Welcome To Smokin J Border Collies

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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
I've trained working border collies for over 14 years and trialed in USBCHA, WCDA and AHBA events. My partner, Mike Franklin and I work dogs in Calico Basin, Nevada. This blog is solely for the purpose of sharing my love of working border collies. I do not have stud service or puppies available. Please contact me at smokinjbc@msn.com and I will be happy to share my recommended working breeders. If you are interested in teaching your dog to be a sheepdog in the Southern Nevada area, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lambs 2010 and Jet

The lambs have finally arrived with only a few hitches this year and Jet has really stepped up to the task of being "the" chore dog for lambing season. She had to have a few reminders to stay back and not push the ewes unless directly challenged, but she adjusted her usual hot-rod self well and it's been fun watching her get smart about how to handle stompy ewes.

The ewe above is one of my nicer sheep, she rarely challenges anything unless directly threatened, so since she was one of the first to lamb, she was good for Jet's confidence.

This ewe was not convinved that Jet was not going to eat her baby, so she did what a good mother does and did her best to persuade Jet to go elsewhere. Jet responded by sticking her tongue out and saying "Nah, nah!". It worked and the ewe decided to diplomatically retreat with her lamb. All in all, Jet's done well. She is not afraid of stompy ewes and will neatly take a nose if one decides to try to run her off but has learned to be gentle with lambs. I usually give her a little "be nice" reminder when she's around them, and she had the hang of it until these hooligans showed up.

They look like innocent lambs but really, they are troublemakers. These are Susan's triplets, only two days old, but they already have their own idea of what sheepdog and lamb relations should be. We were gently sorting out another ewe when these lambs decided to mess with the dog.

You look interesting to me.

Jet's thinking, "This has gone too far."

They decided that Jet makes a pretty good pillow.

For the most part, aside from two ewes that are not getting anything for Mother's Day, it's been a good lambing year. 17 lambs total, one had to be handed off for hand raising, but the rest are doing great. This is one of my favorites, I wish they would keep this muley-color.

Here's a few more...lot's of spots this year!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Morning

Well, I'm a failed blogger. I have discovered that they are just not that easy to keep up with. Plus, looking for a job, while having ups and downs, does not exactly make for exciting posting.

So, I thought I'd at least put up a Jet-date so I can talk about the little beast.

We had a nice Sunday morning, out in beautiful weather with fat sheep and two very happy dogs. Jet did some good outruns, runs a little tight on her comeby side but I was happy overall with how she did. We haven't made it out to the open to work, I've been working her in a 2 acre lot for the last month or so, really concentrating on her learning her whistles and doing correct flanks. Not having a chance to work on a nice controlled lift from a distance, so this is what we still get:

I'm still happy with that lift though, because it was a bit of a struggle at first to keep her lined out BEHIND her sheep and not constantly over flanking on top. So despite it being at a high rate of speed, she did go deep enough on her outrun and turned in for a straight approach. YEAH!

Now, this is my favorite thing about Jet. It's not her quick reflexes, her go-to attitude, or her intelligence. It's her tail. Get a load of that huge white tip. The tip on her tail is as big as her head. I'm not exaggerating....check it out:

Pretty cool! It's thick too, like God forgot that she's a wee bitch and stuck the wrong tail on her.
So back to our training session. My sheep were a little dodgy after being brought down the hill at such a brisk pace so they started to pick separate paths.

Notice the departing sheep in the above picture is a blonde....need I say more?

I don't know, boss, I think that black ewe is thinking about going to the right, I better lean over there.

She's just doing so well with keeping her sheep on line, and she's a big fan of driving, so long as she's not asked to do anything inconvenient like stop or slow down. What's that? Could it be....

PACE!!! I think!! I hope that it's true. Good dog, Jet!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Today's blog is going to ramble a little bit, so bear with me. What can I say? I'm just lacking in focus (and employment) right now.

The following picture is a good example of what happens to good old sheepdogs when they retire. They go to the Las Vegas Farm Festival, and despite blowing off every whistle during the sheepdog demo, they receive a pet for every sheep they've ever looked at. Literally.

These little girls were very polite and asked me questions like "Is she a fox?" or "Does it bite?" Honey, if she did bite, asking me in the middle of giving her a huge bear hug is probably a moot point. If she was going to do it, she would have by now.

This is another one that is not a biter. Despite appearances, this is the biggest marshmellow posing as a viscious Doberman that you'd ever meet.

He may have big teeth but the only thing lethal about this dog is his ability to clear a room with his farts. Unfortunately, he also loves to share the couch with me so that poses an occasional problem.
One more random pet pic and I'll tell you about Nano. Warning.... the cuteness....it burns.

Pretty adorable huh? And he's only our second cutest cat. The current cutest cat holder is Le Petite Kitty Claire, who has not allowed herself to be photographed in her full awesomeness. As soon as I procure a picture of the ruler of the house....I mean Kitty Claire, I will share her extreme adorability with you. It doesn't just burn, it's a nuclear holocaust of cute.
Ok...so what is this NaNoWriMo thing?

NanoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It starts November 1st and you have 30 days to write the equivalent of a 200 page novel, which is about 50k words. You are supposed to start with a new idea, not work on previous material and you "win" by submitting your word count to Nano by November 30th. There is no judge of your material, just an automated word counter to verify you did the work. You could probably cheat and write one word 50K times, but where's the fun in that? If you "win" you get a nerdy winner's badge, you can see my badge from last year in my sidebar.
2008 was my first time participating in Nano and I had a great experience. Just the satisfaction of completing a novel, or at least the first draft of a novel, was incredible. Although most of the work you do is solitary, there are local Nano writers groups all over the country and this year, I will participate more in the group and at least go to the Kickoff Party. Even if you don't participate, the NanoWrimo.org website has great writing forums where you can share tips, discuss frustrations and find inspiration.
I hope some of my friends from the Border Collie boards, so many of them excellent writers, will participate and earn a Winner's Badge too ( I admit, I bought a coffee mug to match!). I am very excited this year, I suppose one benefit of being laid off is that I won't have to cram in words before work. If anyone is interested in doing this together, feel free to email me at smokinjbc@msn.com or just check out the Nanowrimo.org website.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Laid Back (Off )Days

I have not been keeping up on this blog- just so much has changed since my ironically optimistic last post in June. What can I say? Things just have been in the toilet recently.

However, there is nothing like hard times to re-think your priorities and realize how much importance you were placing on things that, in the end, matter not nearly as much as your family, friends and your own well being. So although I am still grieving for a job I loved, the opportunity to start again is not completely unwelcome. At least I keep telling myself that.

The best part about not being employed (the worst part being way too much time to obsess over the last six months) is how much time I can spend with the dogs. Rhett & Leary no longer have to cross their old-lady legs waiting for me to get off work, Nellie is THRILLED that I'm available for pets and only has to see a crate after she rolls in something unsavory and gets a bath and Jet is becoming a little hardbody from plenty of sheepdog work.

The other good part is that I've seen alot more of my family too. My sister, brother and I took a little hike last week and Lindzay took some great pics which I thought I'd share with you all. Lindzay is a landscape architect and she's in the same boat I'm in- what can we say, the Vegas economy is in the pits!

Here is the start of our hike, in Red Rock Conservation Area. If you have been to Vegas and not visited Red Rock- you've really missed out on the best part. It's still unbelievable to me that Red Rock is only twenty minutes from the strip.

I kinda like the sepia tones for these first two pictures, old-timey which is appropriate because we first stopped at this little homestead ruin.

Right in front of the little homestead was this lush green meadow (ok, swampy wash- we take what we can get, meadow-wise in Vegas). Jet and Nellie were the official guides for this hike and they thoroughly approved of the homestead stop.

Nellie is 9 years old and Jet is just barely 2 but they so far have been really good pals. I keep expecting that to change but I will just enjoy it while it lasts.
Let's get going lazy humans!

After a nice, pine lined walk and then a grueling rock scramble from hell, we finally got to our destination, Fern Canyon. Remarkably, it actually still had water this time of year and Jet was the first to find the little waterfall.
Hmmmm, it's like a hose. Coming from a rock.

I'll have to consult with the water-pro on this one....

Nellie knows exactly what to do with waterfalls, she's cool like that.

What can I say- the dog has issues! I hope I'm as spry when I'm the equivalent of her age.

Well, the dogs had a blast, we were all beat but in a good way. I really liked this picture of these old ponderosa (I think) pine roots and the rocks. We don't have much in the way of trees and water in Vegas, but what we do have is worth admiring.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where We Work Dogs and finally..Brice!

Every chance we get, we try to take the dogs out to the open desert to work on our outwork. Our sheep live in Calico Basin, which is just in front of the beautiful Red Rock Conservation area.

These are some examples of my view as I'm setting out sheep for Mike & Brice.

There are alot of hazards the dogs have to overcome during their work. The rocks are brutal, and the cactus and thorns are everywhere.

I tried to get Jet to pose next to one of the hazards.... but made the mistake of saying "See Sheep?" to get her ears forward. Here is what happens when you use those magic words during a Border Collie portrait:

So... I had to find some examples of the dreaded thorns our dogs routinely have to negotiate without the aid of a sheepdog.

That picture is bad enough- but by far the worst enemies of doggie paws and sometimes underbellies are these dreaded Jumpin' Jacks. They do exactly that- anything gets within striking distance and they will latch on. A few months ago, Brice was outrunning and suddenly jumped straight up into the air and then refused to move. We ran up there, thinking maybe he had gotten snake bit. But instead, a cluster of Jumpin' Jacks were stuck between his leg and armpit. Needless to say, part of our working kit includes a pair of tweezers.

We had another beautiful cool day, with dark clouds over the mountains. The sheep even got a chance to pose against the backdrop.

And I finally got some pictures of Brice. Problem is, the little dude moves pretty dang fast. So did not get as close up as I'd like. This picture would have been pretty good except I was a second too slow to get a clear head shot.

Brice is a good driver, although if you underestimate his sneakiness, he might slip to the head. But for the most part, if he's steady enough, he'll hold a line real nice.

Brice doesn't have alot of eye and he has a nice way with his sheep, although he can get a bit tight at times and likes to be about two notches too fast. He is young and enthusiastic, and incredibly willing.

We had one little visitor to our working day... actually these fat little lizards were all over the place today, must have liked the weather too! Luckily, we don't have rattlesnakes in this area- they would have found the rocks ideal for sunbathing.

After her good work today, Jet was finally tired enough to pose for me by this pretty cactus.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Good Morning's Work

This morning was as nice a day to work dogs as we can expect for a long, long time. So we took advantage of the cooler temperatures and got up early to work dogs out in the desert.

Mike & Brice usually get stuck with the long walk from the barn about 3/4 mile down the road and into the BLM area where we work our dogs. These pics show Mike this morning, suiting up for the walk. He likes to bring his old army water bag for the dogs, that's that green thing on his back. Then he can pretend he's back doing field work in Germany for the Army AND work his dog. Once he's set, Brice takes control and they start their hike. Jane, Jet and I get to follow in the truck (someone has to bring the ice box).

Jane and Jet waiting patiently for the sheep to arrive. Jet is squinting because the morning sun is BRIGHT, but luckily we had some moisture move in and a nice breeze so the temp did not go far above 80 degrees. Next week, I doubt we will be so lucky.

Jet has been doing so well this week, we had a rough day a week or so ago but once we got over that hump, she's starting to open her flanks up and listen well. Here I'm asking her to come into the sheep, she is a little more relaxed and not so much WHEEEE! now.

For some reason, her driving side of her brain was in top shape today, she did some short drives and she did not get too flanky or bust through her sheep. This was a good group to work because they would move off all of the dogs but not stop/start all the time. They are nice and fit too, even the twin lambs kept up well.

I planned to get pics of all the dogs working. I seem to have a curse on the camera whenever I need a pic of Brice. But he did some really nice outruns and drives and as always, helped cover for the younger dog when we got a little braver about outrun length. Jane helped bring the sheep off the hill and Brice took over and brought them home again.

We all had a good time, even the sheep seemed to appreciate the spring grass and didn't mind the outing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jane- Sold- Will be going to her new home in CT soon!

For Sale- 6 1/2 year old, ABCA registered female. Spayed, trained on whistles, driving, sheds, etc. Asking $1200- special consideration given to a permanent home where she can work sheep regularly and remain a house dog.

I've had Jane since she was a pup- she's got lots of style and good listening skills. Was an easy dog to start and handle, sheep like and trust her and she is careful at the top. She likes driving and is a natural outrunner. She would be a good teacher for a novice handler, or a reliable helper on a hobby/farm flock.
Jane does well in arena and smaller courses and at home can work long distances where she is comfortable and confident. She travels well, is a well mannered housedog with a sweet nature. Gets along well with most other dogs and is our "cat protector" (read..fun police :)!).
I am selling her because she has not been happy trialing at Open level distances and I think she's too young to be a couch warmer.

Here are two short videos (apologize for the quality and doggy sheep!) of Jane at work.