Welcome to The Real Time Canine

My name is Amelia Smith of BorderSmith Kennel and with The Real Time Canine, I am providing training technique for Border Collie Sheepdogs. Beginning with 10 week old Kensmuir Star, I will document his daily lessons in words and pictures every Sunday. Previously subscription based, the complete working journal is now available here every Sunday.

From the moment I collected Star, his training began and you will be with us every step of the way. Good manners, willingness & confidence are necessary for him to attain my goal to become a useful working sheepdog and successful trial competitor. From the first lessons on manners & socialization to his first exposure to sheep, you will be a part of Star's journey to success.

After a lifetime with animals, dogs, horses and livestock, I am happy to share my expertise with you. I have found success in sheepdog trials at home and abroad and have trained dogs that went on to find success with others. To learn more about me and my dogs, please visit my BorderSmith website and my BorderSmith Blog! Cheers and thank you very much.

Nov 21, 2010

Week 101

A compilation of events conspired to put me somewhere south of productive this week. As a result, and such as it is, here is this week's RTC. As always, I appreciate your patience, support and continuing readership. Thank you.

So what were those pesky events anyway?

Don't touch my babe
First off, my Dorper ewes are still overly cautious of their babes making any dog work on them undesirable at best. My ewes are proving to be very good mothers, milking like Holsteins and fiercely protective. I will breed them all again.

So, where is that box stall you promised me?
Then we had an uncommon amount of rainfall. It is still raining as I write, and it's a bit nippy by Cali standards. Was that a huge guffaw I heard from you hearty folks in the truly cold country? OKOK, I deserved that.

800 mg Motrin! You're missing out if you haven't tried it
A latent back problem was exacerbated at work, and I got a cold. My sore back is the result of mild scoliosis, previously undiagnosed and discovered in an X-ray, but the cold was not bad.

Fresh Sheep
And finally the addition of fresh sheep, which are simply too fresh to tolerate any of my dogs except Price, the world's steadiest sheepdog. (for my money, any way) Well, Star man did great with them too, but stock and dog went to opposite corners of a 3-ac pasture when Mirk approached, so I left them to settle. Bill Gary described these 9 month old Border Cheviots as "little kittehs," and he's not far off.

So what were the dogs up to?

Now 6 month old Jed busied himself grinning and playing
Star man did chores as needed
Price defended his canine superiority
Mirk patiently waited. for. me.

And Dexter made sure his winter duds fit right and looked sharp

That is all...

Nov 15, 2010

Week 100

This week's journal was a report on the long-running Porterville Fall Driving Trial held for something like 27 years in California's heavily agricultural San Joaquin Valley. Hat's off to the hard working club that has produced it all these years. We had no cooperation from the sheep, or mother nature, but all that could be done, was done to make it the best it could be. Star ran twice in the open, and once in pro-novice. Stupidly, I forgot a change to the scheduling, and missed the nursery, where he really belonged, but my talented youngster ran well, and learn he did.

Here's an excerpt:
Shining brightly on Sunday, my youngster made go of it with a valiant effort. Since he knew the way from Saturday, I sent left again, and was rewarded with another perfect outrun. With increased confidence over previously trodden ground, I think he ran quicker this time and showed more confidence walking up for the lift. The sheep came right off the hay, but leaned back to the set out, and Star was slow to cover. To his credit, he angled the sheep towards me, but any chance for the fetch gates was lost to him. We got them back on line just below them though, and Star was taking every whistle. He was taking every whistle, but without enough oomph to be completely effective. All the previous work we did taking off balance flanks on the fetch came to fruition, though, and Star hardly put a foot wrong. Without that practice, those sheep would have simply leaned on him all the way back to the set out. Such was the case for more than a few of the open dogs.

Around the post was problematic for most dogs, because once behind, the ewes could feel their overnight pen, and stalled or made an outright break for it. At this point some hands did the "flank and down" taking all or most of their dog's power away. Many dogs gripped off at this point frustrated by lack of confidence, lack of power or handling. The dogs that were successful here showed patience and power, and were left on their feet. The judge was allowing sensible grips, because it was the only way for most. Oh so keen at this juncture, Star started the turn wide and I had to call him in. To let the sheep get the upper hand here meant that you may never regain it, and many runs ended before the drive began. Driving was tedious for us with the sheep stopping to turn on the dog over and over again. More than use his teeth, Star used his body to slam the sheep more than once, and we completed our drive, but the points had flown off. Once in the shed ring, time was called just as we were setting it up. Star knew what was coming, and positioned himself appropriately, and that was the only disappointment of the weekend. I had so wanted to test his mettle with a shed.

Week 99

Preparations for the dog trial were in place this week. A touch up here, a reminder there, but most of what occurred was aimed at leaving both of my trial dogs feeling confident and powerful. Having been to Porterville many times, I knew what was in store.

This weeks lessons:
  1. Make it small
  2. Make it keen
  3. Calm before the storm
Here's an excerpt:
Worked in the small field again today. Lazy, I am so lazy! But, on the other hand, it might be just what my dogs need. The confined space keens them up measurably, and allows me to more quietly use my voice and body position to accomplish their training. In other words, bringing things back "at hand" is often a good idea. Star in particular enjoys it, and runs full throttle around sheep that are right in front of him comparatively.

Nothing new today. More flanks on the fly and direction changes while running out. Star did a really nice job in shedding practice today. Not only did he remain focused entirely on the shed off sheep without once looking back, but he came through with more intention, and drove his sheep away with more confidence. It was good to see.