What’s In Your Library?

pinwheels

Now that winter is here, it seems like a good time to talk about some good books and DVDs to keep us busy during those long, dark evenings. Here are a few books and DVDs that I've enjoyed, some dog related, some not. AWAY TO ME DVD: First, check out the trailer for a new DVD that has just come out, Away to Me! Anyone who works sheepdogs or likes to watch them will be interested in this video. I got to see the entire thing before it was finished, and it has some of the best scenes of close up interactions between dogs and range ewes I have ever seen. it follows three handlers as they compete in the well-known Soldier Hollow Classic sheepdog trial in Utah. Here's the movie's website where you can order it. UNLOCKING THE ANIMAL MIND, is a great book by Franklin McMillan. Subtitled How Read More

Barbie & Willie, Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Barbie in woods

I originally called this post "Barbie's Not Always a Nice Girl," but then I thought about what the title would look like on Google and the kind of people who'd click on it. Hmm, not really my "brand," as they say. I thought though, that you'd be interested in yet another interaction between Barbie, my cantankerous, lead ewe and Willie. Barbie, as you may recall, is the only sheep who has ever seriously challenged Willie. She won a few times when she had three-week old lambs this spring, literally chasing Willie away, her anvil-like head down and ready to bash Willie into the ground. He ran away like a frightened chipmunk, because Barbie was serious, and because we all know she can be a witch, and because well, he's just not the bravest dog in the world. That's partly why I love him so Read More

Willie & Trisha Back to Work

Some wonderful things to report today. The first is that I had a restful and relaxing vacation. I saw lots of friends, gardened, cooked and got back to working sheep with Willie (more on that soon). I took an entire three weeks off, which felt terribly indulgent, but also desperately necessary. The last two years have included many wonderful things, but they've also included some major challenges, including Jim's snapped bicep, surgery and recovery, my badly smashed knee, a summer raising a puppy who was (and is) better off another home, the death of Jim's sister, moving his mother to Madison three weeks later, the out-of-the blue death a month later of Jim's brother, Willie's shoulder injury, surgery and year-long recovery, and a raft of my own health problems that I've been fighting in Read More

Balance

W balance 3 small

Balance is a term used by sheep dog handlers, but I find myself thinking of its value in so many other contexts related to dogs. In sheep herding, "balance" refers to a dog's ability to place itself exactly where he or she needs to be to take control of the sheep without frightening them. It refers to two things really. One is the distance between the dog and the sheep. Too far away? -- no control, no pressure. Too close? -- forces the sheep to run away in a panic, or to turn and fight. Just right? Exactly at the point at which the sheep will turn and move away from the dog without panicking. The other aspect of balance is side to side, left to right. For example, does the dog stop at exactly the right place on an outrun to move the sheep directly toward you once he begins to walk Read More