Placebos and Dogs: Really? (Yes!)

logs sheep 1-2015

I've always been fascinated by placebos and I never understood why the phrase "the placebo effect" was often spoken with such disdain. Here is a standard definition (from Wikipedia): "A placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient." Except, it's not necessarily ineffectual, right? That's the point, if you think about it: We know that you can be helped just by the belief that something can help you, and that factor must be eliminating when testing new medications or treatments. Yes, the placebo effect can be a confounding factor when trying to discern if a particular treatment or medication is worthwhile, but isn't it even more remarkable that belief itself can be therapeutic? Study after Read More

Sunflowers Make Me Smile

sunflowers 2 pope conservancy

Today's blog isn't quite what was planned, because Willie scared us by developing a mass on his foreleg that looked exactly like the sarcoma tumor his uncle Luke had at a similar age. Willie's mass developed quickly over the weekend, looked like a copy of Luke's tumor and is on the same part of his foreleg as Luke's was. Scary stuff. But good news! It looks like it is just a cyst, so in all probability it is nothing to worry about. The vet did still recommend taking it off, in part to prevent it growing and causing trouble, and also to be absolutely sure that it isn't cancerous. Willie will have the surgery tomorrow, which means much of our sheepdog work will have to go on pause until he recovers in 14 days. He is NOT going to like being back on a leash (argh, breaks my heart to do this Read More

Spring Photo Album

Pepper looks at headstone 2014

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE FARM today. Because, well, spring has sprung and it seems like everything is happening all at once. Lambs in the barn, brush to clear, gardens to tend, barn roofs to patch, etc. It's all good, there's just a lot of it. I'm happy to report that the three lambs we have are doing well. Barbie, aka "Explodo Ewe" was due yesterday, but so far, she seems oblivious. The photo below is of Lady Godiva (lambs = Salt and Pepper) and Lady Baa Baa (with Chess, the black and white lamb in the middle). This is the first time that they have left the barn and gone up the hill to graze on real grass. That's Pepper on the left, unclear what to make of Luke's tombstone, which says That'll Do, Luke, That'll Do. (I wrote about Luke and the headstone in For the Love of a Dog, if you'd like Read More

Introducing A New Dog: Maggie and Willie as a Case Study

3 lambs 4-21

In hopes it will be helpful to others in the same situation, I thought I'd outline how I handled the introduction of lovely little Maggie into the family. Here's some background on the actors: 1) Willie: Eight-year old BC neutered male, at one point extremely aggressive to unfamiliar dogs, relatively comfortable outside now with new dogs, but tense when unfamiliar dogs come into the house. Willie is a classic alpha-wannabe: Fearful but desperate to maintain control. He is very responsive to acoustic cues from me, 99% of the time a sweet, lovely dog, but can lose his temper around other dogs and be downright rude and inappropriate when tired and/or stressed. Willie at his worst? Think Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining. Willie at his best? The best dog you'll ever be lucky Read More

Meet Maggie

Happy Maggie

Yup, Redstart Farm has a new member of the family. Maggie, a 15-month old female Border Collie from Idaho, has stolen the hearts of us all, Willie especially. He is gobsmacked. In love. Head over heels. Watching the two of them play has become one of my greatest joys in life. Those of you who have been following the farm for awhile know that finding the right dog for Willie hasn't been easy. He started life as a puppy pathologically afraid of unfamiliar dogs. He grew into an adolescent torn between fear and the desire to control everything, the kind of dog I call an "alpha wanna be." He has always loved to play with dogs who also loved to run together outside, but became tense and a tad crazy if they came into the house. Remember Jack Nicholson's face in the movie The Shining? Read More