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Monday, December 03 2012


With the holiday season ramping up things are getting even more chaotic around here. I rode Joe in a Parade Of Lights Christmas parade on Saturday night.  That was supposed to be the blog for today, but, understandably, it got bumped.

Yesterday was a special kind of circus because I had to get Other Half off to work, finish up soap orders, load soap into truck, cook a dish for a party, feed the dogs, feed the horses, feed the sheep and move them to the yard, and get dressed for the party, pick up Dear Friend Mindy, drive to party, and then, well, party with The Girls!

And I accomplished all this . . . life was good, until this morning.

Here's how it all began to unravel:

Other Half calls me on his way home from work to see when I'm coming home. I'm still partying and so he stops and gets a burger on his way home. He lets Patrol Dog/Psycho Dog/Oli out to play in the dark for about 5 minutes. Brings Dillon, Lily, and Cowboy into the house. Turns Trace/Troll/Psycho Border Collie and Ranger/Blue Heeler into yard.

I return home around 8 pm and we watch television for a while and then go to bed.  Wake up at 6:30 am. An idea pops into my head. I forgot to remind Other Half that the sheep and goats were in the yard. Oh...Sh*t!

Turn to Other Half and say, "You DID get the sheep in last night. Right?"

"SHEEP!!! WHAT?!!"

We both spring out of bed. (Levitate is a much better verb here.) I run outside in my pajamas. Thankfully my neighbors are ranchers who are used to this behavior.  I swing open the door and race outside into the fog . . .

. . . and total silence.

. . . nothing . . .


Nothing. Just empty fog. I start to walk around the yard. No sheep. No goats. No dogs. Nothing.


A figure races out of the fog. Ranger bounces into focus. No Trace.


A little red figure emerges from the fog. He nods at me and races off. Okay. At least I have a direction of travel now. I head off after him. Plunk Ranger in kennel. Mentally prepare myself for the carnage. This is, after all, the unpleasant part of raising farm animals.

And so it was that I round the corner, and standing there in the middle of assorted tractor implements is a band of scared sleepy sheep and three disgusted goats. And standing tall with the sheep was one Big White Dog.

Trace is circling the band like a satellite. He is a red moon orbiting a fluffy confused planet (and three disgusted goats).


I call the little bastard. He ignores me.  I roar at him. He flicks an ear but continues his orbit.  He has waited all night long for me to arrive so he can work sheep and refuses to be cheated. The sheep are very happy to see me.  I wade into their grateful midst. They crowd around me and tell me all about their horrific night with The Psycho With Googly Eyes.  Trace continues his maddening orbit.  I order him to down, which he does. (Miracle of miracles! Then again, he had probably been doing this for 12 hours already.)

I walk over to him to scoop him up and note that he has lost his collar.  The sheep unwisely decide to make a break for it. He is on them like a duck on a June bug. Briar grabs him by the tail and football tackles him. The sheep run back to me.  Briar trots along with them. Other Half joins us and we check them out.  They are fine. All of them. Ever single sheep and goat is safe. Wonders never cease.

The whole band of us begin our walk to the barn.  All is good until they see The Promised Land (i.e. The Opened Gate)

They make a break for it. Trace breaks his down. Briar football tackles him again, and the sheep slide through the gate and run like Spotted Apes back to their pen. There is a sonic boom as they broke the speed of sound.

Other Half and I have the same argument discussion about Trace's less than stellar behavior with livestock.  He is the first dog that I've actually felt the need to use electricity on. It may be in his future. He MUST learn that 'down' means "down and STAY DOWN, DAMNIT!"

And then it hits me.  I'm mad at Trace for not calling off sheep, but I have completely overlooked the fact that a Psychotic Malinois/Proven Sheep Murderer was completely unattended with the flock for at least 5 minutes.

(translation: If Other Half tells you they were unattended for 5 minutes, it really means at least 15 to 30 minutes.)

 There is only one reason why I didn't find bloody bodies all over the yard:

Yes, Briar.

Briar has an intense dislike of Oli. (No, duh! Wonder why?)

Oli wakes up in the morning and says, "What small hooved mammal can I kill today?" She is a velociraptor on paws.
And Briar is . . . Briar.



She is a gentle mountain of a dog, slow to anger, but force to be reckoned with when pushed too far.

Oli must have decided that killing sheep wasn't worth going through Briar.

"Wise choice, Bee-otch!"

Sometimes I take my Big White Dawg for granted, but I thank God she was on duty last night.   :)

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 06:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  15 Comments  |  Email
Gawd! I HATE that feeling of coming from a dreamy half-awake state to full-on panic mode when I realize something isn't right. That said, Briar is an angel. A ferocious angel, but I guess that's what a guardian angel needs to be. Good for her!
Posted by EvenSong on 12/03/2012 - 11:09 PM
Seems like good work by Briar and Trace, even if each of them thinks the other one's work was superfluous! Glad all's well that ends well!
Posted by clairesmum on 12/04/2012 - 07:15 AM
Weeelll...not so good work on Trace's part. It "looks" like he just stared at them all night and kept them bunched up, but without Briar, he could just as easily have run them all night long. He and Briar are good friends, so she didn't eat him, but she did football tackle him when he got to aggressive with her sheep.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 12/04/2012 - 09:16 AM
Re: Electricity on border collies... I thought long and hard about it with my girl dog (I have a brother/sister pair..Boy dog is very sensitive, quite obedient, rather timid, and leaves stock alone unless asked. Girl dog is a whole nother beast... Horses? Workin' em! Cats? On em! Sheep? On em like white on rice! I needed to get a handle on her around the horses before she got her head kicked in, so hemmed and hawed and then caved and bought a Dogtra Gundog training collar. It has worked like a DAMN. Seriously - best thing I could have done. I did, and this is somewhat unfortunate, start by following the instructions for proper use for training, and taught her to recall immediately on the vibrate function. Smart border collie has now determined that if she gets vibrated (or zapped) she must cease all activity and come lie on mom's feet. So using it to enforce a lie down is a bit of a problem...lmao. BUT..she no longer runs off if she thinks she won't like whatever I'm calling her in for (like getting locked up), she leaves the horses alone (mostly), and listens extremely well to "that'll do". She's just over 2, so she can have a teeny bit of leeway in that she still least she listens when told no! It's also helped her on the sheep as far as obedience, although she's far from perfect on stock - we don't get much consistent work time (lack of sheep of my own!) and she is a huge amount of enthusiasm and raw talent... so she is sometimes over-enthusiastic. Having said that, however, I am currently farm sitting for five weeks and she is the only dog I can use to push the sheep OFF the gate to open it for grain. My friend's broke stock dogs? Um...yeah... They just run them harder INTO the gate and refuse to come to me and drive. Lex has no clue what a drive is, but if I call her to come and suggest she push the sheep back, she's all over it and is currently my top farm hand. We REALLY gotta get more sheep work in!!!
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 12/04/2012 - 09:33 AM
Ct'd... I did start by following the instructions for proper use for training, and taught her to recall immediately on the vibrate function. Smart border collie has now determined that if she gets vibrated (or zapped) she must cease all activity and come lie on mom's feet. So using it to enforce a lie down is a bit of a problem...lmao. But overall it's just plain made her consider what the human is asking, which makes her much more tractable even when she's not wearing the collar. Continued again..sorry! lol
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 12/04/2012 - 09:45 AM
I've only ever used the vibrate function sheep, and only in the odd shitshow while farm sitting. Mostly by using it in other training situations it's just made her stop and think about listening to the human, who can reach her even when she's out of reach. She's even backed off and is a bit more considerate on sheep..since she's 100% enthusiasm and raw talent, plus headstrong, she could be...interesting at times. Lol. She still can be, but overall she's much more inclined to slow down and think instead of going into "rah rah sheep!" mode :) It's been really Handy! A life saver where larger stock was concerned. my experience, it's definitely worth considering!
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 12/04/2012 - 09:48 AM
That's what I needed to hear. Since neither of us is likely to abuse him (although I wanted to blow sparks out his ass yesterday!) it may be the one thing that makes him realize that we can 'reach out and touch him' from a distance. He is a pro at circling just out of reach and that may be the ticket to jingle his brains back from google-eyed to normal pup when you aren't close to him.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 12/04/2012 - 09:55 AM
Good girl, Briar! Hope she gets some hugs and treats. "Trace continues his maddening orbit." This does not surprise me. Terri circles me whenever she has a chance to outside. I don't know what she would do if she had the opportunity to herd sheep but I suspect she'd keep them in a nice small group and not let them move more than a couple of feet. (That's what she did when faced with a few ducklings.)
Posted by Terri's Pal on 12/04/2012 - 03:36 PM
Briar had steak for dinner that night!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 12/04/2012 - 07:11 PM
Yet another story about how Great a Great Pyrenees can be!! I LOVE those BIG white fluffy beasts!!! This story could have had a MUCH different ending Thank Goodness the Pyrenees was there to save the day!!! :D
Posted by Gin'.a on 12/05/2012 - 01:07 AM first message sent in the larger format before I cropped and edited and and..sorry! I generally go with a "voice, vibrate, zap" progression as needed, and my collar has 127 levels of zap..I was on 16 for the longest time but recently discovered that she is more respectful if I ramp it up to 40 and hold the "continuous" button for half a second. She has really come to conclude that I can reach her no matter what, and now she listens 95% of the time, and 4.5% of the time she only needs a vibrate. A stock dog guy told me once that you can't use them on border collies because they're too sensitive. While I'd be concerned about that with my boy dog, the girl dog has handled it just fine and is the better dog for it.
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 12/05/2012 - 09:48 AM
This is the one I have, and it is totally worth blowing the budget out of the water for: Everything I read/discussed with people seemed to point to Dogtra as the best brand to go with, and it's definitely durable and usable. For recall training I used it at the dogpark, and she's gone swimming fully submersed with absolutely no adverse effects to the receiver.
Posted by AlbertaGirl on 12/05/2012 - 09:51 AM
Wonderful job, Briar. You are a guard dog supreme. Ok, now, so how did Joe do in the Parade of Lights?
Posted by Susan on 12/07/2012 - 06:12 PM
We tried a good quality e-collar with our Malinois (well, he's a Malinois) as our FFA sheep almost lost its life prematurely and he would constantly "herd" the horses. But, he is so smart he knew when the collar was on - he had to mind, and when it was off - he could do as he pleased. We ended up putting up field fence to keep him away from the horses.
Posted by Jennifer on 12/11/2012 - 02:46 PM
Sadly, I cannot even trust Oli with field fencing. She gets in front of the fence and spins. The dairy goats get dangerously close. Watching her with curiosity. She is like a fish, dangling a lure. As the goats get closer, she circles faster. When they get close enough, she leaps. I worry she will catch an ear through the fence and pull a head through or rip off an ear.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 12/12/2012 - 10:35 AM

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