With this post I am beginning a new thread of my life. That is the one that I have with my horse. He came to me when he was 2 years old, twenty years ago. He was unbroken and very much self-absorbed and his life revolved around himself. It was up to me to arrange things so that he took notice of me and started to care about what I thought about everything. It was up to me as the Master to become his trustworthy leader and savior  from his own instincts, fears and dangers–whether rational or irrational. And he was highly  fraught with a myriad of these–given that he was weak in his body and mind. I did not choose him for what he was but what he could become in my hands.

Basically the goal in horsemanship, is to apprehend the horse totally in his body and mind—that his power and being is now for the Master’s use and will. With those goals in mind, the rider first makes it pleasant for the horse and follows his natural motion. Gradually he asks that the horse begin to follow him, with the Master’s gaze as the first indication of the way to be taken. The Master’s position of straightness in body is also followed and as simulated by the horse as the way (whether on a straight line or curved)  and the horse becomes in the same measure in that form of straightness both in that moment of time and as character trait. He becomes a reflection and a mirror of the Master’s  character.

Below is a photo study for you of a performance where my dear horse was distracted and afraid of actual strange sounds coming from behind the nut and cherry trees. The cherry pickers had arrived , unseen but heard by my horse. I have always used these occasions as a test for my relationship with my horse. Pick out the photo where he is looking to the dangers,  and I am merely sitting quietly and asking him to come back to me and follow my gaze and intent. The other photo is where he has yielded his power to my use and is quiet in his trust to follow my gaze. I am actually asking him to move  to his left, in the next moment as that is the way I am gazing with my intent and he is listening with all his heart, overriding the dangers he has sensed.

Advertisements

Here are Ally and I at our lesson last week. A bit of a goal accomplished here actually. . . because I am trusting her enough to walk and look forward, having my back to Allison and the sheep. Trusting her to do her job keeping the sheep a following me!  We bungled most of our getting the sheep thru the panels this day, only getting some of the sheep some of the time thru. But our driving was quite good and I think that she has understood the principle of both of us walking behind the sheep. This will morph later into just Ally driving the sheep around while I stand in one spot. She also put them in the pen easily, except for one sheep who hid around behind.  No problem, Ally here. She put them all back out while fetching the lost  one. Then all back in, with some swell moves.                                                                                                                                                           For the top photo,  Ken has walked onto the sheep field with Ally, told her “Okidowki, and she has brought him the sheep around his feet. Just look at that smile on her face!

I am sad to inform my readers that there are no puppies! She was late in delivering them so we took her to the vet, only to find that she had a false pregnancy. I had never considered that she would be a candidate for this as she is six years old and never had before.  She had so many of the symptoms of pregnancy as the hormones in the body tell them that that is so. . . I guess some females even go into labor, make a nest and produce milk! They can even be a perfect mom for orphaned puppies.

So we were in shock here for a few days after being so ready; sad, even mourning  and even mad and angry which are typical emotions for mourning I guess. We might try again later this year as soon as possible. I still think that Allison has a lot to offer to the breed, and our Vet has given us the go ahead while Ally is six years old. Perhaps as my son’s fiancee says, that it was just a dry run and her body is now ready for the real thing! Here’s hoping!

In the meantime, we will get back to sheep herding next week and possibly even have a competition next weekend.

Here is Ally at around 8 wks. old. Every morning she would get up with my husband at 5 am. and would start gathering up anything that was loose. She would have a full herd of stuff by the time I got up. Usually she would wake me actually by getting her last hard to handle items–the toilet brush and toilet plunger!

The photo of Allison was taken when she was about a year old and didn’t have her full coat of fur. It is a good shot I think because it shows her conformation. Allison may not be spectacular to everyone’s eyes but to me it shows her beautiful angles built for speed and agility, endurance, and long-term toughness.

To those of you that are new to my blog, you may not know that we are expecting puppies in just a week or so. Allison is 6 yrs. old and really I have be testing her physical and mental soundness her whole life because my idea is that the puppies should be our contribution to the betterment of the breed. That being, the Border Collie of working bloodlines–Divison A of the Canadian Border Collie Association. For that division, judging the dog is not supposed to be about the appearance of the dog other than their soundness. We have not done xray testing of Allison’s hips, because it is obvious that she has no defect. She has been working with me since she was 5 months old, not missing a day except when she totally ripped out a toenail.  Her eyes are obviously fine also!  Mentally, she has proven to me that  she  is willing to overcome things in her life. These are basically loud sounds–rifles, fireworks, and construction saws and compressed air nailers. Here in Westbank, British Columbia the town has exploded in size, along with all the loud sounds literally surrounding us.

What ‘we’ve’ done in creating the “Working Border Collie” is breed them for:  their  fine instincts in handling livestock, the intelligence to problem solve on the farm, the energy and soundness to be able to work everyday for great distances, the sensitivity to hear, discern and obey even 60 different commands. Then most of us: lock up the dog for long hours, provide small bits of exercise, provide little problem solving and rote routines instead, and blame the dog for being overly sensitive to all the loud sounds bombarding them.

They are undoubtably the smartest dog. The newest listing of the 10 smartest breeds of dog just came out again.  And again the Border Collie is number one! This makes for both the easiest to train dog, the easiest to live with. . . .or the hardest. Just like everything they do—it seems that it is all or none.  And some people love them and would never have another kind of dog, and some people would and should run the other way from such a commitment. Basically, if you would like a five year old child in your life, for the length of the life of the Border Collie, then you just may be the type of person for a Border Collie. Because it is like having a little person in your life–always learning, always reacting, always asking questions, always loving life. They will fit in just fine into your life if you are: a consistant parent that leads by example, a loving parent, a parent that provides physical  AND MENTAL  EXERCISE. These Border Collie dogs have been documented to learn at least 250 words. They are perhaps the only dog to think by “omission”. Which means when given a new word or command—will look carefully at the situation and in their mind cancel out all the things that they are surrounded that they know the words for—and look intentionally for the ‘new’ thing or happening that they can hook the ‘new’ word to.

Enjoy this little video of this intelligent little example of what I have just been saying in so many words. . .

From: http://dogs.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Canine_Gestation

Canine Gestation Calendar Week Changes
Zero to One

* Breeding takes place.
* Within a few days, the sperm reaches the eggs and fertilization occurs.

Two

* The fertilized eggs make their way to the uterus for implantation.
* You may notice behavioral changes in your dog. She may become moody or more affectionate.

Three

* Implantation has taken place and the embryos begin to develop.
* Your dog may begin to display mood swings, appetite changes and breast tissue development.

Four

* Fetuses can be felt in the uterine horns around day 28, and can also be seen by ultrasound.
* The spinal cords are developing, and the fetuses are beginning to grow facial features.
* Your ***’s uterus will shortly fill with fluids to protect the fetuses. After this, it will be weeks until the puppies can be felt again.
* Your dog’s appetite will likely increase, so offer her more of her food.

Five

* The fetuses develop their sex organs and begin to look like actual puppies. The leg buds lengthen and develop toes.
* Your dog’s belly will begin to look noticeably swollen as the pups take up more space.
* With less room for full meals, it’s time to begin serving smaller meals more frequently.

Six

* Pups continue to grow and pigmentation develops. The eyes now have lids and remain sealed until approximately ten days after birth.
* Your dog is noticeably more uncomfortable at this point. She may vomit occasionally due to the extra pressure against her stomach.
* You may also notice clear fluid discharge from her vulva. This is normal.

Seven

* Puppies are well-developed, and now begin attaining size in preparation for birth.
* You may be able to see/feel the puppies’ movements in your ***’s abdomen.
* Her breasts are well developed and probably contain a bit of colostrum or “first milk”.
* Your dog is noticeably tired and may begin searching for a place to whelp. Time to set up a whelping box.

Eight

* The pups have fur and are now crowded in the uterus. You may notice a lot of activity as they get into position for the coming birth.
* Your *** may begin digging the bedding in the whelping box. This is natural “nesting” behavior.
* Allow your *** to feed freely as she is able.

Eight to Nine

* The pups are ready for birth, and may be quite still as they rest in preparation for the marathon to come.
* Your dog may appear uncomfortable and restless or anxious.
* Time to begin taking rectal temperature readings 12 hours apart. Normal temperature is 100 to 101 F; a drop down near 97 F held for two consecutive readings indicates labor will begin within 24 hours.

THOUGHT you might be interested as I am in this miracle of life happening. You’ve probably guessed that the stars stand in place of the word for a female dog!  Allison is already in the 7th week of gestation. She is feeling great and still loves to trot and gallop with me and the horse in the indoor arena (ie. good footing). I encourage her when she lies down, telling her “Good rest”. If she doesn’t quit after 20 minutes or so I ask her to “lie down and stay” and just watch her horses. The girl is built to run and even smiles with the glee of movement.  She also smiles often after her lesson on the sheep. Even a very hard lesson where she has gotten ‘LAMB-BASTED’  for her mistakes in herding—she just loves to work. But the lessons seem far away as we stopped working on the sheep herding a couple weeks ago. She has also been banned from her favorite job of helping to put the horses out to the pasture from their paddocks. She sits in the car and lets me know that it could be done a lot better with her helping. Sometimes I leave her home in the afternoon, also, and it breaks my heart too, as she is my little shadow and I am just not whole without her. I am thinking that I may have to take her to the farm for shorter and shorter times  just so that she can rest easy knowing that things are done. And maybe I will give the horse a couple weeks off and somehow really shorten up my time at the horse farm, so we can both stay home more.

In this photo, Allison is probably just 6 weeks old and obviously accepted by everybody in our family. Our old Lab, Wilbur took her under his wing with firmness and kindness. The hour she arrived at our house it was ‘naptime’. I  just know he said to her, “Look it’s naptime, Kid –get to sleep, me here on the cushioned bed, you–over there!”  Without ever a whimper or cry she bonded with us. The next morning she already fetched a toy to me.

So, how can I trust myself to make up my dog’s nutrition? Well, it is a bit scarey. But, I did learn to feed my family! And after all,  ‘dog food’ is a relatively new invention! Really only the last 60 years! So I have and am researching.

Ally had such ‘morning sickness’ that she was off her regular good quality kibble (Eagle-Pack). She was even off begging at our dinner time  for her people food bits. So obviously I had to do something to get some good food into her. Therefore, I went to trying the raw meat thing. The girl finally ate with relish! Then on to Dr. Pitcairn’s recipes for dog food–in particular for the pregnant dog . . . So I’ve been concocting with his basic “Choice Chow” recipe. Because of my own cautiousness, I am offering her still free choice at the good quality kibble, and 6 star rated puppy canned food which she can be on at this stage of gestation, raw meaty chicken backs, and raw or cooked real meat in our homemade dog food. It is quite easy and fun because she actually eats it!   The cats are taste testing it so maybe they will be next to enjoy my concocting endevours! Yes, it is still scarey–you can both under and over supplement calcium for instance. But, as one person said–everything doesn’t have to be in the food everyday. Just like our diet, provide a variety and it will be in there in the week. . . And I am trying to provide the nutrition by foods rather than supplementation pills and capsules–therefore less likely to oversupplement. Any thoughts out there?

Perhaps if I list them all, you won’t get so irrate at me because there might be one that you like! First of all, don’t assume anyone takes a side because they are negligant. On the contrary, it is usually because they are concerned and have researched for themselves. As in ‘people’ health issues, a person should ultimately decide for themselves after they have maybe seen both sides of an issue . . . and not just blindly trust what the generic medical and pharmaseutical professions say.

So, here they are and I welcome your comments for both sides and  hope that we will are be inspired to delve into both sides and perhaps learn from each other!

1.) Homemade dog food, raw dog food,  and bought dog food

2.) Ultrasound the pregnant dog , safe or not?

3.) Are the sheep dog trials too set, and routine–not judging the ‘real’ ranch dog who needs to think for himself?

4.) Vaccinate or not; or for what diseases and when . . .?

5.) Can a  ‘ pet’ work  for you, or compete for and with you?

6.) Mental and physical soundness testing for dogs–particularly Border Collies, as the purpose of these registries is to produce a working dog. . . Any thoughts on this? The registries being on this continent: The American Border Collie Association,  The Canadian Border Collie Association as opposed to the ‘Kennel Clubs’.

In this photo, Allison is about 2 months old.

I noticed today that you can click on any photo on my blog to make it bigger, and sometimes once more.

My son Joseph says that I really should get some sort of password protect on Allison. When people like my husband, Ken can walk into the sheep paddock and with one word  “OKIDOCKI” can get Allison to bring him the sheep just like easy and then make the sheep follow him just like that and she just works away and he does nothing else! To the breed’s credit–they have been bred to go to someone’s farm and even without specialized training–basically figure out what is to be done and JUST DO IT! That’s Allison’s byword–it may cause problems for me at a competition but I am hoping that her independence will only be matched by her love and devotion to me and my goals. Anyway, I am hoping in my blog to bring up some contraversial issues. Afterall we are in a free country with freedom of speech.We are only 3 and a bit weeks left until Allison brings her puppies into this world! Three puppies may already be spoken for with good homes. Our house is getting tidied in order to make room for the little bundles and a midwoof or two as this is a totally new experience for me and my husband.

At the top photo, Ally is just 7 months old and has already been at work with me ‘fulltime’, for 2 months.

At the bottom, the photo was taken this December at 6 1/2 years old.

The girl, my Allison seems to be a contradiction of character, but really it is just her depth of character.

She is petite, yet mighty

She endevours to get all the chores done, yet plans to have a fun time when all is done

She is serious, yet has a definate sense of humour

She loves her boys (my sons), but breaks up every playfight by jumping in between them

She is feminine, yet tough in soundness of body

She is small (35 lbs.) but eats up the ground with her rangey stride

She loves her routines, but her delight is problem solving

We’ve caught her pressuring the sheep just an ounce too much, so that she creats a problem that she gets to fix!