Whistles, lost sheep and ATVs

I intended to work with Gel on whistles this morning but when I went outside with him to where the sheep were a scant ten minutes before, they were not to be seen. We walked down into the back field where I have my panels set, but did not find them. I walked up to the front fields and still no sheep. At that point I decided to send Gel to find them. I did get a bit of whistle practice in redirecting him when he returned without the sheep and he took the correct flanks at a huge distance.

The temperature had dropped dramatically from our early morning walk and the wind had picked up and it was freezing! After about 15 to 20 minutes of searching without success I recalled Gel and started up the ATV. I donned my “Yankee coat,” added gloves to my attire and off we went.

On the ATV I found the rotten beasts quite easily and given where they were, I wouldn’t have expected Gel to find them. My neighbor has installed a few gates on his property and they were in a pasture behind a closed gate. I saw them before Gel did and sent him to the right on a blind fetch. He took the flank as requested and quickly brought the sheep to me on the ATV and then we headed back home and put the sheep up.

So much for planned training. That ATV has already more than paid for itself with its usefulness both as a means to provide extra exercise for my dogs and to enable quick search and rescue missions. Eventually, the individuals who own a good part of the acreage behind me will be fencing it in, which will be a good thing because it will prevent my sheep from wandering. Nine times out of ten, they stick around, but on those days that they decide to go exploring, I’m glad I have a dog who is willing to search and retrieve sheep at great distance. There is a good 100 acres of open pasture land and some wooded areas around where I live. The property I sit on is seven acres and I rent twelve acres of open pasture behind my house. I’m blessed to live in such a wonderful location.

Oh I hate whistles. When I am practicing on my own in the car, I can blow it quite reliably, but when I need to blow it when working Gel, the sounds often come out sounding like someone blowing on a busted flute, if they even come out at all. I had to buy several different brands of whistles before I found one that I could get any sound out of. The hardest whistle for me to blow was the stop whistle. At one point I decided, screw the stop whistle, who needs a stop anyway? Eventually I got though. Why does this USBCHA-style herding have to be so bloody hard?