I’ve never liked the sound of the word “blog.” It sounds like something one should have removed at a doctor’s office. (“Is that blog bothering you again?”) That said, what I do like is the interchange between the readers of this particular blog. I’ve noted before how often I am struck by the insight and compassion that is expressed on a weekly basis here.
Not to mention the stories/lessons/mysteries generated by your dogs. Regular readers and I have learned so much from them. I got to thinking about how close I feel to some of the dogs that we often hear about, and wishing that I had a visual image to match with the name.
Thus inspired, I reached out to a number of regular readers, and asked if they’d be kind enough to send photos of their dogs. Many responded, and I had a grand old time “meeting” dogs I’ve read about over the years. Here’s a collage of them… if you’re inclined, try guessing who is who until you read the caption below.
(One caveat before you look at the photos: The “Collage” App on Word Press allows me to place the photos in a kind of order (sort of), but I can’t also size the images. Every dog here deserves to be the biggest image of them all, but I couldn’t manage that. I post this in hopes that owners/fans will not be distressed if their dog is in a smaller photo. They are all stars to me.)
Here’s who you are looking at: From (sort of) left to right, top to bottom: Kat’s Finna (front) and Ranger over Beth w/ Corgi’s (surprise!) Jack, Chris in Boise’s Habi (front) and Obi on the side, em’s Great Dane Otis, Nic1’s smiling Lily over Beth w/ Corgi’s dear Maddie in the cart, LisaW’s Olive and Phoebe in the grass, Mireille’s Shadow in the snow, Bruce’s Red Dog playing, em’s Sandy dwarfed by Otis, Bruce’s lovely Sandy and Mireille’s sleepy Sp0t. I reached out to a few more who either didn’t respond or were unable to in time for this post. Let me know who else you’d like to meet! Apologies to all those who are not included; please consider this a work in progress. And a big thanks to all who sent photos. I don’t remember having as much fun on a blog as I have this one in a long time! (And aren’t some of these photos gorgeous?)
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: It’s a tad chilly out. Minus 10 F when we got up yesterday, high for the day under zero. Breezy. Not a great weekend for working the sheepdogs. I worked Maggie on the flock on Friday when I got back from NYC, but walked down the hill knowing that I shouldn’t have. It was far too icy; she slipped a couple of times flanking around the sheep, so I quit early and resolved to stop until the footing gets better. No snow predicted for 10 days, (which would make it safer for dogs and sheep), so I re-committed to getting Maggie out and about around unfamiliar dogs. She’s improved greatly since I got her, but I haven’t worked hard enough to get her as comfortable around new dogs as I should have. She’s nothing like Willie was at his worst (ie: crazy), just afraid of dogs she’s never met. I have full confidence she’ll be just fine—but, uh, I have to do the work and I so often use up my dog training time and energy on herding. So really, I should be grateful for the weather…
On Saturday Maggie and I went to the local dog-friendly pet store and had a great training session (heel, leave it, look at me), but no dogs appeared. That’s okay, the scent of other dogs was all over, and that’s a fine place to start. My goal is to get her off the farm, and around unfamiliar dogs, at least twice a week during the winter months. She thought heeling for treats at the pet stores was the best game ever and had a great time. This week we’ll be going to dog training classes; not in the class, but working outside as dogs come and go. I expect she’ll have a great time here too as long as I don’t overwhelm her. (Inside with 10 other dogs would be too much for her right now. Unless they were all Border Collies and a flock of sheep. Then she’d be fine.)
The cold weather is certainly great motivation for teaching new tricks; all the dogs are learning new ones; Willie a ‘turn around me in a circle” and “figure eight through my legs,” Maggie “take a bow,” Tootsie “spin one way, then the other.” It’s fun, but truth be told, it’s herding that draws me in like an addiction. But that will come back soon enough, so I’m working on patience (that’s the trick I still need to master…), writing notes from Virgil Holland’s excellent book, From the Handler’s Post, and everything else that the dogs need to learn not related to working sheep. That ought to keep me busy for the next twenty-five winters. Hope you are keeping busy too, in the best of all possible ways. And for those of you down below, happy summer!