Thursday, April 7, 2011
Nick and Linc's Excellent Adventure - part 4 (a dog installment)
(photo by Dan King)
Ok, funny time is over. I didn't want to risk boring anyone (hah, if I've not already lost everyone) to tears by scary-to-me chicken stories ad nauseum. So I thought I'd do an update on some of the really amazing work my dogs did this past weekend.
Nick actually didn't get a whole lot of work as I thought this would be a good chance to give Linc as much practical work as possible. Linc was my go-to dog for everything, with the minor exception of rounding up the renegade sheep in part 2. However, on Saturday Lauren and I met over at Robin's to work dogs, and she held out for me some. I have been working with Nick on the concept of "you can go around objects like ponds and such on your outruns". It took a bit of reminding, but I had him going around Robin's pond nicely. I was quite proud. I also worked on reinforcing him taking his whistles a little further out. He's been stonewalling me (all, "I can't hear you!!!" and though we have learned at a BAER test that he doesn't hear normally in one of his ears, at this distance I KNOW he can hear me). It was good!
Nick also got lessons on... not being #1 all the time. It was a lesson for me too. It is SO hard to do that... leave my best dog up while I slog through chores that take longer because I'm teaching a young dog to do them.
(photo by Robin French)
Linc... was a superstar this past weekend. We worked on cross-driving (Robin's hill is great for that) and I had a MAJOR epiphany on Sunday. Here it is: He's danged fast. I thought I was having trouble on the cross drive because he was overflanking. Nope. Turns out I've been under-stopping. Or over-stopping. Whatever. My timing has SUCKED, and I wasn't stopping him soon enough. He was overflanking, and it was my fault. As a result things kept getting squirrelly, and then he would barrel in there because we're both frustrated with each other.
I gave him the whole flock up on the hill, and stood there READY to do my part. It was amazing. We freaking cross-drove. As I had previously reminded him to stay out, and was stopping him sooner on his walk ups (creating more distance between him and the sheep), stopping him correctly on his flanks, AND because he was keeping nice pace and not cranking on his sheep... it was lovely.
We also did some shedding work with the whole group, some flanking between groups, and some catching sheep when they're trying to get back together type stuff. Boy did he LOVE that. In the past I've not been able to do these kinds of things with him much 'cuz all he'd want to do was bite stuff when he'd come through. But wow. He had a cool head, and was trying really hard.
Dink-man managed to do Open length outruns, blind outruns (though he was a tad uncertain on this, but he did it!) and for the first time lifted carefully and thoughtfully. He was just working thoughtfully in general, which was a huge epiphany for him I think! He worked at a distance navigating sheep around the pond, and I was putting a LOT of pressure on him there and he not only took it but seemed SO proud of himself. I was proud of him too.
He worked *with* me all weekend - putting ewes and lambs in and out of the pen at Julie's, helping to get up the lambs that got stalled out... and helped tend as we let them graze (Sunday was a much better deal) and he did a fabulous job teaming up with Nick to hold sheep off of the feed bunks twice a day.
My little silly black dog is growing up, and all three of us were happy.