I'm in Reno. I'm staying at one of those lavish looking resort casinos where everything is glitter and gold… and, yet, filthy. Fountains and marble floors, cherubs floating on a fake sky 100 feet in the air above….a sawmill? velvet victorian covered furnishings….but the hall carperts are crawling with filth and vomit stains. As I write this I'm wondering just how corrupt is this gold lamme bed spread that I'm resting underneath. I mean, if these bed coverings could talk….they would surely cut their own tongues out.
My one last question to Nevada is this: When did painting kittens on sawblades become art? I mean…I've wondered about the whole sawblade as medium for art for awhile now, but the blades usually feature mountain scenes or flowers. Kittens? Really? Isn't that sort of ….oh, grisely? Big eyed kittens. Is it a statement? An anti-big-eyed cat statement?
Anyway. On to the Stock Dog Training portion of my Blog:
The Western Regional Border Collie Championship was held in Pendleton this weekend. Jodi and Ellie and I drove over and spectated. Both Ellie and Jodi have blogged about it, so I won't be repetitious except to say that It was a really fun time watching a lot of impressive dogs and handlers doing their best with Satans Little Range Kabobs. Watching these trials really both inspires me to work harder with my own dog and makes me glad that Dianne doesn't have a training blog. If she did, today's entry might read something like this:
Scout is improving. She shows progress every time she works; she's working farther out, paying more attention to both handler and sheep, and thinking more, reacting less. Katy… should perhaps go to a pet home. (I stole this line from another funnier context/person.)
Three things I learned today..or rather felt the significance of especially today:
1) I really have a hard time not getting distracted with the details. Where's my dog, should I correct her now? or now? lay her down….throw my stick…where's the sheep? Is Scout's tail up? My PANTS HAVE A HOLE IN THE ASS. Solution: Look at the sheep. Just the sheep. Correct the dog as determined by the pace of the sheep.
2) Correct and move on. Immediately. Correct and mean it, and move on. I have a hard time meaning it. I mean, I do want the behavior to change so I provide the gesture of correction…but its taken today to really sink in how much Scout needs me to mean it. Not just the posture of correction, but the emotion. This team thing doesn't work if i don't communicate to her the terms. I need to communicate and have her acknowledge that the communication has taken place. This is big for me. I don't like yelling and it doesn't come natural to me unless it involves road rage or me crying an apology after. I get the idea that neither is what Dianne has in mind. Solution: Work on engaging fully in my expectations of Scout and my working relationship.
3) For the future: More subtlety. I need to slowly expand the details to include things like WHEN Scout's tail is up, and why, and which ewe is going to give us trouble and how…sheep in general…I tend to think of them as something fairly relevant that I keep tripping over, but I don't really pay much attention to them. They could be shopvacs for all I notice them as significant players. Aside: Do you know about Roombas? They are like robotic vacuum cleaners that just drift industriously around the house hoovering up dirt and dog hair. When they encounter an obstacle they reverse direction. I'm thinking buy a herd and put some fleece caps on these bad boys and I've got one day a week where I don't have to go outside to look stupid.
No. Not really. I don't vacuum anyway. I just sprinke bacon bits on my carpet once a week and let the dogs do their magic.
Anyway, I do think that this herding business is something that comes easier to many people. I am just thankful that Dianne doesn't have a remedial class (yet) and that Jodi doesn't make me work in a really SMALL round pen with only one sheep.
I'll get this one day.
Tonight I'm reading The Miracle of Mindfulness, which sounds like an incense scented hippie book…and it is. I heard the author (Thich Nhat Hanh) talk on NPR once a few months ago about Mindfulness and I really liked the idea, which, oversimplified is learning to live fully in the moment… an introduction to meditation…sort of. I tend to be a person with a ridiculously short and fragmented attention span. I think that this sort of thing will definitely help me with learning to handle my dog(s) and sheep.
This week, until Fri/Sat, this blog will probably be off topic. Sorry again, but i'd have to really stretch my experiences in Reno to make a stock dog training link. I'll see what I can do, though.