I’ve really struggled with this post. Sometimes when writing i feel a little like i’m posting to two masters; the Training Journal concept and the very public nature of a Blog. Which, when things go great, are great. When they don’t go as well as hoped, it can be hard to really publicly call a spade a spade. It puts one in a position in which they need to look past the appearances and really see things as they are. In sticking with wise advice from smart friends, lets start with what went right instead of doing a post in chronological order.
On heavy cattle – Molly was totally obsessed with keeping her cows together and found that she could use this obsession to work together with another dog who’s obsession was to move them – anywhere. So where the BC was working on the outside of the roundpen and occasionally going in for the heel and getting the cattle moving, the two girls kept the cows moving along nicely in a group – the BC in charge of forward motion and Molly dutifully working just off the fence in side the pen and keeping all 3 cows together. When the cattle got to a spot where the BC couldn’t get in a reach, Molly eventually pushed just enough to get them on their way a bit. Even went in for a grip.
She’s fine working in the pen without me there. Meaning only that she doesn’t cause trouble. We were working to get the cows into a side chute from the arena. Molly was in the arena with a lone cow. At first i was out with her and she wasn’t sure what to do. Eventually as she watched me go through the chute she started holding the cow to the chute. She had to push the cow into a small (cow width) chute just taking her commands and using a little common sense. It was slow – really slow – but she got it. Moving one cow by it’s self is hard. It’s always easier to take a group to the one, but this is what we had.
On Goats – She was awesome with her short flanks. There was a dog kennel with distracting puppies in the goat yard. I was having some problems keeping her engaged. “These goats just follow you. I’m going to lay near the stocktank until you actually need me.” I starting having her do blind short flanks with goats around the puppy pen. It was about 3 feet off the arena fencline and 10 feet from the corner. So i had her holding them close to the pen on the arena side and fetching. Then then swinging around on an inside flank, turning them the other way and bringing them through the 3foot ‘alley’. Stop her for a hold, coming all the way behind me and doing a little drive through the alley and to the corner. Hold them in the corner – confirmed only by the fact they didn’t run anywhere else as i couldn’t see them! Then finally calling off and finishing.
On Simon – I often forget just how powerful that dog is. He could move a cement pole. I love that about him. He only works once or twice a year, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. It may not always be what i’m doing… It’s not always pretty, but come hell or highwater the cow will move. Head or heel, it doesn’t matter and half the time he doesn’t even have to threaten a connection. A cow lowers a head and he lowers in turn, gets 2 inches from their nose, lets out a few barks and even heavy cows will turn. Bad breath? 😉
The general bad: she was flat. Earthworm flat. Unhappy, ‘i am doing this under protest’ type flat. The kind of flat that is really just painful to watch. I didn’t register The Perpetual Motion Machine as an act of irony. I put her on different goats and she was still flat. She blew out two pads and worked just as flat. i couldn’t even tell a difference until she started limping.
There are a lot of reasons she could run flat. Maybe because i was nervous beyond my normal nervous? I’ve not worked goats before so i wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe because she started follow Ron and I after i told her to Down and forgot to say Stay and he got after her? Maybe because it was all new stock types to her? Maybe choosing heavy stock instead of stock that required less pressure was a bad call on my part? Maybe different terrain was messing with her head? Maybe she is just coddled – which i’ve tried hard not to do, but what is heavy pressure to a bitty girl is different?
Really, who knows. The moon was in the wrong position… whatever. While i was really disappointed that these Border Collie people that we were visiting with were seeing a working Aussie for maybe the first or second time and saw my flat flat dog. I got over it when one commented that ‘the stock don’t move unless the dog is moving’. It’s the breed type, but if that was the part that was most bothersome, then there was no making a good impression with my dog anyway. Not in a bad way, butjust as a general statement. We’re looking for different things. I’ve been insulated by the AussieFolk too long. LOL
Don’t read this so much as being ‘down on my dog’. It just wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t expect a Cowdog, but I was expecting more power. meh. Will come with confidence. Between now and then, i know that if Elsie is doing cattle lessons… we can talk seriously about doing a lesson. Previously my concern was that she’d be too much. 😉