Monday, September 27, 2010

Reminiscing - First Sweeps Assignment

Looking through some old pictures for something else, I stumbled across these pictures of my very first Sweepstakes judging assignment.

This was at the DC&SSA Specialty, June 23, 1985. The entry in Puppy Sweepstakes was 60 !! In Sweeps! (31 males, 29 bitches). Collies (Rough & Smooth) and Shelties were judged together in classes divided by sex and age as usual. (There were 15 Smooths, 86 Roughs and 93 Shelties in the regular show). I was supposed to judge all the Obedience classes as well, but because of the entry, I could only judge the 30 entries in the Open Classes (87 total entries in Obedience - Collies and Shelties only). Those were the days, eh?!!

This was my final lineup. Males 6-9 was Alfenloch State Of The Art (sable Rough), 9-12 Males was Carnwath's Synchronicity (tri Rough), 12-18 Males & Champions was Ch. Silverdrift's Thriller (sable Sheltie), 6-9 Bitches was Alfenloch Grandhill Ashton (blue Sheltie), 9-12 Bitches was Sabelin's Just A Minute (sable Rough) and 12-18 Bitches & Champions was Inaglen Rainy Day Lover (sable Smooth).

What fun it was to judge such a large, quality entry!

My winner, Alfenloch Grandhill Ashton, by Ch. Alfenloch Rio Lane Glacier ex Ch. Alfenloch Arabesque.

Best of Opposite Sex in Sweeps was Ch. Silverdrift's Thriller.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tiffany And The Turkey

Just three months short of twelve years old, most of the time Tiffany forgets she's an older dog and is still right in the thick of things among our younger dogs. She's not interested in porch gazing with the other seniors!

We hang a bird feeder in the backyard which isn't too far from the door where the dogs go out. Bold turkeys will feed under it, but when the door is opened, Tiffany leaps from the top of the porch (stairs are for the oldies) and hits the ground running, to see if she can make that turkey fly!

Mission accomplished!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Want To Track????

........... was the title of the e-mail from my tracking instructor.

I have a bad case of the "guilts"...I haven't done ANY tracking with Sugar since the end of June. I had been worried that would happen once the classes were over. I did train on my own for a while afterwards but then it got hot, really hot. Then the fields all around us grew too high and too dense. Also known as "excuses", and I recognize them as that. If you really want to do something, you will find a way!

I told her I had not done a single track with Sugar for three months and she said not to worry, Shelties always remember. Okay... I smiled when I put on Sugar's flat nylon collar that I use only when tracking - didn't she just pull my arm out of the socket on the way to the car thinking we were going to "our field" next door. Apparently she hadn't forgotten at all!

I wanted to just squeeze the stuffing out of her, she did so well on her track! The instructor laid it and we let it age, the difficulty of the track was right where we had left off so I was a bit worried about that, maybe an easier one would've been better? No problem for her! She pulled right past everyone out to the start, completely on a mission! Head down, tail down, she didn't stop tracking until she was at the end of her track, scarfing down the jackpot at her article. She's a "snuffler" so you can hear her scenting the whole way as she follows the track, I love it. What a great little dog she is! She turns herself inside out to give you what you want.

I didn't get any pictures of Sugar tracking this time. I did take a few of teams I had met in the Spring, whose dogs were more advanced than us...they are entered in a TD test in a couple of weeks! So a bit stressed out. I'm going to go watch them, it will give me an idea of what to expect. October 3rd in Clarington, ON (east of Toronto), info is on Canuck Dogs.

The Bedlington Terrier on her track. She is a real keener that usually comes up to the start on her two back legs, she is so ready to be off on her track! The field was perfect, not too long, easier to see gopher holes and other obstacles, and nice and dewy.

She has just found her article. I love the happy smile on her handler's face. Good girl! She's first alternate in the test, I hope she gets in! Not like conformation shows, it can be tough to get in, the entry "opening" date is more important than the closing, entries must arrive by mail or courier, no hand delivery or any other method, they usually fill very quickly. After that an alternate list is started, and they will go in the place of any absentees. Any entry arriving before the opening date is returned to sender, so timing is everything!

This Dobe had been out of commission as she had a litter, she is a really enthusiastic girl! She "talks" a blue streak when she sees her handler getting her harness out and she knows she's "on deck" to track! Then she is all business and is she ever quick. I think I'd be pulled flat on my face. I love this breed. He kept a puppy from her litter and he has started tracking with him...he's only 16 weeks old! A great activity for a baby, no stress, all fun. I would do that in a heartbeat if I got another puppy...another thing I would do, is have a special play toy or de-stressor, like a ball on a rope, a glove, a flat toy, etc. for reward/play at the end of a track or any situation -- even conformation, something the dog has learned to LOVE that helps them to release any stress, that they don't get to play with often. Sugar doesn't have that, she isn't interested in playing with an object or her article. It would help if I had fostered that - easy enough to do with a baby, hard to add later.

Anyway, my mission now (should I choose to accept it!) is to find a suitable field or two around me that I can train regularly in, and get out there and do it. I live in a rural area so how hard can it be? I would love to find someone else in the area that wants to track so we could train together, I need the motivation. Want to track????

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Close Up

This female Baltimore Oriole was just outside of our living room windows on the ornamental grasses, and I was able to get these shots of her. Taken through the glass but they did turn out nice anyway. I think she might have hit the window and was maybe recovering. She looked good though, and flew away into one of the big Maple trees. She'll be fine.

So nice to see a non-feeder bird so close up. Beautiful.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where's The Beef?

Our plans being scrubbed for this long weekend by the terrible weather (thanks Hurricane Earl!), we stumbled upon the Orangeville Fair and most particularly, the beef cattle judging. Held indoors in the same venue as the dog shows regularly held at the Fairgrounds, we actually spent over four hours there watching the cattle judging.

It was really, really interesting to us and I must say we actually did quite well with our ringside judging. It sure helps that the judges get on the mike and give a short critique stating why they picked the ones they did, helping us to figure out what they were looking for in the cattle. My main interest was a mental comparison of this type of livestock show to a dog show. I have to say the cattle breeders have remained closer to the objective of picking the best breeding stock in their shows.

They prepare their exhibits just like we do, maybe not as over the top, but they are very clean and neatened up.

Using the clippers on the tail area of a Polled Hereford.

Bovine version of a "grooming table", these were used extensively. The Charolais being light coloured must be a challenge to keep clean, but they looked really nice once they were done!

There was a washing area at the back, even the Black Angus got a good wash. The judges don't touch them so they must just look better clean and therefore worth the effort. Afterwards they use forced air dryers on them, just like the ones we use for dogs.

A Charolais class. The classes for all the breeds were mostly quite large, like you would only see at a National Specialty, yet the judges judge quite quickly (it doesn't seem rushed, just decisive) and every class is ordered from first to last. Then the judges get on a mike and will say things like they liked the moderation of the first place winner, the proportions (balance). Or would say things like the type among the entrants was different but many of quality in their own way and they could appreciate the different types. One judge also said "you could pick the first three in any order and not be wrong". General comments like that, but also quite specific comments in some cases. It helped us to understand what they were looking for and I would *love* for dog show judges to have to do the same. It literally took only a minute or two for them to critique the whole class. They would say something about all of them right down to the last place.

Winner of a large Shorthorn calf class.

The roan Shorthorn in the middle of the picture was the winner of this class. This was my favourite breed, I fell in love with the roan colour. They come in the red and white as above, the roan, red and mostly white/solid white.

A closer shot of a roan Shorthorn. Being a colour-geek, I had to come home and read up on this breed and this colour. I was not at all surprised to find out that there is a Whitebred Shorthorn breed, developed from this breed (that is white), that when crossed with the black Galloway, produces a colour called the "blue-grey". (Think breeding a double merle to a black). The blue-grey's that result are a blue roan colour, like an Australian Cattle Dog. Like this red roan but blue. Like I said, not surprising. There is always a blue to the red, whether ticked (blue belton, orange belton), roan (blue and red) or merle (blue and red (or sable). Why is it that it's only our breed that can't wrap their collective minds around the sable merle? I will never, ever understand that. They are only acceptable (kind of, sometimes, maybe...) if they don't look like what they are. (Even if we know full well what they are...wink, wink). It's .....embarrassing.

Black Angus bull calf class. Terry's favourite breed.

Polled Hereford bull calf class. In this breed the "handlers" always wear red shirts. Looks nice! Anything goes for the other breeds. Again, all these huge classes and the judging goes quite quickly. I was really impressed with the complete decisiveness of the judges. No prolonged pondering, no switching placements, no grandstanding, and once they are ordered, they have to say something about all of them! All of this happens in far less time than it would take to judge a dog class of the same size, and they are placing them right down to the last one! I would dearly love to hear our judges have to briefly express what they did out loud. I really think it would be quite telling. I feel if judges can't think quickly enough on their feet to do this, they shouldn't be judging.

Polled Hereford bull. The full grown bulls in all the breeds are just massive, but surprisingly docile. I'm sure they are handled quite a bit from a young age, but they are also bred to be docile, as there would be little point in farmer's trying to deal with a nutsy bull, or cow for that matter, they are all too big to fool around with. So temperament is important.

The other thing I liked about the cattle judging, is they have many more classes with get involved, or herd classes as well, where a number of individuals from the same breeder are judged. One class we watched involved cows with their 2010 calf "at foot". Judges comments are things like "she's done a good job with this calf" (nice "beefy" bull calf in this case). Another judge comment was on the size of the teats on the udder, one was slimmer and narrower, another further down the line was too big. Things that matter in a breeding program beyond the conformation of one individual. I've never understood why stud dog and get, brood bitch classes, or "kennel" classes were not more important at dog shows. I really think dog shows have wandered quite a bit away from the concept of picking the best breeding stock.

We also watched the HUGE junior showmanship competition. We had previously watched this competition at the Royal Winter Fair, where we were also very impressed with the very large entry and the skill of the kids!

At this particular show they won cash (no ribbons) and the entry was really large in all classes, probably 50 kids in total. They went from Pee Wee right up to the older kids (all done by birth date - 4 classes in all). Very similar to Junior Showmanship in dog shows, except with huge animals! There are always some that act up - always some entries that are "too much" for the kid, just like our Juniors. I took a couple of pictures of the Pee Wees....awesome to be showing such a big animal.

Pee Wee kids showing their cattle. All Junior Showmanship classes were ordered first to last and the judge also critiqued them in the same manner as the other classes. Also quick and decisive judging, only the occasional runaway calf slowing things down!

The little boy with the the second to last calf in this picture was the winner of this class. The judge said his calf was set up every time she looked.

There was other livestock being judged as well, like the Sheep below. They just judged them right there in the barn, very informal.

I was trying to figure out what the little coats were that the penned sheep were wearing, I think they were to keep them from getting straw bits, etc. in their coats after being groomed.

Groomed and waiting for their turn?

Judging. This was more hands on by the judges.

A lot more difficult for a spectator to figure out just what they might be looking for. Probably more like what our dog shows look like to the public!

Addendum: This was my 200th post to my blog!