Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Mellow Ride in the Sun

It's been a sort of harrowing few weeks for me. It's not that anything bad has happened. It's just been busy. I should be (and am) grateful that my little business is booming to the point that it is keeping me really, really busy. I am glad we are close enough to our nephew that a trip out to his first birthday party is possible. And of all the dogs you could conceive of finding yourself randomly living with, the one that landed on our doorstep is pretty exceptional.

But still, having a dog in the house is a lot to adjust to, particularly since I'm here trying to work all day and we don't have a dog-proof yard. Factor in the fact that the dog is one of the most highly intelligent, energetic breeds out there, add a little sleep deprivation to the mix, and it's been a bit overwhelming. Today I was feeling more than a little in need of a break. We left Elsa at home and headed to the barn.

Steen has developed quite the habit of coming to meet me the last several weeks. It really does warm the heart to see him. He catches a glimpse of me, stares for a minute, then makes a b-line for the gate. He's left the bale, tromped through mud, and moved other herd-members out of his way to reach me. Today I was even happier to see him than usual. I feel like the dog has been occupying roughly 70% of my conscious thought processes since we found her. One my favorite things about horses has always been that they give you a mental break from whatever part of your life is stressing you out.

We had a very quiet ride. The sun was out and it was warmish, so we went to the strip. I must admit we spent a lot of time sitting our horses and chatting. Steen was super quiet and attentive. Sometimes I swear they know when you're utterly worn out and give you a pass for the day. He was really almost perfect. I didn't push him at all and he didn't push me at all. We did a lot of mellow work at the walk and trot and I got some beautiful leg yields and transitions out of him. Brian and I worked a bit on a mirroring exercise we learned at the clinic. Then I asked for a little lope but the footing was mushy and Steen slipped a couple of times. After that he was doing this weird hoppy gait, I think because he was worried about the mushy grass. I was afraid he'd pulled a muscle or something so after we wrapped things up and went indoors I loped him inside. We did a few laps in each direction with a simple lead change in the middle and he was great. Actually I had some of the best loping transitions I've had on him. So it was a really nice day at the barn.

We're still on the fence as far as Elsa is concerned. She is really a sweet-heart, and so well behaved I can't believe whoever taught her her basic manners isn't scouring the countryside looking for her. But I'm just not convinced I want a dog. Even a good one. We're giving it a few more days before we decide.

Ride Time: 0:50
Horseback hours YTD: 9:15


  1. It is pretty amazing a how dog can find you. But understand if you weren't particularly looking or ready, that it could be a difficult adjustment. I have had dogs all my life and when I was down to just one dog and lost her unexpectedly, I have never known the house to be so empty. So I filled it with 3! I wanted to make sure THAT never happened again.

    When I work at home, I am a slave to my dogs. I call them my "team" and they are usually right here in my office with me alternating times of going out - they never can plan it together! But it is different for us because we are on a farm and don't have to accompany them. And when we leave for the weekend, we just double dose the bowls of food and they have access to the horse's auto-waterer.

    Big decision and if you aren't ready, you will not have a problem rehoming her. I have a friend who is involved with Border Collie rescue here in Nebr. She could probably refer you to an Iowa chapter. This pretty girl won't have any problem finding a good home. But if she starts pulling on those heart strings, you'll find a way to make it work. And have fun doing it. :)

    One last thing; the herding instinct. My shepherd is great when I ride and I enjoy having him with me. But it did take me by surprise when he went after Fancy when she was resistant. I lay the cause of my wreck with her on him. He was only doing what he thought he should, but he also needs to learn to stop. Since then, I have been working with him when I ride Windy; stopping and telling him to sit. It KILLS him, but he gets it. But if he gets excited, I'm not sure sure sit will do it!

    Keep us posted.

  2. Thank you so much for your dog thoughts and herding instinct insights, Tammy! If we had an acre or two for her to run on, we would be keeping her for sure. But we live in a neighborhood on a street populated mostly by college kids with a busy road nearby. We do have a decent sized yard, but we couldn't leave her outside all that much. So she'll have to be primarily a house dog. Even that wouldn't be so bad except I do have a mild dog allergy. Having itchy eyes and a scratchy throat until we manage to find and purchase an acreage (and she can do more or her shedding outside) might not be worth it for me.

    But you are right about the heart strings. I grew up with dogs and always thought I'd get my own dog the moment I was through college and had some stability in my life. But when I got stability I also got Steen, and it was a stretch to pay his board at first. By the time our income rounded out so keeping him was easy, we doubled that expense by buying Bear. Lately we've been talking about getting a dog on and off. In many ways Elsa is the perfect candidate. She is housebroken and well-behaved already, grown up but still young. In five days she's almost mastered not pulling on the leash, and walking behind us instead of out in front. Last night she only woke us up once. We're probably past the worst of the adjustment phase already.

    I will have to learn more about the herding instinct if she's going to spend time around the horses though. I have never seen a dog get so focused on things as this one does, so I think having her around the horses will be something to ease into.

    But it is a comfort to know she is a great dog and we could find her another good home in a heartbeat. I will keep Border Collie rescue type programs in mind as a resource. One way or another I might have you put me in touch with your friend, either for some expert insight into the breed or for a recommendation on finding someone to help us re-home her.


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