once mobile, it is vital to place variable surfaces and objects in the whelping area. This practice is more analogous to satisfying neonatal requirements for problem solving. Dogs are, in fact, only in the "infantile" stage in physical terms up to about three or four weeks. Beyond the whelping box, impulse control is a major concern of COMPANION animal trainers. The world of sport and working, and that of companion animals are a world apart in practice. Kaboom. That was the sound of a dozen or so sport trainers' heads exploding. The fact is that the vast majority of sport dogs I have seen are managed to be livable. The problem is NOT in the method, however. It is simply a time issue. I am seeing a tidal shift from management, to freedom within bounds. Working protection/service/SAR trainers call this working in drive. Stockdog people call it working. It empowers the dog and builds an amazing relationship. This is why the "Control Unleashed" method is catching on like wildfire. An animal with this kind of relationship does not need watching, or management, for there is clear demarcation between "work" and "not work." This too has been around for as long as animals have been bred to crave work. We two sides, we are, after all, speaking the same language.
  8. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Life is full of corrections

    Odd that this is not in the training section. The last (many) posts seem to be focused on whether corrections are truly effective. By definition, a "punishment" is intended to extinguidh behavior. The Skinner quadrant isn't inherently evil. It's a handy way to present to myself, where training challenges and opportunities come from. Dogs in particular who very much live in the moment, and immersed in their environment, respond to these pressures. By training I always mean, chances to open more fully the understanding between me and another species. For particular reasons, I have operated for several years in the passive correction quadrant. It works well for me, or did, until recently. I simultaneously discovered why I am so personally exciting to high-drive dogs, and largely fixed the issue. Almost all "positive" trainers use passive correction, also. I see nothing wrong with the dog having to learn to deal with resistance from his or her environment. Pressure is pressure. There are significant fear periods during puppyhood. These are excellent times to show pup he can find the answers inside, but you've got his back. I learned two incredible lessons from Jack Knox, at two different clinics. The first: my young bitch, just over a year, sulled up and ran and climbed the fence. I made a face of anger and embarrassment and headed for the gate. "Leave all that," Jack said. "Let her sort that out. You go back to the sheep." Then he had someone hand her back in. What? It was okay to let a dog go to its happy place? Not only okay, but important, he told me after, though preferable not to be able to leave completely. Today I have seen this as a major principle in "Control Unleashed." Threshold training. The difference is that the sheep ARE the reward for correct behavior. Second time: I brought a dog with a history of harsh handling, but impeccable breeding, trained to the Open level. He was, however, quite frankly, a pawprint from being a sheep killer. After some fruitless sessions at hand, we started with the sheep set in the corner. The dog bowed out, from my feet, then crashed straight in the middle. I scolded him but Jack whistld a stop. The dog stopped on his feet, the sheep collected quietly and he did his usual faultless fetch. I said something about not correcting him sooner on the outrun. Jack said, "I wouldn't touch that at all right now. He is afraid to lift his sheep. For me, I would be glad he is still going there. Have him go right around the sheep from a corner, not too far, have him settle the sheep. Take some time and speak to him. Push off the sheep when he is running fine at that distance." Backchaining. Passive attention. This was seven years ago. The world is not them and us, positive versus correction - not even the new versus the old. Working and professional trainers have run the entire spectrum of methodologies over and over since the dawn of domestication. What is the best way to train your dog? Hang out with your dog, really listen. He or she will tell you.
  9. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Early Takeoff Syndrome?

    Sam's training as a full access service dog is the most intense training in which I've personally been involved. Eg, I have not personally had any contact with SAR or other public service canine training. Minimum standards here: http://www.iaadp.org/iaadp-minimum-training-standards-for-public-access.html I have found, indeed, from a practical standpoint that these are indeed minimum standards. Sam is already beyond this (um, except that darn sit/down/stay). But he has miles to go on the public access training *I* need. This does not count individual assistance task training. So you'd think I'd be eager to preserve this if he required medical intervention to keep going - a blown knee, something like that. But if there's any question that he might be in pain while doing his job subsequently, Sam's buddy Lynn the Border Maltriever gets moved up into the harness to access training. Of course Sam would get maximum medical intervention. And through his help we've entered a world of activities we can choose to continue depending on his range of motion: lure coursing, dock diving, stockdog trials, obedience (rally probably). Would Sam know the difference? Absolutely. This is hard, hard work and still he knocks things over to "paws up" and stick his head through the harness collar. The pack weighs three pounds, not a lot but he wears it all day, and he not only begs for it, he knows when something is missing from it. Sam badly bruised a toe a couple months ago and it took forever to heal. He would look fine and we would go out with just a cape and harness and he'd be limping in a few hours, especially if we were walking on gravel. He healed up just fine once I realized exactly what it was. Before then it was horribly frightening and heartbreaking. This is precisely what I do not want. it has completely changed my perspective on this issue. My life without Sam is very limited. But there is no justification for improving my quality of living at the price of one twinge of preventable ongoing discomfort on his part. Notice I said preventable.
  10. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Cross Training Service Dog for Trialing

    Sam is done with his basic training for full access service dog work. He has been working stock on the farm since long before this eight months of SD training, and continued with his usual duties right through. If anything his keeness, focus, etc have improved. He's lost some technical ground that I can't troubleshoot here. It would be odd if a two year old without really solid foundation work, did NOT have some real issues by now doing what Sam does. Time for Sam to put on his Big Boy Sheep Pants though. Im curious to hear those with experience working with training their own SDs or someone else's, for the trial field. I know from lure coursing and other games, not to mention stock work, Sam has NO problems working at a distance.
  11. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Color Vision

    Honestly, I wonder whether it was factored in, Jovi. This is where peer reviewed studies come in handy. Laura, our steps are wood and the tape is stapled. Another alternative is concrete or floor paint, or reflective dots attached with cement adhesive. I have both the dots and the tape. The tape helps me more, but the dogs seem to target the dots as they trot up and down. Julie, I kmew that was smart but couldn't remember why. Now I remember where i first learned this, I think. Back when agility was just learning obstacles and essentially getting your dog from one to the other as fast as possible, eg, about seventeen years ago, I had a book that explained the colors. Also how to safely take your dog on leash, over a jump. Okay, the science was solid.
  12. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Color Vision

    Apparently those close to the blue or yellow spectrum bands appear muddy or dirty versions of those colors. So, a very yellow green (like safety green), is greyish green, according to the most recent best guesses. If it is a very dark color, like dark blue violet, the shade is most important. If you squint in low light, like dusk on a cloudy day, you'll get the idea of what they think is happening. My kids noticed yesterday, under those exact conditions, that the yellow and blue bands and blue cords were the ladt colors they could see when they squinted. Another interesting thing, when my brain suddenly stopped compensating for my visual weirdness several months ago and I lost, among other tjings, medium to close up depth perception. One of my eyes focuses on a significantly different plane than the other. Not double vision, but x-ray vision. As i hold this phone (after turingg off a couple accessibilty features), im simultaneously seeing the phone, and through the phone, a clesr image of the wall behind it. When I'm reading, howver, or typing, if i have the option to turn the surface blue or yellow, the problem is stabilized somewhat. After practicing yesterday and today with the bumper with the blue trim added and the frame with the colored stripes, my throwing accuracy is getting back to normal. Happy dance! So I wonder whether there is a basic link to eye structure in general. And you say blue and yellow is no longer standard? What about on jumps? It's been a very long time since I've paid attention. They used to put blue and yellow stripes on the bars. Any other color would simply fade into the surface behind it, as dogs have lousy depth perception.
  13. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Color Vision

    I've pretty much known this for a while. To refresh my memory on the details, the first reputable looking source that popped up in Google was this one by Stanley Coren from 2009: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200810/can-dogs-see-colors I doodled around a bit in more scholarly sources and they backed up the basics. There is a nice illustration in that article. I did some highly unscientific experiments with making food dough balls, and coloring them with cake frosting dyes, for my eighteen and thirteen year old dogs who used to be super at food catching. Bright blue, as opposed to safety orange, white, black, green, or red, yielded 100% catches and extreme excitement. It was sort of double blind because i had both kids throw them rather than me. LOL. Homeschooling rocks. Sam and his new toy, dock diving training device thingy. I copied the design from Erin from these boards, but I added the color for my convenience in putting it together. Eg, pieces with two blue stripes are top, one blu is bottom, top pole has the blue stripe the width of where the cords for the bumpers go, yellow tape marks cebter point. But, since I WAS using color, I figured it may as well be dog visible. Hey! It looks like a piece of agility equipment! Coincidence? That's not how it's intended to be used by the way. Sam is breaking a stay and stealing the bumper. Look, see, my dog can hold a stay. Oh, wait. Hmm. That's better! I think there might be a twinkle of mischief there though.
  14. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Color Vision

    I haven't been on in a bit. It's probably going to be the pattern for a while. I'm starting a real business venture all my own and it's been intense hard work! Anyway, it's a canine Bed and Breakfast sort of thing. In reviewing ways to make the "guest room" most comfy I was reminded that dogs ONLY see the colors blue and yellow. I had forgotten about that! I have three teenage dogs (and one twelve and a half), all starting to have vision problems. My eighteen year old dog has some rear end stability issues also. This is a big problem at night here - there is a porch, the terrain makes everything difficult to light, but even during the day it's scary. Enter blue and yellow reflective tape!! And Driveway markers on posts. And on the stairs i have both. Now Maggie and Lu trot around without hesitation at night. Just thought I would share this tip for anyone with oldsters or vision impaired dogs, or those who foster them. The guest room, by the way, is Emporer penguin themed. Blues, white, black, yellow.
  15. Rebecca, Irena Farm

    Should I get a boy or a girl?

    Oh, I forgot. My Border Collie females have mostly been all business. I did have one cuddler, but unfortunately, and ironically, she is a sheep killer. All of them were, well, bitchy in sine way. Every single Border Collie male I've had was people focused. Not always touchy feelie but always "in touch" mentally. Their quirks are usually simple and have two or three session fixes, like territorial grumpiness.
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