Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Ann Wants to Know...
Ann wants to know... What is your perfect dog?
She wants to know what I like in a dog. Good question.
I like a combination of things in a dog. I will say that some days I like one dog better than another for a certain job.
But overall, in general, I like a dog with a lot of natural that just needs some occasional input from me. I don't like to command a dog a whole lot, and if they're doing what I either ask for or need I don't feel inclined to say much. I'm not interested in telling the dog every step to take, and in the trialling department I'm willing to sacrifice some points because I'm not going to whistle my dog to death. It gives me a headache.
That being said I'm probably not going to win a lot of trials that way. *shrug* The truth of the matter is, that in order to get really tight and precise lines you're (usually) going to need a lot of whistles. So if I want to win trials (all other issues aside) I NEED to up my whistle game. That being said, you can ask my friends and they'll tell you I only have one speed... meander. Upping my whistle game and other stuff like that may be a challenge. Right now, though, no money to trial means it just doesn't matter so much.
And when I've got a good run going it's usually because my dog is reading things right and I'm not having to say much anyhow. If he's not reading the sheep well no matter of whistling from me usually will fix it (assuming we're talking about Nick). That being said, sometimes I do find myself whistling or commanding more than others.
In general, if I'm not at a trial (or doing any sort of really precise work) and not training - just doing a job - you may not hear me say much of anything to my dog unless he's being naughty. Actually, even if I am at a trial (assuming things are going well) you may not hear much more than an occasional steady whistle until after we turn the post.
I like to have enough under the hood - and a dog that even when it may be lacking in the toolbox it isn't lacking in the heart department.
I don't mind having to ride the brakes some. I don't care to have to urge a dog up. I don't mind having to have an occasional discussion with my dog. But I don't want to have to go to full out war with that dog every time I work it. I HATE butting heads with my dog on a regular basis. I don't mind my dog having opinions. I actually LIKE it. But then when I insist I want them to give in.
I like a dog that figures out what I want or what I'm asking and does it. I like a dog that has umph but knows how to turn it down a notch when I need careful quiet work.
I like it when a dog doesn't quit.
Ann specifically wants to know (my answers in italics):
•Do you like a dog that is really on the muscle? Sometimes. Not all the time.
•Do you like a dog that needs a steady stream of whistles? er... no.
•Are you a maximal or minimal whistler? Minimal. And if things get hairy I often move to voice. I'm not fast enough yet with the whistle.
•Do you like a natural dog that feels the sheep and just needs a little direction here and there? Without question. YES.
•Do you like a dog that prefers certain type of sheep? Not necessarily. I like a dog that adapts and learns from whatever type of sheep we're working.
•Do you like a dog that wants to partner up and be a really good team player? You betcha.
•Do you like a dog that really knows what s/he wants and you, as a handler really has to manage? To a degree, yes. But I don't want to have to manage this constantly.
•Do you want push? Yes and no. I want umph in a dog, but also the dog to have the ability to control that umph.
•Do you want a good listener? To a point. Definitely I like a dog that does the right thing when I'm wrong. Nick has saved my bacon many times this way.
•Do you want try? (Not tri.) Absolutely. The other stuff that I might not like doesn't matter as much to me when the dog is trying.
•Do you like a dog who gets the job done, no matter the sheep, but it’s a big job to get that dog listening? Not so much. For me if I have to beat the dog to get it's attention I am not happy. Like I said, I don't want to butt heads with my dog every time we work together. I won't do it.
•Do you want it all? Apparently. lol
•Can you have it all? I think so. Most of us spend our working lives looking for it, anyway. :)
How does your style as a handler select the style of dog you like?
I'm guessing that this will change for me as time goes on. As I'm exposed to different things, and then once I get my own operation up and running my needs and preferences will likely change. Well, to a degree. The fact that I don't like to tell a dog every step every flank is unlikely to change. The fact that I don't like to butt heads with my dog on a regular basis is unlikely to change. But some of the other stuff probably will.
Right now I like a dog with a lot of stock sense. One that takes care of me. One that when I turn my back I can feel comfortable believing that he's doing the right thing - or at least the sensible thing. I don't see that changing for me.
Pretty much Nick has been the perfect first dog for me. Linc is a very different kind of dog, and at first I was not happy. I don't know if he's moderated or if I've just progressed, but suddenly in the last year or so I like him a lot too. I think it's a moving target.