Saturday, October 3, 2009

NC English Shepherd Gathering 2009

Today was the English Shepherd Gathering in North Carolina. There were close to 50 people and maybe 40-50 dogs - hard to tell because the dogs were constantly moving - and fast. There were people and dogs from Ontario Canada, Texas, Oregon, Illinois, South Carolina and Virginia, in addition to North Carolina. I didn't go this year, but Sandi went with her friend Carolyn (who helped rescue me) and Carolyn's English Shepherd Happy. Happy and Ruby are good friends. Happy had a good time visiting with the other dogs, but she especially likes her people friends. Happy worked for a number of years as a therapy dog registered with Delta Society. Here's Happy with Brian Wingler of White Oak English Shepherds in Apex, North Carolina.

There was an AHBA sheep trial yesterday and today the gathering was mostly social, but Kyt from Amarillo Texas showed a powerpoint presentation on the Montana English Shepherd rescue Operation New Beginnings. For more information on animal hoarding go to I have an earlier post on the Montana ES rescue and NESR.

What a very nice group of people and dogs. Many thanks to Kay Keziah and her family for hosting the Gathering. I hope to go again (I got to go in 2007).

For more information about English Shepherds go to and

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog Days of Summer!

Once it got hot, the tracking fields were high with orchard grass and the snakes came out, we took a break from tracking in N.C. - and I've been on vacation!

Herman is now working from home, and so I get to run more than ever before. And Sandi takes me swimming at the lake. We meet up with my friends Lucky and Josie and their people Jeanine and Fred. I don't like to chase a stick or ball into the water - I just want to get into the deep water and swim. Summer is great! I haven't done much training this summer, and I know that soon Sandi and I will have to get back to work, but until then....Jump in, the water is fine!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring tracking in North Carolina

Sandi and I met Niamh and her person Barbara this morning at our friend Rob's farm. Typical for this time of year, the weather is crazy. We've had warm sunny days after much rain, and then last night we had a freeze. Makes the farmers a bit nervous, but it was perfect tracking weather!

The spring grass is growing green and we had a pretty good breeze. Since I want to take off again tracking after finding an article, our teacher Gretchen has said that I should sit and wait for a release to track again after each interim article. (by the way - you can click on each photo and get a size easier to view)

Our revised ritual is to water and rescent after indicating each interim article (my indication is a down - see the photo), sit and wait for a quiet release "let's track." I really want to take off tracking again like a bat out of hell, but I don't think that's going to fly with Sandi. I admit that this new ritual will help me focus.

At one point I found something really dead and exciting near the track, but Sandi called me back to water and rescent, and it helped me refocus and get back to tracking. I found the next article and I got a reward of rare roast beef. Not a bad trade!

Thanks for the photos Barbara! And please go to Setter Tails for Niamh's blog. She may decide to post photos of little Ambrose tracking. He is quite the tracking puppy! He's going to give the big dogs a run for their money soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

tracking with Gretchen

This morning I was loaded into the car to go to the barn - a VERY good sign. My tracking gear was in the car and I was psyched!

After Sandi did her barn chores we hit the road to Sanford, NC to meet our tracking coach Gretchen Stephenson. She finished her AKC CT tracking title this winter with one of her Weims, Obie. Gretchen was one of our first teachers in tracking.

We met at a large park, which was mostly under water thanks to the previous 5 days of steady rain.

Check out Setter Tails for a report on Ambrose's first tracking lesson!

Gretchen laid a track for us which included tracking through a lot of standing water.

It was really fun, but it was interesting how
the scent was hanging on the surface of the
water. I could taste it when lapping at the

Here are some more photos (taken by Gretchen)
of our track. This was really fun and I did a
great job. I didn't even really mind my article
indication in the water.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pet Partner evaluations

Last weekend we had a house guest, Judy Thorn. Sandi has known Judy since she and Ruby were in Judy's Canine Good Citizen class at the APS of Orange Co. dog training program in 1999. Judy also helped Sandi and Ruby become Delta Society Pet Partners in 2000. The Delta Society Pet Partners program helps train and screen handler/animal teams to participate in visiting animal programs in hospitals, schools, libraries and other facilities.

Sandi and Ruby volunteered for 6 years, working in our local hospital inpatient pediatric psychiatry unit, Ronald McDonald House, Neuropsychiatry, Orange County Exceptional Child Program, schools and summer camps.

This past weekend when Judy was here, she evaluated some students from Sandi and Jenn's (Royal's person) Therapy Dog class at APS/Paws4Ever. Here is a photo taken during one of the classes. Our assistant Karen is demonstrating some awkward petting with Whiskey, and Megan is taking notes. Megan is a high school student doing her project on animal assisted therapies.

It was boring for me because I had to stay home - at least it was sunny and warm and I could be outside. Ruby works as neutral dog for the evaluations so she got to go and be a part of the activities.

The evaluation begins with the obedience skills exercises from the Canine Good Citizen test, then moves on to aptitude skills. These exercises simulate experiences a team may have while on a visit in a facility, such as encountering an individual with an uneven gait wearing a floppy robe, or using a loud voice, or in a wheelchair. It also involves uncoordinated petting, and petting by a crowd of people at once. I really like people, but some of the exercises would make me nervous and over-excited. Ruby is good at handling these things. The handler is evaluated on social skills and how well they support their dog at the same time. Both ends of the leash are being evaluated!

Here is a photo of Jenn and Bernie after their renewal evaluation (teams have to complete a renewal evaluation every two years). They did a really good job. Bernie is an English Shepherd type like I am. Judy is in the middle, and the robed volunteer is Deb. Deb was a student in Sandi & Jenn's class, and she and her whippet Tangie successfully completed their Pet Partner evaluation.

Judy spends time with each handler to give constructive feedback after their evaluation.

For more information visit Delta Society's website at and read about their Pet Partners program.

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Snow! Yippee

What do you know? We woke up this morning and we had snow! That is really amazing, since last night when we went to bed everything was dark and dreary, and this morning it is white and fluffy.

I love snow because it brings out all the great smells outdoors, and I can usually find a critter to dig up. They probably think they are safe under that snow, but they don't know the power of my nose.

Ruby loves the snow too, and so do Sandi's horses. They snort and get silly. Willy is a thoroughbred gelding who is 27 years old now. He wears a blanket to stay warm.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A lucky day for me!

It is always a good sign when Sandi loads me in the car in the morning to take me to the barn. Chances are really good that it means when the horses are fed and the barn chores are done, I will get to track! It was a beautiful morning with a blue sky and a little breezy.

We met my BFF Niamh at Rob and Ann's farm - they are great to let us track in their fields anytime we want. They have wheat planted but they leave the back portion unplanted for us, and for our police to train dogs, family cookouts, pumpkin slingings, etc.

My track started in some taller grass, which is hard for me because I love to critter. Sandi did that deliberately as a training exercise. This time of year there aren't too many critters around. I have learned that it pays to track on through this grass to the really really good stuff later on (grasshoppers are fun, but not as much fun as steak). My track crossed a farm road which was dry packed dirt. The scent changes here, but I didn't have any trouble following it across the road to the next article.

After crossing the road we headed across a field passing a camping spot with a fire pit which was very interesting. I had to spend some time checking it out because of the good smells. Then it was time to get back to the business of tracking. There are lots of different scents here - we have tons of deer (and deer poop) and coyotes and field nesting birds, the other groups who train, camp or party here, plus my crittering fun (grasshoppers, etc.) - did I mention that Rob has a wood cutting business here? He has piles of hardwood and equipment here by his wood barn. What I wouldn't give to root around checking out critters in that barn!

I love tracking - there is nothing I would rather do (except eat maybe). Special thanks to Niamh's person Barbara who took my photos. What a lucky dog I am!

Niamh had a great track. She followed her track along the edge of the woods without getting drawn into the woods smells. Her person Barbara is a dog trainer by profession (and President of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers - That keeps Niamh very busy!

Check out her blog "Setter Tails" at my links section.