Sunday, October 26, 2014

We Herd, We Liked It, We Went Again........

Last March a member of our Aussie meetup organized a “barkday” party for her dog at a sheep farm.  Around a dozen of us attended and loved it.

Several weeks ago I noticed a post on a friend’s facebook page announcing a “Herding Fun Day” at a farm in Virginia.  What could be more fun?  Another outing with Aussies and sheep!

I quickly organized an Aussie meetup around it.  Soon, nearly a dozen Aussie owners from the DC area were making the 1.5 hour trek to Goldvein, Virginia and Dawgwood Farm's Herding Fun Day.

It was a sparkling Saturday – perfect for a day in the country, or herding sheep.  Wink Mason and Judy Moran were our hosts at Dawgwood Farm.
Judy was thinking ahead when she organized the “play area” for our hyped up dogs.  An enormous fenced in field greeted them upon arrival – it’s where they could run and play while the sheep were readied.

Pre-herding playtime
         At this outing, Boomer was the only herding veteran in the group and the moment he saw the sheep – he was ready!

Wink took each owner and dog into the ring with three “volunteer” sheep.  Dawgwood Farms only raises wool sheep, but these guys looked like they give themselves up to the highest bidder in a second!

The instruction was as much for the owner as it was for the dog.  Wink shared that the goal was to have the dog watch the sheep, but “keep an ear” to the owner’s voice.  He also gave instruction on how to utilize the tether – short firm (but gentle) tugs to let the dog know not to charge the sheep.

Wink provides instruction, Kirk listens, Boomer waits
Boomer, our veteran herder, received plenty of tugs – he was eager to make contact with the sheep, and seemed to genuinely enjoy the activity.  Wink said Boomer had good eye contact and his herding style was gathering – who knew?!

Mosbey and Tucker wait their turn
On this outing we had a number of young dogs – those under a year.  And once again, our Aussies proved to be naturals!  They were evaluated on their style -  driving or gathering; eye contact – loose, medium or strong; temperament – readily adjusts to distracted and nervous; interest – sustained and keen to some or none; and power – sufficient, forceful, excessive or a lack of power.  At the end of each evaluation Wink provided comments about the dog.  On Boomer’s he wrote, Very nice dog. J  Owners luckily were not evaluated, although, I am sure that Wink would comment that all owners were very nice and showed promise!
Sinbad was a natural

There is something very satisfying to watch your dog perform the task he was bred to do.  Our dogs are incredible athletes and VERY smart!  And while the majority of their activity takes place in urban areas, their instincts take over the moment they are placed in their “natural” environment.
Following several sheep filled hours, Kirk and I took the dogs to find some lunch.  With some good fortune and help of an iphone, we happened upon a lovely spot in Remington, Virginia at Kelly’s Ford and had lunch on the patio of  the Inn at Kelly's Ford

Kelly’s Ford was the site of a major civil war battle.  Today its home to the Inn at Kelly's Ford and the Kelly’s Ford Equestrian Center.

It was a wonderful day in the Virginia countryside.  Driving home, I am sure that at least one of our dogs fell asleep counting sheep.

Thanks to Wink and Judy for a wonderful outing, we are ready for the next one!


Want to show your love of Aussies?  Purchase this great shirt from PawsGo --  Shirts are $20 and half goes directly to Aussie rescue!  Adult sizes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Juno Discovers Buffalo

Moving to a new city, is always and adventure, but that adventure is more fun with a dog! 
MJ, her husband Chris and dog Juno, recently made the move from Alexandria, VA to Buffalo, NY.  Juno has helped MJ and Chris discover many dog friendly stops!

Summer has now faded into fall, but that doesn't mean that we have ceased exploring our new neighborhood in Buffalo, NY with our dog, Juno.

The blocks are long near our house, so the shortest walk is still at least 20 minutes, but even then, we are walking briskly and not sniffing every tree! 

When we are not simply enjoying our morning and evening constitutionals, though, there are places to go and things to see with our furry friend by our side.

One of Juno's favorite things to do when we lived in Del Ray was to go to Art on the Avenue, a yearly street festival dedicated to local and national artisans. She always loved walking down the middle of the road where she could see everything on both sides of the street, especially before the festival got under way. 

Well, of course Buffalo has their own versions of these festivals. The Allentown Art Festival ( and the Elmwood Festival of the Arts ( occur each year in July and August respectively. We moved in after the Allentown Festival this year, but we were able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Elmwood Festival! Juno enjoyed checking out the booths and listening to live music.

We always have to fuel our early morning walks with some caffeinated beverages, so we have found a few coffee shops that accommodate dogs.
Spot Coffee ( has several locations around the Buffalo area, and the Elmwood Avenue location features a large outdoor patio where pups can enjoy a drink of water while their humans have some coffee.

Cafe 59 in Prospect Hill ( recently opened on Porter Avenue and has a cute little patio area outside for dining. They serve their canine patrons homemade dinosaur-shaped cookies which Juno found delicious.

Allentown also has its own unique dog-friendly coffee shop in Cafe Taza ( This tiny shop has bar seating for maybe eight people, standing room for just a few more, but also allows dogs to come into the shop with their humans and enjoy a biscuit or two while they wait. We know that this will be a favorite of ours on the blustery days to come, although the lack of space means that other people and dogs will be vying for the same space!

We couldn't be more thrilled with our new neighborhood and its dog-friendly atmosphere. Just like in Del Ray, neighbors put out water bowls for their four-legged friends, and nearly everyone is willing to offer a friendly pat on the head or a belly rub. What more could a dog want?
"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new." -- Socrates
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