Location: Bluemont, Virginia, United States

I currently live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA with my husband and our 5 Australian Shepherds

Friday, July 28, 2006

Puppy Breath with Pictures

I'm going to try and post some pictures of the babies. I tried with the first post but couldn't find where I had put them. With the help of one of my dear co-workers hopefully it will work this time!

This is Haley. She is a very sweet and out going puppy. My friend in Germany, Susanne, is crazy about her.

This is Fallon. Such a cutie and so full of herself. I'm very partial to her.

This is Kira. She was the first born and it the smallest. She is a little shy but is so sweet.

Well I have managed to post three of the eight pictures. I'll post more later. Enjoy my babies!

More Puppy Breath

The first and only post about Polly's puppies was when they were 10 days old. My how time flies! They are seven weeks old today. I'm just not sure where the last 5 1/2 weeks have gotten to. Wednesday was a big day for the kids. They paid a visit to the canine ophthalmologist where they all passed their eye checks with flying colors. Then it was home for a short while and then off to our regular vet for a general health check. This is something I only started doing about three or four litters ago. (The reason being is that I sold a puppy to a very nice couple only to get a call three days after they had the puppy home to inform me that the puppy had a severe heart murmur. I offered that they could return the puppy and I would refund their money but they insisted that they had bonded with the puppy and vise versa. To make a long story short, I found a canine cardioloigst for them and it turned out that the puppy had a PDA. Which they were able to repair surgically. ) I am happy to report that they passed their health check too. So tonight they will go for temperament testing and then this weekend they will go for their conformation evaluation. After that my husband and I will take a decision as to which puppy we will keep and I will let all of my puppy buyers know which puppies will be available for them. Raising a litter of puppies is truly a labor of love but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. My husband and I really enjoy sitting out on our patio watching the puppies play with each other and with the older dogs. We have always maintained that watching puppies play is the best form of free entertainment that God ever created. On one hand I will be happy when they are in their new homes with their new families but on the other hand I will be very sad. We always keep in touch with our puppy buyers so we will see them as they grow. Then we will get ready for next years litter. Aah!!!!! more puppy breath. I can hardly wait!!!!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jurassic Park

I have often described my place of employment as a jurassic park. Why you might ask? The answer is becuase of how long people tend to stay with my company. This idea of mine was made even more evident a couple of weeks ago when I attended a diversity meeting. Usually these meeting are real snore fests but the woman who spoke at this meeting was very interesting. She told us that there are four generations of people working at our company. They are The matures, age 61 to 81, the baby boomers, age 42 to 60. Yours truly falls into this catagory. The Gen X'ers age 27 to 41 and the Gen Y's age 26 and younger. Each group brings a different idea of working and way to work to the table. This woman went on to describe each group and their work style and work ethic. I was really surprised at how spot on she was with her descriptions. Another astonishing fact that this woman imparted was that 57% of my company's work force will be eligible to retire within the next 5 to 10 years! Now, I am eligible to "early out" the first of Janurary 2007. This is after almost 36 years of service. But, I'm not going. At least not in January. After saying for so long that I couldn't wait to retire and how as soon as I was eligible I was out of here I'm staying put at least for a while. Now, I've set my target retirement date for 1 March, 2008. Why another year? Well our house will be paid off then and while we are planning on moving we do need to do some work on the place so financially I figure it would be easier.
So this old dinosaur will keep on working at least for awhile longer. Who knows what the future will hold!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What else have I missed?

A lot of things I'm sure but the thing to which I refer is Monty Python. This past weekend my husband and I went out to dinner with Sissgy and her family to celebrate her birthday. We were having a really nice time and I don't even remember what was said but something triggered the name Monty Python. I guess I've lead a VERY sheltered life because I'd never heard of this before. Everyone at the table was absolutely incredulous!!!!!!!! "What do you mean, what is Monty Python?" they all replied almost in unison. I assured them I really had never heard of this person or thing or whatever IT was! I was told that it was a television program. I still haven't seen it and I don't know if I ever will. Which leads me to wonder, what else have I missed? I'm sure someone will tell me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Puppy Breath!!!!!!

Polly finally had her puppies. We were blessed with 8. Five girls and Three boys. They are now 10 days old. Babies of any species are adorable. I happen to think that there is nothing sweeter than baby puppies. Of course there is always something to worry about. That is at least when they are my puppies. I worry that they are too hot or too cold. I worry about their weight. I worry about momma, her weight and does she have enough milk. Puppies are born pretty helpless. They can't see, hear, eliminate on their own or regulate their own body temperature. So there is lots to be concerned about. I'm sure my husband thinks I worry needlessly about things but I pride myself on the fact that once they get here I have only lost two puppies out of the six litters we have had. I think that's a pretty good record. They should start to open their eyes this week. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gray Hair

I love it on other people but I hate it on myself. Now you would think that since I started getting gray hair when I turned 16 I would be use to the head full of it that I have now. WELL I'M NOT!!!!!!!! No matter how hard I try I think it makes me look old. I look at other women and I think they look very attractive with it. On men it looks great but I hate it on myself. My husband loves my hair but he has to say that now dosen't he?
For the longest time I colored my hair. I would continue to do so but the color lasts almost no time at all. Being what I think a very practical person I can't see spending all that money every six weeks, and I can't afford to have it done more often so I'm living with it. I don't like it but I'm living with it. Maybe I'll like it more when I'm totally gray? I doubt it but you never know.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

With dogs you always learn something!

My husband and I live with five Australian Shepherds. Their names and ages are Nate 12, Morag, Nate's daughter 8 , Charlie 5, Polly, Morag's daughter 4 and Bedford, Nate's son 2 years old. The good thing about their ages is that right now we have no puppies, so we are out the chewie stage. But as breeders that never lasts for long! The hard thing is that Nate,our oldest is really showing his age and both my husband and I know that we may not have him with us for too much longer. At the age of 9 we discovered that Nate had a severe heart murmur. We took him to a canine cardioligist at the suggestion of our vet and he determined that Nate has a ruptured cordae tendenae ligiment of his anterior mitral valve. The doctor told us that this could have occured at any time and that it usually is a life ending event. Needless to say we were shocked with the news and consider every day a gift that we have him. We joke that Nate didn't get the memo but we are truly fortunate to still have him with us. This condition has caused us to learn about canine cardiology.

Morag, is Nate's daughter, at the age of eight is in good health and only beginning to show her age. She is a very sweet and loving dog but she does have a flip side. She gets along great with our boys but not with her daughter, Polly. Morag and Polly have taught us the meaning of kennel management.

Charlie is our sensitive tough guy. At 5 years old he has taught us persistance in the herding arena. As a puppy he showed great promise as a herding dog. Then he shut down. My husband was working with him but gave up and gave him to me. He worked for me for awhile and then shut down again. So, I put him up and worked with other dogs. On a whim one day I took him into the round pen. Bingo! the light came on again. He just completed his herding started title in three trials two of which where at our National Speciality. My husband is working with him now and will continue on with his training at the intermediate level.

Polly, is Morag's daughter. I call her my Mexican Jumping bean. Whenever we walk anywhere together Polly walks a few steps and jumps a few. When Polly was in season late last year she developed a uterine infection. She was a very sick little girl and was hospitilized for a week. They were able to pull her through, but at this point we don't know if she will be able to concieve and reproduce. We bred her this past heat cycle and then went for a sonogram at about 18 days
after her breeding. The sonogram showed no new infection and also no puppies. We were sad about this news but resigned to it. In looking at Polly the other night I am now suspecting that she is indeed pregnant!!!! We are going for another sonogram tonight and then all shall be revealed. Polly has taught us more about canine reproduction than we ever thought we would have to know.

Bedford is our youngest and the apple of my husbands eye. At eight weeks of age he was the spitting image of his daddy, Nate. Bedford is our most promising herding dog yet. My husband has great plans for him. I was hoping that he would be a conformation champion in addition to being a star in the herding arena but alas he is not what the conformation judges would be looking for. Showing dogs is too expensive to take a dog around show after show only to come home empty handed. Bedford has remineded me that picking a show prospect is ALWAYS a crap shoot.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dancing with your dog and three strangers. Otherwise known as herding!

I have been learning to herd for about eight years. Before I took my first herding lesson I attended trials and clinics and watched my husband work with our dogs. It looked, and is a complicated dance. There is a lot going on out there!
You start out training your dog in what is known as a round pen. This area is small enough so that your dog can't get into too much trouble. Most herding breeds have a high prey drive instinct. Your job is to control the prey drive and train the dog to move the sheep, ducks or cattle where you want them. First you must have a reliable down on your dog. This is one thing you can practice anywhere. Next comes teaching the dog the commands to move to the right and to the left. Now, it would be relatively easy if the commands for go right, go left where just that, but some drunken shepherds several hundred years ago came up with some real doozies!!!
To send your dog to the left you give the go bye or come bye command and to send your dog to the right you give the away to me command. Just to complicate things more the commands refer to the dogs right or left not yours!!!!!!! I have just started to be able to get the commands straight most of the time when I'm having my herding lessons but when I'm on the trial field and things are getting crazy I screw the commands up almost every time. God bless my dogs because more times than not they bail me out almost every time.

Then you have the sheep factor. Bless their fuzzy little hearts, sometimes they want to cooperate and sometimes they don't. They can generally figure out when you come onto the field if the dog can make them move or not. Some sheep are considered heavy or knee knockers, meaning they want to stay with the person. Other sheep don't want to be anywhere near you or the dog. They are referred to as light or flighty sheep.

When the dance is done right and all goes well it is a wonderful thing to watch. But, when one or more of your partners has other ideas, lets just say it's the longest ten minutes of your life. That is the amount of time you are given to get your dog and the sheep to dance the dance.