On being a dog person

I’m not a dog person – really I’m not. I think it’s because in order to be a “dog person” you need to be able to have a relationship with another being which is, I guess, something I’ve had trouble with. 

I’m not really a people person either. I don’t have a lot of close friends, except for Wally of course. This is not a new thing – I didn’t have many friends growing up, I don’t now. I think it’s because I wall myself up to protect myself from who knows what – I assume the pain of the loss of a friendship or a friendship that goes bad.

Perhaps I’m just not friendship material.

I do believe I had a relationship with Gel. It wasn’t always a good one, but there was a lot of good in it. We partnered together in managing livestock and to a lesser extent, running an agility course. Gel slept at the foot of my bed. He went places with me. But I didn’t consider myself a dog person.

Does someone need to be a dog person in order to have a relationship with a dog? I don’t know.

There’s the weave of farming that allows a dog (or two or more) to come into the fold. There’s herding dogs, like Gel and Katie are, there’s livestock guardian dogs – we had a great one of those who passed away over the winter. As was the case with Gel, I didn’t realize what I had until she was gone. Now there are two young ones learning their place in the farming.

I’ve been working Katie on sheep and goats just about every day, sometimes two times a day. She still needs some confidence boosting, but she’s also to the point where she needs to be told that she needs to follow my commands, even if they seem wrong to her. 

This afternoon, Katie and I brought the sheep up into the barn so we could trim some of the heavy wool off two of the sheep. That went fine. Then when we were done, I tried to send Katie around them to bring them out – it was a tight space. At first, she hesitated, then she did it. The sheep ran out, Katie went and got them back – several times. Sometimes it was sloppy, other times it was clean. Then she didn’t want to stop. It’s the Border Collie need to keep things in order – no, the sheep need to be up here, not out there.

I suppose I should be happy that she’s keen and for the most part, floats around the sheep without causing any mess.

I’m so enjoying the journey Katie and I are on. It’s a bonding experience. Katie’s a different dog than she was six months ago. She’s much calmer in the house – at one time, we couldn’t leave her lose because she’d continually pace. Now she’ll find a place to lie down, at least for a little while.

The brightness in her when she knows we’re going out to work. She’s a dog who was bred to do a job that she’s able to do. She’s lucky, I’m lucky to share this experience with her.