Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lazy summer day

Well, not much to report from Michigan today. My person has been working on my box training this week, so that's pretty much what I've been doing. Get the ball from the box over and over and over. Cool thing is, I'm actually getting better. My person has gone off to pick blueberries, so I had to hurry and get on the computer so I could write this up. She'll be back soon, so I have to run back to look like I'm napping--then she'll feel bad and do something with me.

Lesson for today
Some days there just aren't many lessons

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