Worth his weight in gold

Wally and I decided to lay low last night and take it easy.  We were both pretty sore from the work we did on Sunday.  There was a mini-series playing on Sci-Fi that was re-airing from 7 to 9 last night that I thought might be entertaining.  It was not, but oh well.  I had prepared a small lasagna using goat cheese and sausage from locally-raised pork.  It was incredible!  If anything, goat cheese gives lasagna more flavor than ricotta.

I went down on the ATV to get the sheep at around 6:30 and we had planned to put them up in the duck and chicken pasture so they could mow the grass down in there overnight.  When we got back up to the house, however, the chickens and ducks were not ready to go up and the sheep were not ready to go in so I let them drift back down into the back pasture.  Drift wasn’t exactly the right word: run, buck and twist was more like it.  A cool breeze had come up and they were feeling their oats.

Before it got dark, I went back out with Gel and sent him to “find the sheep.”  He circled around and came back through the front gate.  Shoot, I said to Wally, I might have to start the ATV and go and look for them.  Then I realized, less than an hour ago, I sent Gel out into the front pasture to pull in the goats and he may have been confused as to what I wanted.  I walked down to the gate of the back pasture with Gel and sent him again.  Then I walked back up and waited.

Sometimes it seems like a long time, but if I were to time him, I’d likely find that he’s only gone about ten minutes, we saw the sheep coming down over the hill.  Keep in mind, there’s over a hundred acres of fields and woods behind our house.  The sheep essentially have free access to the entire property when I set them down there.  Talk about blind outruns.  The beauty of Gel is that I don’t have to worry about his outruns being too tight, short, crooked or anything else.  I’m blessed with a dog with a natural outrun.  There have been times that I’ve sent him on big outruns and after he’s gone I’ll follow up behind him to check his outruns and they are always spot on.

His driving has improved tremendously as well.  He’s pushing a bit too hard these days, but I know better than to put a damper on that.  He will stop for me and right now, that’s all I care about.

I remember, not to many years ago now, I purchased four “dog broke” sheep from a local man.  These sheep may have been dog broke at one time, but by the time I got them, they were evil, sour beasts.  One of them got away from us one night (I didn’t have a fenced-in schooling area at the time) and went down into the back pasture.  At that time, the back pastures had not been mowed in at least a year, maybe longer and they were a thick mess of thorns, grass and who-knows-what-else.  It was so thick, I could not get through it myself.  I didn’t have the ATV at that time.  I sent Gel to “find the sheep.”  He was maybe two years old at the time.  He was gone for a long time so I went down and got as far as I could into the field.  There was Gel, pushing that ewe back through that thick tangle of brush.  He brought her back.  I’m sure at that time it wasn’t as pretty as it is now, but he had sense and guts enough to bring that sheep back through difficult terrain.  An open handler that I was sort of working with at the time told me that he would never have considered sending a green dog out on a blind outrun (fetch) like I did with Gel.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t have another dog and if I didn’t send Gel, I wouldn’t have got that sheep back.

What it comes down to is that you use the tools that are available to you at the time.  Some people told me that you always ruin your first dog.  I don’t think that’s true, at least it hasn’t been with me.  Gel is far from ruined.

Until later …