Training Missy and Silje the Photographer

The other evening was just so beautiful that the whole family was out in the yard working.  Knut got his roses uncovered from their winter bedding of leaves, and convinced Elias to practice biking without his training wheels.  I was working with Missy’s electric fence collar, and working on expanding her territory, while keeping her away from the road.

Last fall, we finally caved and got her a GPS controlled electric collar, that so far has been working really well.  It’s not just that she crosses the road, it’s that she likes to nap on the road.  She just likes to chill there and bask in the sun, and feels it’s a great place to watch for cars.  Not cool, Missy.  Not cool at all.

We need her so badly for our other animals, and the animals we intend to get.  I don’t think we would have indulged for just a “pet.”  She is absolutely the best guard dog I have ever met.  She is so kind, but so alert and so smart and intuitive…besides the whole napping on the road thing.

My favorite was last fall, when Elias and Solveig were playing with the facet outside and making a big wet mess.  I told them to turn off the water, and they did.  5 minutes later it was back on.  I told them again to turn off the water.  It was too cold, and too messy for that day.  They turned it off.  Then Missy walked over and sat herself right in front of the facet to block the kids.  She was like “Nanny” from Peter Pan, saying, “Now run along kids.  We’re done here!  You heard your mother.”  She doesn’t snap at the kids, but I have seen her use her body to block an area, or even lean in towards them to make sure they stay put.

Actually, she did this with me during harvest last year, because she was nervous when I was going back to the grain bins to give Knut his supper.  It gets really loud over there when the grain dryer is running, and she thought it could be dangerous for me.  I had to tie her up to get back there.  It’s not exactly fair that I do all the training with her, but Knut is her favorite.  She hangs on his every word.  If I’m working with her, and Knut enters the yard, I’m invisible to her.  It’s all about Knut.  She loves him so.  (Knut thinks that because I have such a small stature, Missy thinks I’m one of the kids…which might be logical.)

Lena, on the other hand, doesn’t have anything to keep her close to the house.  She’s too scared to go 10 feet away from any of us.  Her running off has never been a problem!  The only thing Lena is good at is being a cozy reading pillow, and playing fetch.  Oh, she loves playing fetch so much!  Try playing fetch with Missy, and she’ll give you a look that says, “Well that was stupid.  Now you’re going to have to get it.  I’ll stand guard while you do.”

Missy is a working dog and likes to be treated as such.  We can now set her boundaries via GPS, and she gets a sound to let her know she’s hit her boundary.  15 yards later, the collar starts vibrating, and 10 yards after that, it will shock her.  These large “zones” of stimulation is great for a dog that runs as fast as her.  Seriously, seeing her run is a sight to see!

So far, she stops at the vibration, but now that she knows the boundary, the sound that we humans can’t hear is enough to turn her around.  There’s white flags that we’re supposed to put up to be a visual reminder of her boundaries, but I didn’t see the point when the yard was covered in snow.  That’s my next project.

Unfortunately, we also found out this collar doesn’t work when the temp outside is below 10 degrees.  So now that the weather is nice, we’re working hard to get her boundaries set in her brain.  We had a smaller territory set for her because I was having difficulty setting it with the large snow drifts and lack of access to some of the locations.  Now that it’s all set, we can do some more serious training with her to keep her off roads, while allowing her several acres to roam, which her breed requires.  Hope this works before next winter!!

Ingrid was running around about as wildly as Missy in the grass.  They were both excited to stretch their legs.  I feel bad I missed a few pictures of them checking each other out.  Ingrid loves dogs so much, and Missy is a good head taller than her.  Whenever I saw them kissing each other, though, I didn’t snap a picture but ran to catch Ingrid because Missy just has to walk past her to knock her down.

Anyway, as we were all busy, and Silje was looking a little lost, so I handed her my camera and told her to snap some pictures for me.  


My kids know not to touch my camera.  Silje has her own, but it’s not nearly as nice.  She was shocked and excited.  So she carefully went around the yard and snapped pictures for several minutes.  I got to see the world through her eyes.  What a treat for me!

Of course, the vast majority were of animals.  :)

The picture seen above was mine, but here are some of her gems out of the 50 or so pictures of hers I found:

  (She was especially proud of her chick pictures)

I see a photography class in her future.  Imagine the things I’ll learn when she starts researching everything to death, (like she always does) and then comes running and telling me all the exciting parts.   I might finally learn all the things my camera can do!


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