It's a gorgeous day here in Shoofly Farm land. High is to be 70 degrees, sunny and bright. It's my favorite time of year, especially since daylight saving time started early this year and i have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings at the farm. The forsythia and redbuds are blooming, the ewes are huge and ready to pop out lambs any time, and it's just a nice time to enjoy the farm. The dogs seem to be pretty healthy and happy and enjoying the spring too - they run like fiends and all 7 are spinning and dancing on our evening hikes around the farm. I joined Weight Watchers back in January (18 pounds gone!) and am trying to walk a solid 40 minutes every evening. It's not great for my knee to be pounding up and down the hills, but neither is carrying extra weight so i'll just ice it and keep on trucking.
The dogs are doing great in their sheep work and trialing. Spottie is 10 years old now but acts and works more like a 6 year old. I so enjoy running her at the trials. It's just a comfortable feeling having her there. I was always able to relax with her at the post, right from the first time i ran her, and now i'm not only relaxed but really confident in her abilities. I heard Amanda Milliken say once that she loves an 8 year old dog because they know so much and you're just a good team by then, the dog is still fit and keen and able and hasn't slowed down for the most part. Well, i've had my 8 year old dog for 3 years now and she's still fit and keen and able. Lucky me! Here's a recent picture of her.
Since this is a new blog, I'll copy the 2 entries i'd made on Livejournal here:
(March 19) We're just home from the Suwannee SDT in Brandord FL, hosted by Cheryl and Dick Williams. It was a very good trial and Cheryl and Dick are always such gracious, welcoming hosts. There were only about 35 dogs running and the sheep were a little less of a challenge than we all expected. They were lightly dogged and not accustomed to being worked in small groups but behaved themselves very well all weekend, allowing for some very high scores. The course was flat with about a 280 yard outrun. The Shoofly dogs ran very well with 3 placements among them. Jet was a little pushy for the hair sheep, especially at the sheds. She ended up just out of the placements both days, mostly because of being a bit short on her outruns. Spottie ran very well both days. A cranky ewe at the shed kept her out of the placements Saturday and on Sunday she ended up tied for 2nd with only 6 points off, finishing 3rd after the tie was broken. Fortunately the dog she was tied with was Zac, so we ended up with that 2nd place after all! Zac was very consistent again this weekend, finishing 4th on Saturday and 2nd Sunday. He's turning out to be a really good trial dog and I'm looking forward to running him this spring.
In very sad news, Cheryl's father Walt Jagger had a massive stroke at his farm Monday and passed away Tuesday morning. My heart just aches for Cheryl, knowing she was in FL and unable to get back to PA before Walt died. Cheryl is just the nicest person, always happy to see you and interested in you and your dogs. She was the clinician at some of the early clinics I attended and organized, and she's just always been great to be around, seeing the positive in all the dogs and trials. I'm certain she got this quality from Walt, as he was the same way, always joking and teasing and a true pleasure to be around, and always a gentleman. In a world where many of the old timers are a little tough, he was always sweet and kind to his dogs and you could just tell he *really* liked them. One of the first times I met him was at the old Oatlands trial, many years ago. He took a liking to Spottie and did everything he could short of stealing her to get her from me. Ever since, he'd tease me about me having "his dog" whenever we'd cross paths. He was a bright spot in the trial world and I'll really miss him.
(March 24): It was a great weekend with the boy dogs. Used to be, i had all (or mostly) females but over time it seems i've gone over to males. My 3 oldest dogs are girls (Spottie, Gael, Jet) and the most recent 4 are males (Zac, Moss, Billy, Bart). Zac is sneaking up on 4 years old (in May) and the other 3 boys are young - 16 months, 8 months, and 3 months. I find Zac to be tremendously consistent in his work. Day to day, trial to trial, he's always about the same. The girls are a little more up and down. If this observation holds true in the future, i'm sitting pretty good on dogs for the future. This weekend I went to my friend Denise's to work her wool sheep and it was mostly "boys day out". Moss came from Denise so i always work him a fair bit for her, plus he's at an age where he's soaking up the training. He was really wonderful saturday and made huge training strides, jumping right off the training plateau he'd been on for a few weeks. I'd found he wasn't really progressing much in his training so backed off for a few weeks and it seems to have helped. He's hit enough maturity to go on now. I put Bill on Denise's yearlings and he looked great as usual. I'm really just waiting on him to grow up a bit before starting to train him. He's so sweet and easy going that i don't see any need to rush it with him. He's a very talented dog with a lot of potential. Big news for the weekend was Bart, the 12 week old puppy. We tried him on the lambs and it was amazing! I'd have to say that was the best first exposure I've ever seen in all the years of training dogs. Wow! Here's a link to the video
I'd been planning to sell one of the young dogs so i wouldn't be so overwhelmed trying to train them all, but now i just have to hang onto them to see how they turn out. Too many promising young dogs -- not a bad problem to have!
Easter sunday was nice and relaxed. I poked around at the farm and played with the dogs, and went to Mom and Pop's for dinner. It's so nice having them close by and spending time with them.