Ginger was first introduced to sheep at four and a half months old. It was love at first sight... She knew she had just found the best game ever: Herding! Ginger has great enthusiasm for all stock. She is a natural driver (unusual for Aussies), and likes to go to head (even on a lawnmower!)
The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. The herding journey is long, and very enjoyable... We are working towards Ginger's WTCH title, and having an incredible time along the way! Another goal is to some day have a small farmette with sheep and chickens, and a stockdog or two...
We have attended various clinics, camps, lessons, trials, and practices in Alaska, Montana, Washington, Arizona, Kansas, and Colorado.
Our 3rd annual Dawna Sims Herding clinic was a huge success! Dawna continues to amaze us with her incredible insight and ability to share her knowledge in a such a positive and powerful way. It's all about the dog-handler relationship. Can't wait for next year's clinic!
Ginger, Tux, and I went down to AZ for practice with Dawna, and for an ASCA Stock Trial. Ginger and I trialed in Open Sheep and Geese, as well as Cattle. Three days of ASCA trials, and we qualified in everything we entered! Ginger earned her Open Sheep, Open Ducks (Geese), and Started Cattle titles. I couldn't be more proud of my little redhead!
A few of us Alaskans went down to Dawna's place for almost a week of learning fun on all kinds of stock. We had such a grand time! Dawna convinced me that Ginger and I were ready to trial.... it's been a number of years since we've trialed, so I was a bit hesitant. But come April, we'll give it a shot!
Due to last year's overwhelming success, I brought Dawna up again this summer. Everyone enjoyed themselves and learned all kinds of new things. Dawna has a wonderful way of explaining things, and keeping it positive for both handler and dog. She never ceases to amaze me how many tools she has in her toolbelt! The learning never stops...
I've wanted to bring up Dawna Sims (from Arizona) for a few years now, and on June 5-7, 2016, it finally hapened! We had a three-day herding clinic with a number of Alaska dogs and handlers. We had varying experience levels--three of the dog/handler teams were brand new. Everyone did very well, and enjoyed themselves immensely.
Ginger and I continued to learn new things under Dawna's guidance, as well as get to practice things we have been working on in a different location. Ginger is what is commonly referred to as a "hard-soft" dog... the kind that will teach you the most! I've made some big mistakes in our early training methods, but luckily Ginger is very forgiving. She was overly enthusiastic on stock as a puppy, and luckily my early training mistakes have not put that fire out. She still has that enthusiasm, and is more thoughtful now. I really enjoy our practice sessions, whether under the guidance of a skilled trainer or by ourselves.
I finally decided it was time we got some stock. Since I currently live on a postage stamp sized lot, the only stock we can realistically have is chickens. Yup, chickens. Ginger's confidence has been wavering, so this was one way for her to practice at home. Granted, chickens don't exactly "flock", but they do move off of her (when she has her prey drive turned on). Over the past few months, I have watched Ginger's confidence improve greatly. I feel like we are back on track, and can't wait to get her back on sheep or goats. My little chicken herder takes her job at home very seriously. And I honestly can't imagine having any stock, even chickens, without a good stockdog... like Ginger. Love my little redhead!
Ginger and I competed in our first ASCA National Specialty in Colorado (at two years old). We competed in MVA, Stock, Agility and Rally. Ginger Q'd on Sheep in the pre-trial, but not in our National run. She was a bit too pushy in our duck run. She took first in Novice A Regular Agility. Considering this was our second ASCA agility trial, I was thrilled beyond words! She did very well in Jumpers, too, with a third place. We didn't enter Gamblers (not yet ready). She did well in the MVA evaulation, kissing up to the judge--literally. Had a nice Rally run, too. It was a fun time! Hope to make it to Nationals again sometime!
Ginger and I just returned from a wonderful stockdog trial in Washington (our second ASCA trial). We not only competed in stock, but also in rally, obedience and MVA (Most Versatile Aussie). We got our second legs in Started ducks and Started sheep! So, Ginger's ASCA name is now ARTIC ROSE GINGER KISSES STDds RN. Her name continues to grow--I love it!
Ginger earned her AHBA (American Herding Breed Association) JHD (Junior Herding Dog) title on sheep in Palmer, Alaska. Congrats to Ginger on her first herding title!
In May, Ginger and I went to Frenchtown, Montana, to compete in our first stockdog trial. We attended a two-day stockdog clinic with Betty Williams, followed by a three-day ASCA trial. Ginger got her first Started leg in both sheep and ducks. Yay, Ginger! Had a wonderful time with great people, great dogs, and great stock! Love Montana!
We had another fantastic Sheep Camp at Jerry Rowe's in Kansas in April. Great people, great dogs, great fun! The progress we made in just a week is amazing. It's starting to click with both of us. Our bond continues to grow, which is what herding is all about: the connection between handler and dog. I am so fortunate to have my little readheaded stockdog in my life.
Photos from Jerry Rowe's Sheep Camp in April 2013: