Ralphie’s Adventure at Summer Camp

ralphie

This week, it's all about the farm: (Next week I'll write a full report of the talks at the Animal Behavior Society 2013 Meeting in Boulder. It was great, lots to tell you about!) [I should mention here that I just changed that last sentence on 8-8, after a call from Jim who noticed I had actually written "I was great..." instead of "It was great". He pointed out that that didn't sound like something I would say, and he was right. I meant the latter, not the former. Argh, how embarrassing.] First, although it was lovely to be on Vancouver Island and invigorating to be at ABS in Boulder, it is heaven to be home.  Willie is doing well, I'm even giving him a little time off leash, and Tootsie is as adorable as ever. They both seemed awfully glad to see me, but they couldn't possibly have 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

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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

Best. News. Ever.

ST PAV Pen 2012

Today, it's all about the farm. I had a blog written about the effect of acoustic environments on us and our dogs, some new products available for us to use to calm our dogs, and some new results of "calming" music that Katie and I have seen with our dogs. And then I erased it all with one key stroke. I'm sure that has never happened to you.... So I'll save that topic for later (and promise to catch up in the next month or so on other topics I've promised you, like exercises to calm the sympathetic nervous system, and the methods of the clicker versus no-clicker study ). Right now I have to get home to the dogs and work on the talk that Karen London and I are giving at the Interdisciplinary Forum on Applied Animal Behavior next week in Phoenix. So here's the second half of the blog, Read More