Just sent off entry forms and checks for an AKC herding trial in November (Gel only as they are only offering the B Course); an AKC agility trial in October (just Gel) and I entered both Gel and Midge in a USBCHA herding trial in October. Midge is working nicely and I think she can probably run a Novice/Novice course at this time. I had originally planned not to run Midge in a trial until she was ready for Pro-Novice, but if I’m driving almost three hours to get to the trial, I might as well run both dogs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am now able to pull Gel off a fetch line in either direction (and hold him there which is key) and he’s starting to drive well so I think I can try to run him again in Pro Novice. The trial is being held at Red Creek Farm. I like these people and I’d like to support their trials. They have nice sheep too.
A “fetch line” is the path the sheep take which in a trail situation needs to be straight to the handler’s post through one or two “fetch panels.” When the sheep are “lifted” (moved by the dog) from where they are “set” (held by a person and his/her dog or with grain or both) ideally they will be lifted such that they set off in a straight line to the handler’s post, but this all depends upon how they lift. If the dog has a good, deep outrun and doesn’t overly disturb the sheep prior to the lift, it is easier setting the fetch line. It doesn’t always happen the way it should with a young dog in a trial situation. Gel is what is called a “line dog.” He “flanks” (moves from side to side) as necessary to keep the sheep in a straight line, which is a good thing if the sheep are going where you need them to be. Previously, I couldn’t pull him off the line because it was uncomfortable for him to do so.
Ah, I’m probably going to regret sending off the entry for the USBCHA trial, but too late to stop it back now.
The puppies learned to climb stairs this morning! Gosh I’m having so much fun with them. I’m going to miss them when they are gone, but I am looking forward to having more individual time to work with the puppy I am keeping.
A woman came out this weekend to look at Midge. I was considering selling her to someone who was interested only in herding as I am not sure Midge is going to be open to doing anything else. I just e-mailed the woman (who said she would like to buy her while we were together, but I wanted a few days to think about it) and told her that I can’t sell her. I like her too much. If all Midge wants to do is work stock, then that’s all she’ll do. I’d have to look far and wide to find a nicer dog to have around.
Last night I was messing around with Midge with a ball on a rope and I was able to get her to tug some. She’s learning to “hup” over the barrier at the gate of the puppy pen so I’m hoping that will transfer to jumping over jumps. When I start working with the puppy I’m keeping I plan to do a lot of the same foundation work with Midge. Who knows, she may be able to do agility as well.
I used to think that you couldn’t do both USBCHA-style herding and agility (or other “sport”) and that may very well be true; but if all I do in USBCHA is run at the Pro-Novice level, then that’s fine with me. I do not aspire to qualify for the National Finals or even to run at the Open (highest) level. If we ever get there, then fine. If not, it’s fine too. If I had a competent instructor closer than three hours away from me things might be different, but driving three hours, taking a lesson, then driving three hours back is too hard on me and my car. I have to drive just shy of 100 miles round trip to work each day and that’s not going to change. The interesting thing is Gel’s stock work has improved since I’ve started doing agility with him again. Maybe the intense focus that I had on working him on stock was too much for him.
Now, prior to the middle of October, I need to get Gel solid on his weaves and make sure he understands knocking bars is unacceptable.