Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My little girl grows up

Last weekend Lucy and I were invited to work at another farm on sheep Lucy has never seen before. On the drive up to the farm, I was a bit worried about the whole thing. See, as a young dog- just over a year old, I had Lucy on some sheep I bought, and Lucy being young and pushy, pushed hard on them, and they took exception, and one in particular faced and went at Lucy. It well, freaked me out, and Lucy too, was a bit hesitant to work sheep after that - but only for a few minutes. I sold those sheep ;) I was told by numerous experienced folks that I should not be working such a young dog on sheep like that, and no, it was not my dog's weakness, it was her inexperience. Dogs gain confidence by experience on sheep, and as they age, generally. So, anyway, you see why I might have been worried about her- even though we had been on other sheep since then, but they were very light. These were the infamous Scottish Blackface sheep. These sheep are pretty feral- easy keepers I am told, but not so easily moved off a dog, and they have nice horns to boot- I should know, I got my leg broken by a Scottie- but that's another story. Anyhow, we walk in the field, and I send Lucy. When I sent her that first time, I knew by the look in her eye, that she thought this would be FUN, you know, like the other light sheep we work. I wished I could have told her that she had to mind her p's and q's out there, and look tough to these sheep. But, alas, I am not Dr. Dolittle, and I can't talk to animals... Anyway, Lucy got to the top and boom it looked like Braveheart out there, Lucy was Irish, and the sheep were the Scotts- how fitting.. All you saw were the sheep's rear ends, all lined up, facing Lucy off. They did not know who this dog was, and they simply weren't running, just for the likes of HER. I started up the field, to help my dog. I spied her take a quick look at me, and then boom, she got them going. I don't know how, but she made some movements- a grip? Who knows, but in her glee to get them moving, she circled them- DOY! Lucy- that does NOT inspire confidence in these sheep! So, we worked on some wearing and small fetches, and Lucy was clearly in her element. Truly. These sheep also had a very strong draw- their friends were in a pen off the field. Twice they ran hell bent for leather to that area. The first time, Lucy stopped all but one. That single ewe made it to the fence. Lucy was able to bring her back to me. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but, if you looked closely, you saw that she not only brought that sheep back off the fence to me, but moved that single right past the other sheep- that sheep wanted to go with her sisters. Nope, nada, no way- Lucy brought that sheep right to my feet. Now, THAT was impressive.
The second time the sheep took off for the exhaust, they had all made it to the fence, and spread out. Lucy had to collect them, and then, once in a group, they all faced her. Again with the Braveheart... I didn't see what happened, but man, she just turned them, and brought them to me. I was singing Pat Benetar's "Hit me with your best shot" when we walked off the field. Was Lucy's work spot on?- no, not really. But, she proved to me that day, that she was up to the task of sheep who just maybe might take her on. She was taking no guff. PERIOD. Yes, she has grown up, and I am as proud as I could be.

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