Friday, October 10, 2014

Working Tessa

Friday is one of my dog working days.  I actually thought to time myself today, just out of curiosity for how long I spend on a typical session.

Thirteen minutes.

It was pretty much an average length session too, so I don't actually spend that much time training, which was a little surprising to me.  Whenever I go outside, I always find a zillions little things to do, so it ends up taking way longer than the actual training session.

Well, anyway.

We first worked on a little fetching and she was fast but wide.  I was pleasantly surprised at how wide she was working, without any pressure, and how square her corners were.  I think she was reading the jumpiness of the sheep.  I don't know why they were a bit jumpy, but they were.

I practiced a few off balance flanks, having her come a full circle around the sheep with some encouragement.   

Then we started a little driving.  She was still coming just a bit too far to the head, so I picked up the line she was dragging and guided her into "way to me", "there", "walk up" and so forth, down a fenceline, keeping the sheep at a steady walk.  After we'd gone about 100 feet I dropped the line but kept my body movements and commands the same.  She successfully drove another 100 feet or more, then I re-positioned myself to present a different visual picture to her, and sent her to gather them back.  We worked on some small fetches, then I had her drive them toward the gate.  This is a tricky area, because at first they will try to bolt away from the gate in two possible directions.  Then as they get close to it, they seem to realize the inevitable and RUN toward it as a draw.   Tessa handled it beautifully, taking my direction commands, then driving at a trot until I told her steady, which she did!  Yay Tessa! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Update for Fall

This is us lately, the couch sitters.  Well, not entirely.   I'm still working some of the dogs for their continuing training, so here are the updates:

Cinder:  Retired.  Her back legs are unsteady, she's mostly deaf.  But if she goes out to the pasture when another dog is working she'll disrupt the lesson, drive the sheep to the far side of the place, then sit down with her "Didn't I do well?" look and also "I can't hear you, but you said drive the sheep away, right?"  

Luke:  Also retired.  Limps a little bit, mostly deaf, but still pretty spry for a 14 year old.

Kip:  Retired.   Has a cancer in his mouth, and a fast one growing too.  He still seems full of energy though.

Hank:  Had to be pts in August after developing heart condition.   I miss him tons!  Such a sad loss.  

It's not a good year for the old guys.
Here are the younger dogs:

Ben:  Doing fine, one of my main chore dogs.

Sprite:   My other main chore dog.  She's also good at lying by the fire and being adorable.

Dodger: Still here, not doing much with him.

Pepper:  In training.  She works once a week or so, depending on the weather.   She is still really, really fast.  She likes flanking a lot more than she likes driving.  She also likes cuddling on the couch and barking.  At everything.  Well, not at sheep, but at everything else.

Tessa:  Possibly up and coming chore dog.  She works nice and calmly, is easy to do chores with.  She drives a little bit.  I work her about once a week.

Taz:  OMG hyper spaz dog.  He's a handful on the stock, I'll say that.    Still working in the small pen once in a while, when I get the energy for him.   He could use some daily work, and possibly a large herd of cattle to kick some sense into him.  I think he'd like that.  

My mom ran her dogs in the trial last weekend, and Lena, who is Tessa's sister, got started titles and did a nice job.  Also Akela, who is Kip's son (out of Melica) got open titles with good scores.  Yay Holmbergs!  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Working a couple dogs and loading a trailer

I have been working dogs again.   I asked my husband to help me out with keeping me sticking to a schedule, so he put "work dogs" on my schedule for two days a week.   I had been alternating working Pepper and Tessa on those two days, and also using the older dogs to sort for me.   They were doing pretty well until the super cold weather and deep snow got here.    I'm pretty well taking a break with them until the weather improves.   I did try to work Pepper once in the barn, but it was too much for her, she never would calm down, so I decided to give that a rest also.

Yesterday I sold a few of the sheep, and Hank did an awesome job sorting out the ones the people wanted, then driving them through the yard, down the driveway, and right into the trailer.   This was even with a lot of people "helping" including a bunch of very small children.   I did yell a bit at them to keep the kids out of the way lest they get trampled, but they didn't do that very well, and Hank managed to keep the sheep calm enough not to run over any little kids. 

Anyway, to them it looked like another routine day on the farm, but to me, I was proud as punch of the Hank dog.   Nothing like a few trailer loading episodes go awry to make one appreciate a really smooth one.