Solo Photo Sunset Silhouette

A quick solo photo before I head off for a short trip to collect our certificate of merit for commercial wool production. 

I am looking forward to being in the company of wool folk, which also means a bit of a break from house building.  We have been working so steady the last month; the progress will continue while I step out. 

Let Us All Be Dog Wise

Dear readers, exciting things are happening. The first of which arrived this week - hand delivered to myself by Judith, the author.  A lovely gesture given it’s over an hour for her to get here and another back home again. 

Dog Wise, What We Learn From Dogs is a compilation of stories, well told through interviews with local, ordinary dog people who live and work with dogs. Each chapter touches on a different facet of dogdom - show dogs, detection dogs, therapy, police, herding, guardian, sled dogs… and what life lessons the individuals glean from their way of life with dogs. I’m pleased to have played a role in the books making by way of being a part of a couple chapters and utterly fascinated to have been asked to contribute a handful of pictures to the photographic edition. 

I view this as a proud start for myself, and a good start to future projects. Knowing Judith has been working on this book project for a long time and seeing her complete it re-ignites the candle flame of a wish to see a book of my own making take shape in the foreseeable future. 

The print edition of Dog Wise is available on Amazon now and the photographic edition will be available soon.  The photographic edition is soft cover and printed on regular, not glossy, paper - just so you know what to expect should you wish to purchase.  Either one or both editions of the book will make lovely Christmas gifts for any dog person in your life. 

Here's a snippet of what is in the guardian dog and herding dog chapters.

“Between the tearing of my eyes and the acres of rolling pasture I can hardly see the sheep, let alone the dogs. Then in the distance a huge, coyote-coloured dog appears.  A bear-shaped dog emerges from the terrain. One by one the guardian dogs materialize from the flock.”
“Arlette thought the guardian dogs had taught here more about the nature of dogs than any other breed. A lot of what she learned came from simply observing the dogs carry out their genetic purpose.  “It’s a rare thing to watch a dog live and act out its purpose,” she said. 
"Meanwhile, Rex and Jared were in silent communication.  Jared occasionally tossed out a word or a low volume whistle. "There," "walk up," and "enough." ... .. I quickly worked out two basic sheep laws: 'don't be last' and don't be first.' Breaking either rule resulted in instant sheep chaos -- which is where Rex came in."  
“In the dog’s world Arlette believes, the concept of right or wrong never occurs to the dog.  The dog hears the command, and knows what it means, but there’s something else out there that needs to be attended to.  In the dog’s mind, that’s not wrong.  “That’s a hard lesson to learn for people who think obedience is important,” she admitted. 

I’m going to attend the book launch at the end of October.  Although I am a voracious reader I have never been to a book launch before.  Exciting times.

Out To Graze

With the arrival of the fall season the flock has settled. There is less calling between ewes and the few remaining lambs. The sheep are often still lying down when I arrive in the morning and I watch them rise and head out for the days graze.  With increased predator pressure in the fall the ewes stay a bit closer together. 

Today they stuck close enough to each other that when a few ewes slipped the fence the entire flock left the pasture on a walkabout.  To our surprise the entire flock was wandering around the neighbours canola stubble this evening. 

As soon as we rounded them up and headed them back in the direction of the pasture the ewes showed us just where they had slipped the fence.  They found a spot where the wire was high due to a fence post that lifted out of the mud at the edge of a wetland.

Solo Photo - Getting Serious

A photo from summer time.  Birdie and Wren at the beginning of a disagreement.  Birdie not quite of age and assertiveness to make it last but all that has changed now.  

Being A Foot Soldier

Whenever I talk of moving the flock while on foot and then not always knowing where stock dogs are when you’re on foot our friend Bill never fails to remark that I need to start working my dogs from horseback.  I was tempted to follow that line of thought at one time and thats the reason we have two pasture ornament horses.  

But I know this now, I’m a foot soldier; I’m not into horses.  Well, I’m not into trying to fit horses into this already full life. I have plenty enough to love about what I do and I do like being on foot when I’m with the dogs and the sheep.  There is something very amicable and earthy about moving a large group of animals across this prairie landscape while on foot.  Losing the flock and dogs as they or I pass over a hill and meeting up again, every thing still in order. It is trustful, chaotic beauty at its finest.  And occasionally it's just plain chaos but those times make it the two-fold story that it is. 

By working on foot I’ve grown accustomed to checking with the flock to make an educated guess as to where the dogs might be.  BlackJack had a few turns at flock work this summer and it’s still up for debate whether he’s ready for this or not.  In this photo he’s working with Gibson (I like to work the youngsters with experienced dogs).  I happen to be at the front of the flock at this point; sometimes we're all at the rear, sometimes I'm in the lead; the dogs learn to work both scenarios.

I can tell where Gibson is by the shape of the flock.  See the smooth arc of ewes at the top, about centre and to the right.  Gibson is holding and wearing in that area.  BlackJack on the other hand is coming into the bunch up at the top, on the left hand side.  See the small spot where the ewes are all uneven up there.  If you biggify and look closely there is a black Kelpie head there.  

The Nature of LGD's Makes It So

A well liked photo on Facebook yesterday, perhaps because of the common expressions from each of the dogs which gives a certain solemn mood.

The dogs were not set up for the photo, in case you’re wondering.  I just finished with feeding them and was taking a look around seeing where the flock was at and deciding whether to stay and take photos or head in.  I looked this way and there’s these three sitting on the hillside, all contemporary looking.  I got a series of photos of them, each one with it’s own mood and story.  

That they remained there while I took photos was a big bonus.  At one point Tex shifts around and Lily gets up and I'm thinking the moment is over.  But Lily just moves over and sits again.  To fun and at the same time a bit bizarre that three dogs sitting strikes me as something to be photographed.  It's the nature of LGD's that makes it so. 

A Visit With Dogs

At the end of September I traveled a couple hours westward to help a friend do some sorting of a large band of goats and sheep in preparation for the trip home at the completion of a summer grazing project. 

I visited with Stuart last year during the graze and was keen to see his dogs again even if everyone was at the yards rather than out on the grassland grazing. There wasn’t much opportunity to get photos of the large group of sheep and goats given that we were busy with sorting but I did nab a chance to get a few photos of dogs when we were done. 

This is a large band of animals and there are five guardians and three stock dogs (also using both Kelpies and Border Collies).  

Being very polite and mildly social, this girl investigated, paced between me and the pen and then lay down here.  A second white-breed lgd is sound asleep off to the left. 

This boy bears a strong resemblance to our past dog Diesel.  He is a Kangal and is tied up for the night to assure he is around come loading time at first light.  A second Kangal dog is also tied. 

A crossbred LGD wearing a spike collar for added protection against injury.

Being so accustomed to black and tan Kelpies I'm taken aback to see a red one even when expecting it.  Met this girl last year as a pup. The two other stockdogs were tied up near the camp headquarters. 

Different place, different circumstance, different way of operation and yet so many things the same by way of the dogs alone.  There are many nuances of connection in this world - I'm thankful dogs and sheep are a main one for me. 

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