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.

Jan 29, 2011

Week 108

Triailng season kicks off here in earnest next month. First Zamora, then Sonoma Wine Country SDT in March, and I'm ready with 2 open dogs this year. I am so excited! Welcome all, it's so nice to have you.

It's good to be Star
Day 205os
We worked on the single today. I kept thinking, I need to go back to the round pen exercise with Star and tune up his shedding. That in addition to practicing the single, but I didn't do it. Lazy...so lazy. Star has not yet internalized the single as much as he has the plain old shed. He has learned how to hold 2 away from the rest, and become fairly comfortable with it, but holding the single evades him. Today, when the single bobbled to break back, he stood with his feet in concrete, confounded by what to do. He wants to gather all the sheep up anyway, so my thinking is that it just does not make sense to him for a loner to be in the wind. Unlike many dogs, he does not find the single fun at all. Hmmm...what to do...

We made a few little gathers today, and Star was a little reluctant to release the pressure and take my come-bye flank. This because the pressure was on the other side with the sheep wanting to run uphill to the trailer. I made him do it anyway, just to keep him supple and willing. Reluctantly at first, he complied, but it got easier after a time or two.

The Bull Pen
Day 206os
After working in the field today, I loaded all but one of the kittehs into the trailer and had Star practice taking the single off the trailer. The idea is to allow the dog to figure out how to control a single. The exercise works better when you put a single outside a round pen, where she can see the others standing inside. Today's practice was beneficial, but too easy. Without being able to see her sisters, the single kitteh was perfectly happy to come off the trailer, then run like a scalded cat looking for company. Hmmm...maybe I will try it with 2 in and 2 out tomorrow. Together, the 2 outside may be a little more determined to stay with the trailer.

Outruns were the order of the day and I set it up so the dogs had to run blind horizontally across the hill field. With next month's Zamora trial in mind, I did it that way to simulate what they will encounter at the trial. The outrun at the trial is big, over 500 yards, and dogs have to run up a long hill with a steep dip running vertically between 2 shoulders the whole way. In other words, no matter whether you send left or right, your dog must run up a shoulder to be correct, and because of the distance, and topography, the sheep are very hard to spot. For Star, it will be imperative that he take my re-directs, because it's not likely he will be able to read that hill the first time up. The good news is that as long as he doesn't run too wide, which I don't expect, I will be able to see him and help him all the way.

Again, I practiced releasing the pressure against the draw. The sheep wanted to break to my left, so from the fetch, I asked Star to flank come-bye and go the long way around to catch the fleeing sheep. No problem, he knows the drill. Then there was some very competent shedding, and Mirk had a go. I used Mirk to shed off 2 sheep, then drove them up towards the trailer, leaving the other 2 at the bottom of the field. I used this opportunity to give Star an introduction to the look back. I flanked him around the 2 nearest us at the bottom of the hill, and had him fetch them towards me. I stopped him, and walked towards him telling him; "that'll do...look back." Then I gave a flank, causing him to flank towards the ones we had just quit. I repeated the exercise, but gave him a little more time between "that'll do," and "look back." This time, he looked uphill where he might or might not have suspected there were more sheep. As soon as he was looking in the correct direction, I flanked him and headed up with him to keep him on the right path. He found the other sheep where they had drifted to the trailer, and brought them off. "This is going to be easy," was my first thought. We called it a day and headed to the creek for a dip.

Cooling his Jetz
Day 207os
Today was not interesting because of any work we did. It was what happened leading up to the work that was pretty darned funny. I had the Dorper ewes in the big field for a lesson today, so they are what Star worked as well. A few small outruns, a bit of shedding, a bit of driving and some practice taking a single off the trailer again. The single Dorper was harder to take off the trailer and keep off than the Cheviot yesterday, and I could see the wheels turning between Star's ears. More of the same is needed, he's getting it.

The Dorper ewes have lambs on them, so I needed to sort off the lambs, then load the ewes. I kept the lambs and the Cheviots in the overnight pen, taking the ewes into the lane that leads to the big field. Instead of going to the big field, it was my intent to load them in my horse trailer that was sitting in the lane. Before Star could get around them, they skittered all the way down to the pasture. They knew it was pasture time, you see. I took Star down with me to bring the ewes back, which takes a bit of doing, because the sheep don't want to return. I know you'll be shocked and amazed to learn this, but I got mad at the recalcitrant sheep, as well as Star's inability to muscle them. Star read the scene perfectly, and said "I'm outta here," heading back up the lane without me and without the sheep. Coward!!! I let him go, and pulled Mirk out of the dog yard to finish the job, which he did, no problem. He loaded the Dorpers, and we moved the lambs and Cheviots into the big pasture, then went to look for Star.

No Star. Couldn't find him anywhere. I looked and looked, called and called and even resorted to my recall whistle at one point. No Star. There's no way out of my completely fenced yard. I dog-proofed it when I had the fencing built, and the last time I had seen him, he was headed up the lane towards my house. No way he could have gotten by me on the tiny, one-lane driveway, so where was he? I walked up Lilac Road to the neighbors and asked whether they had seen him. Maybe my fence wasn't as dog-proof as I thought. They hadn't seen him. I searched around the perimeter looking under every bush and behind every rock. He was nowhere to be found. Every time I started to really get scared, I would tell myself, the yard is dog proof, he has to be here somewhere. Thinking he somehow squeezed himself through the tiny cat door into the garage, I checked there. No Dog. Maybe the back door to the house was open, and it somehow closed after him. I looked inside...no dog. I got all the other dogs out of the dog yard thinking they would draw him out. Didn't work. I took time to clean the dog kennels hoping that he would settle down and come out from wherever he was. Still no dog. I looked under the trailer, under the barn, finally deciding I would just sit quietly on the porch and see if he would come to me.

On my way to the porch it dawned on me that the only place I hadn't checked was IN the horse trailer. But the sheep were in there. He couldn't be in there? Could he? Well, the trailer door had been open when Star headed up the lane...hmmm. I opened one of the back doors to the trailer, and the Dorpers were pressed up against it, headed my way. I peeked in, but no dog. Thinking I better check both sides, I opened the other trailer door, and there was Star, in the trailer with the sheep where he had been for about 20 minutes. I was so relieved to see him, I dropped to the ground and gave him a huge snuggle. Of course I wasn't mad, and he seemed no worse for wear, so we headed off and had a good day's work. Crazy dog!

I Found Him

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