Be careful of what you wish for because sometimes you get more than what you wanted. After my mini-meltdown on Sunday missing my former right hand chore helper, Gel, I wrote the girl whom I had sent Rex to over the winter.
Wally and I traveled to Virginia to pick up Rex who is an almost-three-year old Border Collie (pictured above) who had a good start (a term for training on stock) by a professional trainer. He is a delightful dog and has a lot of potential. As was the case when I first started training Gel I didn’t have proper stock for training Rex on so Wally and I bought four young Boer goats to use for training.
It was because of my search for stock to train Gel on that met Wally. I bought four young Boer kids from him probably ten years ago now. Wally said that he was so impressed that I offered to help him castrate the goats that day. After we met that first time we started doing farm-related things together. Here I was this transplanted Yankee who didn’t know how to build a fence and had never owned goats before. It’s scary to think of the fences I first built before Wally stepped in to help. I returned the favor and helped him with his chores. Our relationship was completely in compatible friendship until he shared that things were not so good with his wife and we started to discuss whether we could live together.
I guess we can because that was, I believe, seven years ago now. Of course we have our differences – what couple doesn’t and in reality Wally and I are quite unalike in temperament but somehow we get along. Wally keeps me calm and in line and in return I take good care of him and fix his computer when he breaks it.
Gel got a start on those goats. I was living on property that was adjacent to conservation land and Gel and I brought those goats all over that 100+ acres. Fast forward to Rex and those Boer kids who were nothing like the ones I got from Wally all those years ago. These goats were sickly and dumpy. They wouldn’t move. Our current sheep are not dog-broke (used to being worked by a dog) and thus are like deer, not proper to work a young dog on.
In frustration sent Rex to my friend in the mountains because I thought she could use him and he was driving us nuts. She moves her sheep and cattle from pasture to pasture on a daily basis and has been using a daughter of Gel’s but she’s getting up in age and a young puppy who really couldn’t do the work at the time. She had a well-started dog about Rex’s age but she lost him to an injury. Her stock are reasonably dog-broke. So Rex spent the winter with her until I sent her a message saying that I should pay her for getting Rex finished in his training and have her send him back so I’d have a useful dog. Wrangling half-wild goats in to be milked or catching wild sheep to get their feet trimmed is really no fun without a dog.
A few days later she wrote back saying that as it turned out she was having issues with Rex, not in his working but in how he was otherwise. Rex wants attention – really he’s desperate for it and he has some very obnoxious ways of showing it – which is more likely than not why the trainer let him go for as little as he did. They want a dog they can take out, train and put up – Rex isn’t that dog – he is very keen to work but he wants interaction with a human as well. On Tuesday, I drove halfway towards the mountains and got Rex back.
He’s still obnoxious but he still has a great deal of promise but I still don’t really have proper stock to work him on. He can work the sheep but they get away from him which is not a good thing for a young dog to experience. Two of my dairy goats will turn on him and he’s not confident enough (yet) to stand up to them. His level of obnoxiousness will lessen with work.
We are about to become quite dog poor. I’m buying a fully trained dog from a woman in Georgia. She’s a seven year old spayed female who was imported from, I think, Ireland. The plan is to use her to dog-break my sheep and get the goats straightened out so they respect a dog (two of them do – we had them when Gel was alive so they know to move off a dog) and then work on Rex’s training.
When I had Gel, there was no other dog. I tried to bring up other dogs, some of them Gel’s offspring but they were not Gel. I didn’t have the patience with them and I didn’t really like them. There was only Gel. Now we are in the position where I could really use a trained dog. Our sheep desperately need their feet trimmed. Yes, we can lure them into a closed-in area with food but sheep always know when they are going to get caught and it’s a rodeo. One day, whenever my last two goats decide to kid, I will start milking again and I will need help getting the kids up at night and bringing the goats in to milk. Some will come in willingly, others won’t.
While seven is not old for a Border Collie, she’s not going to last forever and I don’t ever want to be in this position again. The goal with Rex is to work with him on some agility-type exercises to try to get some of the edge off him until I can start working him on stock in earnest. He’s extremely intelligent and willing to do what I ask of him, I just need to be patient and get through two plus years of being a kennel dog. That’s going to take time.
Meanwhile – I’ve got more exercise over the past two days than I’ve had in two weeks so that will be a good thing. I hope to do a few local sheepdog trials as well. We’ll see how that goes.
Until later …