Yesterday I ran over to Julie's to work dogs with Kelly, and to load some sheep for her. I had used Nick to sort off the Karakul yearling lambs for Linc, but it turned out that yesterday they were not their usual heavy selves - they were trying to run hell-bent for leather. This is a bad thing, because Linc doesn't really have quite the head for that yet.
So I decided to use Linc to put the lambs back and then sort off the hair sheep instead. Nevermind the fact that Linc hasn't done much by way of sorting and holding and such. I sent him into the paddock (which is long and skinny) and to my surprise he shimmied along the fence quiet and methodical, and scooped the sheep out of that far corner. I lied him down, and proceeded to try to sort out the hair sheep. I had all but one, and OOPS - a Karakul ewe too. The ewes were getting more and more pushy at the gate, and I was flanking Linc around (which he did very nicely) to try to shift the ones I wanted to the front.
Next thing I knew the bastard sheep decided to run me over, and Linc decided to help them. Out the gate they all went - I've learned my lesson on standing my ground (to a point) and having my feet taken out from under me. Linc, in hot pursuit, covered the sheep nicely. He decided at that point, though, that he no longer knew what stopping was. I can't say that I blame him - it was all very exciting. But still, we had a job to do and I needed him to have his head on to do it. We had a little discussion about stopping when asked to - and he just straightened right up.
I decided to keep using him after seeing that he was going to keep thinking. I let the sheep I did NOT want back into the paddock, and Linc did everything I asked of him - nicely, quietly, and thoughtfully. We then scooped the hair sheep off the gate, and finally got down to the order of business - driving, and little outruns. His left hand outrun has opened up a bit from last week, and appears to be coming along nicely. I could feel him looking at me a couple of times but forced myself to look at the sheep, and walk confidently. Next thing I knew he was just... doing it. He was covering and holding the line, and I was grinning like a lunatic. I felt like we were working together, and I was able to relax and not lean on him.
Robin said something that really stuck with me the other day. Among other things she said to treat Linc as if he was already more trained than he is - and then he would be. That's what I did, and he was.
When it was time to put the sheep all back out, I decided to just go on and use Linc again. To my amazement he had finally "gotten" what I wanted - and helped me to quietly let the sheep out - which I did one or two at a time. He was awfully proud of himself, and I was proud of him too. He got to be Big Dog yesterday - and we both liked it.