I’m a bit concerned about how Cian has been working. It is so much easier pushing a dog out than it is pushing one in. Cian puts new meaning on “out.” His breeder advertised the cross as producing puppies with big, “scopey” outruns … well, he certainly has a big, scopey outrun, but he’s almost always out of contact with the stock when he’s out there. Something that is going to be faulted just as much as a dog that runs tight. Then there’s the problem with his lift or lack there of.
When I first got him I thought that I’d simply run the pent up energy out of him. That may not have been the thing to do. Sometimes it seems all Cian knows how to do is to run (and run and run and run) and when he’s running, he’s completely out of touch. He’s zoned out when he’s running.
Gel and Fern run too, but they are still connected to me when they are running. They only go so far away from me before they stop, look back and wait for me to catch up. Cian is in the next county before he reconnects.
Given my current financial (and emotional) state I’ve seriously considered sending him back to Wally, but that is not in the dog’s best interest and I feel I owe it to him to keep trying. This isn’t because Wally treats him poorly, it’s because Wally can’t give him the work or structure that he needs. There is something about this dog that is endearing and he makes me want to keep trying because I know there’s a good dog in there somewhere. Of course Cian is a good dog no matter if he works stock or not, but he’s been bred to work stock and he desperately wants to work stock. The thing is though he isn’t going to work stock the way he wants to: I call the shots and I’m getting bloody tired of calling him in when he’s out orbiting in outer space. “Yoo hoo, Cian, the sheep are here, where are you going?” Maybe he things this is only a small group and there’s another larger flock several miles away that he needs to bring in. Who the heck knows.
I have some of the same issues with Gel, but he’s no where near as bad. Fern is just the opposite. She hones in on stock like a heat seeking missile, but am I going to focus on pushing her out??? Hell no. In fact, I’m going to stop slowing her down when she’s bringing stock to me a breakneck speed. Slowing down can come later. I don’t want to take that out of her. I know she’ll stop if I ask her to.
You see, I did a really stupid thing early on with Gel. I started him on goats and he had to push them. When he got on sheep, he pushed them like he did the goats which was a mess. I thought that I needed to get him solely on sheep as soon as possible so I could get him ready to trial. I got sheep and slowed him down. Bad idea, at least at the time and the way I did it.
If I ever get the opportunity to start another dog, I will not teach a lie down. I wish I didn’t teach Fern a lie down on stock and I’m regretting it with Cian as well. I wrote about my reluctance to put a lie down on Cian. I think people get too much in a hurry to train these dogs up to trial (which often leads to their sale), especially when it comes to Nursery dogs (a dog that is three years old or less on July 1 of that year is called a Nursery dog). The course for Nursery dogs is usually the same as Open without the shed which is an awful lot to ask of a dog that is less than three years old. Because of the rush, they try to get too much control over them which can lead to stress and the dog shutting down. I hate to think of the number of dogs who are started to run as Nursery dogs and end up crashing and burning. Maybe some dogs need a lot of control, my three do not and I pushed too hard for control.
I’m still holding to my goals to run Fern and Cian in Pro-Novice this spring, but my expectations of their performance are minimal. I’d like to see them on the field and not making a mess of things (i.e. listening to me); but beyond that, I’m not expecting much. Trialing (as much as I hate it) is a perfect opportunity to see where you are at with a dog so you can go back to the drawing board and fix the issues. At the next trial, hopefully you’ll see different issues.
So, the game plan is to not allow Cian to do that crazy-ass running that he’s so fond of doing. I will take to walking him on a lead with a head halter (so he can’t drag me). I won’t work him on stock for a few days. We will still go for runs on the ATV (if I can bear the cold), but he’ll be kept on a lead and head halter so he’ll have to run with me (not in the next county). His next lessons on stock will be conducted in the fenced in area and I’ll do panel work with him in there. Where I’m going to put the goats and Rose while I’m working him I’m not sure, but I’ll figure it out when the time comes.
Hopefully I’ll see some success.
On a different note, I sold two gallons of goat milk today. I get $7/gallon which pays for two bags of grain. I’m also getting a delivery of a case each of small, whole chickens, chicken liver and chicken heart. The whole chickens are only about $1/pound and the heart and liver is about $.60/pound. That’s a great savings. I’m glad to be able to get it. The meat is restaurant quality. The plan is to feed the legs, wings and backs to the dogs and use the breast for myself. Last week I got a case of split breasts that I shared with a friend. Venison season is all but over so I need to start to look at alternatives.
Wally has an open order for a young goat (or sheep) from the auction that is in good flesh and goes for a reasonable price (around $40). He goes to this auction every week and there are times that the animals go for very low prices. Of course, there are as many, if not more, times that they go for high prices. I know a lot of people who feed raw feed predominately chicken. I don’t care to feed much chicken, especially if it is conventionally raised. The nutritional value of these birds is very low. I shudder to think about what goes into the rearing of factory-farmed chicken from chick to finished bird. I really must get a chicken operation going at least enough of one where I can feed my animals.