Sunday afternoon I relented, and decided to go ahead and let the sheep out to graze again. I decided it would make good sense to use both dogs - Nick and Linc - and lie Nick down over where he could hold the pressure for the driveway and the garden (for the most part) and then I would pull the sheep out with Linc. The long and the short of it is that every time I would send Linc in the pen Nick would start flanking. So I would boom out "LIE DOWN" at Nick. Nick would keep going, but poor Linc would come running cowering at my feet. Brilliant plan, eh?
After pulling Linc out, and taking Nick by the collar back to where I'd originally laid him down like... fifty times... I finally managed to sort of get them to do what I wanted. Nick had crept a bit, but was still in a position to hold the pressure (mostly). We got the sheep out, and though they started creeping towards the garden I was in position, as were the dogs, to head them off. So the dogs and I settled down near the back porch (we were fanned out) to guard against insurgents.
As we sat quietly, the Ram was mounting his attack. There he was trying to lead his fan club on an end run around the quarterback. Oh yes. They were trying to sneakies through the woods to go to the angry neighbor lady's house. But this time I was ready. I sent Nick over there to stop them. I think they actually had looks of disgust on their faces. It was a major sheep FAIL moment. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to flank Nick come bye and have Linc stay where he was, and then was able to flank Linc away to cover a small group of ewes and lambs trying to make a break for it up the driveway. Good dogs.
Then as I was putting the sheep back away, I turned my back on Maia for a milisecond(guard dog, remember her?) and she dashed out the gate screaming JAILBREAK!!!!
My heart hit the floor. Maia was, for all intents and purposes, basically feral for a while, and it took them months to catch her (this is life before-Julie). This was bad. Really bad. I thought, "Great. First I let the sheep go to the angry neighbor's yard, and now I have lost Julie's guard dog. This is fabulous. I am SO fired. I'm probably fired from BFF status too. What am I going to do?"
I had options. #1 - Voice of doom at Maia. #2 - use my dogs to take the sheep over to her, and then hope she comes back with them. #3 - talk nicely to Maia and hope she comes back. #4 - Go get dog food and try to lure her back.
I went with #3 and #4.
I put the sheep, Nick, and Linc away (separately, obviously) and went to the house to get Maia's dinner, all the while talking nicey nice to her, and keeping an eye out as I went.
The door-knob fell off. I knew it did sometimes, but it hadn't failed me until this moment. I felt like picking it up and throwing it out into the yard, but I didn't. I put it back on (ok, more like crammed it on), and stomped through the house muttering about animals who don't do what they're supposed to do. I filled up a bowl with kibble, and ran back out the front door.
I went around the side and finally spotted Maia wandering in the woods. I walked parallel to her rattling the bowl of kibble, and talking all nicey-nice-I'm-not-going-to-kill-you to her. My heart just kept sinking as she kept wandering. She took lots of dumps. I didn't know a dog could poo that much. She peed lots too. I'm guessing she was marking her territory. Sounds reasonable to me. If I had made a jailbreak I'd be all about some marking some things too! Then suddenly, her head came up, and she came running.
I turned and ran, laughing like a lunatic, and flung the gate open, all while rattling the bowl and calling her nicely. I almost lost the sheep out the gate, but Maia was cranking through it, and they turned.
Whew. Crisis averted. I went back inside and played Cityville until my hands stopped shaking. At this point I thought to myself, "Maybe I shouldn't tell anyone about ANY of this. Ever."
A little while later I would decide to take the dogs on one last walk to the river. Unfortunately, I would find...