Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dog updates

It’s been a while since I have written about my dog training. A couple of reason why; First, I was very seriously ill with the bad heart and weak and unable to work more than seven minutes and second, I have been out of town for work. Also, one of my best friends was in the hospital so I would go see her and was taking care of her two dogs. But now, with the two successful heart operations, I am feeling so much better. I just have to heal and then exercise, as I am not in my prime physical shape.

The dogs have been patient while I heal. I started to work the dogs this weekend and only the advanced ones.  I am not quite healed for the young wild ones as the leads in my heart from the pacemaker still have four more weeks to heal.

Tess has been getting better since she has been on new meds for her heart and kidney. I will do a post on that sometime this week. She is feeling spry and running around and acting like a banshee. Today, she was racing up and down the fence line, barking (and ignoring me when I told her to be quiet) so I asked her if she wanted to work sheep. Normally, that mean to go to the gate and I will open it and put the dog that I am working (in this case Rainey) out and I will let her in. But Tess had other plans as she heard, “Climb the four foot gate, vault to the ground and run like a racehorse and gather the flock. Also do not listen to your mom, while she races after you trying to stop you as she needs to get her heart rate up and exercise more”

So, she did just that. I got two new Border Cheviots and a Romany cross pet ewe. Dogs have never worked them. The Border cheviots arrived on Saturday and had a session with Tess. The pet ewe arrive today and she loves people and never saw a flock before as well as the Cheviots. So it was fun keeping the three new sheep with my Clun flock and then I also added the ten new hair sheep. And then I have four Border Leicester/North country Cross that do not want to flock with anyone. So it was like, well five flocks of sheep, all wanting to go five different directions.

The two Cheviots stood up to Tess and she walked into their heads as she did the day before. One stamped her foot, then lowered her head as if to charge. Tess leaned forward, opened her mouth, and held it open. The ewe’s eye got wide and she spun and raced into the center of the flock. Meanwhile, her buddy was left standing there with Tess and her open mouth just inches from her nose. She leapt into the air, spin an 180 and joined her sister in the center of the flock. The pet ewe saw all of this and then ran to me, then when Tess approached, her, got wide eyed and ran to join the Cluns.  Tess, then ran to pick up the four BL/NCC who tried to sneak away and tucked them all back in, got the hair sheep to overcome their prejudice of the woolies and soon had them in a tight bunch.

We did some driving and I tried my new method of driving that Scott gave me. It worked great for Tess and she drove them around the pasture, in a tight group, doing snug turns. Then I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to do a shed. Sure, good idea, after she has convinced the sheep to be best buds and not scatter. I got somewhat of a line, but the sheep wanted no part of that. I called her through and she came in quick and clean and shed then quite nicely, She drove them off and we continued to shed them down until we had a single, I had her march the single about then put her in the stall and we quit. She was quite happy, bounced up to the gate, and was wagging her tail in great delight. I followed her to the tack room door, where she stood, waiting for her treat. She got her treat and then began to look for a stick. Of course, she brought back a huge branch for me to toss and this time I was ready. Last time I was not aware of where she was with the stick and she clocked the back of my legs with the branch, This time, I sat down and tossed the branch for her. She decided I tossed like an worthless quarterback so went to tend to her baby Silkies.

Maid has settled into the household quite well. She has her own dog bed and when she is not in that, she is next to me on the couch. Often, she will snuggle with Tess on the couch as they are best buds. I haven’t worked her very much as I want to be ready to run if needed and I didn’t have the strength before. Turns out I probably could have worked her. She hardly put a step wrong in the two sessions in the last week. A couple of wrong flanks and pushy but we got that squared away. I worked her tonight and the new sheep saw her and quickly buried themselves in the center of the flock. She ran out well, took the stop, then fetched the sheep, nice and easy. We practiced out new and improved driving, (Scott lesson) and the drive was not a battle and once she gave me the pace I wanted, she got the sheep and held them on a line to Canada. I changed her whistles a bit and she has them all down but the away whistle is not down yet but the voice commands are right on. She is enjoying working with me and we are relaxed with each other. I did a few sheds with her, she come in fast and starts to drive them away, and I look like a million dollars and keep my mouth shut. After our work, she cooled off in the pond and leaned against the chair that I was in, and slid her head under my hand for a good ear rubs. She loves to have her ears, back of her head rubbed and soon, her eyes were closed in bliss, and the sun warmed our backs. She slowly slid down to the ground and fell asleep while I read a book. Her hind legs kicked back and forth, as if chasing a wayward ewe and her tongue hung out and twitched, perhaps dreaming of a treat.

Nan has gained a couple of extra pounds so has been on a diet so a work session was in order for her too. She, as usual, ran out with gusto, hit the balance and brought the sheep to my feet. She sized up the new ewes and then got very stylish, crouching low to the ground and slinking as she worked them. I wished I had my camera as she eye was very strong and she was super stylish. Drool began to drip out of her mouth and she was keen on the new ewes. She really enjoyed the session  and then I had her work the ewes and lambs. She has gotten a lot better over the years working the ewes and lambs and will nudge a lamb to move it. She actually enjoys it now and if a mother ewe will stand up to her, she will inch in and then look away to take pressure off. After our two sessions were over, I realized her flanks were very slicey so that homework is my project for the next few weeks. True to form, after her session and quick dip in the pond, Nan was ready to be let into the house so she could sleep on her dog bed. Of course, she has me well trained so I let her in. She thinks the barn and kennels are for common dogs and since she is a queen, she must be in the house, unless she is working the sheep or getting treats.

Rainey has grown up quite a bit. She is getting her “Big Girl Britches” and starting to shine. She will never be a huge powerhouse, but she is obedient, will work her heart out and try her best. She drive was the weak link but now, I line her up, tell her walkup and she will drive for a fair bit. Her eye did catch her on the new ewes but she never back down but had to resort to a grip to get them to move but I will take that than a dog that will turn tail and be run off by a ewe. Once she got her grip, she puffed up with pride and was worked the new ewes with more authority. She worked hard today, being backup dog, sorting dog and helping dogs in the round pen. By the of the morning, her speed was a lot slower but she never gave up. I use her a lot on lesson day as she is reliable, I can turn my back and she seems to know what to do. It’s nice to see that she is growing up and becoming a good dog.

Sava was smooth toady. She was used earlier in lessons and she was the last of my dogs that I worked today. She didn’t want to work on the pressure side but she decided it would be a good idea after all. Her wide sweeping outruns are a joy to watch and she moves effortless on the ground. I need to work on her confidence, as that is her weakness. All of my dogs have a weak area and it is my job to help them in that area.  I hope that soon, she can move up to Open. She has the talent but needs the miles.  She tries hard and each time we partner up better and better. She ran in PN in the fall winter trials and did great and I hope her success continues.

The young guns, Reba, Billie and Ben are with my herding students while I recover. They are getting family time and herding time as well. I am getting glowing reports from Kathleen on how well that Reba is doing. Kathleen has a good, quiet way in starting young dogs and she is doing great with Reba. Diane, the Vet, has taken Billie and I have been working wither as she starts Billie. Billie is very natural on the stock and reads them like an open book. She is starting to drop her head and get some eye but at 15 months old, I am impressed with what she has shown me. We have had Ben on sheep a couple of time but he is very fast and needs to grow up still since he is only eight months old.

I’ve been very happy with my lineup of dogs and now it’s my job to showcase their talents. I am enjoying working with them and hope that I can get more points on Nan for the Finals and Maid, well; we need to get several wins as we have zero points. I am happy on how well she is running for me and it will be just a matter of time.

It’s been a long and slow road but finally it has come to an end with the last two successful heart surgeries. I still have four more weeks in which I am limited but it will go quickly. Having a good family and friends makes a huge difference. Spring has arrived and I see a new beginning in life, one filled with dogs, garden, newborn lambs and the joy of living.


Janet said...

You will have to tell me all about this new drive method you learned from Scott! Inquiring minds want to know :)

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Thanks and have a great day!