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Posts Tagged ‘bearded collie’

Isn’t she too young to be driving?

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A couple of nights ago, as we were walking the dogs, we stopped to pick up the wild life camera to check to see if we had captured any woodland critters. We did get a couple of shots of interesting “Wild Life”.

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What can be more tedious than the parent or grandparent that constantly boasts about the achievements and genius of their progeny? Perhaps someone that talks incessantly about the brilliance and accomplishments of their dog. However, I DO have the cutest and most intelligent puppy on earth, so I am completely vindicated.

Bayley turns 6 months old today. I won’t go into all of her amazing accomplishments here. Just suffice it to say, that after completing basic Puppy obedience Levels 1 and 2, her instructor exempted her from Adult Level 1 and promoted her directly to Adult Level 2. Bayley is always selected to be the demo dog when the teacher wants to demonstrate a behavior.

At 6 months, she’s entering puppy adolescence, the equivalent of the human teen years. I’ve been warned that she may start to get hard headed: not coming when called, not doing what she is told. She may not want to be seen walking next to us and will probably start playing virtual Frisbee on the Xbox.

She’s already changed the spelling of her name. We thought we had chosen a rather unique name for her and originally spelled it Baylie. It must be the season for the name regardless of the spelling: Bailey, Bailie, Bailee, Balie, Bayleigh…. There are several dogs we have met with that name. In fact, a male lab puppy in her obedience class was named Bailey. She wanted to be distinctive, so she decided to spell her name Bayley. So typical of young girls at that age.

It’s amazing what dogs learn from one another, both good and bad. Bayley has a 7 year old Bearded Collie sister who is remarkably calm and well behaved.

Bayley thinks that Mayzie hung the moon. From her, Bayley has learned much more about what is expected of a good dog in this household than I could have ever taught her. On the other hand, Mayzie has also taught Bayley that the vacuum cleaner is a fearsome fire breathing dragon, and to hide in a corner whenever it starts to roar.

In the four months that Bayley has lived with us, our daily barn ritual is a constant. Twice a day, I walk down the road with both dogs to the barn to take care of the llamas.

Mayzie will come inside the pasture fence and lie down by the gate and wait for me to do my chores. Bayley, my little shadow, will follow me around as I put out the hay, fill water buckets, and rake up poop, which takes me about a half hour. All the while, Mayzie waits patiently by the gate.

Last week, after obedience class, I returned home with Bayley in the car at llama feeding time. We drove straight down to the barn, leaving Mayzie in the house. Bayley initially didn’t want to get out of the car because Mayzie wasn’t along, and this is a team effort. I left the car door open and went about my work. A few minutes later I looked around to see if Bayley had gotten out of the car. Scanning around, I spied her lying by the gate right in Mayzie’s spot. I imagine she was thinking that guarding that gate was an important job, and since Mayzie wasn’t there to do it, she would have to step up to the task. Oh, to spend a day in my dog’s head.

Bayley's Brain

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15 Minutes of Fame

Fiddle-dee-dee and Golly Gee–Little ol’ me has been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. Hard to believe, but thanks so much to Heather at “The Homestead at Spring Creek” for seeing something worthy in my blog and nominating me for this noteworthy award.

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m always amazed when friends tell me how much they enjoy reading my stories and compliment me on my writing style. Several years ago, I started compiling little llama stories based on the antics of my small herd of llamas to amuse our patrons on my web page: www.twincreeksllamas.com

Then a year ago, practically to this day, I was made redundant. This is the Brits clever way of saying that one has been laid off, is no longer necessary. How deflating and demoralizing! With more time on my hands, I decided to start writing about the many interesting and humorous things that happen around our farm; the llamas, our dogs, the chickens, peacocks, and various and sundry wildlife that abound on our acreage.

Primarily directed to my Facebook friends, my blog was getting a handful of hits daily and I was plodding along in relative obscurity and anonymity. Then one day last week, my email inbox was flooded with comments on my blog. I was perplexed until I read a comment congratulating me on being “Freshly Pressed”. For a whole day I felt like a celebrity. I had a few thousand views on my blog, and several hundred complete strangers read my story and said they liked it. I had scores of new friends that subscribed to my blog and then a few days ago, one of my new friends kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. But this award doesn’t come without some obligations. There are rules to be followed.

First I am to thank the person that nominated me. Second, I am to tell you 7 things about myself. And Third, I am to nominate 15 of my favorite bloggers to receive the Versatile Blogger Award and to notify each of them that they have been nominated.

Heather, once again, thank you for enjoying my blog enough to nominate me for this award.

Now 7 things about myself:

1. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and own and operate a llama trekking business. We do day hikes in the state park and the llamas carry a “trail gourmet” picnic lunch. Best of all, you get to lead a llama along the trail and pour out your innermost secrets. They are great listeners and very non-judgmental.

2. I am nearly 60 years old and just recently decided to come out of the closet. About playing the accordion, that is. I majored in music in college, and accordion was my first instrument as a child, but from college on, I was embarrassed to admit that I was an aficionado of the squeeze box. The stigma was best exemplified by Gary Larson in one of his “Far Side” cartoons. The first frame was a picture of the pearly gates, and a new arrivee was receiving his harp. The second frame was a picture of hell, and the newly damned was receiving his accordion.

3. I mow a lot of grass. We have about 15 acres that I keep cut, and it takes me about 20 hours to cover it all. I equate it to painting the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time I have made one circuit, it is time to start over again.

4. I do some of my best thinking while riding around on my mower. While listening to classical music on my iPod, I do some amazing writing on my brain’s note pad. But then when I sit down to put my genius to paper, I can’t remember all those perfect phrases.

5. I love animals with a lot of hair. I’ve already mentioned the llamas. We have 2 dogs, a bearded collie, and a new Goldendoodle puppy, both with lots of long hair. My husband even felt the need to conform, and several years ago, grew a beard.

6. I enjoy doing crafts. After achieving redundancy, I decided to devote my full time to the farm and needed something else constructive to do and to hopefully bring in a little extra income at the same time. I like using the llama fiber in various projects and am knitting scarves, needle felting animal sculptures and have signed up for a crochet class.  I also make jewelry and polymer clay figures. I sell my designs on my Etsy shop.

7. I enjoy target shooting. In fact, earlier today, we attended the Nation’s Gun Show where I purchased a Smith and Wesson .22 revolver. I can’t wait till the rain stops so that I can try it out on our shooting range.

And the 3rd rule is that I nominate 15 of my favorite blogs to be nominated for the VBA. Now this is tough for me, for as to date, I haven’t taken the opportunity to read or follow many blogs. There are just a few that I have discovered recently that I have really enjoyed and think that they are deserving of the nomination.  So I will list them here. Now I just need to let them know that they have been nominated.

1. Creative Procrastination

2. The Simple Life of a Country Man’s Wife

3. WoolyWarm’s Farm

4. Becoming Cliche

5. Katie’s Camera Blog

6. Kicked, Bitten, & Scratched

7. Donald Reese Photography

This has been fun. Now, time to feed the llamas.

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After writing my post entitled “Hair Apparent” a couple of weeks back, I decided to embrace my passion for long haired animals. I will always have hair blowing around my house, clinging to my clothes, and hiding in my food, so I ordered up a personalized license plate to proudly display my affliction to the world. It arrived yesterday and I just love it.

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Bayley, our 5 month old Goldendoodle, has overheard us discussing the fact that she is going to be much larger than her 50 pound parents, and has gotten the mistaken idea that we won’t love her as much if she gets too big. I caught her on the computer last night writing this song:

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Anyone who knows us, knows it is apparent that we prefer animals with a lot of hair. We have Bearded Collie dogs with 12 inch long hair and we have llamas with loads of wooly fur.  Our recently departed cat was a main coon cross, and had at least 4 inch long hair. She deposited hair on every horizontal surface in the house. As I’m thinking about it, there was cat hair on most vertical surfaces as well. Tim even succumbed to the pressure and decided to grow a beard several years ago. We burn out vacuum cleaners on an annual basis.

The odd thing is this. With all this hair blowing around, it is inevitable that occasionally a hair will appear in our food. We joke that dog hair is a condiment in our house. And when I find a hair on my plate, I will pull it out of the food and identify it. “Oh, that’s Mayzie’s hair” or “that must be a llama hair”, and I think nothing of it and continue my meal. But if I see a human hair, even if I’m positive that it is my own, I suddenly lose my appetite and dinner is a done deal. Go figure.

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Mayzie and Bonny (1997-2011)

Mayzie and Baylie (4 mos old)

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How a mix-up lands us with the perfect pooch

Baylie at 8 weeks

Being a touch OCD (obsessive/compulsive), I rarely make impulsive decisions. Even when it comes to something as emotional as choosing a dog, I spend days scouring the internet; poring over articles about breed characteristics, behaviors, physical appearance; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having shared my life with bearded collies for the last 25 years, when my sweet Bonny crossed over at Christmas time, I started exploring the possibilities of a different breed. The one prerequisite that a dog must have is a fuzzy face and shaggy coat. Just having a long coat doesn’t cut it. Breeds such as collies, Australian shepherds, spaniels, and setters, don’t have the awww factor, as they have clean, pointy faces. I’ve never cared for smushed faced dogs, disproportionate dogs, and mini dogs. I’m not averse to a pound dog, and I followed the various pet finder sites for a couple of weeks, but there was a preponderance of pit bull mixes and other short haired bully breeds. Ever since I saw the Goldendoodle introduced on the Westminster Dog Show about 15 years ago, I have been enamored with the look.

Poodles get a bad rep. They are one of the smartest breeds, but the smaller versions are over-pampered and the show cuts are frankly, ridiculous. I’ve known a couple of standard poodles that sported a simple “puppy” cut, and they look fine, but, still, they have a very sharp, clean cut face, that doesn’t appeal to me. But the doodles have the perfect, cute, wooly faces that make my heart melt. So, I started researching all the attributes to see if they were, indeed, the perfect breed for us. Other than having high maintenance grooming requirements, they seemed like the perfect dog. They are being bred in a variety of sizes, determined mainly by the poodle father. Put simply, a mini poodle and a golden retriever produce a mini doodle, and a standard poodle and a golden retriever can produce a dog ranging from 50 pounds to over 100 pounds.

Finding a reputable breeder is a little more problematic. Because of the upstart popularity of this new hybrid pup, a lot of puppy mills and less than responsible backyard breeders have started breeding these dogs and selling them for prices that exceed the prices for pure bred dogs with a championship pedigree. I wanted to find a breeder that was within a 4 hour drive so that I could go visit the kennel, evaluate the living conditions and see the parents. I could never buy a puppy and have it air shipped without ever having laid eyes on it. I also wanted to buy a puppy that was already born. It is amazing to me the number of breeders that sell puppies from future breedings.

After weeding through a dozen or more kennels that just didn’t feel right, I found a kennel that was only about 30 miles from home. In business breeding doodles for over 20 years, and many more years experience breeding purebred dogs and show horses, they are a large volume breeder, but seemed very reputable. I emailed for availability of a medium sized golden doodle and received photos of 2 puppies born October 31, making them 10 weeks old. They were both lethally cute, and were both expected to grow up to about 50 pounds, so I made an appointment to visit them the following day. I had very good intentions. I was going to check out the kennels, meet the breeders, take a look at the doggy parents, and just “view” the puppies. If all checked out, I might bring home a pup.

The kennel was on an equestrian estate of undetermined acreage and the dogs were housed in one of 2 converted horse barns. Surrounding the barns were about 10 radiating paddocks of about ¼ acre each where the adult breeding dogs got to romp and play. I saw about a dozen adult and adolescent dogs. The manse sat on a hilltop above the barns. The two pups I had come to see were being carried out of the kennel/barn by the kennel manager and an assistant when I arrived. Being a cold rainy day in January, I was shown into the other barn where we settled into the heated office. I spent about an hour playing with the pups and going through my list of pertinent questions, but I knew within about 5 minutes of setting eyes on these pooches that I would be taking one of them home.

Deciding between the two was difficult. One pup was “to die for” cute, red curly hair all over, and very playful; VERY energetic, jumping hurdles over the other puppy, which was a smidge smaller and had more of a wavy, rather than curly coat. Since I wanted a medium sized dog, and I was springing this puppy on my 7 year old bearded collie that was grieving the loss of her big sister, I opted for the slightly smaller pup with the calmer personality. I did get to meet the parents of the October 31 litter, and the standard poodle Dad and the Goldendoodle Mom were both medium in size and very attractive dogs. I felt good in my decision.

The business portion of the meeting concluded, and I was handed the pedigrees with all the health certifications and puppy medical records, and Babydog and I were on our way home. Within the hour it took to drive home, I was smitten. Mayzie, the beardie, was less impressed. But I knew from experience, that once the annoying puppy phase passed, they had a good chance of becoming fast friends.

Two days had passed as we acclimated to our new living arrangement when I received an email from the breeder apologizing for any inconvenience that may have been caused, but they had “sent me home with the wrong paperwork”. My puppy came from a litter born on November 15, an interesting spin on the fact that they had sent me home with the “wrong puppy”. Apparently there were pups from two different litters that were playing in the same enclosure, and they grabbed the wrong pup. There was no discussion of exchanging the puppy, and I never would have entertained the thought. We were in love. The fact that my pup, Baylie, at 8 weeks was only a smidge smaller than the 10 week old puppy, had me concerned that we would end up with a dog much bigger than we anticipated, but I was assured that Baylie’s parents each were just under 50 pounds and the grandfather on Mom’s side was a miniature poodle.

Baylie at 15 weeks

But now at 16 weeks and 30 pounds, I think Baylie is going to be an overachiever in the size department. But, what the heck…. More dog—More to hug. It’s kind of like a box of chocolates. We won’t know what we have until she’s “all growed up”.

Baylie is maturing into the most wonderful dog we have ever had. She blazed through puppy school, and her instructor said that at 4 months she was more advanced than many of her adult dogs. She is an excellent candidate for the Canine Good Citizens Program, and is going to start training for Rally. I hate to think about what we might have missed out on if we had actually brought home the “right puppy”. At any rate, Baylie and I are joined at the heart.

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I lost my soulmate, my 15 year old Bearded Collie, Bonny, about 6 weeks ago. I have wanted to write a tribute, something that would be worthy of her indomitable spirit and her zest for life, but all my attempts have fallen short.  I decided to write some notes to Bonny. Hopefully she will feel the love and know how much she is missed. She was never critical of my writing, never critical of anything at all.

Bonny, I still look for you on my quiet walks through the woods. Could you be just over the bank, wading in the creek as you were wont to do?  You always were one to sneak off when my mind was diverted, and it takes me a moment to remember and realize that you won’t be coming back this time.

Is there a creek where you are? Are there deer to chase? Buzzards to bark at? You so loved to chase the buzzards. You’d run like the wind beneath them, lifting your front feet into the air as if to say, “Please, oh please, I want to fly with you. Your long ears would be flapping like the wings you wished you had.

Is Cayce there with you? I hope that you have found her and that you are romping in the fields as you used to do. I remember how it broke your heart when she passed away. Mayzie is also broken hearted and misses you so. She knew that you were very ill, and somehow, she understood that when we took you away and you didn’t come home with us, that you had gone to a better place. She is not the goofy puppy (even at 7 years old) that she was. She seems to have lost the sparkle in her eyes. Please tell her to be happy.

I’ve tried to spoil her and make her feel special. She actually has learned to catch a Frisbee. Can you believe it? Now that she’s not under your shadow, she finally got the confidence to claim the Frisbee as her own. But I think we have created a monster. She wants someone to throw the Frisbee all day long.

I know that another pup can never fill the void that you left in my heart, but we got a new puppy a few weeks ago. I can’t help but compare her to you when you were a pup. You were a willful imp, but you were the most endearing dog one could ever hope to have. God, I miss you so.

Mayzie is struggling to keep her sanity with our young Baylie. She has infinite patience with the pouncing and hair pulling, which you, as you remember, did not have. I’m hoping that in time they will grow to be good friends, just like you and Mayzie eventually were.

You were the most beautiful dog on the planet. Never have I seen a more gorgeous dog. You were a high maintenance blonde. Everything was about you. You doted on attention, and never met a stranger. You had the greatest gift of all. You made everyone smile. I am smiling through my tears.

I loved to stare into your eyes, infinite pools of green. I could feel how much you loved me. I hope that you know how special you were to me. I can hardly bear to look at your photo. It brings so much pain to know that I can’t stroke your ears and play with your golden hair.
Do you visit us? Are you able to come back to our world from yours? I often sit still and try to feel your spirit. I’m not sure how to know if you are with me? Can you give me a sign?
They’re calling for snow tonight. Not much, just an inch or so. Do you get any snow there? You were always so happy when you could run and play in the snow, until your feet turned into snowballs, and you’d beg to be carried… all 52 pounds of you.

I remember all the good times we had at the beach. It was your favorite place to be in the world. Even as you aged, you always became a puppy when we walked in the sand on the beach. I am so glad we had one last trip to the beach before you left us. It’s hard to believe that it was only two months before your death that you were prancing along the shore and riding on the prow of the little john boat as we putted around the marshes and inlets.

You were not a ditzy blonde, you were a rugged and brave defender of your territory. You remember tangling with the raccoon and getting bitten on the nose? You scared me to death. There was so much blood everywhere, I thought you had been ripped apart. A face washing revealed only two small punctures on your nose. And the time you grabbed the possum from under the fir tree and shook him till he died. Only to find him mysteriously gone 10 minutes later. That’s why they call it “playing possum”. You even chased a bear out of the yard after he broke into our chicken coop. And the worst of all was the night you took on the skunk. At 2:00 am. AND, Mayzie got sprayed, too. What a night.
Life was never dull with you, Bonny. You were pretty as a cover girl, but a farm dog at heart. You loved helping with the chores. I miss having you ride at my feet in the Kubota RTV. Mayzie still claims the front seat, so we’re training Baylie, the pup, to ride in your place on the floor.

I think even the llamas miss having you around.

Goodbye, Bonny. I hope to be reunited with you someday over that Rainbow Bridge. In the meantime, I will still look for your sign that you are looking over us. I love you.

Post Note:Thank you Bonny, I got your sign. Shortly after putting the finishing touches to my notes to you, I put the puppy, Baylie, to bed in her crate. We keep the crate in our walk-in closet, and when I settle her down for the night, I lay a faux mink throw in front of the cage and lie down with my fingers through the wire. She nuzzles up to my fingers, and when she has dropped off to sleep, I sneak into my own bed. Mayzie is jealous of the extra attention that I’m giving the puppy, and she generally sulks on her settee at the foot of the bed. Last night, as I lay on my mink blanket, I felt a warm nuzzle at my ankles. Mayzie came and lay down in the doorway of the closet and put her head on my feet. Maybe Mayzie was being empathetic and sensed my grief and was coming to comfort me. I’d like to believe that you came to Mayzie, and through her, gave me the sign I needed, to let me know that you were with me and all was well. Bonny, love, be at peace.

Mayzie and the new pup, Baylie

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