Welcome To Smokin J Border Collies

My photo
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.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Final Countdown

Since lambing season is upon us, I thought I might take this opportunity to introduce you to the sheep. I really was not expecting lambs till early summer, but as the bag above illustrates, it's going to be a bit sooner than that. No complaints to the ram department this year! Busy young bugger....
I thought I'd start with the oldest sheep, Timex.
She's the only "original" sheep left from the small flock I bought in 2001. That makes her, I think, about 10 years old. She got her name from an incident that happened soon after I purchased her. A group of dogs got in and attacked my flock, killing two sheep and the one sheep left had several puncture wounds over her body. That one lone survivor I placed in a horse stall, thinking she was safe. Came out the very next day to doctor her and just in time too, since I found a dog attached to her throat. I came very close to putting her down, her injuries were catastrophic. But my friend noted that she was still able to stand and breathe, and said I should give her a chance. She not only survived, but thrived over the years, giving me the best lambs every year and the only lasting effect was that she lost her ability to baa! The name? Well... she took two lickin's but kept on tickin'...
I learned valuable lessons about making sure your sheep are in a dog proof area and I preach it to every new owner of sheep I hear of. Nothing is more important with sheep than good fences.

The other "senior" member of the flock is Gretchen. If Gretchen looks a little stretched, just ask yourself how you would look if you'd twinned or tripletted every year for 7 years. She is a bit short legged too, so gravity has not been kind.

Poor Gretchen, I just realized when I was putting this together, that she is my only older ewe with no family. I just haven't held onto any of her daughters. Pretty sure she's got a granddaughter or two in there too, but it's not the same as a ewe lamb she raised herself.

Here are Timex's daughters- Moo and Moolita. Both of them are a good example of what Timex throws. No matter what ram I put her too, she always has big (for scrubby hair sheep), frame-y lambs that have good leg. She and her daughters also stay fresher longer than the soon to be introduced Dorper family. You can count on Moo to keep a dog honest at the pen, she will squirt around it if given even an inch of an opening. Moo's on the left, Moolita the right.

The Dorpers are my favorite. The best mothers, the calmest sheep in the universe. "Dorpers" might be a misnomer. Only Maggie, who is my best ewe overall, is 1/2 Dorper. But she puts such a stamp on her kiddos that I just automatically think of them as the "Dorpers". The lambs come out dog broke and none of them cause a spot of trouble. They are ideal puppy sheep, but can make fetching long distances a bit tortuous for dog and handler alike.


Susan- Mike's Favorite (see the post on Mike/Brice- she's the little grey lamb he's holding)

Bracelet- She's got these cute little white marking on her feet. I'm also laying money out that she's first up to lamb this year.

All three of of these are just the sweetest girls imaginable. Which is a real problem- might be time to get fresh sheep when you have all your training sheep named!

Watch this blog for play by play action of lambing season. Knock on wool... this year should be twins galore!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jet-Date: March Madness Trial Preperations

See this little dog here? Doesn't she look like she's saying "what next, Boss?"? Don't let her fool you, this one may be Satan incarnate. One moment, she's clever, flanking nice, putting her best foot forward. Next minute, she's got sheep wool dripping from her mouth.

This dog may be the death of me.

A glutton for punishment, Ms. Jet is entered in the Tonopah, Arizona March Madness trial as a non-compete run. Like our previous Ranch run in Snowbirds, we are going just for the experience of getting Jet to new places and having her listen. I've never done that before with my other dogs, but I have a feeling that this one will need good trial experiences. Since her outrun/fetches are pretty decent, I think we will retire as soon as the sheep are at my feet, that's the plan anyways.

I think she gets bored easily too, so having a goal to work toward and challenges suit her.

Jet's outruns and fetches are doing great. She flanks easily on the fetch and takes her downs well on balance. We haven't really worked on "steady" yet, which has become a problem as we work on driving. I think she will be a good outrunner, if she starts right, she doesn't cross and kicks out nice when she gets to her sheep. If I do not down her at the top though, it will be a race to my feet. She is still very young, so as long as she will down for me, I'm willing to let her come into her sheep.

But the driving work may kill us both. She can handle it for about 30 yards, she has a good amount of push on her drive. But she's bound to push a little too hard, split a sheep off, and then the rodeo is on. Time to take a few steps back and get a little better feel for her sheep I think.

My plan is to hopefully run Jet as a Nursery dog next year. I am trying to set her up for success all year this year. With her birthdate being in September, she's a good age to give us lots of time to be ready for the big leagues!

We will need every precious minute, as she is reminding me now- head on my laptop and saying "Time for work!".

Edited to add: Not a bad practice- down still negotiable, but only one sheep/Jet altercation and several opportunities for bad-ness which did not follow through to their logical conclusion. Plus- got my hardest sheep to pen in the trailer. But she's still a Devil Dog!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mike and Brice

The picture above is Mike with his favorite lamb- born a few years ago and now one of our best ewes. On the right are that lamb's triplets from last season.

Mike and I work dogs together, trial together and support each other through the ups and downs.

Mike's main dog is Deltabluez Brice (Scott Glen's Pleat X Diane Pagel's Tess), a coming 4 year old male. Brice and Mike have gotten along great, both are very pushy and stubborn.

Brice has become a reliable helper, we trust him to bring sheep down the road to our practice area.

Mike is now also working my Nellie, they are learning to adjust to each other's working style. Nellie is learning to listen a little better, as Mike is not as much of a pushover as I am, and Mike is learning to adjust to a more sensitive dog. They are doing well and we hope to see Nellie join Brice at sheepdog trials.

Deltabluez Jet..future of Smokin J Border Collies

In November, 2007, Deltabluez Jet joined Smokin J Border Collies. She arrived full of spunk and confidence in herself. Even a bout of Parvo, which scared us all over Christmas 2007, did not slow her down. Jet wanted to work sheep from 10 weeks of age when I introduced her to my puppy sheep. A few months later, I started working her a little more seriously. She started out looking like this....

But, we managed to get her looking a little less like a land shark...

Needless to say, my sheep were not amused, land shark or not.

Jet has come a long way, and while she still runs a little hot-headed, she is showing a good amount of power and more than enough push. She learns very quickly (good and bad things)- she is outrunning now to about 250 yards and started driving. My older sheep, who think they can outrun most dogs if they are clever about it, have learned that they cannot outrun fast little Jet.

I ran Jet in her first dog trial at Snowbirds-On-The Border in Campo, Ca in the Ranch class. We retired early but my main goal of getting her out to her sheep in a new place and having her listen well to me were accomplished. At only 1 year of age, she has a long way to go but I'm thrilled with how far she has already come. This is a short clip- nothing spectacular, but at least we are not terrorizing sheep anymore (at least, most of the time..)

The pic below is from our lamb docking adventure last spring. Jet was too young to help that day, but she made the most of it by snacking on lamb nuts and trying to make her way back to camp. Luckily, she remembered what the "that'll do" command meant right before I had to resort to getting in the ranch truck and heading down the road after her.

Jet's progress will be reported on this blog occasionally. Our newest update is that Jet got to work "real" sheep this week- sheep that had never been worked by a dog before. They were Suffolk crosses and would challenge a dog. Jet dug right into them, pulled them off the fence and never thought once that she should be afraid. I'm very excited to see how she turns out, although she wears my patience down with her pushiness, I know that her work ethic and strong attitude will make her into a great partner.

Next Up! Smokin J Nellie

In the fall of 1999, I brought my good dog Rhett to Connie Simkin's Ace in Panaca, Nevada. Out of that litter, I got Smokin J Nellie, my next little cowdog.

Nellie's sire, Ace is a McCallum/Stimatze bred dog and one of the toughest cow dogs I know. Ace would hit both ends and could move an elephant. The below pic was taken, I believe, at the Ely Nevada's Best Trial series , possibly in 1998 or 1999.

Nellie takes after her sire.......

She will also hit both ends, but she is not quite as strong. However, what Nellie lacks in toughness, she makes up in heart. Nellie has a nickname of "Nellie the Elephant". Her heart is that big, and she has always given me 100% to any job asked of her. A plain working dog with little eye, Nellie always takes the direct approach to stockmanship. If the job has to get done, without fail and the stakes are high- Nellie is the dog for the job. Her direct approach may not always be pretty but she has a good head for what's needed and will never let you down.

Nellie shedding at Rancho Oso Wrangler Challenge in 2007, where she won the Sheep Overall buckle. As you can see, shedding is one of Nellie's favorite things...

Nellie ran in WCDA trials for several years, winning 2nd place in Started dogs in 2002 at the Nevada's Best 7J trial in Caliente, NV(dates may be slightly fuzzy) and one of our proudest moments was at the Nevada's Best Elko trial several years ago when she won 4th place and performed her finals run in a downpour, with the bottom half of the arena about 6 inches deep in water and mud. Nellie was in heaven, I was drenched but happy to see my enthusiastic dog spitting out mud and still giving her best effort.

Mike is now taking over Nellie, at 9 years old and after a tough illness last year, she has recovered 100% and is happy to be an experienced dog for Mike to work with at the Pro-Novice level.

The Start of Smokin J Border Collies- Rhett

Over 14 years ago, I bought a little black and white border collie named Rhett from my friend Kristine Dedolph for $50. I had only been working dogs for less than a year, my first border collie and I never clicked well and I bought Rhett mostly because she was a soft, sweet dog that listened and had a calm manner of working.

At six months old, she quickly progressed well past the dog I had struggled with (Leary, who still keeps my couch warm today) and I took her in my first cow dog trial when she was 2 years old. Both Rhett and I were brand new to working cows, we entered the Novice class with the idea that the entry fee was so low that at least we would get some time to practice working cows. We ended up winning the class!

Rhett had a natural stock sense and was a good listener. My lack of experience kept her from becoming a top dog, but she taught me so much about calm stockmanship and what these dogs are capable of naturally, with very little training.

Rhett was never an alligator type cow dog, she always handled her stock with intelligence and would hit the nose hard, then get out to allow the cow to respond to her pressure. I've yet to have a dog as strong and brave on cattle as Rhett. She spoiled me for cow dogs in general, I am so picky now that I find it better just to keep sheepdogs.

That $50 was the best I ever spent. Rhett is retired now and is mostly in charge of the house cats, but I will never forget how much I owe her.