So much for weekly updates, right? What’s the excuse this time? Let’s see… heat, humidity, rain, more heat, out of town, put on 53 hours a week at the dayjob, changed web servers, did I mention the new horrendous work schedule? When your plate is already packed, and then it shrinks to the size of a saucer, shit falls off.
Anyhow, I did manage a few sessions since my last post so let’s start off with Miss Jig.
Up until now I’ve allowed Jig to merely cover the stock as they to bolt towards the draw. Well, no more. Time to start learning how to actually control the stock on the way back to the re-pen or wherever it is they may want to get to. In all fairness, her failure to do so is my failure as a handler and trainer. I accepted the way we had been doing it and settled for ‘good enough’. Jig has shown me we don’t need to settle. She pushes me, and I push her.
One of the ways I’ve been working on this is to take myself completely out of the picture so the sheep aren’t tempted to draw to me. That means stepping outside the arena. I have Jig drive them to the bottom, then turn them toward the top where they most want to be. This is the point at which we all start to get a bit twitchy. The sheep because they want to break. Jig because she knows they want to break. And me because I know what Jig’s likely to do when they do break.
Needless to say, our first few attempts were a bit messy. There was incoherent blabbering and flailing of arms on my part, and quite a few confused looks on Jig’s part. After that, we got some good input from a couple of friends, reminders that Jig has brakes and steering and I might want to utilize them. Seems I tend to forget in the heat of the moment. Like when a sheep takes off and she covers, maybe I should lie her down as soon as it heads back. You know, as opposed to letting her bring it back and turn them all around again. We’ll get there.
I’ve also stepped up Dillon’s game. There’s still a lot we have to fix, but I can actually see us making progress and that’s a good thing. It’s no secret I have a tendency to run before we can walk. I get frustrated when I think my dog isn’t doing something he should. That’s led to some pretty spectacular meltdowns wherein I totally lose my shit. I’m not proud of that and I try to stop before things reach that point. I knew I went over the top one day when, after we were done and I put Dillon in his kennel, he turned his back on me and went to lay under his table instead of hanging by the door with a happy smile. Never train when you’re in a pissy mood. It’s the ultimate betrayal of trust. Thankfully Dillon is pretty forgiving, and there was no permanent damage done.
To give Jig a break, I’ve started using Dillon to help me sort. Here, for your viewing pleasure, one of the very first times we teamed up to get the job done. He has a lot to learn yet, but I think he’s off to a good start.
No worries, I haven’t forgotten Cian. The baby boy is doing really well in learning self control. So well that I introduced him to the pen last week. I hadn’t actually planned to do that. It was a case of necessity. I needed sheep out and he was handy. I intended to keep him on lead and just walk him around being as he’s never done it before, but he entered so soft and moved right to the fence so I dropped the line and let him do it on his own. Then, toward the end of his session, instead of just re-penning, I swung the gate wide open and pretended the pen wasn’t there, allowing him to follow them in, fetch them out, put them back in. He never even blinked. It made me very happy given all the take-pen issues I’ve had with his aunt.
And, just because I had my camera handy, here’s a very short bonus clip of Cian.