Ramblings from the VP, by Gloria Mitchell (Excerpt from WAKCI newsletter)
The past year has been an exciting one for us and our Kelpies here at TLC in Ontario. In Isis’ 2 year old season last summer, we focused on some bigger agility competitions….in June placing just off the podium, in 4th in the very competitive 22” division at the AAC OntarioW Regionals and qualifying for Nationals. As Isis is in heat in early august and therefore cannot compete at AAC Natls, we switched venues and entered the 2014 UKI Nationals at Labour Day. Amazingly, we made the finals in every class and came out 7th in the 22” UKI Natl Championship. Given that I have “ring nerves” at big competitions, I was very proud of Isis’ calm intensity and pure love of agility and found she actually calmed me down. Boogie tunes on the ipod helped too!
As we are planning to breed Isis this coming winter, and we believe if you breed, the dog should have the qualities of that breed, no matter my personal dogsport passion(s), so I’d been trying to get time on sheep, but it’s tough down here in south southwestern Ontario. Also, with my judging, competing and teaching schedule….hard to find a free weekend, let alone one coinciding with a herding trial. So, we picked a trial in late October, spent August fencing in my ½ acre front yard, brought my round pen home and in mid-September welcomed six ewes to our two acres.! I wondered how agility training would go, with sheep right on the other side of the fenced agility ring (they liked to watch the puppy class), but Isis never missed a beat. Agility over here, herding over there…. Good girlie. So, we did a little bit every day and things improved quite a bit. Sporadic opportunities to train left us with a bit of work to do at the top of the outrun and in a more formal fetch situation.
Our practical farm work that we do for various friends utilizes my kelpies’ stock sense but perhaps doesn’t lend itself to ‘trialing skills’. For example, I completely forgot that AHBA has a free standing pen in level one and tho I’d done it a few times with my older boys, Isis had never even seen a free standing pen! Hmmmm….. well, we’ll see and skip it if it’s too much, not her fault! Besides, I didn’t expect to qualify in my very first herding trial (and not having even seen an AHBA trial :-P ).
Never underestimate your kelpie! The Saturday of the herding trial was Isis’ third birthday and she celebrated by qualifying in both runs, 83 and 79, I think. AND THERE WERE SHEEP IN THE PEN!!! From the ‘peanut gallery’ comments on the audio of my video of the runs, we provided some entertaining moments, as Isis’ finally found some sheep that can run almost as fast as her, in Sue Jewell’s katahdins. I also hadn’t realized the challenges of 3 katahdins and a barb (who didn’t want to be with the katahdins), as we’ve worked mixed flocks, but usually much larger numbers.
Isis handled it like a young dog will, a little extra mixed in, but got the job done! Sunday we worked on skills in the am and timed out, in the pm, we got an 84/90!!!!! We lost 3 pts because, right at the pen gate, the barb went in and the katahdins stalled, so I did the gate and took the 3 pts loss, not knowing that the rest of the obstacles to that point had not had deductions! Aha, there’s strategy to this, like every other sport. Yes!
We are very excited to be breeding Isis this coming winter and look forward to welcoming her pups in the spring of 2016. We are planning to breed her to a mature boy out west, who works stock regularly and will complement her excellent dog communication skills, and beautiful temperament. As you all know, kelpies are this quirky mix of soft relationships and powerful drive…..what I like most about Isis, is the behavioural work she does with me in my training practice. Half of my business is behavioural remediation, whether it is reactivity, fear, aggression, resource guarding…a lot of vets refer their clients regularly. Not every dog can handle meeting damaged dogs every day and I am very careful to make sure she meets ‘grounded’ dogs regularly. I’ve had one other dog in 24 years that could ‘work’ client dogs with me, but he didn’t have the skills Ice has. I’ve seen her take 10 minutes, laying on her side, nudging a toy ahead of her across 3’ of floor to a frozen sheltie…..She can accomplish more in that ten minutes than I can in a dozen lessons. And with children! Despite very little exposure to small humans, as we just don’t have many young ones in our extended family locally, Isis is amazing with children! In fact, the one thing that will make her leave me is a fussing baby…she’s off like a bullet, screeches to a stop about 2 feet from the baby and carefully comes in to kiss toes. And MUST kiss toes or she won’t leave the fussing baby. It shouldn’t surprise me, as when she’s in heat, she brings all her stuff toys to bed and tucks them into her tummy before settling to sleep. An amazing partner she is.
Soooooo, we got another one! In fact as I write this, Ezra is sleeping on my feet, days from his first birthday. Out of the same mom, Roulette, bred by Christine Vaught from Nevada, Ezra is his own special dude….very social, always ready to goof around and he rocks it with our daycare dogs everyday. He’s got skills too, just a little different style. His dad is a full time cattle working dog, from Wyoming, and I see a balance of power in him that I think bodes well for both pasture and yard work. And he’s just as fast as his sister!! As Isis and I return to a few agility trials this fall, Ezra’s ready to move forward with his training in both agility and herding. And peeing….somehow he always misses the tree and douses his front leg.! Keeps us humble…….and in the bathtub a lot……
Wishing you amazing kelpie adventures this fall – Gloria & Brad Mitchell, London, Ontario