Sunday, August 06, 2006


My people surprised me yesterday by loading all the border collies up in the van and driving us to our herding instructor's house. Normally, we go herding on Thursdays, but last Thursday it was storming, so we couldn't go.

When we got there, I got to do an obstacle course. The first picture is me moving the sheep around the "handler's pole". In real herding trials, the dog has to bring the flock to the handler and then take the sheep around the pole. I'm doing a pretty good job of staying back off the sheep so they don't run the instructor over--she doesn't like that very much and often yells "time!!" if the sheep are coming in. The people don't like it if the sheep step on them.

Sheep herding takes quite a bit of concentration--it's not for every dog, that's for sure. The commands involved are "Come bye" (move the sheep clockwise); "away to me" (move the sheep counter clock-wise); "lie down" (stop and if you can remember, lie down); "walk up" (walk toward the sheep); "time" (sometimes also "easy", means slow down); "get out" (don't cut in on the sheep) and, of course, "that'll do" (work's done). If you've seen the movie "Babe", you've seen all these commands in action but with a pig of course. Lots of border collie web sites and paraphenalia also makes goofy use of some of the commands (like "Thanks for coming bye"). I don't really approve of that. This is serious work after all.

In this second picture, I've put the sheep in the pen and am lying down awaiting the next command (which it turns out is "that'll do").

Just like in flyball, there's lots to learn with sheep herding. One thing I have to learn (just like I did in flyball) is to have more confidence. I get a little nervous if the instructor asks me to run too far away to get the sheep and I often just come running back. I think once my person is out there with me, I might feel a little better. When I'm feeling especially worried, I start nosing around for some sheep poop. That usually makes me feel better.

Anyway, back on the homefront, my work with Rafe-oaf continues. I don't know what it's going to take to teach him to stop staring at me. The newest indignity that has befallen me because of him is that he actually thinks he can pounce at me to make me give up a bone I'm chewing. If I'm chewing it, of course, that means it's MINE. I made him crouch on the ground and say uncle twice, but he still thought he could take it away. Then, to test him, I left it on the floor in front of me, but I kept my eyes on it. He came over, but I didn't budge and I showed him all of my teeth. Luckily, he left. Tansy cheered loudly.

Lesson for today
You never know when you might get to see the woolies


Editor said...

I love this blog about "Woolies". It is absolutely adorable. :)

-Ann J.

hershey the doglet said...

hey pippin, you are so smart! i saw the movie babe, that is hard work. my mom's favorite book from childhood was "only one woof" its about a sheep hearding. dachshunds are supposed to hunt badgers, but i don't have any badgers around here!

Boomer said...

You are such a smart pooch! If I saw sheep I would just want to play ball with them!

Pippin the flyball dog said...

Thanks for saying I"m smart, guys. I love being flattered, but I have to be honest and say it's not so much being smart as being the kind of breed that wants to work the sheep a certain way. I"m not even all that talented at it (but I have a lot of fun and my person loves for me to do it). My silly little brother Hamish is REALLY good and our new friend, Rafe the oaf, is probably going to be even better.

JustMeCopper said...

Hey Pippen, my Mom read this the other day and thought of you.

Eve said...

Hi Pippin, I love your blog! Mom wants to go and do flyball with me but where we live in New Zealand it's hard to find a club. Anywway my name is Taz and this is my blog about me come and have a look!
You might even want to enter for Dog of the Week!

Taz & Eve

Splash said...

Hey Pippin, keep on bloggin!

I don't chase sheep, but ducks, now they are more my style. And frisbees of course.

Flossikens said...

Hey there =]

Well i liked the umm BLUE one the bestest =]

luv flossy

Charlie The Big Dog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie The Big Dog said...

I wouldnt be able to resist the urge to sink my teeth into to those lovely fresh lamb shanks :-)
Maybe thats why Labs make good Guide Dogs? No Sheep?

Tigersan said...

Sheep herding sounds like more work then me could do (or want to do ;)
You are smart and hard working Pippin :)

William John Gavin said...


Nice work. The cause could use you. Ask your herding instructor to work with you on bringing the unamericans bye.


Turbo's Human said...

I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by Walt Kelly:

'Do you herd sheep' my grandpa said,
my gramma lept in fright!
'The grammer's wrong', to me she sighed,
'have you heard sheep' is right.

Anonymous said...

The Walt Kelly poem which Turbo's Human recalled was quoted wrong. It should read:
'Do you herd sheep' my gramma cried,
my grampa lept in fright!
'That grammer's wrong', to me he sighed,
'have you heard sheep' is right.

By getting the gramma and grandpa backwards, the pun of "gramma's/grammar's wrong" is lost, along with the poem's subtlety.

It's one of my favorites.