PupIt has been nearly three months since Bronte was diagnosed with bone cancer, with a stated typical timeline of roughly six months left to live. I have switched her to a ketogenic diet and started treating her with CBD (an extract of marijuana, minus most of the THC), in an effort to slow the cancer’s progress and buy a little more time. She is doing very well thus far, most days just slightly favoring the leg and still very cheerful. The wrist tumor is getting bigger, however. This timeline weighs heavy on my mind, both knowing that Bronte doesn’t have long to live, and also that I don’t have a lot of time to get her replacement trained and functioning reasonably well.

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Worried

Our new pup is a Maremma. She was born on a 2,000 acre ranch. And I don’t mean “the breeder who produced her owns a 2,000 acre ranch.” I mean, this pup was born and reared in an environment where she and the group of dogs into which she was born ranged over 2,000 acres. Naturally, the dams of the litters stick close to home when whelping and rearing young pups. The breeder described that at sixteen weeks, the pups still weren’t ranging far from the safety of the homestead. But, they were indeed ranging, and acclimating to the lifestyle of learning to protect a large span of territory from predators. She hails from Eastern WA, where wolf packs are now a force to be reckoned with, and most ranchers are needing to run large groups of LPDs to protect their livelihoods.

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I wanted to write a bit about handling rams, but realized it was becoming a really long post, and that this topic deserves its own post first.

A long time ago, I took a seminar from an unusual kind of dog trainer who was invited as a guest at my dog training club. Not somebody who competes in precision obedience, agility or herding, but somebody who mostly works on remedying problem pet dogs, especially neurotic and fearful or pushy, out-of-control dogs. She was into the TTouch methodology (a book I’ve always meant to read, and someday I will!). Admittedly, I attended kind of thinking who is this lady, she seems like a nobody, a wannabe dog trainer, she doesn’t compete and win, and what is all this hippie TTouch jazz? But, she was actually really gifted, and I learned something amazing from her which changed the way I handle animals forever. This is what she shared (in my simple language, because I’m not well-versed in the science behind it).

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My younger border collie, Maggie, is still struggling with pain issues after days when she has a lot of exercise. Adequan and Duralactin are helping, but not solving the problem. I tried giving her buffered aspirin on working days, that also helped, but still not entirely. The vet has given me some NSAIDs to use on the days where she exercises really hard, which is usually about once a week for sheep chores. I’m just starting to try those now, and am finding that giving her one in the morning before she works seems to make the evening much better for her. But the next morning she is still very stiff and sore.

The other thing I’m trying out is having Gene, my older border collie, help out with sheep chores, so that Maggie doesn’t have to work so hard. There are some pro’s and con’s to  using two dogs at once. 

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Moses arrived here in the spring of 2010, a middle-aged, retired show dog. His former owner sent him home with me in a most presentable form, fully bathed and groomed, ready for a show. Here is what he looked like upon arrival, fearfully meeting grubby Bronte:

BandM1

In retrospect, the bath was a bad idea, as he was not waterproof for a few weeks, and got really wet when it rained. But it was mild weather, and he survived the short but difficult transition to farm life.

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MaggieWhen I went to my first border collie herding trial many years ago, I was appalled at how much yelling all of the handlers did. I swore to myself that if and when I ever trained stock dogs, I’d do it without all that yelling! Well, famous last words. I yell at my dogs a lot when they are working sheep. Sometimes I really get after them, even grabbing them by the scruff and getting in their faces. Afterwards, I always wonder, did a bicyclist or driver on the road just see that, and think I’m a terrible person? Smile

But the truth is, stock dogs can be very pushy. My idea of nice, calm stock work is their idea of bo-ring. They know what I consider appropriate, and they sometimes push the line when they are far away from me and think they can get away with it. And this can be dangerous for me, the dog, or the sheep- or all three! A friend of mine had her leg broken when her dog ran stock over her through a gate opening. Dog-run sheep can crash into fences and break their necks. And dogs can get hurt too, being kicked, butted or crushed by livestock if they are not using their heads. So I do take naughtiness seriously, and correct to the level needed to get the dog’s attention. Which sometimes needs to be quite a wake-up call for a keen border collie. AnnoyedOften I have to act like I’m literally ready to kill them, or they will just brush me off and keep doing what they’re doing.

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Polite Sitting at the GateSome readers already know his background (but in case you don’t) our LGD, Moses, is a retired show dog. He’s a finished champion that was never really cut out to be a “campaign dog,” travelling the road for years, racking up group placements and best-in-show wins. So, he’s here now, and farm life seems to suit him much better. One problem I’ve faced with him is grooming, however. Ironic, since he must have spent a lot of time on the grooming table when he was a show dog. But perhaps this is one reason he needed a career change, as he hates being groomed!

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