If you’ve been reading this for a while, you know that Molly has been working on baby-drives. Walkin’ along with the stock to where they go naturally; learning that they’re not getting away and recently adding in some small steering. She also pushes them – just so no one thinks she’s become soft, but pushing away from me AND steering makes smoke come out her ears a little. So when she’s solid with one thing, we’ll add the other.
You also know that Molly has had a strained relationship with cows. I never get the same dog twice, which is a little frustrating. Someday’s i have super soft dog. Someday’s i have moderate but powerful dog. Someday’s i have that annoying dog that just wants to poke the bubble and run away and then poke the bubble and back off and – yeah… that dog. /eyeroll. One day she let herself out of the arena and waited by the car, but that’s only happened once and it was a long time ago.
This past weekend, we had moderate dog working the pens at Fido’s. She did a nice job of keeping her cows together, though i did have to remind her once ‘Molly, what did you forget?’ when she tried to leave a resting cow behind. The next time she encountered a resting cow she knew what to do – stand and give it to get up and walk. No sense in rushing it and making it all fussy in the take pen. She did one stare down and held her stay for the win. The pressure got to her a little and she went for an inappropriate grip inside the pen and made a mid-air stop on command. It’s a midair stop because she hits heads in between the eyes, so she has to launch to hit heads. It’s hard being small. 😉
I did get a hard time because in some pen sets, i start her on leash. I do this because, as i mentioned, i never know which dog i’m going to get. She is getting more consistent and i’ll stop doing it by the end of the year. I know some people associate it with keeping her ‘under control’, but that’s not it at all. Quite to opposite, really. It’s about keeping her in and with me the first few times. Remember i said she left and waited by the car? Unlike a lot of dogs, Molly doesn’t power up or shut down when she’s uncomfortable. She leaves. She has more miles on her now and she’s starting to remember that she *can* do this, but I don’t want her to every get into the habit of leaving. So we do an ounce of prevention. I don’t worry about her getting wild. She doesn’t drag her leash inside a pen – only in an alley, never far enough away from me that i can’t get it and NEVER if i’m not comfortable with the cows.
The awesome? I talked Lisa A into bringing her little powerpuppy in to move cows around as well. Twisted her arm. 😉 After the cows were finished, we dumped all the pens and Molly did her drive-follow (no leash) to the far end of the arena. She pushed a little and tucked in a few cows that stopped. Lisa and powerpuppy started to push them off the gate so they could open it. We picked them up and moved them further along the fence away from the gate, then she flanked out on the bye side (worst side) and sent them right back to the gate. She did a nice job of keeping everyone at the gate and kept a little pressure on without making a mess of things.
That little flank though, was nice. She almost flipped back out away from the fence, but i got her to stop and then redirected her back in to start the drive.