Sunday, December 12, 2010

A journey with Taff

I adore my he has only eyes for me. He is really a sweet dog that has a lot to offer and I have just started to tap into it. We still have a lot of work in front of us but we have made great strides. he is trying to work for me now and our lessons now are him learning to feel his stock and finding the right edge of the bubble. He gets part of it but then starts to push into the bubble. He used to have a lot of tension inside the bubble and would fly in and grip or fetch them back. we have worked really hard on this area and it mostly gone. When I see he has entered "the zone of no return"  I will stop him and then have him get up slowly and hold the pressure.

Nice steady walk up

Stopping as told, I will ask for a stand stop or a down.

He is happy here and not tense. The ewe, on the other hand, is not too thrilled to be worked.

Holding the pressure to me.

Happy dog, flying over a creek.

I love his style on stock.

His tail is tucked inside but before it would show tension. He is relaxed now and willing to do as I want. I have using soft whistles and that makes him try harder to listen. So when I do blow a hard whistle, he knows he better behave quickly.

Waiting for the next command. His ears are always rotating to me!

His drive is nice now....He can hold a nice line.  Still a little pushy but will steady when I ask him. I haven't tried a really long drive on him yet as I want him to be good close up. If there is an issue when the dog is far out, then you must bring it in closer to fix it. I try to make them solid up close before I stretch them out.

He has gotten better at the top. I am letting him lift now to see how soft he is as before he use to cut in and grip. Now he will kick out and lift with softness. At the last trial I think he lost zero points on his outrun and lift.

Holding the pressure to the draw.

Now the sheep decided to be flighty. He could have gotten amped up but  listened to me and settled down. This was a big step for both of us. if he does well on the sheep, he gets more freedom. If he doesn't then I make him slow down and wait, until he gives in to me. This was a huge battle for months until he realized this and it was a turning point in our relationship.

His mom, Nan was the same way. She was pushy and would go into the bubble. She didn't have a good feel for the sheep. It took about a year but then we clicked. I see a lot of the same journey with Taff. Underneath his gruff exterior, he is a sensitive, sweet and very loving dog.

He brings a single ewe to me. I love his happy smile. Taff will be my next Open dog. It will be a year before he is ready but it will be well worth it.  By that time, his mom will be retired and he can step into her big shoes on the trial field. It has been a long journey and filled with lots of learning for both of us. He is by far, the toughest dog that I have ever worked with so I had to step up to the plate. But a journey has many challenges and  we both are walking hand in hand, or maybe hand and paw now!

1 comment:

Donna Brinkworth said...

Diane thank you for this excellent post and photos! This sounds much like my Jet and what I hope to work on with her (the bubble idea) so it was really timely and interesting to read your excellent information! Taff is a really nice looking dog and looks great in the photos on sheep. Thanks again for sharing.