Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sheep = Wet + Muddy = BATH

Thanks to everyone's words of sympathy for the loss of our kitty. We are still very sad at our house, but we are soldiering on. Me and the gang have been extra nice to the people and haven't stolen any illicit items from the counters, left mud prints on the bed or barked too much (well, except for Tansy and Hamish--but they can't help it sometimes, so we don't count them). I don't know how much longer we can be so good, but for the people, we're giving it our best shot.

Yesterday was herding day. Yesterday was also a weather trifecta--cold, windy AND rainy. Today it's still cold and windy but it's completely sunny--not a cloud in the sky. What a difference that one component makes. But, I digress.

We went out to the sheep. There we were all snugged up in our crates in the rolling living room (a.k.a. the mini-van) when one by one we were pulled from the warmth into the elements to chase around those cloven-hooved creatures. Who, it must be said, are not all that excited about a wolf in their midst. But, that's not our problem now is it? Anyway, the instructor had laid out 40 bushels of pine shavings in the round pen. The round pen is for the babies and beginners. Not for us--even though we saw our people looking longingly at the pine shaving filled round pen as they slogged through the muddy sludge. Even the horse tried to follow us from the muddy sludge pen to the slightly less muddy sludge pen, but the people were too fast for him and he didn't get to come.

But, actually, we don't so much care about the mud--it makes us feel like real sheep dogs rather than "suburban wanna-bes"--that's what our instructor's dogs taunt us with (you see, they are real working sheep dogs, and not very kind since it's not OUR fault that our people live in the city and won't buy us any sheep no matter how much we beg and promise to feed and walk them every day).

So, we worked. When Tansy was working, it hailed and hailed, but still she and her person worked. Hamish worked. I worked (even though I think work is for the little dogs--not for a gentle pup like myself). We got VERY muddy. Rafe wasn't there since he's still at herding camp, but he works every day and we're pretty sure, he must also be muddy.

My tail was like a rat tail rather than its usual fluffiness. I must have gained three pounds in clinging mud alone. Because mud in this part of Michigan is really clay--you know, the stuff they bake into bricks and then build houses with. Plus, my person was really on my case as we worked, which meant that I had to lay in the mud a lot (when we herd, the people's way to slow us down or stop us while they blow their nose or whatever, is to say "lay down"--if they're feeling especially chuffed with themselves, they try to sound like a Scottish person and say "lay dune". Lots of the people do this with their dogs--we've heard it at herding trials. We dogs try very hard not to laugh and call them wanna-bes--we know how much that can hurt).

Anyway, that much mud and muck meant one thing for us once we returned to our suburban gulag--a bath. Tansy, Hamish and I were rather unceremoniously heaved one-by-one into the people's water tank and bathed. They were especially long baths since we were so muddy (as you can see in the picture of Tansy below--I was at least ten times as muddy as her since she didn't have to lay down as much as me).

So, then we had to sleep a lot since the sheep and the rain and the mud and the bath had worn us all out completely.

Lesson for the day
Working sheep is great but be aware that if you do it in the rain, it'll probably be mean a bath


Maximillian the Valliant said...

Hey Pip, thanks for the kind words for my Mom. It is nice coming from another seasoned rescuer. Mom likes seniors best, Fanny and me are the youngest every one else is over 7. Harry was 10 months...and got into EVERYTHING! Mom still feels bad.

Now I know one thing, you don't have to go to a sheep pasture to get muddy. My own backyard seems that way. Duncan likes to chase balls (yes, he is a border collie/collie mix) and he is he tends to tear up things a lot.

Anyway, how fun to get to chase sheep and nip their heels! I know I like my personal comforts (see the post about Nana making me a blankie!), I may be induced out in the yucky weather to chase sheep.

Can I add you to my friends list and link you?


Isabella said...

Wow, Pip! You have to work really hard. And after all that work you didn't get to bring a sheep home with you? I don't know any other herding dogs, but I do know a dog that goes under ground after rats. His name is Ruday and he is a Bedlington Terrier. His mom is always taking him places to do working stuff like agility, obedience, and the rat chasing stuff. Anyhoo- I think you have a really interesting life.
Big Wags,

JustMeCopper said...

I can only write for a minute because I am going out to get a job.

I don't have any work to do, ever. I am jealous of your sheep herding. It sounds like fun, except for the mud part.