Just as sure as the sun rises and sets, the following is true: I am a habitual person & my dogs have grown accustomed to my sticking to my habits. That was no more evident this past weekend when Molly, Erin and I started doing some of the baby steps to driving.
Before we start laughing at Molly, lets remember that its not uncommon for dogs to have trouble when they start driving. It is not uncommon for dogs to loose their sense of where balance is on their fetch. That she’s going to be five years old shortly, and the closest she’s gotten to driving is pushing sheep past me a little ways. So, not only did we ask her to do something uncomfortable in not fetching, but we asked her to do it a different way.
You’d think that next i asked her to give up her dog beds, rehome her squeaky toys, hunt her own food and chew off her own foot. holy goodness.
The style of pre-driving that we asked Molly to do was essentially following the draw. If you’re familiar with Scott Glenn’s style of teaching shedding using the draw, its a similar idea. We fetched up the sheep from the gate and brought them to the top of the arena. Then set Molly and I up so we were in a triangle formation – sheep at the apex, Molly and I parallel at the base. From this position i’m supposed to be able to tell when she’s starting to drift on the away side to go around, but not so much. From here, the sheep move at a reasonable pace toward their draw and she starts to get used to staying behind them and coming in toward me and such. So far so good. Once we got back to the gate (the draw), i sent her around to pick up her sheep and we’d bring them back up and do it again.
Send Molly around and she stops and turns off the line to sniff about and fuss and eventually, to poop. The sheep were unimpressed, but i figured, ok she had to poop so now were done with this stopping short thing. I get up closer to keep her moving and we’re back on a slightly better track. A slow, pouty, track that only got worse the more Erin and I laughed at her. I started it and kept calling her Pouty McPoutersen – which really slowed her down. People who say your dogs don’t understand what you’re saying to them are lieing, let me tell you.
But she’s moving, and doing well with her a little follow-ish baby-drives and that part is going well. Which was the point.
All good, right? Right.
oh no… it gets better.
She’s a little stressed and you can’t do a lot of driving at first because it’s a lot of pressure. While no one wanted to give Ms. McPoutersen what she wanted, we did eventually go back to more familiar territory with some fetches. She pushed and played and tried to make it fun, putting pressure on and then taking it off instead of holding it. Fine. She didn’t bust them up. She also couldn’t find the balance point to save her life and at one point i was wondering if she was having focal seizures. LOL Also, by that time the sheep we so confused by her, she practically had to sit on them to get them move during the fetch. It was no more evident then when i turned at the corner and went back the way we had just come – a 180 degree turn. My dog, bless her little heart went around nicely and into the corner and started walking right up to me.
With no sheep.
Wethers were saying to each other “no no, George – she’s nuts. Just stand here and she’ll go right by. Watch.”
She started walking up along the fenceline toward me, just as if the sheep were in front of her.
I just watched her a moment and found myself looking for a command that was shorter than ‘OMFG what are you doing? Are you completely blind?’
I landed on: “Molly, what did you forget?”
And she stopped, looked at me like i was completely daft and then looked back behind her. She appeared shocked that there were sheep back there! She carefully went back the way she came and brought the sheep to me.
You know that moment when you’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe? yeah, it was like that.
In less embarrassing news… our homework for next week is to restart Hitting for the Cycle and use that to eventually start inside flanks. The upside of this is that since we’ve done this at some point. Pouty McPoutersen will hopefully be able to start doing something she deems worthy of her time soon. Otherwise she’s going to call the ASPCA. /eyeroll
We’re not stuck in our habits at all. nope nope nope… no habits here.
OH and she showed off her eye a lot; through the fence at the neighbors Jack Russell Terrier. Straight up Border Collie eye. It was impressive and i seriously considered grabbing the dog and putting him in with the school sheep. 😉
what? I would have returned him!
BTW Jorgen does a great job of describing Scott’s Shedding clinic here.