Saturday, March 25, 2017

Baby Steps

It's funny the things you take for granted like being able to put a collar on a dog.  And a leash.  And go for a simple walk around the neighborhood.  Tess had never had a collar on her when she came to me, the foster mom warned me of that, so I've been taking the past few days to get her used to it.  She scratched at it at first.  A lot.  I shifted to a slightly lighter weight collar with no tags that had come with Ruby and that was better.  Sorta.  Put her collar with the tags on today and she was scratching more again.  She'll get used to it and she's no longer pitching a fit when I put it on.

We also took her for her first 'walk' yesterday.  She still needs her last set of vaccinations so she can't go very far.  I live on a corner so we went from the back yard, around the corner to the front yard and I did a crap job of keeping her off the grass and in the street partly because of cars.  My neighborhood used to be considered rural so there are limited sidewalks but now the traffic and growth have not kept up with the infrastructure and it's a suburban neighborhood with rural amenities (or lack thereof).  Anyway.  She did great with some treats and Ruby leading the way.  This morning went even better and later we'll take her for a short drive and more short walkies somewhere else.

These photos are from Wednesday, she seems so much bigger today (Saturday).

Neighbor girl came over on Thursday and things went much better all the way around.  Tess took treats from her and was only a little wary.  Part of this is because we already had her outside in the yard after her little 'walk' and the girl came into the yard seamlessly with little fuss from Ruby so there was less emotion about it all as opposed to the day before when the girl came through the house first and this got Ruby barking and Tess upset.  But she has to get used to people in the house at some point.  A friend came over on Wednesday and she took a little while to warm up but relaxed eventually yet she was perfectly fine on Sunday when another friend came over.  She seems much braver now, will have to get more people over here.  It's only her first week of getting used to a new place so it's hard to know if she's wary in general or just unsure in a new home.

She's finally playing and exploring in the yard.  I've been working on various tricks and shaping exercises in the yard, she likes that and I think it's helped her be more comfortable out there.

Ruby has been great through all of this.  Such a good, patient girl.

Baby steps for the country as well.  We'll see what the future holds but with the implosion of Trump's 'Health Care Plan', which was really a tax grab for billionaires, I think we see the first chink in the armor.  If he sticks to his guns about ignoring the health care crisis it will certainly be the end of him because this is a huge problem, one of the biggest this country faces, and cannot be ignored.  Obamacare is something but it's not a long term solution and there needs to be some major reforms to the whole corrupt health care/insurance system or there will be serious civil unrest and social and financial instability.  Unfortunately the folks in charge seem unwilling and unable to take this problem seriously and come up with reasonable and effective solutions.  Because one thing is for sure, the system as it stands is unsustainable.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy National Puppy Day

I have a puppy on National Puppy Day, imagine that.  Didn't know there was such a thing.

We're having a Standy Uppy Ear kinda day.

We've decided on Tess for her name though we reserve the right to change it.  So far it seems a great fit.

Even crappy puppy pictures are cute. To me anyway.

She seems to have grown a lot since Tuesday.  I fear she'll be grown before I know it.

She's getting a little braver in the yard.  Starting to explore on her own.  First attempts at getting her used to a collar weren't spectacular, will have to work on that.  She has a vet appointment next Wednesday for her final Parvo/Distemper vaccinations and she'll need to be comfortable with leash and collar by then.

A 5 year old neighborhood girl has come over a couple of times to play with Tess.  The first time went well, the second time Tess was more nervous.  If she comes again I'll coach her a little more.  I don't know much about 5 year olds so it's hard to know how well they can follow instructions.  I have some ideas about how to help her, we'll see how it goes.  But wow, she was exhausting.  I was more tired with 15 minutes with the kid than a whole day of puppy, work, exercise, etc.  My decision to not have kids was a solid one, I'm not cut out for that task.  But I'm thankful for the kid coming over to help socialize Tess and she loves to come over to be with the puppy and I think her mom is grateful for some peace so it's a win all the way around.

Tess loves training.  I think it's making her braver in the yard, this afternoon she came in from training then went back to the door wanting to go back in the yard for more.  We're working on some simple tricks, some luring and some shaping.  She does well with both.

She loves to play but not all the time which is weird for me after having Strummer who would play anytime, anywhere, anyhow, even on his last day when his leg was exploded with cancer and he was hobbling around on 3 legs. 

It's also weird having a Border Collie that will chill out in the back yard, hanging out with Ruby and me.  Hopefully this trait will stay into adulthood. 

I've been keeping Ruby's schedule as intact as possible.  Her agility training got kicked to the curb a bit this past week but I squeezed in some quick weave pole sessions yesterday and today.  She's finally starting to get it and today I was able to make the off side entry a bit harder.  On side (soft) entries are still a bit difficult for her so we'll spend more time on that side.

I have a free auditing spot at a One Mind seminar next week and I'll do a write up of how that goes.  Excited for that, should be fun.  I worked my way through a lot of the videos on their website but still so many more and so much info. to absorb.  So much foundation stuff out there, I think I need a whole nuther post for that.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Suddenly a Puppy

Meet Tess, 11 1/2 week old Border Collie, possible mix.

She comes from Texas by way of the HeRD Rescue group.  Momma had 7 pups under an abandoned building and when they were 4 weeks old a rescue down in Texas spent 4 hours digging them out.  Once the rescue got them out the original owner, who had numerous citations for neglect and dogs running at large, wanted them back so they were whisked away to CO.  Poor mom is just over two and this is her 3rd litter.  Owner was selling the pups for $750.  I know, people suck.  But thankfully not all people and a wonderful woman in a town an hour away fostered them and worked really hard on their socialization since they'd never seen people for the first 4 weeks of their lives. 

There were 4 pups left to choose from, all 4 were females.  One was a bit skittish with Ruby, the other, a gorgeous red smoothie, was nice but had some kind of eye thing going on.  It was something they noticed on the vet examination and it often resolves itself, pup's vision didn't appear effected but none the less, I didn't want to risk it.  This left a rough coat and a smoothie.  The rough coat was a bit more playful and confident but not by a lot and both Jonny and I prefer a smooth coat for the easier grooming.  Plus I liked her personality a bit more.  It's hard to look at puppies for an hour and know what they'll be like, they can change so much from day to day so we decided on the smoothie.  Her name was Dori but we've renamed her Tess.

She was stung by a wasp within a half hour of coming home and some Benadryl took care of the swelling but now she's a bit scared ot the yard.  It also didn't help that the neighbor's fence fighting Cattle Dog came charging over full on barking which scared the pants off her.  We brought her home Saturday afternoon and today, Tuesday, she's finally exploring the yard and willing to spend more time there thanks to Ruby.  She's relaxing a bit and settling into a schedule.

Ruby is very good with her but is more than happy to let her know when she's crossed the line with her nonsense.  Ruby suffers no fools and has raised a litter of pups herself.  Tess is a drama queen so Ruby doesn't have to do much to get her to back off. 

We've had few short training sessions and lots of play time.  She loves training so far.

She sleeps through the night in her crate, thanks again to foster mom for that, and is pretty good with her housebreaking.  Has had a couple accidents but mostly is very good.  I've left her for 2 hours a few times now and she's fine in her crate when I leave and get back, no barking.  Not sure what she does when I'm gone but she's calm and relaxed when I get home. 

She cried for 20 minutes the first night in her crate then she settled down for the night.  Had some crying in the ex-pen too yesterday but today's she's much  better and settles into a nap if she's been playing or training.

The 5 year old neighbor girl came over yesterday and she was great with her.  The girl has a puppy too and mom had taught her how to act with the pup.  Tess was mostly not interested, I think she was tired, but she wasn't afraid.  I'm trying to get as many people and kids over here as I can.  She gets her final parvo/distemper shots next week and then needs another 7-10 days to build immunity before she can be around other dogs so we're holding off on that.

It's great to have to time to devote to raising and training a puppy.  My office is 6 minutes away and I can schedule clients whenever I want (mostly) so I'm able to be home for her more than I was for Lola though she did come to work with me a lot.

I finally went to the chiropractor/PT for my ankle and he diagnosed 'posterior tibial tendonitis' which is exactly what I thought I had.  My case isn't serious, ultrasound showed some inflammation but not a severe amount.  I was limited to 40 minute walks, no hills, for the past week 2 weeks and I have some exercises to do.  He taped up my ankle to unload the tendon and I have a night splint to sleep in.  Been going to his office for ultrasound and some chiro. stuff he does and progressions on my exercises.  Some of them involve balancing on one leg or spinning around and I'm unnerved with how poor my balance is and how easily I get dizzy with the spinning.  Not sure if the sea sickness from my Hawaii trip effected my balance or maybe my balance was already effected and the sea sickness was a symptom.  Who knows.  Also I'm not eating regularly, my schedule thrown off by the puppy, so could be dizziness from forgetting to eat.  I had a bit of that last summer.  NOT good, will have to be better about that. 

Looking forward to fun with puppy.  I'll get some video going and of course there will be many more pictures.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Stretching Out

Nothing too sexy to see here, just some extension and obstacle commitment training.  I'm using a Manners Minder gizmo at the end of the jumps then calling her back to me.  My ankle's still a bit jacked up so I'm still taking it easy and no sprinting/running.  Glad I don't have any races on the calendar.

Takes her a couple of reps but she figures out her striding.  I lowered the jumps to 8" from 10-12" so perhaps that confused her at first.  The previous session she was back to running past the jumps so I made it easier.  Today I raised them to 10" and she had no issues.  No video, couldn't be bothered. 

Still working on weave pole training with the channels and she still sometimes runs straight to the Manners Minder and ignores the channel.  She's getting better though.  I went down to 6 poles so we could get more reps in.  Once she's solid with taking the channel and the channel gets narrower I'll add the other poles back so she can learn to get her rhythm.  I think she'll be ready to retired by the time I get her trained.

Thursday, March 02, 2017


It's that time of year - Shoulder Season - winter leaving, spring not quite here. Feels even more so for me since we're hoping to find a house this spring and move. Maybe we'll find a place, maybe we won't. Which means I can't sign up for races since I don't know where I'll be this summer. Jonny wants to wait to get a new dog until we're moved but I've convinced him to at least consider taking on a new dog if the right one comes along. We're planning on going to a herding trial in a couple of weeks and hopefully I can find some folks who can point me in the direction of a good working breeder.

For a moment we thought we had a perfect situation - one of Jonny's co-workers is looking to re-home his Border Collie from a top working breeder. One of my agility friends just got a pup from this breeder and has 2 others from him and he's a true working breeder, not an agility breeder. At first it sounded like the dog was simply too much dog for his owner who is 70 and looking to retire and wanted a pet, not a busy working dog. Dog is 2 years old. But it turns out the dog sounds really messed up, the owner was using a shock collar on it to train basic obedience/house manners, ugh. They were using a spray bottle too and now the poor thing is so terrified of them that he runs away when the wife waters her plants with one. Also the dog is super inbred, grandparents are half siblings. And now he's not sure he wants to give the dog up. Would love to rescue this dog from this unfortunate situation but also don't want a 'project' and a dog with such serious inbreeding and if he won't give it up anyway there's nothing I can do.

And I would really love a puppy. It would be fun to do all the training. One Mind Dogs had a 1/2 off special deal for a 6 month premium membership and I pulled the trigger on it. SO much information. Watching all the videos of people training their puppies makes me want a puppy all the more. So we'll see. There's no hurry.

Ruby is happy to be an only dog and life is so easy with her. She's the easiest dog ever. It's so easy to train with only one dog as well. I've had multiple dogs for so long, I forgot how easy it can be with only one. So for now we enjoy the ease of one dog life and wait patiently for the right second dog to come along.

I've been doing a lot of walking and hiking, taking a break from running.

Rugged Mountain Dog rockin' the Benjamin Trail

 Went to Golden Gate Canyon State Park last weekend with the intention of snow shoeing but the snow was packed and shallow enough that Yax Trax were fine.  Every one else there had snow shoes, poles, big packs, it was kind of funny.  We blazed right past them because snow shoes slow you down and are a nuisance unless you have deeper, unpacked snow.  I don't use poles because I want to maintain my balance and all those muscles needed for balancing as I age.  Use it or lose it.

Panorama Point, Golden Gate Cnayon State Park

I twisted my left ankle again and landed funny on my right knee on that Betasso hike which leads me to believe that that's what happened last January when I jacked up my knee.  At the time I thought that the ankle twisted first but thinking about it afterwards I assumed it was the knee that had gone out first.  But now that I've twisted that left ankle a couple more times I'm convinced it's the ankle.  I've had a little niggle with it for a while but it's barely been noticeable but now is turning into a problem.  So this week I'm taking it easy, just walks with Ruby, no running except maybe some short agility stuff with her.  But no RUNNING running.  It feels fine today, back to just a niggle here and there so hopefully nothing major going on but something to watch out for.  I see balance/ankle strengthening exercises in my future.  And more weight training.  Been slacking on that, 30 minutes a week, it's not enough.  They're starting a parkour class in a park near my house where I walk Ruby all the time so I'm going to start going there when class is going on to see if I can get ideas.  I think the class will be too hard for me or I'd sign up.  I'll see how hard it looks and maybe change my mind.

I did get a couple few bike rides in in the past few weeks.  Finally made it to Hall Ranch, think it's been 8 months or so since I last went riding there.  One of the disadvantages of coached bike workouts, some trails are hard to use for training and Hall is one of them though maybe I had a few rides this summer that I don't remember.

Longs and Meeker from Hall Ranch

February was so mild, days in the 60's and 70's and barely any snow.  Crazy.  It's nice but climate change is scary and there were some fires though thankfully they were put out quickly.  At least the snowpack is well over normal, mountains have been getting slammed so reservoirs should be good this summer.

I'll work on getting some more Ruby training video.  I shoot it and then get too busy to process it.  Getting ready to take her out to the training field for the first time.  Curious to see how that will go.  Took her to my training partner's yard and she was super distracted but I have an idea for keeping her focused at the training field.  More on that later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dudley Fontaine Seminar and More Dog Searching

My agility club's seminar was the weekend before last and since Ruby is barely doing obstacles there wasn't much we could enter.  But there was a Foundation session and a Contacts session so we got to play in new more formal surroundings and learn a bit.

I figured the Foundation session would have us sending to curved tunnels, doing tight circles around cones and wing standards, short sequences and who knows what else.  I was totally wrong.  For us and most of the folks there it was all about extension.  The more advanced folks got the start of teaching soft turns and a front cross.  But Ruby wasn't sequencing at all before the seminar and I hadn't even tried running at a single jump with her.  It was all me standing next to the standard and rewarding her for taking the jump.  I was thankful to have such high level help with moving on to the next step.  Such a simple step and yet so big.

I used her Lotus Ball for reward and Dudley placed it a few strides after the jump while I sent her from a restrain through the standards with no jump bar.  Eventually we added another jump and then some bars at 4".  Then a third jump by her second turn.  Then a straight tunnel to 2 jumps.  Pretty sure it was 2 jumps.  It took her a couple of reps each time we made it harder but she caught on pretty quickly.  So happy with the little smidge.  She had a good time too, didn't seem at all worried about making mistakes or the other dogs or the strange surroundings and Dudley did a great job of keeping things fun and light.  Our homework is to get up to 4 jumps (or jumps/tunnels) straight in a row before trying to work on turns.  My other homework is not to use my handling to keep her from running past jumps.  I found myself running into her line to get her to take the jumps and not only did it not work but Dudley rightly pointed out that I don't want to have to do that in the future.  Better to manipulate the training environment than your handling.  I regretted this with Strummer, using my handling to make up for holes in foundation so I was thankful to have that pointed out.  I'm to put down a leash or rope parallel to the line of jumps to use like a Gamble line to keep me from crowding her and I'm to move the leash further and further out to get lateral distance.  All obvious stuff but it's been so long.  And Strummer needed so much work with collection, we didn't spend too much time on extension.  In hindsight we could/should have spent more but yeah, hindsight.  It's more obvious that Ruby will need more work with extension.  Small dog, small stride, not super fast, at least not yet, extension makes more sense.

Some training from yesterday.  Jumps and mini tunnel (my old chute barrel) are close together due to the size of my yard but it's a start.

I think she's refusing that third jump because she's trying to figure out how to adjust her stride too late.  Or maybe she's still learning how to physically jump.  She doesn't have the best build for jumping with that long back.  Jumps are at 10" and competition height will be 12".  I did build up to this, had a few sessions between the seminar and this taped session.

One of Dudley's training techniques that I like is that you should always start with something you're sure the dog will do.  I did this on previous sessions and she was easily handling the 3 obstacles in previous sessions so I felt confident starting out with them.  Another training technique she (and many others) have is that you don't make it easier after the first failure.  So I tried 3 obstacles again and when she failed the second time I went back to 2.  I don't have a lot of room to get lateral distance so that part will have to wait until I feel good enough to take her to the training field.  My training partner offered up her yard and I may take her up on it.

The Contact session was very interesting, again not at all what I was expecting.  Dudley teaches a running A-frame with stride regulators and a running dogwalk using a foot target.  The interesting thing is that she starts with a foot target the length of the contact zone and the only criteria is that the dog hits it.  Doesn't matter if the dog leaps off of it because as long as the dog adjusts stride to hit the contact on the full dogwalk it doesn't matter to her if they leap off of it after they've hit.  She also teaches a 'stop' on the dogwalk by teaching the dog to paw the end of the target board and eventually the end of the dogwalk.  These cues are on a verbal eventually.  Similarly for the teeter she trains the dog to paw the end.  And she uses the 2 table method to teach the dog to run the teeter separate from the end behavior.  I've been watching a DVD from Jen Pinder ('Sizzling Seesaws') that also uses 2 tables for the same reason but for 4 on she teaches the dogs to stop at the end with front feet not allowed to go off the board.

Ruby had a few turns at running the foot target and again I was crowding her to get her to run on the board.  She'll avoid obstacles to get to the treats more quickly.  I was using a small tupperware container filled with good treats this time rather than the Lotus Ball to save the time of her ripping the ball open.  She did well with it, again seemed happy and not worried by mistakes.

When I came home I tried to find some videos of Dudley's dogs doing the pawing thing in competition because I was having a hard time envisioning this.  She didn't have a demo dog so we had to imagine what the final behavior looks like.  In the end it looks like her dogs don't really paw the end in an obvious way, not the way I was picturing anyway, but she does have nice contacts.  I like the idea of a foot target for dogs that are big strided and don't have a consistent performance on the dogwalk (ie Strummer).  I'm not thrilled with the idea that it's o.k. for them to leap, maybe all those years of watching for it and considering it an important criteria.  But for Ruby so far she's showing no signs of leaping and is doing really well with striding on the full flat board.  I elevated the board for the first time yesterday and she still did great.

We'll see how it goes but for now I don't see a reason to bother with a foot target.  I'm using the Manners Minder gizmo rather than a thrown toy though.  It's so much easier for me, that Lotus ball was causing all kinds of issues.  Not sure it makes her run any faster either.  I might bring it back, we'll see.  I know thrown toys are a big part of Silvia's method but for now it's a complication and I don't see much value in it for her.  But I'm keeping an open mind about it all.

On the 'Search for a Second Dog' front I've decided a good way to connect with good working dog breeders is to go to a herding trial.  A quick search of the USBCHA site (the one and only herding venue that's considered a good place for testing herding ability that is worth breeding for) showed a trial up in Nunn (about 1 hour 20 minutes drive) on March 12.  Unfortunately I couldn't find the arena on Google Maps so I emailed the woman putting on the trial and got a very quick response.  She also sent me a better link for local trials and there's also an outdoor trial in April and another one down in Monte Vista which is sorta kinda on the way to Cortez/Mancos/Dolores area so maybe we'll take a little trip down there for more house hunting.  I'm excited to go, the only herding I've seen in person was at the National Western Stock Show down in Denver many years ago.  It was fun to watch but the whole Stock Show thing was a nightmare of crowds and traffic way back then, I can only imagine the hassle of it now and I haven't gone back since.

That link also lists 'Resources' for lessons and the only instructor listed is the woman I took both Lola and Strummer to for Instinct Testing.  Lola was a definite no go but Strummer showed some promise, he was too young and over the top but the instructor, Cathy, said he maybe just needed to grow up a bit and try again in a few months.  I did let him try again a couple of years later at USDAA Nationals and he seemed much better, the guy doing the instinct test spent loads of time with him and he was much calmer.  They were using goats rather than sheep and the goats seemed calmer.  The guy gave him a certificate but they were giving certificates to pretty much everybody who's dog showed even the slightest amount of interest in the goats.  I dug it out and it was from the Arizona Herding Assocation and a quick Google search shows that it's under the auspices of the AKC so yeah, not very rigorous requirements.  Which is fine for encouraging pet and agility folks at USDAA Nat's. to try herding for fun and something else to do with their dogs.  But I never pursued it beyond, too expensive for lessons on top of agility and too far to drive.  Cathy's place in Ft. Lupton was about 1 hour 10 minutes back in the day, who know what it is now with the crazy traffic we have now.  But I don't know, maybe if I get a Border Collie that shows interest I might consider trying it again.  Because I need another dog sport right now.  Sure I do.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Buyer Beware - Border Collie 'Shopping'

And then there was one.

I got Ruby at the beginning of May last year and if you'd told me when I got her that she'd be the only dog I had left by January I'd have been in pure disbelief.  And yet here we are.  For the first time in 18 years no Border Collies tearing around the house.  So weird and quiet.  Ruby is happy to sleep in until whenever.  Definitely a hard starter.  The parade of zillions of dogs past our living room windows is greeted with some interest but no hysterical barking and scrabbling of front paws on the upper window sills.  Which I have to admit is a nice thing.  I can leave the house without someone flying around my legs in a flurry having a barking tantrum and come back in the house if I forget something without more barking and tantrums.  I would happily take it all back to have my dogs back.  I'm finally getting used to the quiet and it's turned from nice to boring.  Neither Jonny nor I are ready for another dog right now but both of us would like to get some crazy energy back in the house at some point.

I had been keeping my eye out on the various rescue sites and Petfinder for the past couple of months.  There was a Border Collie that sounded like a good possibility that came into the rescue I volunteer for but I didn't want to subject Lola to a new dog.  She deserved to live out her life without that extra stress on her.  Unfortunately the rescue has since disbanded, the dog was taken to a rescue on the other side of the state and was promptly adopted.  Yay for that dog!  Another dog will come around, no shortage of dogs in rescue.  And it's puppy season, loads of puppies in rescue right now though none of them locally seem to be Border Collies or even reasonable mixes of some herding dog.  And they've been spayed/neutered at 8 weeks old which sadly is a deal breaker for me.  If I get a puppy I'd like to wait 1 1/2 - 2 years to get it spayed/neutered.  Unfortunately this is a deal breaker for most rescues.  I get it but it makes getting a puppy from rescue problematic for me.  And yesterday I was entertaining the idea that maybe I'd like a puppy for a change.  Been 16 years since I've had one.

So I went down the rabbit hole of checking out Border Collie breeders.  And after about 40 minutes I had a stomach ache that literally sent me running for the bathroom.  I like the criteria that the working Border Collie forum sets for choosing a breeder, their list of red flags is here.  There are obvious red flags like don't get dogs from pet stores or over the internet or from the Walmart parking lot.  Or breeders that emphasize the colors of dogs or register with the AKC or won't give you their address. or have too many litters and breeding pairs of dogs.  Additional obvious red flags for me are breeders that are selling more than one breed or won't let you come out to their facility.  Photos from conformation shows and a listing as an AKC Breeder of Merit or AKC breeder of any merit are deal breakers for me.  The agility/sport lines are filled with epilepsy, hip problems, behavior problems and other weird health problems so I shy away from those lines.  These things are easy and obvious to spot on a website.

But some things are not so obvious.  On the one hand responsible Border Collie breeders should be breeding for working ability on livestock.  I'd like to support this idea.  But to be honest I have no need for a dog that can work livestock nor am I a good judge of a good working dog.  AKC herding titles and herding titles in general are red flags, according to the Border Collie forum:

"Breeders who don't know enough or care enough to breed for herding excellence may point to titles (letters before or after the dog's name) acquired in dumbed-down AKC or other multi-breed herding trials. These trials are designed as ways to have fun with your dog rather than as true tests of working ability, and because they have to provide fun for many breeds which have little or no herding ability, they are no measure at all of the quality of a real working breed like the Border Collie. Where a Border Collie sire or dam is advertised as having title initials before or after its name, you can be pretty sure that neither the dog nor the breeder is accomplished enough to compete in "real" Open level sheepdog trials. Ironically, therefore, these titles prove the exact opposite of what they are intended to prove. The same is true of "herding instinct certificates," an easy, meaningless credential that no serious breeder of working dogs would bother to get."

O.k., so alphabet soup listed after a dog's name is a red flag, got it.  So how can a novice like me evaluate herding ability?  How do I know if I'm supporting the real deal?  How do I even find these breeders?  A simple Google search of 'Border Collie Breeders Colorado' brings up a 100% failure of criteria on the first 2 pages.  In fact the first listing is for Wildblue Border Collies, the breeder who sold Jon Katz his dogs and if ever there was a red flag . . .  Plus that 'AKC Breeder of Merit' stamp on the first page of the site.  Ugh.

Anyway, there was one sort of useful link that came up at the bottom of page two, 'Ranch World Ads'.   Some of these breeders seem sketchy.  But one seemed like a possibility.  No initial obvious red flags and a video showing the male dog working.

'Save money, save time, save stress' - get a Border Collie.  That made me laugh.  And laugh and laugh and laugh.  Because 10 years with Strummer was the exact opposite of saving money, time and stress.  Maybe if I had a herd of cattle . . .  Anyway, to a novice this looks like a reasonable level of herding skill.  And when I clicked on the 'Previous Litters' button the first thing I saw was a testimonial from an agility friend that I'd just been talking to a couple of weeks ago at a USDAA trial.  I saw her husband working with the dog and it seemed like a very nice dog.  This seemed promising.

No mention of the female dog's herding abilities and none of the testimonials from people with pups from previous litters mention herding ability but at this point I'm willing to let that slide.  I don't personally need a dog with herding ability and after hours of searching this is the only breeder in Colorado that I've found that comes even close to satisfying the criteria for supporting the working Border Collie community.  The male's pedigree looks o.k. as far as inbreeding goes but when I check the female's pedigree - ugh - some pretty serious inbreeding.  And this is a huge red flag for me.  I'm already cynical about the whole concept of 'purebred dog' and to know I'm getting one that's got significant inbreeding (grandmothers of the female are sisters, not sure if they're littermates though) is probably a deal breaker.  I'm not willing to compromise my priorities of health and temperament for herding ability.

So I'm back to square one which is rescue which means there's a good likelihood I won't be able to get a puppy unless I can find a rescue willing to work with me on the spay/neuter thing.  And when it comes to puppies, rescue is the riskiest place to get one.  We took that risk with Lola and it was totally worth it but is it worth taking the risk again?  The surest bet is a grown or nearly grown dog from rescue.  You know what you're getting temperament wise and the size and structure of the dog.  And I prefer mixes to purebreds.  In the next week or two I'll start the application process.  Lots of different rescues in the area.  One of them has a most ridiculous application process, intimidating even to me and I worked for 10 years for Border Collie rescue.  I get what they're trying to do, so many idiots out there with dogs who haven't got the faintest clue about behavior and training.  But I'm not sure I can be bothered writing essays on my training techniques and reading all the pet level behavior books and articles they require you to read.  Ironically and unfortunately the rescue I volunteered for has recently disbanded.  As I recall they had a policy of allowing puppies to wait until at least 7 months to be spayed/neutered.  And their application process was a good balance of thorough but reasonable.  But there are no shortage of dogs that need homes out there so I'm sure the right dog will come along at some point.  Funny, I've always had dogs falling in my lap, it's odd to be in the position of actively looking for one.

On a related note, I checked out the Border Collie epilepsy database and wow there are a lot of sport lines there and irresponsible breeding.  A couple of dogs come up four times or more in various lines and pedigrees as parent or grandparent of an epileptic dog.  One agility competitor turned breeder even bred the exact same parents that produced an epileptic dog 7 years later and surprise surprise, they produced another epileptic dog.  Another male dog produced epileptic dogs with different females and still was being bred as well as his offspring.  Seriously dude, in the name of DUH quit breeding your dog.  You know who you are and anybody willing to take 10-20 minutes to peruse that site can figure it out.  There was another case of someone breeding siblings together (not sure if they were littermates).  DUH people.  Who buys these dogs?  What's the point of knowing the pedigree if you're going to ignore the red flags?  So much emotion involved, I think people put logic aside both on the buying and breeding side.

Ah well, the search begins.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

RIP Lola, December 2000 - January 2017

We decided to let Lola go yesterday.  Her mobility had taken a turn for the worse over the weekend and we decided it was time to let her go.  She had a good long happy life and we miss her terribly.  The only dog I've ever had from an 8 week old puppy.  The house is so very quiet.  It's the first time in 19 years that I haven't had a Border Collie knocking around.