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About Mojo

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  • Birthday 12/17/1979

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    Los Angeles, CA
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  1. Wow. Now, *that's* a "look back." Now I feel silly being so proud of Mojo's "look back" to a ewe that was about 3 feet behind him, but I guess 3 feet is better than no feet!!! In any case, your video was very inspiring...maybe someday I'll get to experience the thrill of sending a dog back a few hundred yards on a single command!! What a great dog Queen is...thank you for sharing!
  2. Hi Ripley, glad that we've helped you a bit with your decision! I just also wanted to say that Cody & Duchess made a lot of great points, too, about car travel. Mojo's bathroom command is "hurry up," which definitely helps speed things along in new places or when I'm in a rush (but frankly, with a male dog, it's not like he has much of a problem deciding on a place to go, LOL--I think this command was much more useful when I had a female, particularly when there wasn't any grass around, as she didn't like to do her business on concrete). Anyway, Mojo's vet has an elevator, so he's been on it repeatedly, and after a time or two getting used to the motion, Mojo doesn't mind elevators now, either; however, he sure is alarmed when the doors open and other people and dogs get IN the elevator, and/or when the elevator stopped at our floor and people/dogs got OUT of the elevator right at him. At the hotel in NYC, though, which was pretty busy at all hours of the day and night, AND our room was pretty close to the hall elevator, which unfortunately made a loud "ding" every time it came to our floor that could be heard inside our room, we worked pretty hard to get him used to the idea by clicking and giving lots of treats whenever the elevator doors opened...and honestly, after 10-15 repetitions at various times of the day, he relaxed and got over it by the end of the first night. So, if your dog is a bit nervous, too, the ground floor request is an excellent idea, and if you can't get that, taking the stairs just gives you room to maneuver if someone should come up or down the stairs, but since most people do take the elevator, you rarely encounter people in the stairwell. But again, a lot of the places off the highway (I think we went south as soon as possible, and mostly stayed on the 10 W) between the northeast and California were, in my experience, pretty small little motels, with plenty of grassy areas around them, so they were extremely quiet and deserted--nothing compared to the super busy high-rise hotel Mojo had to put up with in NYC. In any case, super good luck with your move, whatever you decide!!
  3. Thank you for the additional input, Julie! What you said definitely makes sense. Okay, I'll push really hard to get him further off the sheep the next time we go. Hopefully I'll be able to get new video of this attempt, as well. I would really love to see your videos, if you can find them!! Thank you again.
  4. Hi Julie and Megan! It's very nice to hear from you both, too, and thank you so much for watching our videos, and for your kind constructive comments. I definitely appreciate your input!!! (And LOL, Megan, you sure nailed it with the "Lie-down-dammit-so-I-can-think" command! ) Anyway, I'm glad that you both think that Mojo is ready to develop some more self control and make some more progress...now I've just got to figure out how to help get him there. I tried watching over my videos while envisioning the body positioning and timing (on my part) that you both suggested, and I think I see how I am missing a lot of opportunities to push him out wider around the sheep by giving up too much ground and walking backwards all the time (I think I am just hoping to get the fetch and not worrying about pushing him out), and thus, I am not walking into Mojo's space enough. That definitely makes sense. As Julie said, I also agree that my use of the flag does not seem to be accomplishing much. My trainer has gotten on me before about the fact that I kind of "point" it in the direction I want Mojo to go, rather than using it to block his trajectory, so I am definitely trying to work on changing that...my best guess at an explanation is that 20+ years of lunging horses in a circle with a whip has confused the issue for me when I get into the round pen and a whip-like implement is placed in my hand, LOL: I know I am supposed to put the flag in the dog's eye, as opposed to trailing the whip quietly behind a horse and driving him forward, but I think my equine muscle memory ends up clashing with what I know I am supposed to do in this herding situation, and so I think I end up "quietly trailing the flag at the dog's head," LOL, which is apparently completely ineffectual. I think it is both a good and a bad thing that Bean nevertheless responds to every little twitch of the flag that I make (like if he is trying to head when he should be staying on his fetch, I just *start* to move the flag over to block him, and poof, he's already corrected himself!!), since that allows me to get away with just very slight gestures with the flag, but since Mojo obviously needs much more firm physical gestures to evoke a response, I think I need to go into our sessions concentrating more on that (and, as we discussed above, a more firm body positioning, also) to push him out much wider. I am still a bit confused, though, regarding the fetch part of it: so, to get him slower on the actual fetch, when he is bringing the sheep at a run, do I still walk into him and push him out wider, essentially pushing him off balance, and then only allow him come to balance when he is slower? Or do I give him a "down" command when he reaches balance and then let him up to fetch when he is calmer? Or are we hoping that once he goes out and around wider in the first place, the SHEEP will slow down in response because they feel less pressure from him, and as a result, HE will slow down because he will eventually realize he doesn't need to run?? I can't think of what else I could be doing there. Any further thoughts would be most welcome!! Thank you again for watching and commenting on our work!!
  5. FWIW, I concur with SoloRiver--as the sole driver, and leisurely driving only 8 hours a day, taking plenty of pit stops for meals, and staying in a hotel every night, and even going exactly the posted speed limit, it was still an easy 4 days from Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles, CA when I did it--nothing remotely close to 7 or 8 days. If you actually try to hurry, and take turns driving with a friend, it is definitely possible in 2.5 days or less, particularly if you drive round the clock. I have one crazy friend who can somehow make it in about 30 hours, but I wouldn't recommend his methods. If you have to move out a lot of your stuff anyway, and your dog likes car rides, I would also definitely suggest that you drive the whole way. The route is really scenic/peaceful, and the hotels off the highway are pretty quiet, particularly if you are only stopping late at night and leave early in the morning, and you don't try to leave your dog unattended in the strange hotel room for very long, and, of course, you confirm beforehand at the hotels all along your route that pets are allowed, and bring a familiar blanket or dog bed or soft folding crate (or whatever your dog likes to sleep in/with), I am willing to bet your dog would be much happier getting to be with you the whole time, since the move will be stressful enough in itself, and it will be worse for him/her to have to deal with it alone. As for flying with Pet Airways, I was consistently advised by friends who fly their dogs cross-country a lot for trials, etc., NOT to use Pet Airways, since it is impossible to check on the quality control at their central layover facility. Even besides the staff treatment of animals behind closed doors, I was also very concerned about disease transmission, and the potential for dog fights, with so many nervous pets being handled in close proximity. I also imagine it would have been pretty traumatizing for Mojo to have to be loaded onto the plane and go through the long flight, only to find himself at a strange boarding facility where I wasn't there for him, where he would probably spend the night freaking out (he does not, btw, do well in doggie daycare or boarding situations), and THEN be re-loaded onto another plane the very next morning? And what if, in his panic, he somehow got loose, and lost, hundreds of miles away from me?? By the time I could fly to the facility, he would be long gone. I also didn't like that they only had small planes (Beech) to fly such a long distance, and frankly, the whole concept of flying ONLY pets--i.e., with so many other dogs/cats on board who are probably also extremely nervous--not to mention that you can't use your own familiar crate (they have special crates they use), I think the whole atmosphere would have made flying much, much worse for Mojo, compared to a flight in cargo, where he could be in his own crate that he's used to, and would most likely be the only pet. So, Pet Airways was out of the question for us, but I will say that to their credit, when I called them, they were booked up 3 months in advance (and this was just after they had started service in July, 2009), so it looks like plenty of people do use and recommend their services....but maybe just for shorter, one-leg flights. Just to keep your options open, however, you should know that as scary as it initially sounds, flying a dog in cargo really isn't that bad, as we learned last summer when we DID end up flying Mojo across the country with a regular commercial airline for a vacation. If you choose an airline with a temperature-controlled cargo hold (i.e., heated with cabin air), you really shouldn't have much problem flying in the winter, as long as you fly during the hottest part of the day, though of course it also depends on *just* how cold the ground temperatures are at your origin in PA, as different airlines have different weather embargos (for good reason, since the main concern with flying cargo is that the air temperatures at 20,000 feet are pretty darned cold, even during the summer)....however, it's currently 80 during the day here in LA, so there's nothing to worry about at your destination, if you do end up flying into SoCal in order to get a direct, non-stop flight. Anyway, I was repeatedly told that it is much worse to fly in the summer, which is when we had to go, since waiting on the tarmac in the heat is what is most likely to kill a dog. So, we booked a normal commercial NON-STOP flight during the early-morning off-peak hours (to avoid summer heat, as well as long stressful lines at the airport in order to minimize crate time and flying time) from LA to NYC, and then hung around the gate until the last possible moment to check in (and if you go immediately to the counter and tell the attendant you are flying a dog in cargo, they will help you check in right away, meaning you can skip the whole long regular passenger line and stay with your dog OUT of the crate at the curb just outside the airport until you absolutely have to go inside to check in), which made it just over 5 hours on the actual plane for him, and about 7 total hours in the crate from check-in until we were actually at our rental car. And, btw, just as a tip, we even thought to sign up for the "blue chip club" rental car service, which is FREE with all the major agencies, so that all you have to do is make the online reservation, show your membership card when you arrive (there is a separate, special instant-serve line for blue chip members that bypasses everyone else), and POOF, you can go right to any car you want without having to fill out ANY paperwork, and just drive off--just so that we wouldn't have to prolong Mojo's crate time by waiting in the regular line at the rental agency. (Oh, and btw, you also have to make sure that the rental agency will ACCEPT dogs in their cars; National, Thrifty, and Avis will, without a cleaning fee, at least as of July/Aug 2009.) THEN we drove the 400 miles from NYC to Buffalo (our final destination), which sounds like it is similar to what you would have to do with the additional 350-mile drive. So, even though my boyfriend and I were absolute wrecks worrying about Mojo in cargo the whole time, Mojo was honestly great about it all, which says a lot, since he is a pretty anxious dog, as dogs go. We also made sure to get seats on the right side of the plane near the wing, so that we could actually see him boarded and deplaned, decorated his crate with crazy foil stars so that I could see the crate from the plane easily in the dark, along with cute taped signs (stuff along the lines of, "Hi, my name is Mojo, this is my first time flying, and I might be a little scared! Please do not open my crate, but you may offer me water through the door!") so that the ground crew would smile and be nice to him, and I do feel that helped a lot, because indeed, we SAW several of the crew members bend over to wave to him and talk to him through his crate door, which we had twist-tied shut (I was worried that cable ties might make it too hard to open in an emergency)...but regardless, Mojo looked reasonably happy being handled by the crew, as far as we could see. I was actually so paranoid about strangers handling/lifting his crate beforehand that I had male friends come over to practice picking up Mojo's crate while he was still in it, and even took Mojo on a couple of dry runs to the airport several days prior, and ASKED the security guards to practice inspecting his crate (i.e., the dog has to be in the crate once you enter the airport--at least at LAX and JFK--but then, after you check in, you go in a special separate area, where you have to take the dog OUT of the crate so that they can put the crate through x-ray or do a visual inspection, but the guard will not actually touch the dog), just to get Mojo used to the whole experience, and the guards were actually nice enough to help me out. Admittedly, however, Mojo was thoroughly crate-trained and comfortable being in a crate long before the flight (I'm not saying your dog isn't, but just asserting that this is, of course, an important concern before even considering something like flying in a crate in what amounts to a dark, noisy, moving metal box for 5+ hours), and further, Mojo is not noise-sensitive, and he also ***loves*** riding in cars and doesn't get motion-sick, so we had no reason to think that he would react badly to flying. The last thing I will note is that the familiarity of being able to be in a car with us (even a strange rental car) immediately after his flight definitely helped him to decompress after the stress of flying, as we had suspected it would, so again, if your dog likes cars, getting to drive the remaining 350 miles might actually help him/her relax, rather than stress him/her out more, but you know your dog best!!!! I hope that helped. If you have any more specific flying-with-dogs questions, please feel free to PM me--I'm sure there are many more tips/tricks I ended up doing to help Mojo's flight go more smoothly that I have missed relating here....but even still, as well as Mojo handled flying, it was still pretty stressful.....so, if I were actually MOVING (i.e., not just taking a vacation), again, my vote would be definitely to drive with him, hands down. He and I are much happier being together the whole time where we can keep an eye on each other...I guess we are both control freaks!!! Sincerely, Koi
  6. Hi everyone, is this a new topic forum for posting herding videos? If I am in the wrong section, please forgive me. I just wanted to show you Mojo's latest video progress on sheep, as well as some videos of me learning to work the very talented started young imported Border Collie, Bean (not mine) with whom I have also been taking lessons, so that I can improve my handling and help Mojo more efficiently. I'll say right off the bat that Mojo's videos are probably not that great by most people's standards, and Bean's videos are, LOL, but I'm still very proud of both dogs!! MOJO videos: (Mojo has been on sheep anywhere from 2-8 times a month over the past year) --December: learning "look back" and "there": The "look back" was definitely not planned, LOL: I seized the opportunity to introduce it when there was a particularly recalcitrant ewe in our group that did not want to stay with the others, but the amazing thing was that Mojo somehow not only managed to figure out what the heck I meant by that command, but ALSO executed it....hooray! (As an interesting side note, however, I worked Bean on the same group of sheep only moments later, and HE did not have ANY trouble whatsoever keeping this one cranky ewe in line, LOL.) Mojo also seemed to figure out where "there" is on balance, and it is pretty comical to see him trying to puzzle it out on video, but the fact remains is that somehow, he DID figure it out! --January: on LIGHT sheep for the first time, round pen....UNEDITED footage (ack): As disorganized and humiliating as this session felt at the time, I am glad it is on video, because I can now see that I missed many opportunities to force Mojo out wider and slow him down because I did not insist strongly enough, but I was just so confused with sheep and dog whirling about it was all I could do to stay upright. I will definitely try harder the next lesson, if we can get light sheep again! ------------------------------- BEAN videos: (Bean has been on sheep less than 6 times in his life prior to my working him, so he's up to about 7-8 total times now) --December: my very first opportunity to work with this talented young dog, who, as I noted above, does not experience any of the trouble keeping one ewe in line that Mojo did with the same sheep: --January, first run of the day: on LIGHT sheep for the first time, round pen....and pretty much perfect, right out of the gate (yay): --January, second run of the day: already in a larger square pen with a larger flock of light sheep, learning his flank commands, and still in complete control: ----------------------------- And now for my commentary! I know Mojo isn't the most talented dog, but I'm still very proud of how far he's come, since no one really thought (that, as some kind of mix) he would even get as far as he has, and he even continues to do a little bit better each time we have a lesson, and has not really taken any steps back since we began our training journey, which is pretty incredible! About a month or two ago, we think something inexplicably "clicked" for Mojo, and ever since, he has really been pretty consistent at being able to sustain his interest in working for the entire duration of his 45-minute lesson without losing focus, getting tired, or doodling at all--I am actually having to call him off to give him breaks now, since he is not quitting of his own accord--and for him, that is HUGE. Previously, as some of you may recall, around last summer, we had gotten to the point where we were working in the larger square pen on a big group of heavier sheep, and Mojo was doing fairly well at keeping those in reasonable control, which is back when I had posted that I thought he was going to be ready to start trialing in ASCA or AHBA soon....but now that he's provided us with more raw material with which we can train, and thus seems much happier and more able to take the training pressure, we have essentially gone back to the beginning (round pen) and have started trying to improve his technique, like insisting on getting him to widen out and slow down, and so we are working hard on that. This past week, we even started trying to teach Mojo his directional flank commands (not that I think he truly understands those yet, particularly since he still has a tremendous amount of trouble going in the "away" direction). It's actually pretty strange, because in the very, very beginning of our sheep work, Mojo had no trouble going in either direction, but at some point, he just "decided" that the "away" flank felt wrong to him, and ever since, he goes "bye" (clockwise) whenever he can. I am now trying to set up situations where I can force him "away" (e.g., close to the fence), and that has been working a bit better, although he is apparently still so uncomfortable in that direction that he ends up stopping short on that flank in order to go back clockwise, and/or diving at the sheep and blowing them apart in the "away" direction rather than coming around smoothly...but we're working on it. The biggest challenge of all was this past Saturday's lesson, since lambing time is apparently now in full swing at the ranch where we train, and the big, woolly, "knee-knocker" sheep that we usually get are largely unavailable, so it was Mojo's first opportunity in a long time to work very light sheep.....and personally, I felt it was a complete and utter disaster at the time, LOL, but after watching our unedited video over and over, I actually think that it wasn't as bad as it seemed, since Mojo mostly managed to keep the light sheep together (no small feat for him!) and kept bringing them to me (albeit running), and he even gave me some relatively instant "downs" when I had the momentary clarity of thought to ask for them (more because *I* needed a mental break from the sheep and dog whirling about, not because it had occurred to me to try and stop him on balance, or anything). Of course, in contrast, Bean handled the group of three light sheep pretty much perfectly from the get-go (right out of his kennel and into the pen, he had them walking and in control), and pretty soon, he was able to keep them balanced between him and me without pushing them past me (and I think that any pushing past was more due to my not giving him the proper signals, rather than his inability to keep them balanced)!! In fact, he did so well that on his second run, our trainer moved us into the larger square pen and gave us an even larger group of light sheep, which Bean handled with equally incredible finesse. I am just so impressed by the unbelievable self-control this young dog has....for example, I've never ever seen him lose focus and try to split the sheep, but even more amazingly, he even knows when to stop himself (without any commands from me!!) when he senses that the sheep don't need any more pressure from him!! I think Bean in particular was a great choice of dog to help me learn: because he is so attuned to his handler, Bean responds to every little twitch of my flag and every little turn of my body, which has made me so much more aware of what I am doing at any given time, which is fabulous. I honestly feel that working Bean is like driving a finely tuned Ferrari, which is such a thrill for me!!!! It was this last lesson in the big pen on the light sheep that for the first time, I was able to feel JUST what a delicate balance it is between dog, stock, and handler...I felt if I just breathed the wrong way, it would all blow apart!!!!!! The cutest thing is that OFF sheep, Bean is also the most delightful, happy puppy, and wiggles all around and loves to snuggle and be petted, but the instant he catches sight of the sheep, it is so breathtaking to watch him, literally, HIT the deck into a classic crouch with a full-on stare, and from that moment on, he is all about business, until I call him off the sheep, and then he instantly transforms back into a happy, wiggly puppy!!! I am really grateful to his owner for the privilege of letting me work such a lovely dog--he is helping me, and in turn, Mojo, so much!!!!!! Sigh...I think Bean is a living testament to what excellent Border Collie working breeding can produce, because he works so well, even in SPITE of my being a complete novice at the helm!!!!!! The only thing I feel bad about is that Mojo gets soooooooooooooo jealous when I work with Bean (and yes, that is, unfortunately, Mojo loudly complaining throughout Bean's videos), but our trainer thinks that is a GOOD thing to keep Mojo's interest level as high as possible!! Anyway, besides completely cementing my fascination with stockdog handling, the best news of all for Mojo and me is that a year's worth of sheep time finally seems to have accomplished what it was that I wanted when we first set out on this journey together: we may actually have succeeded in *mostly* eliminating his leash reactivity! Mojo can now pretty much ignore other dogs and people when we are at the ranch!!! I used to time/arrange our lessons very carefully to make sure that we went at non-peak hours so as to avoid running into other dogs, but for example, we had FIVE dogs and handlers watching our lesson this past week, and a couple of the dogs would bark at Mojo while he was working, as well as when we walked by to take a break, and Mojo was not only able to keep working without hesitation when he was in the pen, but he was ALSO able to walk blithely by on-leash out of the pen without a glance in their direction, as if they weren't there!!!!! There was even one week that we had a lesson while there was an AGILITY TRIAL happening simultaneously at the ranch, and Mojo walked by the agility field, with all its barking dogs and nervous handlers, as if none of it was happening!!! Similarly, when we were watching some other dogs' lessons, Mojo was able to lie down and watch quietly (this is, of course, with me by his side--he definitely still can't watch the sheep quietly by himself, such as when I am working Bean) without getting upset at seeing the dogs and sheep moving around, which was unbelievable! Better still, this all appears to have translated off of sheep to our normal lives, as well: Mojo has been so much more relaxed just walking around and passing other dogs on-leash on the street without paying any attention to them at all, and is really able to ignore the vast majority of them, which is something I had scarcely hoped to dream would ever happen one day!!!!!! So, super YAY for that!! Well, I hope that you all will enjoy this latest update from us!! Hopefully, there will be further good news to come!! Our new GSD, Colonel Mustard (the name "Mustard" just ended up sticking, LOL) is doing pretty well, too--I've even toyed with the idea of bringing him to try his paws at sheep, too, but he really is very old, and it might be too much excitement for him. Since I don't have any real intentions of pursuing stock work with him, perhaps it's better not to start. In any case, he definitely would need to gain a lot more weight and strength first before we seriously consider it, but you never know! In any case, I will leave you with a funny photo of the big goof's first Christmas with our family, sharing his new humongous bed with Mojo: Sincerely, Koi
  7. Whoops! Sorry, just fixed the link that was supposed to point to Mojo's video (I just noticed they were both pointing to Bean's). The links are both working correctly now. Again, please enjoy!! --Koi
  8. Hi everyone, and thank you so much for your warm welcomes back! I am so sorry for my delayed response, but I wanted to be able to reply with some new videos from my most recent herding lesson this past Thursday.......see below!! Esox: thank you very much for the kind compliments regarding Storm Cat, TBs, and GSDs. I think the Storm Cat blood gave my mare a lot of class and heart, but it also bequeathed a rather fiery temperament, LOL. The vast majority of the time, she is a remarkably sweet, friendly, and cooperative 4-year-old (must be the Buckpasser coming through in the sire's dam line), but when she comes into heat, BOY, does she come in with a *vengeance,* as it is rumored that many Storm Cat mares do. I've learned to love/live with it. Paula, thank you! Yup, I am very excited that Mojo has been able to make any progress, period! The mere fact that he has continued to be interested in sheep and can take any training pressure at all never fails to astound us. I will be the first to admit that what we are capable of doing isn't all that pretty (as you will see, below), but it certainly could be worse. Since there IS definite progress with each and every lesson we have, I'll just happily take what he gives me....and he enjoys himself so darned much, so that's why we keep plugging along!! Julie, it's very nice to hear from you again, too!!!! Thank you for your kind comments. The new additions are indeed consuming much of my free time, but it's my favorite kind of "busy," so I'm glad for it. I was definitely fond of the name "Colonel Mustard," but I was actually calling him "Mustard" for short, instead of (the more logical) "Colonel," LOL, and calling out "Mustard!!!!!!" in public was getting to be a bit embarrassing, so we ended up officially deciding to call him "Barnaby," which seems to suit him equally well. As I started to note above to Paula, the stock work is definitely going well for Mojo to the best of Mojo's ability, which, again, I know is not the greatest, but nevertheless, we definitely make clear bits of progress with each and every lesson, so my trainer and I cannot help but be very pleased with him. And yes, I could not possibly agree more enthusiastically that being able to work with more naturally talented started dogs has vastly improved my understanding of stock work by tremendous leaps and bounds. For example, the first time I worked with a naturally wide-running BC, I was surprised to discover that in comparison, Mojo tends to turn into his sheep way too early on the fetch, instead of properly covering all three of his sheep (which is one reason why he ends up splitting them so much)...i.e., previously, I had no idea that the point of balance was so much further from "center." And thus, without further ado, I present you with our latest herding videos!! MOJO and me: -- Teaching Mojo "look back" and "there" BEAN, an 18-month-old started Border Collie and me: -- My first time working with this young and very talented dog! Now, here's some more ado, LOL: Video commentary: it was my birthday on Thursday, so I thought I would start out the day in the best possible way.....by going for herding lessons, of course!! My wonderful BF was good enough to give me a brand-new Flip Mino HD video camera as a gift (aside: my prolonged lack of video updates was due to the fact that I had sadly drowned my old camera in the creek that runs through the ranch where we go herding), so for the first time in months, I was able to film Mojo's lessons again, and in glorious HD resolution, to boot. Here's my disclaimer: I know Mojo is pretty darned excited in his video, but it was his first run of the day, and he always kind of explodes out of the starting gate like that, so to speak....nonetheless, my reason for daring to post that particular performance here is because Mojo was having trouble getting one particular ewe to stay with the group, so it actually gave me the opportunity to try giving Mojo a "look back" command....but what shocked us all was that he THEN actually executed it!!!! He also seemed to figure out where "there" is at the point of balance (he has responded to "there" for two lessons running, now). Anyway, I honestly swear that by the end of the lesson, I had actually managed to get Mojo slowed down and he was fetching all three sheep to me at a lovely, controlled WALK, but naturally, THAT part of the lesson was not captured on video. As for the other video, the started BC with whom I usually work was unavailable that morning, so I got to take a lesson for the first time with Bean, an eighteen-month-old BC, also imported from the Netherlands. Prior to this lesson, he had only been on sheep about six times in his whole life, but I never would have guessed he had had such little exposure, because IMHO, he was absolutely amazing, even with super-novice me at the helm!! Despite the fact that he had never met me before that morning, he was SO attentive and willing to work for me, and carried out all my requests to the letter!! I think he has such beautiful, naturally square flanks, and such incredible self-control, even at such a young age.....sigh. It sure doesn't hurt that he's devastatingly handsome, as well. I would also like to note that 1) what you see in the video was also Bean's first run of the day, and HE did not "explode" out of the starting gate; and 2) Bean and Mojo both worked the same group of sheep that morning, but Bean had absolutely no trouble with the ewe that gave Mojo such a hard time. Sighhhhh. Bean is living proof of what good breeding can do!!!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy our videos!!! Thanks for watching, and I definitely hope to keep everyone updated more regularly now that I have my own video camera again!!!
  9. Thanks, Jan! My mare's registered name when I got her was "Cat in the Sand," so for a barn name, I came up with "Selina," since Catwoman's alter ego is "Selina Kyle." I thought it would be cute to pay tribute to her heritage (Storm Cat is her grandsire) by playing on the "Cat" part of her name. Plus, the Selina / Catwoman reference really suits her personality--she is definitely a beautiful and finicky princess, but she is also huge, agile, powerful, and potentially dangerous, if you get on her bad side!
  10. Hi everyone!! I AM SO HAPPY!!!!!! I've been trying for 3 long years to win the photography contest at www.pamperedpuppy.com. Finally, at long last, one of my Mojo photos was given an honorable mention.....which means we didn't actually win a prize or even a real "placement" in the contest, but hey, at least we're one step closer to winning, since we never even got an honorable mention before!!! Yayyyy!!!! Here's the link--Mojo's photo is the eighth one down on the first page, with his stubby little snout happily stuffed into his doggie ice cream cup: http://www.pamperedpuppy.com/contest/20091...ners/honmen.php In other news, Mojo's been continuing to do great with his sheepherding...again, much to everyone's disbelief, he's really coming along with keeping his sheep together, finding his balance point, and fetching in a straight line, AND slowing down on the fetch (but still not quite slow enough or in control enough to trial), which is still so much more than anyone ever thought he'd do! Hopefully I can get some good video when we go again next week, and I'll be sure to post it if I do! I've also been taking lessons with a started (purebred) imported working Border Collie, and BOY, has she done WONDERS for my understanding of proper body positioning, timing, and, well, just about everything, LOL....I previously thought I had a pretty decent understanding of the hows and whys of herding based on what I've read in books and seen on videos, but that "academic" understanding is nothing like the real thing when you're standing in the middle of the pen!! Being able to work with the started dog basically answered questions for me that I didn't even know I had, and in turn, my greater level of understanding has translated into accelerated progress with Mojo, since I am better equipped to show him how to do things--which is especially helpful, since Mojo is not exactly the most naturally talented dog!! So, I thought I'd just give my hearty recommendation of paying for lessons with a started dog to any herding newbie who is trying to start their own dog!! Lastly, through an unexpected series of events, I recently acquired a new horse, AND a new dog....the horse is a 4-year-old Thoroughbred ex-racing rescue of sorts (she was abandoned by her owner), and I've just backed her myself, and am training her now in dressage and jumping. The dog is a 10-year-old German Shepherd who was ALSO abandoned by his owner......at the barn where I now board my horse, which is how he crossed my path!! He was nothing but skin and bones from neglect (amazingly, his bloodwork is 100% normal, so he was really, literally, starving to death), and even still, his situation at the barn with all the horses (after all, he IS a herding breed) was completely stressing him out (every time a horse moved, which was basically all the time, he would go crazy barking), so he still wouldn't eat (he was at the barn a total of 4 days, and despite the barn owner's and all the boarders' best efforts, he did not eat that entire time), and he had bloodied his nose and chipped his teeth trying to get out of the stall where he was confined, so I couldn't help but take him home to relieve his suffering....where he promptly settled in like he had lived with me his entire life, and has been quiet, content, and a completely mellow ever since (not to mention the fact that he's been inhaling the food I've give him, thankfully, so hopefully we can get some more weight on him)! It's pretty funny how these things work out, after (what I thought were) all my well-laid plans and resolutions (i.e., waiting several more years with Mojo as our only dog, and then getting a working BC pup).....the last thing I *ever* thought I'd end up with was a huge, hairy male GSD, LOL, but in all honesty, he's been a perfect fit for our family...amazingly, he and Mojo are getting along great! So, it looks like my dreams of having a purebred working BC pup are going to be put off a few years longer as a result of the GSD, since two dogs (+/- a foster at any given time) is my personal limit, but honestly, I think it's better this way...I'm having so much fun and learning so much from Mojo in terms of herding as it is, and from what I've seen over the past week (we took in the GSD last Saturday), I think an older, stable, calm dog, like this darling GSD, is a much better companion for my hyperreactive, neurotically-inclined Mojo, than a boisterous and impressionable puppy would have been. So I feel like I definitely made the right choice!! Thus, let me present to you: My new horse! I braided her for fun this day... And our new GSD!! So far, I've been calling him "Colonel Mustard," LOL, but that name may change shortly when I can think of something better. He's sure made himself right at home!! Here, I've put both dogs in "down-stays" for the purposes of trying to get a good photo. Of course, this is a piece of cake for Mojo, but we are still working on the proper "down-stay positioning" with Colonel Mustard, LOL: And here's a bonus photo of Mojo, wanting chicken very badly in the foreground, while Colonel Mustard couldn't care less about chicken, in the background. It is a bit strange to have a new dog in the house who is neither food- nor toy-motivated (he really only responds to praise), but it's definitely helping me to be a better/more creative trainer, too! I hope you enjoyed my updates and photos!! --Koi
  11. Hi, Sharon!! Thanks so much for the additional advice...and I'm so sorry for the delay in my reply, but I didn't have the chance to check this thread again until after we got back from our vacation last week!! Anyway, I just wanted to return to this topic for a moment to let everyone know that after stewing over the decision a great deal more, I came very close to getting the 18-70........but I finally ended up with the Nikon 12-24 mm f/4!!! Yahoo!! Sharon, I do wish I had seen your response before, because your 20 mm f/1.8 definitely looks very nice! I've read great things about the Sigma 10-20 mm zoom, which is a lot slower than your lens at 4-5.6, so I'm sure yours must be even more fun to use!! Since the only lens I've had has been my 50 mm f/1.8, I know I definitely feel comfortable with fixed lenses, and love how fast they are, especially since I take a lot of indoor and outdoor low-light shots. (I sure love your pic of Allie, btw--what a cutie she is! I've missed seeing her, and hope she's doing great!) Anyway, for exactly the reasons you described, I actually was strongly considering the Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 for a while (despite my preference for a Nikon-branded lens), since it is both fast AND super-wide, and with such a limited zoom range, it is almost like a fixed lens (and it seemed like the image quality would be better with less zoom). As it turned out, however, the Tokina wasn't in stock at B&H or Adorama (or, as I later found out, anywhere, LOL--apparently it's a hot commodity), but I still didn't want to get one without first trying it in person, in case it was actually *too* wide...it had occurred to me that with the 50 mm f/1.8 on my D80 being like a short telephoto, I would probably miss out on a lot between the long end of the Tokina (16 mm) and the 50 mm of my prime, if those were my only two lenses. Thus, given the wide-angle zoom options I saw at the time (i.e., Nikon 10-24, Nikon 12-24, Nikon 16-85, Nikon 17-55 f/2.8, Nikon 18-70, Nikon 18-200, and the absent Tokina 11-16), I felt that I did want one with a bit greater reach than the Tokina. The new 10-24, however, was more than I wanted to spend on a lens at this fledgling stage of my photography "career," so, of the remaining lenses, I felt the 12-24, the 18-70, and the 17-55 (all available used, yay!) were the sharpest and fastest. Next to go was the 17-55. Although I could have gotten a great deal on a used 17-55, it was just SO huge and heavy that I didn't think I would ever be comfortable lugging it around at all, let alone trying to conceal (squash) it in my purse...which I've already up-sized once due to the fact that my D80 wouldn't fit into the purse that my P&S did, LOL. Even with my little 50mm prime, people in L.A. already think I'm one of the paparazzi when I walk around with my D80 dangling from my neck....I'm curious to see what will happen when I bring out the 12-24, which is like a bazooka, in comparison--let alone the 17-55 behemoth!! So, it really came down to the 18-70 and the 12-24. At long last, I finally decided that "wider" was what I really wanted, since the whole time I was in NY I never once wished for more telephoto reach, and instead found myself being constantly frustrated at not being able to get wider shots (especially at Niagara Falls, LOL)......so, the winner for me was the Nikon 12-24, which covers super-wide to almost-normal, seems very sharp, the colors look great, and it isn't too terribly huge. Plus, it doesn't extend or retract when it zooms (unlike the 18-70), so it seems like it would potentially get less dust sucked inside. Lastly, I thought the build quality was very nice (it felt like a tank in my hands, even compared to the similar and newer Nikon 10-24). I guess we'll see if I ended up making the right decision for my own needs! If I can get the hang of using it, I definitely want to try posting some cute wide-angle Mojo pics in a new thread, so please stay tuned for that!! In any case, thanks so much again to everyone for the advice and opinions, and my apologies to the OP for derailing your thread a bit!! To get it back on track, I will leave you with one last shot that BF took with the 50 mm f/1.8 on the street in Manhattan outside our hotel, on the night that we flew out. I know it's not the greatest technical (and nowhere close to being the most flattering) photo, LOL, especially since it was about 85 degrees with what felt like 290% humidity in NYC that night--but it shows what the 50mm can do--handheld--without a flash at night (although I admit NYC is pretty well-lit 24/7), it's one of the very few photos in existence of Mojo and me together, AND it allows me to brag a tiny bit about how well Mojo, the world's most leash-reactive dog, did in Manhattan (look at his loose leash and happy, relaxed focus, despite the craziness going on all around us...I was SO PROUD of him)!! So, YAY for this lens at night! (Btw, I do know there are some weird blue ghosts floating at the bottom of the photo, but I left them in because I actually thought they were sort of interesting, LOL.) Anyway, please enjoy!!
  12. Thank you very much again to everyone for the additional responses! Michelle, I LOVE your contribution--what a gorgeous pup and portrait!! Anda, thanks for the new Flickr link--no apologies needed! The more examples of good photography I can see, the better--I'm definitely happy for any available learning opportunities! Illona's work is gorgeous...that 12-24 mm really is very dramatic! It looks like I really need to find the time to start exploring what else Flickr has to offer! Hi Melanie! Thanks so much for the detailed response. What you initially said completely describes my problem...I started thinking about new lenses once I realized that my 50 mm/1.8 is too long for many of the shots I want to take, and quite frequently, I also find that I have no room to back up, and thus have to miss the shot, which is frustrating. As someone who has not yet started attending sheepdog trials regularly (I've only been to one, to date, and was so enthralled with watching that I didn't take a single photo, LOL), you're right, a really long telephoto lens is probably not something that is an absolute necessity for me at this early stage of my photographic "career," especially since I have not often found myself in a situation where I thought the 50 mm was not long enough. So, that's how/why I started looking for a wide or an ultra-wide lens to accommodate the closer-range shots I seem to want to take most frequently, but as I began to peruse the available options, it occurred to me that by getting something like the 18-200 that covers wide to tele, the very fact of having those zoom capabilities on-board might actually encourage me to start looking for new photographic opportunities, which would certainly help improve my skills. Plus, even though the 18-200 is a somewhat slower lens, I'd still have my faster prime on hand, so as you say, getting the 18-200 certainly seems like it would be a smart decision. Then again, you've also made a very compelling case for getting the 18-70 mm + the 55-200 mm, based on what you've posted to Flickr! The photos from your Jordan trip are stunning, and I'm actually really impressed with what the 55-200 can apparently do even with the fast-moving, distant subjects at sheepdog trials (but, as always, I'm sure the skill of the photographer had a LOT to do with the superb quality of the results, of course)! In any case, I really enjoyed browsing through your sets--thanks so much for the links, and for stating which lens you used for each shot! Decisions, decisions! Well, here's where I am right now: just based on the image quality I've seen so far, if 18 mm ends up being wide enough for me once I try all these lenses in person, I think I'm leaning heavily towards getting the 18-70 + the 55-200, and then just learning to live with carrying those lenses around, plus my prime, but will not yet rule out the 18-200 until I can evaluate what I think of the potential relative loss in IQ/lens speed for myself, and decide accordingly if the convenience of not having to carry/change multiple lenses and miss shots is worth the trade-off in the greater size/weight/price of the 18-200. If 18 mm turns out not to be wide enough, however, I may well go for either the 12-24 or the 10-24, and then add the 55-200 (or possibly the 70-300) at some later point.....and maybe by that time, Mojo will actually be trialing with sheep, and I'll have the chance to take some nice long-distance shots!! (BTW, Melanie, yes, I believe the 70-200 your husband has is the same as the lens of which Anda and I were speaking...and I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your 300 mm!! That is NUTS!! Please feel free to relate the soap-operatic story, if you like!) In any case, I cannot WAIT to go to B&H in Manhattan and check out all these lenses....thank you SO MUCH AGAIN to everyone for all of their excellent input!!!!!!! P.S. Louboo, just FYI regarding Michelle/Bluzinnias' post, the Nikon D40 does not have an autofocus motor inside the camera body itself, and thus requires the use of certain new lenses (AF-S) in order to be able to perform the autofocus function, although I *believe* that any Nikkor F-mount lens will technically fit the D40 (but you would have to use manual focus, if the lens is not AF-S). Since the Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8 does not happen to come in an AF-S model at this time, it will fit, but not autofocus, on a D40 by design--Michelle's is not malfunctioning. Thanks for the fix-it tips, anyway--I'll certainly file them away in case the autofocus in any of my current or future lenses should stop working!
  13. Wow, thanks for all the recommendations and comments, everyone! Hi, Anda!! It's always nice to see lovely Ouzo again, too! I am TOTALLY impressed with your freeze-action food-into-the-mouth shot--look how crystal-clear Ouzo's teeth are (i.e., not blurry, like Mojo's). You can even see the food being tossed! I also totally got a kick out of how much MORE visible effort Ouzo is putting into catching his treat than Mojo is, LOL. Thanks for the link to the pretty photos of Brac your friend has on Flickr--my favorite is the "My bum is getting cold" shot. Ms. Daisy Duke, thanks for posting those sample shots of what your lenses can do, too! The nest photo has nice detail (and is definitely impressive, considering the subject size, distance from you, and the windy weather conditions you mention), but your pug portrait is really stunning!! I am definitely curious to try a 50 mm f/1.4 and see if I can detect any difference between it and my 50 mm f/1.8. To Anda, Ms. Daisy Duke, and Louboo, thanks so much for all the lens suggestions! I will definitely check out the 55-200 mm VR and the 18-200 mm VR. (Yikes! I can't believe the 70-200 is almost $2k!! I did see that the 70-300 mm is about a quarter of that, thankfully enough!) I am also glad to hear that the VR is worth getting for dog photos, because I was already wondering about that. I don't think Nikon makes a wide-angle in 10-22 mm, but it seems there is a 10-24 mm. I was already eyeing the (pricier) 12-24 mm. I guess it is hard to tell without trying them all in person whether I really need an extra 6-8 mm of ultra-wide-angle capabilities (vs. something that starts at 18 mm, for example...I understand the whole DX vs. full-frame issue in an academic sense, but I literally have no physical understanding of what shots I can take with which focal lengths since I haven't done enough photography). So, I will be sure to put my hands on all of these at B&H when I go to NY next week [i am soooo excited...with whatever lens(es) I end up getting, I'll be sure to try and take (and post!) some fun shots of Mojo running in Central Park--which, apparently, is *legally* off-leash from 9 pm - 9 am...YAY]!! In any case, it sure would be convenient to have a single lens that can go from wide to telephoto like the 18-200, but I've also read reviews saying that a more "specialized" lens will do each individual job (i.e., wide-angle shots vs. telephoto shots) better....then again, it's quite possible that my amateur self won't notice any difference. I kind of feel at this point that convenience (i.e., not having to switch lenses all the time, thereby getting dust on the sensor and/or missing shots) would be preferable to me than having the best possible lens for each situation. So, here are some lens combinations that I am potentially considering at the moment: 1) Three lenses together: the 10-24 mm or the 12-24 mm, the 18-70 mm, and the 55-200 VR mm, but again, I am really not sure I am keen on carrying around all those lenses, plus my prime; 2) The 18-135 mm alone (but is 135 mm of zoom enough for dog photos, and/or is 135 mm too much zoom to be without VR?), so possibly plus the 55-200 mm VR or the 70-300 VR for some extra reach; 3) The 18-200 mm VR alone; <--certainly seems like a sensible solution! 4) The 18-70 mm plus the 55-200 mm VR; <--also seems like a sensible solution! 5) The 10-24 mm or 12-24 mm plus the 55-200 mm VR, but would I be missing out on the 25-54 mm range? Any other thoughts would definitely be most welcome!! Thanks again to all for the input you've already given!!
  14. I love the shot of Chase, too!! Great job! Here's another enthusiastic vote for the Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8: I am SO happy that I can finally capture a relatively clear shot of Mojo's silly face when he tries to catch food out of the air! The difference in performance between a P&S and a DSLR is like night and day, even though I don't know what the heck I am doing when it comes to photography: So, does anyone have any suggestions for inexpensive-to-moderately-priced wide-angle, and/or moderate-zoom lenses that they've personally used and liked, specifically for dog photography (if that matters)? I have a Nikon D80, and would like to stick to Nikkor-brand lenses, if possible. I am also very new to this whole DSLR and advanced (i.e., non-P&S) photography thing, so am not really looking for world-class lens recommendations...but if it helps to understand what my needs are, I simply adore what I am getting from my 50 mm f/1.8, which happens to be my only lens--I initially figured that getting a camera with just a prime might help me learn how to use it faster, but now I am already hungry for more lenses!! ACK! Thanks in advance, as always, for any responses!
  15. Anna, I am so, so sorry to hear about what happened to Lucky. It sounds like she had a long, happy life with you, and I'm sure she will be greatly missed....the posted picture of her is lovely. As you have said, though no replacement for the original, at least you will still get the chance to see Lucky live on in all of her working sons and daughters...I hope you do take comfort in that wonderful gift. My thoughts definitely are with you today. Sincerely, Koi
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