Training dogs and just general stuff

I really haven’t worked my dogs in some time now and I keep thinking in the back of mind I should be doing it, but there’s a lot going on in my life right now on a personal level.  The dogs are getting plenty of attention and exercise, I’m just not out working them on sheep.  They all want to work, but I haven’t taken the time to do it and I’m trying not to worry or feel guilty about it.

For many, many years, my life has revolved around animals.  First cats (I bred and showed purebred cats for about seven years), then dogs (first agility and then stock work), then the livestock.  Caring for four Border Collies, a LGD, a flock of chickens and ducks, about 75 ewes and lambs, four dairy goats and 11 cats is a tremendous amount of work, especially given that I feed raw to the dogs and cats.  I’ve also been actively engaged in cheese making (not so much lately due to lack of milk, but that should change in a week or so), bread making, getting my house in better shape, etc., etc.  I hope to get my cold frame going this weekend and I need to start getting into my garden and mulching.  I think that I’m moving away from looking at my dogs as competition animals (remember, I bought Gel to compete in agility, that changed to stock events, but my goal was to compete with him) to utilitarian animals.  I will train the younger dogs and of course continue to train Gel, but I am going to start to do it for me, because I enjoy it, to see where I can get with them, not for the purpose of being competitive at trials.  I will do local trials as they are a good way for me to see where I am with my training, but I am not going to trial for the competition nor will I travel great distances to get to trials.  I just can’t justify it.

I believe that in this day and age, trialing is potentially harmful for the Border Collie as a breed.  Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer working farms in the United States where these dogs can be used for what they were bred for.  I’d be willing to bet that most of the working bred litters being produced these days are going into trial, sport or pet homes rather than farm homes.  There are lots of people out there trialing who don’t even own sheep.  I was talking to Wally last night about Fern and I told him that I really should spay her, but I looked at her pedigree over the weekend and darned, it’s awfully nice and she’s showing all the signs of being a really well-rounded stock dog, better than her father.  Of course, finding a male that I’d consider breeding her to would be hard.  I wouldn’t breed her to a trial dog.  I’d try to find either an imported hill dog or a dog that is actively working on a farm.  But if I breed her, I’d have to deal with puppy buyers which I am loathe to do.

Back to me and my time.  They’ve recently upped my hours at Walmart, which is a good thing, but that is cutting into my time.  I wonder how I survived working full-time, well, I know how I survived, I ran myself into the ground.  I cut corners.  I was frustrated and nervous.  I woke up this morning and realized that I haven’t woke up in the middle of the night having anxiety attacks in at a week now, maybe a bit longer.  I’m sleeping really, really well which is incredible.

When I was writing the post I published yesterday, I lost track of time and was almost late for work.  They had me out in Lawn and Garden for a good part of the day and I all but froze to death out there.  I hope I don’t end up there today because it’s brutally cold out there.  I need to go back out in a few minutes to make sure everyone has water to drink.  It’s only 20 degrees out, but with the wind chill, it feels a lot colder.  I know this isn’t terribly cold for some people, but it is cold for North Carolina.  One more cold day tomorrow, then it warms up nicely for the foreseeable future.

We lost another lamb this morning.  I ended up butchering it for the dogs and cats.  I couldn’t find any damage that indicated that Rose killed it.  I believe it was one of a twin set to a first time ewe.  I think Wally and I will breed a bit later next year so that the lambs will be born in March when it will be a bit warmer and we are going to sell last years ewe lambs so we will not have any first time mothers for next year.  We have talked about culling some of the adult ewes, but we cannot decide which ones so that likely won’t happen.  It looks like all of the sheep will be residing at my house for the foreseeable future.  I am enjoying having them here.  I didn’t get to really experience the lambs when they were at Wally’s house.

Until later …

One Reply to “Training dogs and just general stuff”

  1. I’m glad to see some confirmation of what my observations have been. As much as sheep dog trials are steeped in true “work” … they are not the same. Nor do they need to be. But one has to also view them as sport. Because they are a sport. They started at the same time as fancy dog shows and for much the same purpose: a growing fascination with exhibitionism and breeding animals for sport and profit.

    I think too much holy status has been granted to trials. We can’t question them or the really really small number of people involved at a serious level.

    I think the breed is bigger than just trials and despite the efforts of the big wigs to carve up the gene pool and kick certain dogs out, I don’t understand why any of them are unable to find the dogs they want to breed and breed to without the calls to kick dogs out.

    Nor do I hear anyone saying that there are too few working dogs and too much work. Or too few trial dogs and not enough trials. It seems to me that the top dogs have been shown again and again, yet the same handler/dog pairs show up for trial after trial.

    That tells me that it’s not simply a matter of selecting breeding stock. And if it is, there is not enough being selected because the COIs are going up across the breed even though there is a general trend to “out cross.”

    Any way, there’s a lot of animosity for little gain in the BC world.

    You, by actually owning sheep, are way ahead of the curve of many BC enthusiasts who want to make stock work a part of their experience and breeding decisions, and look, it’s still not easy for you.

    I personally think it’d be productive for people to focus more on producing good dogs themselves instead of blasting and ostracizing others in the breed.

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