Something really interesting happened today. I took Lu to her breeder’s place for some herding training. She’s a school teacher by day as well, so we’re both on holidays and since my October weekends are booked out, I figured I’d best get some training in now.
So we walked into the paddock next to the sheep training paddock. Lu had her halti on. The whole way walking up to the fence with the sheep milling around, she was walking at my side, looking up at me, glancing at the sheep, back to me. We came to a stop, she sat, looked at me.
She was ASKING me to work. Please, she said, look how good and attentive I am, please may I work the sheep?
It was so lovely. She rarely asks like that in agility, but I received this message loud and clear.
During her turn, she did fantastically. She was calm and only got silly twice. She’s moving the sheep really well and turning her eye out like she’s supposed to. She’s easy and gets around when she’s meant to. She needs to build up her distance from the sheep cos she’s crowding them at the moment, but that’s what we’ll work on next I think. She hasn’t given up (her full litter sister quit the other day, making her breeder very unhappy!) and, when I ask her to come away from the sheep, she comes with me!! Which I’ve been practising by then setting her up in a sit and letting her have sheep again as a reward for coming off them. Since that first time the other week when I tried to finish her on the sheep about 15 times, she hasn’t made the wrong choice. I saw her still thinking about the sheep today as we finished, but she came with me anyway.
Everybody seems to think she’ll be a great and fun little herding dog. She loves herding. She whines and gets worked up and can’t stay still, but when she’s in there, she’s calm and focused and WORKING. So, y’know, maybe I’ll do some herding with her. Maybe it will make our bond as a team stronger, build our relationship in a different way (not a master/worker relationship but I think there has to be something pretty special between a shepherd and his dog working the flock – a kind of trust in the dog, and a trust in her handler. I don’t think she has that trust in me yet, so she’s always on alert, always watching out, making her own decisions in agility.).
Tomorrow a lady who owns Lumen’s full brother is coming to play agility a little bit, and will do some tracking with Lu and Loki. That’s another thing I think Lu will be great at and in fact, I have a whole empty paddock to train in! I just need to know HOW. Maybe she will be good at everything except agility, just to spite me!