After attempting to drive the mob of lambs with Dot, I realized we were missing some understanding between the two of us. Sustained push in my "right there" command was not happening, at least not with any authority. One half of a side step by Dot had lambs rolling over to have a look, sorting her out and seeing if she meant anything. I put a long line on her to help her understand staying in the pressure and we got the job done. Sorting out the experience on the way home had me wondering, was it the difficulty of lambs, the lack of understanding push on a bigger mob, the mixed flock of lambs included bummers and of course lambs are curious regardless of their upbringing.
The past few weeks, I've been mixing things up at my place; giving Dot different groups of sheep to see how she fairs. Interesting note, at home, some of the lambs give her trouble too. There are days where she looks great, has understanding and is becoming a valuable chore dog. I keep working on my corrections, trying to stay calm and supportive with them. We are both works in progress.
When I got a call to help with tagging, I felt like I was headed to Disneyland again...well without the crowd that is! The morning started early with Bella gathering the field. She has not worked for a few weeks and as I got to the back of the flock to begin the push to the barns, Bella, always the head hunter, got away from me. There are times I wish I could sit with her and have a morning cup of coffee and explain the day. "Bella, today we are bringing a flock of yearlings from a big field to the barn to be tagged. When they are headed to the barn, they are not getting away, they will be going where they are supposed to go, even though I'm on a quad behind them. Got it?" Bella cracks me up, and it's easy enough to get a hold of her and bring her back to the job at hand......it's great practice for me to laugh and enjoy my dog in her imperfections. I'm getting better!
Once the sheep were penned, I planned on spending the day feeding the alleys to the shearers tagging. A dog really is not needed for this task and it's a great way to get fitbit steps and use muscles I've not worked in a while wrangling backwards sheep and attempting to lift and open heavy gates. My shepherd friend suggested it would be a good job for Dot. I jumped at the offer and thus began the sorting of Dot and holding pressure part 2; another opportunity to show her what she can do.
I'm not sure why all the fellows laughed when I pulled Dot out of the truck. The sheep boss said, "Oh she's pretty!" chuckle chuckle. Perhaps it was all the super clean white and beautiful thick coat ...I dont' know.
In the beginning, it was tough going.....I had to get a little help from my friends to get the final push of the last 100 ewes into the third waiting area. I just could not get Dot to hold the push on the more confident ewes and the pen was to big for me to cover my end and help her with her side. After the holding areas were filled, Dot and I moved into the sweep pen, and the work began....up close and personal, I was able to send Dot to push and move over to help her if she got a little lost in the job. As the day unfolded, I saw Dot begin to understand and become more and more confident in her job. It was not perfect, we had things go wrong but more went right and, together we were able to get the job done. By the middle of the day, Dot was working for anybody filling the chutes.
I'm looking forward to working Dot at home to see what she processed during her day of pen work. If nothing else, I learned that Dot can get it done and is trusting in our relationship. I really don't care if Dot ever makes it to the trail field, but I would love to see her be comfortable in the real work. She has come so far, and every time we go out, I see her growing and learning and becoming more confident. Where Bella is an onion, Dot is a Rubix's Cube....moving little pieces to get the colors right with each turn affecting the end result. There are times it feels like we go backwards to get the colors aligned but the big picture is still where we are headed. And so, we continue the sorting, Miss Dot and me.
Seize the Day!!!
Spot March 2017; Listening; Hearing
15 hours ago