I tried. I went out there with good intentions, but we accomplished nothing. The sheep came out of the ElectroNet on their own and headed into fresh grass. I sent Kessie around them to fetch them back to me. They ignored her. She’d move one or two sheep a few steps, but that was it. I walked in closer, but that didn’t help so I backed up and let her work on her own to see what she’d do. She managed to move sections of the flock a few feet towards me, but she never managed to get any of them to me.
I called her off and took down three of the four lines of ElectroNet and tried again. Same results. By then I was getting carried away by mosquitoes and was ready to go back to the house so I called Kessie to my side and we drove the sheep up to the gate. Once we got to the gate, I sent Kessie around them a few times to pull them off the gate. She was able to move them there. She has no problem moving around stock in tight places.
When we got on the property, I tried to work her a bit more, but had the same results. I called her in to me and we drove them towards the fenced-in area, but the flock got split. We put up the first group and I sent Kessie for the second group which was about 50 yards away. I waited, and waited and waited. The sheep continued to graze. I walked up to them to find out what Kessie was doing. She wasn’t there, she had gone on past the sheep into the pond. Great.
I went into the house and got Fern who promptly gathered the sheep and put them up.
Kessie does not have a sense of group. If the flock splits or a sheep or two gets left behind, she does not go back, she continues on the with group she has control of.
Perhaps I was doing nothing more than setting Kessie up for failure by bringing her out to the back field this morning. Gel and Fern can take the sheep out of the ElectroNet and bring them up to the house with little trouble, even if the sheep are hungry and want to break off and graze. It’s sometimes hard on them, but they always manage to get the job done. The sheep have had plenty of forage all night so I know they are not overly hungry.
She needs confidence, I guess, but I can’t help feeling that that incessant flipping back and forth in front of the fence that she’s so prone to doing has decreased her effectiveness on stock. Why should the sheep move off her when they are so used to watching her flip back and forth? These are not heavy wool sheep either.
When Kessie was about eight months old I had her sold to a woman in Nevada. I ended up backing out on the deal and giving her to Wally because I didn’t think that Kessie had enough presence to work western sheep. I didn’t want Kessie passed on to handler after handler. Sheep are not stupid, they know when a dog doesn’t have what it takes to move and control them. When I sent Fern for the second group this morning, they moved off her without hesitation. This isn’t saying that Fern is any better than Kessie, but I need a dog than can move and control stock.
I’ll see if I can’t spend some time with Kessie in a just a couple of sheep in a smaller area with fewer draws to see if her confidence doesn’t improve, but I’m not so sure it’s going to get better. Factor in that she ran past the sheep and to the pond makes me think I shouldn’t waste any more time on her and focus solely on Gel and Fern. If something happened to Gel, we’d be up a creek without a paddle.