Fun on the Farm

I love unexpected afternoons that end up on a positive note.

Last week we happened upon a dog training farm in Duncan (located in the District of Cowichan Valley) on Vancouver Island complete with sheep, lambs, ducks and one wily border collie.

And, as I happened to have one Shetland sheepdog in the hatchback of my car, I thought it a good idea to see how she would respond to the little lambs that were silently grazing behind a fence. Especially since knowing that the breed (sheltie for short) are herding dogs that originated from Scotland’s remote and rugged Shetland Islands. Known to be easy trainers and world-class competitors in obedience, agility, and herding trials, I was dying to find out how she’d react.

We took Layla out of the car and held her as she watched and sniffed, all the while appearing calm and disinterested.

Anyway, before we drove off we stopped by the farm which goes by the name Ash Farms and has been in the family for generations as we learned from Linda, the owner, who came out and greeted us.  As luck would have it, she’s a dog trainer with a specialty in training them to herd sheep and ducks.

A light went off!  After chatting with Linda for several minutes I decided to take a trial training run from her to find out if Layla has what it takes.  Even though I don’t live on a farm and don’t plan to buy sheep anytime soon.

My imagination led me to believe that Layla would start chasing them around the pen in circles while nipping at their hind legs and I expected that it might get out of control.

So Linda, with the help of her very smart border collie Jock, was more than patient to find out if Layla has a natural instinct. Jock helped to show Layla a few tricks. They showed us that there’s a method – and it starts off slow with an eye to follow the sheep.

 

We learned a few things. 

For instance, we found out that instinct to herd is largely inherited, not learned.  Like ballet or piano, it’s better to start them off young.

Therefore, instinct is a response to stock that no amount of training can create. However, the greatest instincts are not useful without a willingness to work with the handler. Trainability is as important as good instinct, so the greater level of working accomplishments by the parents, the higher the likelihood the offspring will achieve these skills. Without attention to this in breeding, it is all chance. 

Ahhh…makes sense now.  Her parents never herded farm animals.

So we took a chance.  It was worthwhile nonetheless.  Layla needs to be more wolf like in her approach so that the sheep are afraid of her.  They were not.  They kept their eyes on her though.

 

Layla has potential but seemed distracted and would need more lessons without me hanging around.  For now she’ll go back to chasing squirrels and Canada Geese – something she prefers.

Besides…Layla has her own little lamb.

Photos: d. king

well that was weird

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: on the wagon

This is how we roll

Jia Jia + Layla. Photo: d. king

My senior is almost 18 years old.  Since he now walks like a turtle I found the perfect solution for taking him from A to B without much effort on my part and no effort on his.  Baby strollers didn’t hold him properly and the pet wagons were too small.  So I went to the sporting goods section of Walmart and found a wagon designed to take blankets and beer to the beach.  Outfitted with comfort it works like a charm.  Also can be pulled either way, has a handle for extension to arms length, a flap for carrying stuff and folds for easy storage.  Yay!

When we arrive at our destination I take him out and he walks until he’s too tired at which point he goes back in the wagon.  Layla walks alongside for exercise but she enjoys hitching a ride from time to time.

My boy outside Revivals. Photo: d. king

This is a faster, more convenient way to take him along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Along the River Walk. Photo: d. king

Okay Layla; don’t get too comfortable. Photo: d. king

Hope you enjoy your weekend.

FYI: I’ve been giving Jia Jia a product called Rejeneril (a patented and clinically-proven longevity product for pets) every day for 8 years now.  I believe it helps his immune system among other benefits.

The link is below if you want to check it out:

Rejeneril®

 

Feel-good Friday: Furry Friends

I would like to introduce you to our new little furry female family member,  a one-year-old sheltie named LAYLA.

THEN – first meeting

Big brother Jia Jia is thrilled to have her and considers Layla his dog.

She brings some sunshine to our days following the one month anniversary of Don’s passing.  We are still grieving and Jia Jia was very depressed and moping around.  Now he has come back to life.  Layla too for that matter.  It’s a bittersweet story of how we got her.

Don was the instigator because he started sourcing breeders when we were last in Palm Springs.  He located a breeder in the Kootenays (British Columbia) and asked me to make the call.  It was a husband/wife team. They were expecting a litter in May but I told them we would be fine with an older female for our male sheltie.  They had a female who they were planning to breed and would be happy to let her go after she had a litter.  We decided to take a trip in June to see her.  Believe it or not, Don drove most of the way there and all of the way back. The dog was Layla.  Jia Jia and she immediately hit it off.  We saw the puppies too, which as you can imagine, were totally adorable.  They were not ready to let her go as she was coming into heat at that time.  So we went on our way and said we’d be in touch.

We got the call early August that she did not get pregnant as planned, so they were going to have her spayed so that she’d be available for pick up. I asked Don what to do as his health had deteriorated to the point of not being able to look after himself at that time.

He said “go for it.”  He met her and loved her.  Said she’d be great company for Jia Jia and good for me too.  So I said okay.  I made plans to pick her up in Summerland early September where they were headed to a dog show.  It was also half the driving distance to where she lived.

Then about a week after Don passed away the breeder called and told me that Layla was very sick.  She had been spayed but didn’t come out of it so well.  She stopped eating for several days and seemed to have a possible problem with her esophagus.   They would not be able to sell her and they thought they might have to put her down.  I was doubly devastated now.  This was the dog that Don, Jia Jia and I made the trip out to see and now not only can we not have her, but she might not even make it.  I asked them to please keep me posted on her progress nonetheless.  Hoping that they would at least be able to keep  her should she survive.

Fast forward two more weeks.  I received an e-mail that Layla was eating again and x-ray showed that all was fine. Clean bill of health from a terrible scare.  It was just an alarm and she had a bad reaction to the anesthesia.  She was available once again.  So I made a quick decision to pick her up the very next day in Summerland where the breeders were showing one of their dogs.  They were not even planning to take her.  And I was lucky to get a hotel room because everything was booked for either the dog show or a classic car show.

NOW – getting acquainted with her new HOME and adapting amazing well

She’s a very sweet, smart, playful little girl.  It took her all of one day to get settled. My only disappointment is that Don not be here to witness how well the two of them get along together.  But he is responsible for finding her and he did meet her (above photo).  I’m very thankful for this gift from Don.  At least this story has a happy ending.  I absolutely adore her!

Have a Happy Weekend!