Sunday, June 15, 2008
Working dogs, why? What for?
Well, I finally feel like the honeymoon is over. I am at the point where I finally see what all this business about working sheep with my dog is really about. It isn't about getting out there occasionally, and letting my dog have at it- though I never really felt that way; perhaps I was ambivalent about it. I knew that wasn't right, but what IS it all about? It's simply about using your dog to move sheep in the least stressful way possible- with your dog. I recently saw a friend of mine's dog move sheep in such a way that these sheep were completely happy to go where he asked, and they moved calmly, and happily. It is the picture we all should strive for. Keeping your dog off- clean flanks- it isn't for show- it's to keep the sheep settled. Calm lifts- again, for the sheep's benefit. ALL of this is for the SHEEP. The sheep dutifully help us achieve this with our dogs, and in the end, sheep benefit. Lucy is now just over 2 years old and is coming to the realization that she has to be calm for our work to be good- not just clean, but settled- then the sheep are settled. I have come to realize, at the same time, that my dog is bored. Truly, with the same work, repeated over and over. She needs, and loves real work. Lucy is so wonderful to live with- when off sheep, she is a model pet. When on sheep, she is all focus. But, the last two times I worked her she balked when I sent her on one of our practice outruns. I think she isn't feeling well, but it made me reflect on what I am doing with her, and what I need to do to fix it- I need to lay off on the drilling and put her to real work. I would even lease her out to someone at this point if I could. I am going to approach my brother about keeping sheep at his place, and removing some trees, so we could work the dog(s). I see my life changing, and it is unavoidable- we need to change, fundamentally, they way we live. There should be some changes coming- stay tuned in- I will keep you posted!