Saturday 24 November 2012

A Poem for Pocket Rocket ...

It’s a week since Pocket Rocket left for her next big adventure. I always thought life was busy before she arrived on the scene, with five Border Collies all wanting and willing to be doing. I hadn’t realised how quiet our household could be though, until she left.

Our friend Gayle met Pocket Rocket for the first time as a 4-month old puppy at an extremely muddy World Sheepdog Trials last September. She enjoyed that lots. She received many, many admiring glances and comments from some of the world’s top handlers, there were plenty who took the time to come over and say hello as I carried her around, trying to work to a mud limitation plan - it didn't work!

Gayle met up with her again in the summer when she visited the Jubilee Pups, and also had the chance to see her work. How she'd come on since the summer, she was on her sides, starting to drive and starting to use the fabulous outrun she used with the dogs. She was going to be truly great.

Thank you Gayle for this lovely poem ...

 A Poem for Pocket Rocket

A golden girl, as smooth as pearl,
One of eight, an octogreat,

Once small enough to fit in your pocket she'd still be off like a Rocket,

Would turn a paw to gardening galore,
Or off in the caravan for a girl who loved to explore,

Rather fond of a dip in the pond, even if she got rather dirty and made the humans a little shirty,

Partial to a cup of tea - leave one unattended she'd be in as quick as a flea,

A glide through the gate, never one to wait,

Sheep to be sorted, a job to be done,
Although that didn't mean she couldn't have a little fun,

A special young lady she became and those who's lives she touched will never be the same.

Pocket Rocket, sorely missed but will always be a part of our life ...

Sunday 18 November 2012

Pocket Rocket goes ...

... on her next big adventure.

Never in my wildest of dreams could I have envisaged last Sunday, when I took this photograph of my very Sensational Six

that today, a week on, the Sensational Six would once again be the Fabulous Five.

These pictures were all taken last Sunday. My wonderful powerhouse of a girl, Pocket Rocket very sadly died yesterday.

Pocket Rocket loved Uncle New Boy

This was a frequent scene - they were great pals

Always stylish

Frequently seen 'chatting' with Mum, Arctic Fox

A very perceptive and intuitive dog ... "I know what you're thinking"

Here she comes ...

... and again! How she loved to run.

Her eventual greatness can only now be imagined, she was truly great. She left an impression on everyone she met, quite often a bruise too! I am so priviledged to have lived with this girl for the far too brief a time she had, and I would not have missed a single second of it. A very special girl. 

The public face of 'asheepdogdiary' needs to express this, she has so many friends and fans around the world, whilst the private side desperately tries to make some sense of it and pick up the pieces.

I hope she is running free with other family members now and has found some nice sheep to work.

Pocket Rocket
6 May 2011 - 17 November 2012

Sunday 11 November 2012

Beautiful Baking Day

A fabulous day in the Lakes and looking across towards the Yorkshire Dales

Our Herdwick Boys starting to appear out of the mist

Time to release the doggies

Biscuits on the terrace?

New Boy has come to model beside the biscuits ... "No, I can't look, please don't make me!"

"Is this collie cruelty?"

"I'll just get a little closer ... just a quick sniff"

"Is she watching me?"

"A lick, just a small one"

"That's it, the biscuits are mine"

New Boy exits with a rather large mouthful of biscuits ...

Five biscuits were gathered before attempting to leave the scene

Baking day ... a success!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Handsome Lad's Magnificent Fetch

It's been a little while since I blogged. It's been even longer since I blogged about sheep work training. 

Training isn't a daily occurrence, no matter how much I'd like it to be. All manner of things get in the way and it's not exactly something you can do anywhere other than in the field with the sheep! But overall, I'm really happy with the progress the dogs are making.

Some of the training I do is a bit of guess work, lessons aren't possible on a regular basis, but I am lucky that when I do need to move on a bit then I have my friend Alan Bradley to go to. He has a very quiet style of training and it's suited Handsome Lad and I very nicely. We went through a difficult patch during the summer. Alan moved us on in our training ... a lot! Gone were the days of Handsome Lad making the decisions as to which direction he was taking (he always made the decisions so well!), now I was the one giving the directions, and they had to be taken. Yikes. That was hard going for a bit. There were times when I didn't seem to do anything other than say 'Oi'. 

It's been a fabulous day in the Lakes today, with a frost overnight and the ground seems to have dried out a little. Time to go to work! 

I'm so pleased with Handsome Lad's outrun, as shown in this short video:

The sheep were at the top of the field, over the brow. He couldn't see them at all but he had confidence they were there. Why wouldn't they be when I asked him to do an 'away' (taking the right hand command). So important in our training that if I ask him to go and fetch sheep that there are always sheep there for him to fetch.

We'd had a couple of false starts on the 'comebye' command (left hand side), so rather than push that with the sheep being out of sight I put him onto his preferred side (for today at any rate!). Also due to the couple of false starts I didn't put a stop on him when he lifted the sheep. It was his free time to do whatever he wanted as a reward for such a brilliant job on his outrun.

I am very proud of him. He's such a very clever lad!

Monday 13 August 2012

And then there were three ...

We’re well behind on blogs, again. Raising a litter of puppies really is a full-time job, and then some!

Two Jubilee Puppies left for their new homes at the weekend, same family, different households. Little Miss Tan Cheeks and brother Ol’ Blue Eyes were able to travel on their 350 mile journey to new homes together. Then there were just three remaining.

Ol' Blue Eyes and Little Miss Tan Cheeks
As pups leave there’s a short period of ‘quiet’ from the other pups as they re-adjust. It didn’t take long for this little group to re-form and start causing havoc again!

Now down to three puppies I’m able to bring them all into my bedroom to start them off with overnight crate training, an important part of preparing pups to leave for their new homes. Overnight crate training can be a little stressful, to human and to pup, if not done correctly ... if there are going to be any objections I want them to take place with me so that I can get the puppies through it. I also want to be able to tell new owners when they may expect to have to get up in the night, if in fact they do, in order to take pup out for wees - an overnight crate = bed = no toiletting in this area! Two pups in one crate, the next pup to leave home now starts solo time.

Double decker puppies
As you can see, Little Spot is quite settled. A minute or so after going into her crate she is totally zonked out. They are being brilliant overnight, sleeping a good six or seven hours before needing to toilet. Wont take much time before they’re going right through the night.

Little Spot sleeping soundly in her crate
Today we woke to a fantastic morning, but to a loud roaring sound ... on further investigation we found an early morning balloonist taking advantage of the good weather.

Up, up and away ...
Pocket Rocket managed to go missing whilst photographing the balloon, I found her having a chat with my Herdwick Boys down the field.

"Uh oh, I've been rumbled"
So, an early morning sheep training session ensued at 6.30am - me still in jim jams and slippers!! She did work very well, really pleased with her, just wish she’d waited until I was dressed and fully awake!

Early to work
On returning to the ‘yard’ the pups were plotting their activities for the day, and enjoyed catching the early morning sun whilst they did so.

JubiPups 3, 6 and 2 enjoying the very early morning sun
A jolly jaunt out in the Collie Mobile in the morning was followed by paddling pool fun in the afternoon. I’m making the most of the three remaining pups. Not be long until they’ve all left for their new lives.

Do they get the rest of the day with rest and relaxation? Noooooo. Much work to be done this evening and more puppy visitors ... there’s no resting on yer laurels if you’re an ‘A Sheepdog Diary’ puppy :)

NB: posted late (now there's a change), so now down to two pups :(

Saturday 28 July 2012

High Jinx at Bedtime ...

... with the Jubilee Puppies!

Just as I thought an early night might be on the cards, the Jubilee Puppies rev up a few gears and head into the mad half hour!

Volume needs to be on.

Apologies for the light level - there wasn't a lot!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Mother and Daughter ...

... at play

Cafe Latte Girl is a tremendous Mum, what better way than to spend a lovely, sunny afternoon at play with one of her five daughters. But is it as it seems? ...

So, what do you think is going on here? Bit of over zealous play? Actually, no.

The video shows very clearly the reason why I will never EVER let my pups leave home at six weeks of age or even under eight weeks. Cafe Latte Girl isn't playing, she's disciplining and teaching manners, an extremely important role of being a Mum. Quite frankly, as a teacher, I wish there were more parents who would take a leaf out of Cafe Latte Girl's book. If they did a bit more disciplining and teaching of manners at home there would be a whole load more educating going on in classrooms up and down the country. I digress ...

Cafe Latte Girl may pick on one puppy per day, some days she might have a couple in her sights. Just shortly after filming this video showing Puppy No 3, she did the same with Puppy No 5, to a greater extent. Puppy No 3 here shows quite a strong side to her, had she said "OK Mum, wont do it again, I submit" then CLG would have left her alone. I started filming this a good few minutes after it had started. I wish I'd filmed Puppy No 5, a very strong headed little bitch who was quite willing to answer back on numerous occasions!! Fortunately CLG is such a good Mum and there was no interference from 2-legged folk, she sorted both her girls out.

I accept that it might be quite alarming when you see your bitch 'having a go' at her pups for the first time but it is essential she is permitted to do her job.

I wont let pups leave home under eight weeks, there is absolutely no justification to do so. When they do leave home every single one of them, besides having been very well socialised, each and every one will have excellent dog-dog language skills. I wish the same could be said for every dog walking out in public.

(There are a couple of little 'skips' in the video at approx 55 sec & 1 min - nothing sinister cut, just a 2-legged person ... not my place to upload people onto the internet!)

Friday 13 July 2012

Evening Play with the ...

... Jubilee Puppies

After a lovely day spent in the fresh air and sunshine, supper eaten al fresco, the evening is rounded off by an active play session ... sort of accompanied by the bigger dogs.

Friday 6 July 2012

An Evening in with the Jubilee Pups

Evenings with the Jubilee Pups are quite relaxed with friends welcome to visit at any time. They enjoy playing, entertaining, listening to ... errr, fireworks? Yes, fireworks, and many other strange noises, on a noise desensitisation CD. They are also quite keen to make their own music too ...

Please adjust your volume control, ie, it needs to be turned on.


Friday 22 June 2012

Breakfast at home with ...

... the Jubilee Puppies

Yesterday was the first day of solid (actually, very sloppy) food for the Jubilee Puppies. Puppy food soaked in warm water and goat's milk - lovely!

You will need the volume turned on for this.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Lunch with the Jubilee Puppies

I love puppy feeding time. It’s not the most exciting of spectator sports, I just enjoy the noise and watching the puppies scent their way to an unoccupied teat - one of the many pleasures of ‘puppy watching’. The last pup up to the milk bar usually has a little work ahead of it ... the easily accessible teats are taken first so late comers will need to burrow beneath their siblings and their mother.

Cafe Latte Girl doesn’t always like to give her babes an easy ride. Just as they think they’ve got themselves comfortable, she rolls onto her back and they all fall off ... however, some do manage to stay on and ride it out until she settles again.

Once each pup has had it’s fill they just let go of the teat and tumble into a heap, full and tired. There they fall fast asleep.

The Jubilee Puppies had a special afternoon visitor to their Puppy Palace today, Mr Smart Bear. He proved quite a hit with the girls who soon made themselves very comfortable.

After a good lunch, an entertaining visitor it’s quite fitting to have a well deserved nap ...

Sunday 3 June 2012

Arrival of the Jubilee Pups

Last night was busy! On day 60 of Cafe Latte Girl’s pregnancy, which happened to coincide with the start of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, she decided it was time to start whelping. I was spot on! She whelped day 60 with her first litter, had a feeling she’d be the same this time.

Cafe Latte Girl has a lovely, comfortable whelping box, I have a blow up mattress to sleep on beside it, I don’t leave my girl when whelping is imminent. It’s exhausting work for Mum, it’s also tiring for me - sleepless nights, change of eating habits and any routines just go to pot. The big dogs get little look in for a few days, but they’re cool, they cope very well.

CLG, despite her lovely whelping box, took rather a shine to my bed ... it took some persuasion that she’d be better whelping in her box where she had room to move around as she needed.

Contractions started late evening, but she had quite a while and a bit of hard work to put in before her first pup arrived, not long before midnight. Whelping continued into the early hours of Sunday morning.

As soon as the first puppy is born the ‘watching’ begins. Puppy watching is work, it can take a great deal of time up during the course of the puppy’s development, but it is absolutely vital in order to determine the temperament and characteristics of each pup.

It always amazes me how quickly a new born pup will head towards the milk bar, this is what nose work is all about. It doesn’t take long for the pups to realise that the easiest milk comes from the back teats, there’s sometimes a bit of a scrum to get there with a large litter!

So, the puppies are finally all here. Five girls and one boy. Cafe Latte Girl was large, much bigger than with her first litter. I was sure there would be seven or eight pups, others thought 10 or 11. As it turns out it was just the six, maybe the way she was carrying them this time, or more fluid, who knows. The pups are all fit and healthy, as is their lovely Mum, although she’s very, very tired.

After eating six placenta’s, food isn’t high on CLG’s wish list, but fluids are vital ... she’s a lot of milk to produce. After mum is refreshed and the puppies are fed, it’s time for CLG to have a nap and enjoy her babies ...

Saturday 2 June 2012

The Waiting Game ...

It seems to have been a long time coming, this Jubilee weekend. Much for us to look forward to ... none of which to do with the Jubilee!

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cafe Latte Girl and New Boy’s puppies. It isn’t the greatest of timing, having a projected whelping on the Golden Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, but I can’t change the forces of nature. As a result though, I have taken the big decision to upsticks and leave home for the whelping. Living on the edge of a small town isn’t the ideal location for such an event when such a big National event is taking place at the same time. Noise. I don’t like noise, I get quite stressed by it ... CLG is fine, but she wouldn’t be fine if I was stressed. So we have moved to a friend’s place. Much quieter with few neighbours. Much better for me, therefore much better for CLG and the rest of The Sensational Six. We will return home after the weekend, when everything has quietened down ... excellent experience for the pups - an early vehicle outing.

There was confirmation of a pregnancy back in May.

By end of May the Mum to be had definitely filled out.

CLG has been wormed on a daily basis since day 40 of her pregnancy. In the last two weeks her daily food ration has been gradually increased, mainly increasing the levels of proteins, with the aim of raising feeding volume by something like 50% by the day of whelping. 

Her temperature has been monitored twice daily for the last week ... I’ve been waiting for a drop below 37ºC. This is a good indicator that whelping will occur within 12-24 hours. Not fool-proof granted and the method doesn’t work for everyone, but certainly in my line of dogs it’s a pretty good indicator. So, the waiting game begins.

At 3.30am CLGs temperature dropped to 36.7ºC. Food last night was refused. There’s been some ‘nesting’ activity going on in her very lovely whelping box ... she’s made a right mess in there!

She, nor I, have slept well for some nights.

She has eaten two small meals today, she’s been for a walk to check on her sheep and she’s been wanting to play football. Whelping doesn’t seem to be too high in her list of priorities.

So, when will Cafe Latte Girl deliver her puppies? You’ll just have to be patient and wait and see, just like me ...

Monday 9 April 2012

Spring Arrives in Lakeland

Spring, or was it summer, arrived in Lakeland at the end of March in the form of a heatwave! The clocks were put forward and we enjoyed some lovely, warm and sunny days ...

The days are getting warmer

The last remains of snow on the Lakeland mountains

The hedgerows are bursting with daffodils

The ponds have been ... busy!

Arctic Fox - happy in her work

Cafe Latte Girl ... fed up with waiting for her turn to work sheep

Handsome Lad in full concentration mode ... with a little help from his shadow

The Mad pup ... half-sister to Cafe Latte Girl & Aunty to Pocket Rocket

High Noon

Cafe Latte Girl and mate New Boy ... relaxing in the sunshine

New Boy in action

"Wait for me" ... Pocket Rocket

New Boy and Cafe Latte Girl's Search Puppy - with us for her hols

Womble Bum ... "throw the damn leaf"

Heavy in lamb

And the clouds return ...