*edited to add the second video bc i forgot. yeeps.
With Erin teaching at Sheep Camp, my sheep time has been non-existent. Which is ok, everyone needs a break. Fancy dog trainier people call it Latent Learning, there was a study – it’s a good thing. 😉
After a week of cabin fever, i took Molly the mini-monster and Mr. Simon D. Dog to the Cascade ASC Conformation show in Kalama to be sociable. Simon has been to this show before. So instead of taking him out around the Conformation dogs so he could flip over and show them all his belly and wag his tail at the bitches – again… he was in charge of the car. Molly sat up on my lap and vacillated between eyeballing wrestling puppies and watching the dogs who were showing do their patterns. The first time they started out all together they elicited a head-cock from Ms. Molly. “Not sheep” i told her. She gave me ‘the look’.
On the way home we stopped off to work sheep at Fido’s Farm. We haven’t really had the opportunity or the cause to work a ‘larger’ group of sheep. So when there were non-lambs in a larger field, i jumped at it. First we just walked around.
These are not light sheep. Not by a mile. But that’s ok. There is a time and a place for heavier sheep that understand the fetch, but aren’t ‘fetchy’. Which i know sounds strange, but i had Molly pushing the mob of fifteen off of me pretty easily and doing little short drive bits. Even though it’s pretty acceptable for a dog that does not have a ton of presence to snuggle up with their sheep, you can see near the end she starts to change the gait of her sheep for the worse. She’s getting a little pushy. This was at the beginning of our work.
Closer to the end of our work, we did outrun practice. Outside of what is in the little notes, there are some items of note. First, when she starts her outrun, (even though she started using a psychic cue), she does a really nice turn out just before she takes off. We had to work really hard for that and i’m glad i got it on film. She does a nice job hitting the top and turning in without being cued and has given herself enough room in her outrun to get some motion going before she approaches her sheep. Remember that her power is in her motion, so her naturally creating that space is important.
After we finished doing outruns and such with the mob, i headed up to another field and worked some lighter sheep. This is the arena we used to use often at our trips to Fido’s but the sheep were lighter then what we’d just worked. No photos or video, so of course she turned on the eye upon approach. She does this so infrequently, i often forget she can and find myself tuning out what i should be doing – helping her use it appropriately and find myself letting her just go with it. The sheep went half way around the arena before i had the epiphany that i should be doing something. She had taken about twelve total steps. Its cool to watch.
When i rejoined earth, i sent her out and she brought them back to my feet (ish). I was hoping to do more with her small flanks when i noticed the two rows of tall flexible plastic poles. I remembered watching Ron Green use Tait to walk sheep through similar poles at the Black Sheep fun trial years ago. Taiter did this on a drive. We did it on a fetch but i was 20-30 feet away from the sheep at all times. So it really was all about Molly taking those small flanks, while still working a ways off light sheep. We did one line of poles at a time and she got at least 2 sheep around each pole.
Considering last time she did that obstacle our goal was having her walk up and fetch in a straight line through the poles… i think that qualifies as a win.