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.  😉

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6 thoughts on “Expectations

  1. ” It just wasn’t what I expected.”
    ” Maybe because I was nervous beyond my normal nervous? ”

    Sounds like you need to let go of your ego dude. How can you expect your dog to be relaxed, confident, engaged and forward if you are not? 🙂 You have nothing to prove to anyone Aussie or BC, just go work your dog. If the two of you are doing the best job YOU know you are capable of then, phooey on everyone else. If you are not doing the best you are capable of then YOU need to look at YOU, most likely not the dog 😉

    Excellent for writing about the stuff you were happy with right at the beginning.

    Look at what works and then focus what needs work. By golly go work on it until your fingers bleed, no sense working on what already goes right.

    Thing are not good or bad, they just are for that moment. Find the lesson and learn it.

    Some days it is easier to throw yourself at the wall then others.

    Read the damn Don Blazer book will ya.

  2. Dunno if it’s so much ego as generalized anxiety. LOL Am working on it, but it’s a long process for me.

    How to we avoid setting goals without the specter of expectation? Are we not always wanting to set a good example? It’s a bit of human nature. And sometimes not reaching those goals or expectations set us on a new path. Occasionally a better path. But finding that balance between appropriate goals and expectations and not getting hung up is really challenging. For me at least. I’m still figuring it out.

  3. You keep showing up. You keep learning. You and Molly continue to improve. I’m proud of you for writing about what went right. Expectations are tricky things and I don’t know anyone who can be totally objective about themselves or their dogs. Nice post!

  4. The rotten ego cause cases nervousness and anxiety. The ego seeks 2 things approval from others and control of others. There is no need for worry and anxiety because creative potential is predetermined and the performance was everything you both were prepared to give.

    Wanting to set a good example is seeking approval of others. Again let go of good or bad.

    There are no appropriate goals, your heart will tell you which direction to choose s and those will be the goal you reach. Expect perfection in what you and your dog do no matter how small and insignificant the task is. If you say that is all we are capable of then you have reached your team’s perfection. Always ask if you are in a giving relationship with your dog, helping in times of need and stepping back when she’s got it. If you continue to give and chose with your heart you will get to your destination, one you are probably not even aware of. I’ll stop before you throw up 😉

  5. Molly sounds like she needs more experience on different stock and at different places. She sounds a bit unsure. My dogs never work the same each time and don’t think others dogs do either. She will be a great dog and you are doing a good job. Every work experience is a chance to learn. You are lucky to be able to work. It is so hot here that our dogs just nap. Can’t wait to work them soon and love your blog. Thanks for going public with it and helping this newbie. N

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