The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What About the Black One?

"You wouldn't have liked him when I first started him. " That was my answer when a friend asked me about Moe. He was either running through sheep wildly flapping his tail and barking or he was flat on his belly unwilling to move. He also liked to hold sheep against the fence and stare at them before diving in. To say he was, and is, a handful, wouldn't really give you the complete picture. Moe looks and feels like he was carved from onyx. He's shiny and black as the ace of spades with bits of white here and there and weighs far more than his size suggests. As big and heavy as he is, he'll surprise you with his athleticism and makes moves off and on sheep that you'd only expect from a lighter, finer-boned dog. He's like a heavyweight boxer, well a middleweight really; big but graceful, with fast hands, or in his case, feet. In typical border collie fashion, he's personable and loving but he's got a quirky personality. I watch him play wondering what he's going to get into next. I can't leave anything lying around when he's loose. He flys by, grabs it and you'll never see it again. And putting things out of reach doesn't work. He just jumps up and snatches it. I have boulders in my dog yard and he is the very best at scittering across the top of them. Moe is nimble. 2005 North American Champion, Amanda Milliken bred and sold Moe to me. He's off Stuart Davidson's Scottish Nursery and International Supreme Champion, Star and out of Amanda's, Ethel, that is off another Davidson International Supreme Champion, Craig. Moe made the trip from Kingston, Ontario at the tender age of 8 weeks. It took 12 hours with a layover and when I got to Air Canada cargo at 10 that night, what I saw was one very stressed little puppy. Amanda had said that it would be a tough trip for one so young, even for one with such a stong constitution as his, but because of mine and Amanda's schedules, it couldn't be helped. I'll probably not ship another pup that young when they'll be in crate for so long. It took him about 12 hours to recover, but he did and has never looked back. Strong constitution? Definitely. Moe seemd to be a slow learner in the beginning, but I started him at about 8 months. So I decided that he needed to grow up a bit and I put him away for a while. He's 11 months old now and when I started him this time, It still seemed he might not be ready. I decided to give him a couple weeks though and see how he did. His little light is starting to glow and he's retaining lessons from one to the next and improving. He's also getting more confident and he never lacked for that to begin with. He is naturally the most square dog I've started. His very first step is out, but at first he would flank slowly all the way past the point of balance and keep going. I just let him wear sheep to me for a while. Like most animals do, Moe settles into his work when he gets tired. He started finding a more efficient way to do things, so I let him get tired wearing sheep to me and then ask a little more of him. This dog loves to gather sheep. I can send him on little outruns now and he covers the ground quickly with huge bounding strides that just eat up the distance. It's very pretty to see. I love the way this dog moves. He's learning his flanks and starting to consider pace and feel. Moe is a thinker and takes commands deliberately. He listens and acts as opposed to some border collies I know that anticipate and guess. George Stambulic saw Moe at Soldier Hollow this year when I put him on sheep for fun at a puppy starting clinic Amanda was giving at the request of the organizers. Since she bred him, I thought it would be fun to put him in her clinic. He was about 8 months old and in the clinic with 3 or 4 other puppies roughly the same age. After watching him and the others, George came to me to say that my puppy was the classiest by far. For a while there I thought George might be wrong about Moe, but not so much any more.

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