Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trip to Idaho & Clinic Goals

Tomorrow we embark on our sojourn over the mountains to Idaho the Gem State. We are going to the Pat Shannahan Clinic for Puppies, Young Dogs and Novice handlers. Before the clinic on Friday we have a private lesson scheduled.

We have two clinic slots...

One for Beth (I have been looking for a reason to post this picture - her ears CRACK ME UP!) Beth hasn't been on sheep for over a week - she is going to be exploding full of piss and vinegar. By golly this will be interesting.

The other clinic spot is for the Bonster (aka Bonnie the Freckled Monster - Bonster shortens that nicely dontcha think?)

Bonnie has really been coming into her own.

Her concentration & intensity has grown. She is ready for sheep

Gosh is it possible to be in love with your dogs?

I think I is a diagnosable psychiatric condition I am sure. Someone, quick look it up in the DSM IV.

I have Puppy Love too. Tis a condition marked by the obsession for puppy breath, squirmy little bodies covered with soft fur, little needle like teeth nibbling on your ear, sharp little claws getting stuck on your bra (OUCH), sudden shrieks in pain, followed by immediate forgiveness and picking the puppy up again - just to experience it all over again.

Love, pain,, sounds just like my relationship with all of my children. Egads, another dysfunctional psychiatric condition eh? The DSM should have been written with my name in it.

Brynn Butt is coming along for the ride too. I cannot leave her alone.

However I have no qualms about leaving Ranger alone.

Poor baby...all alone. He will be doted on and spoiled rotten by John and the kids all weekend. I think he is getting the better end of this deal.

Fellow Blogger Sarah over at Dig It - Fetch It - Herd It wrote a post called There is No 'I' in Team. There is a "U" in Excuse. that really inspired me to do some thinking. After reading it I conducted a mental self inventory and came to a few conclusions.

If you haven't figured out by now after reading some of my pathetic self pitying posts about training - self confidence is not my forte. Some days I will be in the middle of a field with Beth and the sheep and struck by a thought "MORONS SHOULD NOT BE HANDLING SHEEPDOGS!". If the dog is smarter than the handler, there is a problem.

One conclusion I have reached is this 'sport' is full of new and unexpected ways to humiliate yourself.

I am plagued with doubt, dismay and worry. I allow it to consume me to far too often. When I am feeling challenged by Beth or I see something that is wrong and I blame myself, dwell on the problem, rather than reach into my mental toolbox and pull out the tools I need to fix it.

Honestly, I want to quit - go home and eat cheetos.

It doesn't help that my 'mental toolbox' is a jumbled mess of psychosis, neurosis and dysfunction.

Sarah wrote some excellent bullets in her post that really hit home for me

  • Don't dwell on the issues
  • Deal with the issues and get on with it
  • The issues do not define you or your dog
  • Don't let the past define your future
  • If you make excuses, you begin to define you and your dog based on those issues
  • Excuses hold you back, make it harder to move forward
  • Focus on the good and let the rest fall into place
  • Work on the issues and the rest becomes easier

This reminds me of many of the same things I have told my children over the years. As a mom of a son with schizophrenia we have participated in oodles of therapy. One thing that we focus on are these things called "thinking errors". Too often we get trapped in 'thinking errors' that lead us down mental paths that are not healthy.

I have some serious thinking errors in the field and in my training with my dogs.

I focus on our faults & I allow them to define me.

For example: Beth is still cutting in on the top of her outruns - I have allowed that to define me as a handler. Every time she does it I think "I suck". When in reality, I don't suck, Beth doesn't suck, we need more practice.

Beth may never be one of those dogs that gives the beautiful wide outruns and you know what....SO WHAT? I can keep trying.

Another (very personal) thinking error I have been allowing to plague me is ... my weight.

(betcha didn't see that coming huh?)

I am allowing the excess weight to define me too. Lets be honest here. The bottom line is I am F.A.T. One of the main reasons I wanted to get involved with this sport was the potential for exercise.

I may be the fattest woman in this clinic, at Fido's, in WA State, the universe ... but you know what? WHO the F___ CARES? The only person who is obsessing over her ME (other than the people who point and laugh & they can bite my big fat arse).

Being fat does not make me a poor handler. It makes me slower than most and I am not able to race across the field at my dog - that just means I need to keep doing this, keep walking, keep working and quit shoving more calories in my pie hole than my body can burn.

Deal with the issue and get on with it. Yep - I am trying. (Right after I finish this Snickers bar)

My dogs are all rescue dogs. They will ALWAYS be rescue dogs. They may not come from a incredible line of championship dogs. (Don't get me wrong, I drool over those pedigree's) But my dogs are happy & I am happiest to see them fulfilling their drive & their breeding & purpose. Something that is even more poignant to me because they were throw aways...

So, I am going to this clinic with a plan.

  1. Have FUN
  2. Listen with an open mind - Don't automatically dismiss something because we have tried it before, or Beth doesn't work well with a different instructor etc.
  3. Take it easy on myself & my dog - People are not laughing at me or thinking I am too heavy to be doing this. I am not stupid because I am heavy. Beth & Bonnie have potential even though they are rescues
  4. Keep a positive attitude - We can do this, we can be good at this.
  5. Communicate effectively - if I have questions or concerns, do not be afraid to speak up and ask them.
  6. Do not let the past issues define our future - Just because we have had problems with this in the past, does not mean it cannot be fixed. We just need to keep trying and get past it.

All the same goals we should have for our daily lives too...awesome.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Life With Ranger

Last Friday Ranger and I went to the casting call-back for a Washington Lottery commercial. They are looking for an expressive dog who can play Frisbee on the beach and Ranger fits the bill to a 'T'.

The morning before we went to the audition - Ranger was running around here like a fart in a mitten. When we got to the audition he must have been channeling Lassie and settled right down to work. I swear, someone pulls out a camera and Ranger poses...




During the audition Ranger sat, downed, stayed, made his handsome face for the camera, chased the Frisbee, brought it back, shook it & tried to kill it several times (which only made everyone laugh). He was a movie star (in my eyes at least). The only thing he didn't do was tilt his head from side to side on cue. (How do you train your dog to do that anyway?)

There were three dogs in the call-back. Ranger, a Marley look alike and an Irish Wolf Hound mix. They also wanted to see Beth, while her Frisbee skills are stellar, her face and eyes are too dark for what they are looking for.

Ranger's only real competition was the Irish Wolf Hound who may have more of the look they are going for. The human actor is an older gentleman and they may think the wolfhound looks like a dog he could conceivably have. However the wolf hound won't chase Frisbee's on a beach. Depends on what direction they really want to go with the dog role I guess.

I am partial to Ranger of course. We will wait and see what they decide.

This weekend when John and I took the dogs for a walk this series of pictures happened in the course of a couple of minutes when we took a break.

C'mon Dad, throw the stinkin' ball already!

Outta my way, I got it!

Yep, got it

After leaping in the air Ranger crashed to the ground, he flopped over onto his back.

Ranger could entertain himself in a cardboard box.

Brynn sure thinks he is the bee's knees

Ranger is as Ranger does...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bonnie's Parents

I have learned some wonderful background information about Bonnie from her first foster mother Pat.

The story I had previously associated with Bonnie coming into rescue was completely wrong. On the same day I picked up Brynn Pat shared the real story with me...and some nice photos of Bonnie's parents.

Pat learned of a litter of puppies that was being given away in near Mardon/Othello, WA. She made arrangements to go to the ranch where they were living with the parents and coordinate their surrender into rescue.

There were nine puppies in this litter. Previous litters from these parents have been bred for sale in the past. The family was unable to find buyers for this litter which is why they were giving them away. Bonnie's sire is traditional marked black and white. The dam is a patterened white with heavy ticking. Both are purebred and dearly loved by the family. They are also valuable working hands on this cattle ranch.

The litter was born in the house and raised in their kitchen. Healthy and socialized wonderfully.

The next time I am in Moses Lake, Pat told me we can head over to the ranch and meet the family. Hopefully I can find out the breeding on the parents. It would be nice to know.

The only picture I had seen of Bonnie's parents was this little teenie tiny thumbnail which was listed on her adoption page.

Pat was able to provide me with full size pictures (THANK YOU PAT!)

It is amazing to me how much Bonnie resembles her mother... the shape of her head, the coloring, her carriage etc.

Now I understand where Bonnie gets her speckles from!

Bonnie as little puppy

Bonnie snuggled up with her litter mates (she is the one in the middle)

A couple more litter mates

It is amazing how very fast they grow. From this...

To this...She is already bigger than Beth! (that isn't to hard, Beth is a pipsqueak)

I wish teenagers would grow up (and MOVE OUT) as fast...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miss Kitty

I have a bone to pick with Brynn's foster mom Pat.

Uhhm know I wanted to adopt a border collie right? One of those cute little border collies from the rancher in Klamath Falls, OR.

Well, I don't think that is what I got.

I am on to you...somewhere some how you did a switcheroo and gave me a Miss Kitty.

I mean, like, what self respecting Border Collie climbs up on the window ledge to bask in the sun?

Oh what a pretty kitty you are Brynn.

I am not familiar with your breed though, must be one of those obscure Scottish breeds. Perhaps a Scottish Fold?

You have the folded ears but the nose isn't quite right.

The fact she was doing this to harass poor Ranger who was sitting in the whiskey barrel under the window begging to get in - means absolutely nothing.

Meow, Ranger, you are outside, I am inside where I can look down on your inferior pathetic face.

Meow...purrrrrrrr....meow...(pet me mom)...purrrrr....

Like any self respecting kitty, Brynn has a wee bit of an evil streak - but you would never know it to look at this innocent little face


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Me and My Shadow

Like the wallpaper sticks to the wall

Like the seashore clings to the sea

Like I'll never get rid of my shadow

I'll never get rid of Bonnie

Let all the others fight and fuss

Whatever happens, we've got us.

Me and my shadow

We're closer than the pages that stick in a book

We're closer than ripples that play in a brook

Wherever you find me, you'll find her hanging off my neck, just look

Me and my shadow

Not a soul can bust this team in two

She sticks to me like glue

Me and my shadow

And now to repeat what I said at the start

They'll need a large crowbar to break us apart

But we're not alone & far from blue

Life is gonna be Bow - wow, wee! For my shadow and me.

To enjoy the musical edition of this song please visit Robbie Williams sings "Me and My Shadow" a tribute to Frank Sinatra on YouTube