Sunday, July 10, 2011

On the Road - Day 3

Yes, I'm alive, and reasonably well. It was pointed out to me that my last blog post before vanishing was about the (possibly) crazy meth addict hotel neighbor, followed by silence...sorry! I had trouble with the wi-fi connection at my stop on Thursday night, and late arrivals Friday and Saturday nights. So, here I am Sunday morning playing catch up.

The Work: Nyle Sealine

Once again, no photos of us working. It's about the expereience of course, and not the photos, but I am a little disappointed to not have photos to help with the memory. But that's the way it goes. There was no one available to take photos when I started working Dare, and when I worked Seamus, someone was available but it was raining too hard to have the camera out. Photos from our Chuck-it session will have to do.

Bob working on penning (Nyle to the right), Tom observing, with Nyle's dog keeping an eye on things. That's the guardian dog to the right of the pen.

Nyle does group lessons, so there were two other folks there to work dogs, too; almost like a mini-clinic. His sheep are a Columbian and Hampshire cross (I think). We used a packet of seven; white faced, black faced, and one or two speckle faced. The field was about 3 or 4 acres, a little oddly shaped, but nice for dog work. A gully runs across it, and I wondered whether that would have any effect on Dare's outrun. The sheep were at the top right of the field, somewhat close to the fenceline, which ran down to a gate leading to the barn, so the pressure was quite heavy to the right, especially at the bottom of the field. She went out okay, a little tight, and jumped the gully without changing her path, however, she fell in at the top, and the race was on to the bottom of the field. Took her off them, tried again, without much better success. She's now made a mess of sheep and chased singles several times the last few times we've worked. I don't know if that's insecurity on her part with what may be more challenging sheep, or quite what is going on. The sheep we've been working were by no means crazy or too difficult, but required the dog to be correct and fair. I am certainly getting to see the areas where we need improvement!

Nyle felt by working on having her lift them off the fence and up close nicely, giving them space and covering properly, this would translate into a better lift further away, though it's hard for me to explain it how he explained it to me. We got her doing this exercise well, and sent her a short distance, which went well, and back to the original distance, which was somewhat better, but not as improved as we'd hoped. Still, there was a change, and the at-hand work was looking better, so I think it is a good exercise for me to keep in my toolbox.

Seamus and Crystal watching.

Seamus was in his excited young dog state of mind, and it showed as I walked him from the car to the field. I didn't like his attitude and neither did Nyle, so we worked for some time on getting him to behave politely on the leash before we did anything with the sheep. Nyle thought it would be best, and I agreed, if we just worked him up close. Nyle worked him, which was great because I was able to observe what he was doing, and also see the results when the exercise was done correctly. He worked him with the sheep in the corner, and moved himself laterally back and forth between Seamus and the sheep. If Seamus tried to walk in around them nicely, he would let him have the sheep. If his body language showed that his intentions were to try to dive in, Nyle easily and gently blocked him. There was some darting back and forth at first, as Seamus tried to work out how to get past Nyle, but he then figured out what was wanted. As Seamus started to come on more slowly (but not as far on the fence as ideal), Nyle used just a little of his own body pressure to lean him out. This was also a good exercise, although when it was my turn to try, I had some trouble positioning myself where I needed to be, whether to block or give. I will need to work on this!
By the time I'd finished working Seamus, it was rather late in the morning (almost 11) considering the distance I planned to drive, so I was getting a bit antsy to get on the road, and elected not to work Bran. Nyle was just as nice a gentleman as could be, and tried to encourage me to stay so I could work the dogs a second time, at least, to practice again what we'd learned. He'd even tried to reach me the evening before to see if I could come out to work Wednesday night, then again Thursday morning, but apparently I'd had no cell signal when he called. :(

The takeaway: If something goes wrong, go to the sheep when possible, instead of going after the dog (as the dog will want to stay with the sheep).


The route: Missouri to Colorado
The mileage: A bit under 800 (I'm unable to find where I'd written it down)
Time: About 12.5-13 hours

A rough drive this day. Started out from Nyle's in Princeton in rain. As I neared the crossing of the Missouri river, there were signs advising that the road was closed due to all the floods they'd been having. So, I had to divert north to Iowa and cross way up near Omaha. Most of the roads I'd traveled in Missouri and into Iowa were these two-lane county roads that near-highway speed limits, and I hadn't been seeing any police, so I tried to step things up a bit on the detour. Somewhere near Red Oak, IA, my luck ran out and I was stopped by a state trooper, who was friendly enough, considering I was from out of state and going more than a little bit over the speed limit. I wavered on whether or not to mention my profession to try to help smooth things over a bit, but hesitated too long; the moment was lost, he went back to his car, and I was ticketed. He gave me a break on the speed, which reduced the fine, and also checked the distance for me to where I was trying to cross the river (I'd told him about my little detour and how I had no idea where I was). Of course, it's not the fine, it's the rotten insurance points (and my insurance company is picky).

By the time I reached Nebraska, the weather was beautiful. More cornfields, but these were a bit less interesting than my the fields earlier in my trip. They seemed to be bigger commerical operations, so there the homestead buildings were fewer and further apart. I gave the day up as a loss, and stopped around dinner time at a Cabela's to give the dogs some off-leash time out of the crates and a good session of Chuck-it.

Seamus and Bran


Seamus, Bran and Dare


Bran (I think!)

Another stop at twilight in western Nebraska, on through Cheyenne, and down to Ft. Collins, to finally reach our stop for the night.

I have some photos from the last couple legs of the trip, but for some reason my phone is stuck in "sending" mode and I'm not able to get them loaded here. I will add them later if I can.

Edit: And here they are...

Approaching Council Bluffs, IA

I-80: Just like home, but being on 80 here means I'm further north than I want to be. However, my northerly detour bypassed the tremendous storms that hit the route I would have taken further south.

Interesting bridge on I-80 somewhere west of Omaha.

Cute flower at rest area in western Nebraska. I only saw one other flower like it there.

Definitely NOT in New Jersey! Same rest area as above.
(Technically, yes, we do have a rattlesnake species in NJ,
but apparently they are not a "problem" to such a degree that requires a warning sign.)

Next: A brief interlude

1 comment:

  1. Well at least you let us know... I'm glad you survived your adventures with the interesting motel neighbors...