Pukka’s Promise: Book Review

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One of the best things about being an author is being sent pre-publication copies of books. It's great fun to see what's going to be out on the bookshelves and eReaders in a couple of months. (Of course, one of the worst things about being an author is being sent pre-pub copies of books. They pile up. They sit on your desk looking at you, begging in some passive, rectangular way for endorsements.) Most of the books are somewhat interesting, a few of them are downright, uh, horrible.  And every once in a while a truly great one comes along, that sucks you in and causes you to change your schedule and read, read, read until the last page is turned and the book closes and you are mad at yourself for staying up so damn late. That describes Ted Kerasote's new book, Pukka's Promise: The Read More

What’s In Your Library?

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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

Autonomy II: Do Ask, Do Tell

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Last week I posted a blog about giving our dogs more autonomy, and asked for comments about ideas on how to do so outside of working dogs on sheep. Many of the comments sent in response to that post are extremely helpful, and I encourage you to read through them. However, I know that time is short for many of us, so I've summarized some of the best ideas and some of my own this week. First, as a preface, it is important to note that just like people, dogs vary tremendously in their desire for autonomy. Some dogs are extremely independent and others find too many choices burdensome. That's why Willie stays in a crate when I'm gone. I am 100% sure that he is more comfortable in his 'bedroom' than being left loose in the house. When left loose he's been a wreck when I returned home; no Read More

Autonomy & Domestic Dogs

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How much autonomy does your dog have?  Willie's work with sheep is  what motivates me to ask this question. As I mentioned earlier, Willie and I attended a sheepdog clinic 2 weeks ago with Patrick Shannahan, and the big take away for us was that, too often, Willie looks to me to tell him what to do while working sheep. It's not that he doesn't know what to do himself, he's just in the habit of being dependent upon me to tell him before he takes action on his own. This was not a complete surprise to me, but I didn't realize what a significant issue it was until I worked with Patrick. I think I know why this has happened: First, Willie is a naturally biddable dog and dependent dog. I chose him over his 7-week old brother because Willie seemed to care deeply about where I was and what I Read More