Molly and i went to what is becoming a regular cattle lesson today. Unlike last lesson, where i had flat-dog… today we had a wonderful little thinking dog and variations of Bill the Cat.
Before you get mad at me for poking fun at my dog… i love Bill the Cat and her little Bill like episodes.
More importantly, she really was fantastic.
Her first time in the pen she had a little episode. But we reset, slowed down and she tuned right in. She was really reading her cows; catching the eye to make little turns, holding the gaze when she was challenged and letting the cow decide to turn.
Her flanks need to be sharpened up. Truthfully we need to go look for her Bye side flank as it apparently gone somewhere warm for the winter. I think i might have tried to install inside flanks too early and her brain exploded. Such is life.
She did do one thing that was pretty awesome. The exercise we’ve been working on is a bit like our favorite barbell exercise, but there is a 90degree turn before one pen. The pen near the turn (we’ll call it the Far Pen) is also a blind pen as it has black fabric on two sides. She pushed all the cows nicely along into the Far Pen until one cow turned just in the gatepath. Other cows had turned on her through the lesson, but this guy was head low all of the sudden, which isn’t a good sign. I asked her to stay, hold the gaze and try to get him to turn. She did a great job, but after a moment it was clear he wasn’t going to turn, so i encouraged her to walk up.
Then she went all Bill the Cat; three feet straight up in the air, all four legs out, fluff everywhere and barking like a Pomeranian. It worked, but i’m not sure if the cow moved out of confusion or horror. Then, in my best calm voice ‘hey hey’. And it stopped. ‘That’ll do, here’ and back she came. Almost like this wasn’t her stress reaction, but a tool in her belt. She can go to head proper. I’ve seen her do it, other people have seen her do it – to cows (and a Great Dane, but that’s not topical).
And yes, i rewarded her. What’s not to be happy about? She moved the cow, no one got hurt and she came when i called her. ;o) So what if it was like watching River in Serenity?