Thursday 30 July 2015

It Began With a Bit of Drama.

Yesterday a big storm and a bunch of hail hit the kennel.

Not good for the gardens...

BUT .... GREAT for sled dogs!!!

We had a pretty lovely run...


The tree was still partially attached, so Plan A was to take my ax and fully detach it. Down on the ground with a bit of 'this and that' I would be able to get the ATV over the tree.
Then I realized I my ax was not where it should be in my carryall. (Still haven't managed to find it)

After stomping around (and swearing a bit) I accepted the fact that I was going to have to turn 14 jazzed dogs around on a narrow, wooded trail.

Certainly good training for the dogs, but I would have preferred it a bit later in the season when a bit of the summer 'edge' was off everyone!

I undid tuglines on all but the front 4 dogs - can't undo the leaders and since the swing dogs were experienced and responsible, I wanted them to have the power to help hold the team stretched out. I   repositioned the quad as best I could and walked the leaders around.

It went remarkably well!

Not even a tangle to undo. I did up tugs, gave all a pat and we were ready to roll!!

Hope this is setting the tone for the rest of the season!!!!

Thursday 23 July 2015

This One is Just Right...

It's been a hot summer. Usually I can get a few teams out in July, but it isn't looking like that will be the case this July. Temperatures just haven't been cooperative.

We are passing time trying to stay in shape and trying to stay cool.

Snap says holes help!

See says hanging in the river is good!

Yesterday I decided to do one of my favourite fall training trails - a 20 mile loop through Perryvale and home - on a bike.

This trip on a bike covers a LOT of different terrain so skinny tires were too small...and fat tires too big - but my Surly Karate Monkey was JUST RIGHT!

Bit of pavement...

...bit of gravel....

....some dirt...

...and various other surfaces....

Made for a challenging but lovely afternoon!

And riding, under your own power, the trails the dogs are asked to run gives you a MUCH greater appreciation of what they actually do!

Saturday 18 July 2015

R-E-S-P-E-C-T - Bet

I don't get any.

Howdy Ho Everybodies, yes it's me, your Sheepie Thing Herding, Pretty Curly Tail Training, Roving and Non-Roving Border Collie Reporter, Bet.


Sometimes I think I get taken for granted around here.

Bait and Tic won't do anything with me.

I thought KD would make a great pet and we could talk about ensembles and stuffs and things, but she hates me.

The Pretty Curly Tails all have their own little social inner circles, and besides, all they do is talk about is that time on the trail.

I've heard all of the stories.  That time on the trail when the stompy moose tried to hurt us.  That time on the trail where we ran a bazillionty miles and got to Nome.  That time on the trail where we rolled in the dead elk.


Anyhoo, I really like it when we have puppies and I can teach them stuffs and things and play with them and they don't have any "that time on the trail" stories.

But then they grow up, and they start their merge into the kennel area, and they start listening to the professional Curly Tails and listen to the "that time on the trail" stories, and the next thing you know, they don't want to hear about my ensembles any more, and they don't want to hear about how I herdy herded a bunch of sheepie things into a pen... they want to roll in dead elk!


That time has come with the Poutines of Anarchy.

HEY, want to hear about how I rounded up the sheepie things and made them run into a corral, it's was fantabulous!!!

No?  What do you mean no?  Why are you laughing??
You WILL listen to my sheepie thing story!!!
... and then the sheepie things tried to get away, but the Musher whistled to alert me and... are you falling asleep?

See?  They want to pull the sled, and run, run, run, run, run, run and then run some more.

HEY HEY HEY, Wanna hear about how I herded the sheepies into a cage and then saved the whole world?

OH Auntie Bet, you didn't save the world, and how hard is it to chase sheepie things, they're silly!

Sigh.  Sometimes I wish I had someone around that would appreciate the skill and art of sheepie herdy herding and also play dress up with.

- Bet

Saturday 4 July 2015

Live in the Fast Lane

I think when you are experienced at something, things slow down. An experienced person watches the events of their experience happen in near slow motion - the more experience, the slower things happen.

The less experience you have at a task, the faster it happens.

I am an experienced dog musher. When I go about the tasks of my job they happen at a pace that I can easily make the decisions and do the tasks required. Everything in my actions is relatively calm and controlled.

This summer Bet and I have been learning to herd sheep. EVERYTHING there for me happens FAST. Sheep are flying, Bet is flying - and I'm standing in the middle of the field or pen slack jawed and stunned. What just happened?

My friend/ever patient instructor Lisa hides her smirk at my flapping jaw and says "Do you know why that happened?" NO - I'm not even sure WHAT just happened. She once again, explains draws, balance and pressure. I get the concepts - honest - it just all happens so fast I can't process it as it is happening.

Maybe that is it. Maybe a brain experienced at something can make decisions faster and more accurately and all those extra 'milliseconds' make it seem like it is happening slower. Who knows?

It would be nice to be learning this in the fall/winter when I could occasionally jump behind a 16 dog team and enjoy the nice relaxed pace! ;)

Bet and I are now 'renting' sheep from Lisa several times a week (a big compliment, I know. Lisa is very protective of her sheep) and taking about one actual lesson a week. I have played with learning enough new things in my life that I know I do best with a combination of instruction and time to fumble on my own to move forward.

Renting sheep means Bet and I have to gather the whole flock, move them to the sorting pens, sort out 3 or 4 of my 'marked' lesson sheep and move them out to the field to work. We 'work' for about 15 - 20 minutes and then put all the sheep back together and move them back to wherever we found them.

Today gather and moving the sheep was a big chore. There was some new challenges for Bet and she decided that today was a good day to see what she actually HAD to do when working with sheep.

It's a step all my sled dogs go through too. Any of us (dogs and humans) that do what they love for a living go through this. Doesn't mean we don't LOVE what we do, but just that we begin to see it as a 'job we love' rather than just 'playing'.

AND ... for the first time today as she tested me everything seemed to be happening at a pace that I could follow, deal with and calmly correct!!!!!

How SWEET is that!!!???

Obviously, I am a LONG way off of things happening as slow with sheep and sheepdogs as they do with sled dogs for me.

Plunging down the Happy River steps is still a more natural thing for me than recognizing and correcting a bad out run. It's mind blowingly frustrating - but also intensely satisfying as it all starts to come together and slow down.

I encourage you all to take a step into the 'fast lane' and challenge yourself with something new - and then stick with it long enough that you can feel it slow down.

It's a RUSH!!!