Lemonaide out of lemons

Despite my efforts, this weekend was not a stock weekend.  There was thunder and hail and a power outage… oh mi.  Besides, we had ground work to do as per previous post.

So first Molly and i started on leash with the clicker doing moving downs.  We walk, i tell her easy…. down, she downs and after a few steps shes released.  After awhile we use the 20′ lead walking further away and downing her when she’s in front of me or behind me.  Eventually off lead. Which has also had the unintended consequence of creating a very nice little ‘follow’ as i called her to me with ‘follow’.  Genius, i tell you.  I took Friday and Saturday to do this and then on Sunday added a distraction: Simon.

Simon is not a toy dog, but after a few months he learned the joys of chasing his ball and bringing it back to me so we can tug or he gets a treat.  The downside of this is that there is only one acceptable ball to play this game with: Jolly Ball’s Romp and Roll.

To the credit of the JollyBall people this ball has been run over by lawnmowers (yes plural), floated in a flood and i’m pretty sure that some of the adolescent coyotes were playing with it in the yard one night.  They destroyed the rope and Simon was heartbroken until i put a new nylon rope in it.

The way we used Simon as a distraction is as such:  Simon has to wait with me for the ball to go fly.  Then when he takes off  Molly also takes off wide and when she gets to ‘balance’ she gets easy…down.  I started just doing little throws, but after about 30 minutes she’s getting pretty consistent at a distance.

I know what you’re thinking: you’re teaching Molly to work other dogs! News Flash… she’s been doing that for 2 years.  So why not make it work for me.  Simon doesn’t care.  In all of this we’re playing tug.

This mornings excitement was more directly applicable.  The CSA down the street from me has been dabbling in organic beef.  They have traditionally kept the beef cows closer to the barn and away from our normal walk, but apparently it was time to rotate them to new fields.  So surprise at 6am: cows.  For Molly this is an opportunity to continue working the easy down on leash around stock.  She was great.  The cows weren’t especially curious about her and we did downstays on the 20′ like nothing was different.  After the first few times she was great.  I went back and got Simon because he thrives on routine and he’s very appropriate with cows.  We start our walk, get about 15′ from the cattle pen and a full grown steer comes charging the fence.   On the off chance you’ve not had a full grown steer charge at you, don’t go looking for it.  It was pretty obvious that this steer was the chief steer in charge of getting rid of coyotes and he took that job very seriously. He’s kicking out his rear legs and making a scene to show off that he’s one tough hamburger.  Immediately I took the leash loop off my wrist because i type for a living and have rent to pay.  I hold his leash thinking that this will go poorly for us.  Simon took at step up toward the charging cow, his tail went out in line with his spine and he said:

“Woof”

Totally anticlimactic.  No a big dog bark, didn’t even move like he would try to go to the nose.  No big ‘i’ll save you from the charging steer’ type gesture. Didn’t even tug the line.  Just Woof.

Woof was all that was needed as that steer came to a screeching halt.  They looked at each other for a second, then a barely audible growl and a lifted paw.  The steer turned his head, showed off an unprotected flank and Simon sat.  No need to do any more.

Click, treat. That’ll do, big dog.

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