Thursday, May 13, 2010

There's agility...and then there is the best thing EVER :)

Herding...We took Lynn and Spot to a persons place to work them on stock...and it was "interesting" how some people can want SO MUCH control on a dog that is makes my stomach turn. "The dog can ONLY walk behind you" "The dog should NEVER stare at the sheep as you get into the pen" (I REALLY want to know where THAT one comes from actually as I personally WANT my dogs to look at their sheep). Control, control, control. Makes me anxious as I believe there are no rules, only guidelines. Obedience, obedience, obedience...gag.

So anyway...Spot decided this person was evil and not fair so wasn't interested in playing the game with them. Can't say I blame him one damn bit. Lynn I worked myself and she did very nice I thought....Young dogs do NOT work stock like a 10 year old Open dog. Sorry...they have to make mistakes and as long as they are not gripping or running the sheep into the ground, I let them figure some things out. I am not a mechanical trainer....I hate telling my dogs all they need to do, that is why I have the dogs I have...I want THEM to do it :) That is not to say I let dogs abuse or mistreat sheep...but for example if I have a dog that needs to get a bit more "on the bit" I will jazz up the dog and push the sheep around to GET that movement that is needed. If a dog won't grip then I start with the dog learning they can (on command) bust into the sheep so they know they CAN move it...
Needless to say later on that day I sorted out a small group of my sheep and put Spot on them...tada! Magic! He worked just fine for me :-)) Imagine that...??
In this person's defense...they work with loose eyed dogs...which I admit I haven't and have no interest in working. So maybe that's how it goes with those dogs. But not with a well bred Border Collie...sorry. They know what they need to do and just need some guidance...not total and complete domination. I have nothing against this person whatsoever, but I think there must be a better way to work with all dogs rather than that method...call me a softy...call me whatever. But pressure has a place in dog training...and more importantly than putting pressure ON is TAKING IT OFF. Constant pressure you either end up shutting the dog down OR creating a very hard headed dog.
And I missed it, missed starting a dog, missed the calm, quiet, all of it. Agility is great and all, but herding just feels so right to me, like an old pair of gloves, your favorite jeans etc. The people involved in herding are the salt of the earth and I miss that a bit. Not to say that agility people are not great...but there is something different about it. I can't put my finger on it...but it is something. It is a calmness, an amazing relationship between a dog and handler...so the dog trusts it's handler to run out hundreds of yards, blind to where the sheep are, and follow commands...in sinc, flawless communication....I love it.

When Zip got injured and I knew that my first dog, the one I had trained to Open, would not get to run Open due to injuries...I just stopped trialing...it broke my heart I guess. I wanted to have Zip as my first Open dog...and well, that wasn't going to happen. But that is done and over...and I realized how much I missed it.

I have been working Klink, Zip and Gator on stock, but not with the mind of trialing but just practical work I need them for on this place...and yesterday that all changed again :) I want to get back to trialing...I want to see my dogs do amazing things again...to watch them do what they are bred to do...I want those humbling failures that only working dogs on sheep can give you. That sense of "MAN I have so much to work on!!!"....I want those moments when a dog "gets it"...
And well...I don't get that with agility...I just don't. It is fun to train, it is fun to compete and do well...but it isn't the same. Something amazing in herding will (for me anyway) always beat something amazing in agility. It is just so damn hard :) The dog, the sheep, you, the terrain, the weather etc. There is nothing like it...
Plus, with Even and Lynn and also Spot nearby, we can work dogs together :) I don't give lessons to people as I feel one needs to be an Open handler to give lessons...but I figure I can help Donna with Spot a bit since he IS my boy :) We are off to south of the cities next week to work the pups with a friend....then we will start traveling more to get the babies on good stock. And when my ewes are good to go I will be fine to work them here for a bit....I am going to also keep back a few whethers and get my round pen up.
I am definetly not going to stop running dogs in agility...I do love it alot. But I am getting back into SDT's...I have really missed it :)
I am also signed up for a Kathy Knox clinic in July, as is Donna with Spot, Patty with Zing and I will bring my girls. It will be fun seeing everyone working :) It will also be good to see Kathy again and get a refresher course :) I haven't seen her since we bred Zip to Jake.
It will be nice seeing everyone again...I have really missed the people :)

10 comments:

Sare said...

So glad to read this post and read you are going to do more stockwork on and off your farm. Should be a great summer with your lil' girls.

BCxFour said...

This post really made me smile....BIG BIG smile!

livin life said...

I so agree with you about the control on the dog "before" you enter a field! What?? At my place, and other places I work...sheep want to go through gates. I am known for having my dog walk on, through the gate, and just start driving! I went to a clinic a couple weekends ago...the gal walked through the gate with her dog....got after it very severely for not being behind her....and then as the clinician came through the gate....it happened! The sheep darted out the gate as the clinician came in and it was mad chaos! And there was the dog...sitting behind the person ever so "good"! Loved reading about working your dogs....I really wish we did not live a whole country apart!

Hillcrest Border Collies said...

You have hit the same point that I have. I love agility as it is fun, but herding is a totally different feeling for me.

Jaenne said...

I, too, cannot put my finger on what it is about working stock that I love so much. And I love it so much that I'm phasing out (slowly) agility. One of the things I learned from Patrick Shannahan is to allow your dog to make a mistake, then correct it, otherwise, how is your dog going to learn? I think many of us start out trying to keep our dogs from making mistakes and end up constantly nagging them with commands...and we want perfection from the start. I also wonder if “fear” of the grip makes some people want complete control over their dogs at all times.

fulltiltbcs said...

Thanks everyone :) It will be fun to get back into it for sure! Lora I would SO train with you girl! :) You already have the same taste in dogs as I do! LOL

The control thing just doesn't work for me...I hate it and I can imagine the dogs also dislike it! And exactly Lora---letting sheep out, not just leaving and keeping sheep from escaping...I want my dogs to be independent enough to do things on their own....

Talisman7 said...

Fantatsic post! Put into words exactly what I have been feeling as I start training two young dogs and really enjoying being out in the field. Love agility, but there is nothing more beautiful than working with pure instinct on stock.

Dianna said...

Sounds like you are going to have a great time! Can't wait for more herding photos...I love them!

AussomeDogs said...

hey! are you by any chance going to the clinic at Kerales Farm? Would be very cool to meet you and the girls in person. :)

fulltiltbcs said...

Nope, the clinic I am attending is in the Iowa :-( Bummer! It would be good to meet you too!