Sharing my dogs and what I do

I’m glad to have the opportunity to do the demos up at the Christmas Tree Farm.  People are so impressed with what they can do.  Some of the children absolutely love the sheep and would like to be able to handle them, but the sheep absolutely refuse to cooperate.  Sheep will be sheep.

When I got up there yesterday, there was a couple trying to get a picture of their twin baby girls and son in front of the sheep.  The ElectroNet was up and they were shooting into the sun.  I asked them if they’d like to get an up close and personal shot.

I brought them into where the sheep where and positioned them out of the sun’s glare and then used Gel to hold the sheep behind them so they could take their pictures.  They were so happy!

Cian is wired for sound.  He is all but coming out of his skull to work and unfortunately, at this time, when he works, he’s not thinking about what he’s doing.  He’s just zooming around.  While I was working Gel, he was on his tight out swaying back and forth.  That’s okay, I let him do that, but barking I don’t allow.  When he started that I maneuvered the sheep so I was quite close to where he was tied and lied Gel down and ran over to him and corrected him, mid-bark.  That made the point and he didn’t bark again.

I almost worked him second, but patience is a virtue so I brought Fern out next.  After working her close, I set the sheep back down to where I had originally set them for Gel to pick them up.  It’s probably a 150 to 200 yard outrun.  With Fern, I have to be careful because she occasionally will go up the middle of the field.  Her eye draws her into the sheep.  I feel quite sure that I do not want to push her out because if I do that, she’s going to end up too far out.  I think with age, maturity and work, she’ll go out on her own.  As I was walking back to the “post” I was watching her to see which way she was telling me she wanted to go.  It was to the right so that’s how I sent her.

I don’t think you could have asked for a prettier pear-shaped outrun.  Damn, she’s going to be nice.  The current goal is to have both Fern and Cian ready to run in Pro-Novice at the Red Creek Farm trial in March.  That’s a reasonable goal I think, at least for Fern.  Cian, I don’t know, it will be interesting to see how he turns out.

When I was finished with Fern, she didn’t want to come back to be tied out (none of them do, they want to stay on the job).  I switched her out for Cian, but I could see Cian wasn’t going to stay with me until I released him.  He was going to run out for those sheep from where he was.  That’s unacceptable.  I had to go out after him a few times before my point was made.  You lie at my feet until I send you.  Working sheep is done on my terms.

To some extent, he knows his flanks, but he’s still way over-flanking.  I paid close attention to what he was doing to see if there was some rhyme or reason to what he was doing, but when he’s out there going around sheep (often some 50-100 yards away) I don’t think he has any connection to the sheep when he’s out there.  He’s just running.

I think in a couple of days of solid exercise and structure he’ll get his brain back.

After I was through working him, I used Fern to put the sheep back up and let her mingle with the crowd.  Then, when things slowed down, I let Cian and Gel loose.  Gel kept picking up sticks and putting them on the ground in front of people.  He stands in front of them and stares at the stick.  I tell the person not to throw the stick for him because he gets too obsessive about it and both Fern and Cian get too obsessive about chasing Gel.

I’ve always said that if I had the time to train him, Gel would make a great search and rescue dog.  I then did a demo where I let Gel scent my glove.  Then I put him in a down and went out to hide the glove.  He found it every time.  Then I sent one of the children out with the glove to hide it.  Gel did his thing and the spectators were very impressed.

You notice that with my goals I set above I didn’t mention Gel in the paragraph.  The goal with Gel is still to run him in open in 2009.  His driving is improving, albeit slowly.  We made some of the panels yesterday during the demo.  After the Christmas Tree Farm is closed I’m going to leave my gates up there.  This is a good field for training because the terrain is a bit tricky and it’s a good size to work in.  I can gate sort sheep from the fenced-in area up there and then send my “exhausted” sheep into a field adjacent to the fenced-in area.  “Exhausted” doesn’t mean what you think, although they may be tired when I’m through with them, the term “exhaust” in sheepdog terms means sheep that have just finished running the course who are put into the exhaust pen to rest until they are re-used for a run.

Yesterday I had to re-do my hoop house to prevent the goats and Rose from climbing up on top of it.  The hoop house is now fixed and they cannot climb on it now which is a good thing because that was irritating the hell out of me.  Tarps are expensive and goat hooves and dog claws ruin them.  When the hay bale that is up at the Christmas Tree Farm is brought back down to me, I am going to have that positioned on the one open side of the hoop house.  It will both be a wind block and give the goats forage when they are in the shelter during inclement weather. I often amaze myself at my creativity. Now I need to get some scraps of fence to put around the pine trees so they can’t eat the bark off them.  Goats!!

It’s freezing this morning.  It’s almost 8:00 and just 24 degrees.  Not looking forward to going out and milking, but I don’t know why I complain, I always warm up when I’m out there.  The fifth batch of cheese is now draining.  I have to go out and do some errands today so I plan to get some chicken to stuff with goat cheese and bake with some fresh herbs.  I’ll serve it with some buttered pasta and vegetables.  I’m getting hungry thinking of it!