I love my dogs!

I don’t know that I always realize how much I truly love my dogs.  This morning I put them both out early, around 4:30, while I did a bit of cleaning.  I checked on them several times.  Gel was lying on the grass near the steps.  Fern was lying on the top stair with Nettie (one of the cats) curled up by her rump.  I went out around quarter of six to take the sheep and cattle out to the back pasture.  About 6:30 I started up the ATV and went out to get the sheep and cattle to bring them up to the neighbor’s house to spend the day in the fenced-in area with the pot belly pig.  While I could have mowed the path for my ElectroNet last night, I was tired and didn’t do it.  Given how much it’s rained already today and the rain on the radar, it isn’t going to get done tonight either.  No big deal, there’s several days worth of grass up at the neighbor’s house and if worst comes to worst, I can put them in the lower fenced-in area at my house for a couple of days.  Grass is a-growin’!

Fern did a fine job of keeping the sheep to me on the ATV on the way up to the neighbor’s house.  We headed back down the hill and saw that Gel was just entering that section of the pasture with the cattle.  I sent Fern down to help Gel (not that he needs help, but Fern likes to help) and the two of them brought the cattle up the hill.  Both dogs had huge smiles on their faces when we were through.  We went back down to my house and they both jumped into the pond to cool off.  The water level has come up considerably in the pond and it finally looks like it’s refreshing for them to get into the pond now.  At least they don’t smell so much like pond scum when they come out.  In fact, last night after we brought the sheep and cattle in for the night, I went into the pond with them up to my thighs and played with them.

Of course, I could move the sheep and cattle around by myself.  They’d probably follow a bucket of grain around, but it’s so much more gratifying to do it with the dogs.  They enjoy it and I love watching them work.  I can’t wait until Fern is further along in her training.  I really haven’t done much formal training with her and I’ve stopped worrying about it.  She’ll get formally trained.  She’s still a baby.  I don’t let her get away with inappropriate behavior.  I insist that she lie down when I ask for it.  Meanwhile, we just do what we need to do to keep up with the livestock.

I have a strong sense of proper handling of my livestock.  I don’t allow them to be abused, not that my dogs are at all abusive of livestock.  Even Fern, with as little formal training as she’s had, doesn’t make a mess of things.  She’s not inappropriately grippy, she will heel to tuck in stock and I’ve seen her do a bit of heading with the cattle mimicking Gel when he has to grip to get the them moving, but she isn’t the type of dog who runs up the middle of stock, grips inappropriately or singles off a sheep and chases it down.  She has a strong sense of group.  I’ve seen sheep get split up when they are being moved and she’ll stop and use her eye to move the separated sheep back into the group.  She’s patient and waits for the sheep to get back into the group.  She was a hoot this morning.  When I was putting the sheep through the gate into the fenced-in area she was applying a bit too much pressure and they were slammed up against the gate and were giving me a hard time getting the gate open.  I said her name in a bit of a gruff tone and she backed off and hid behind the wheel of the ATV, peering out around it to make sure the sheep were not going to get away — I am not kidding you, she did just that.

My mental state has a to do with how my dogs work and behave.  Right now, my mental state is about as good as it could be.  I mentioned in my last post that I accomplished something of extreme importance in my life.  We all have our addictions.  Some are worst than others.  Mine was bad, something I’ve fought for the past 20 years or so.  I’ve tried to get a handle on it before, and sometimes I was successful.  Usually I was not.  Today, I finally feel like I have the tools and the ammunition to overcome it.  I’ve said many, many times over the past couple of months that I feel better than I’ve felt in a long, long time.  Today, if it is at all possible, I feel even better.  I pray that I am able to continue on this path because it has been an extraordinary journey.

“I wanted to write about the moment when your addictions no longer hide the truth from you. When your whole life breaks down.
That’s the moment when you have to somehow choose what your life is going to be about.”

–Chuck Palahniuk