Yesterday I drove out to the desert to spectate a day of Sheep Camp, where Dianne and Patrick were working with about 9 people and their dogs on some BLM land south of Homedale. I'm guessing it was south, though I'm notoriously dizzy when it comes to directions; despite having spent about 8 years of my life mapping BLM land including this area I had no idea where I was in relation to anything broader than me and my backseat. I prefer that someone say 'right' or 'left' when telling me how to get somewhere. In this case the location was left of Homedale, if you were looking toward the gas station from whence I bought our Chelatas. Places that serve or sell alcohol are a favorite north arrow of mine.
Watching other people work their dogs sometimes makes me feel like I'm doing something else entirely. Like catalog work. Or loitering.
As if somehow, despite all the direction and encouragement, training me is not unlike trying to train a goat, or a feisty end table to herd sheep using a dog. I'm sort of in the middle and in the way and the sheep and the dog seem to know this and possibly resent it. Who brought the goat? Why an end table?
I have access to the part of my brain that understands what is being asked of me and why, but my body prefers to simply stand there and, if possible, chew, or, on a good day, sidle slightly one way or another, too slowly and often in the wrong direction.
Patrick talked about communication being the key factor in herding. That your dog knows everything it needs to know already about herding sheep, the rest is about you learning to communicate your expectations or direction to your dog.
For me, communication has always been a struggle. I communicate best through writing. I jabber when I talk. I wander aimlessly mid-topic. I miss cues. My mind races ahead and my mouth crashes… My thoughts are disorganized and the way I organize is through the process of writing. It forces me to be deliberate. Interestingly I feel like last week when Dianne had me silently work with Scout in the arena using just body pressure I made the most progress yet. I think removing the pressure of verbal communication, which was always out of sync anyway, helped me to focus on the physical part and finally begin to get it.
Lastly, today I drove out to deliver lunch to the other end of the Sheep Camp at Don and Jeanie's place left of the Sand Hollow Store.
I used the restroom at the Sand Hollow Store and Cafe. To the casual observer, the establishment appears normal, if not a little seedy. The store is sparse and a tad run down. The cafe quiet and smelling slightly of ham and old men. Scratch the surface, my friend, and you find Temptation Toilet.
Yes, in the tiny little Women's Room, nailed to the wall, probably sometime in the 1960s, are twin FLAVORED CONDOM and ORIENTAL PLEASURE KIT dispensers. Fifty cents will buy you a banana, cherry, or grape flavored condom or an entire supply of gratification tools from the Far East. A dollar for a fist full of candified, asian scented, international lust gone wild.
Leaving the restroom I looked around, trying to determine what sort of quickie mart/cafe activities might lead to a furtive trip to yon vending boxes. I saw nothing. Cranky girl at the register checking her split ends, old men drinking coffee at the counter reading the paper, a young couple with a child buying milk ….
I don't get it. I like the possibilities, though.
Employees are reminded to wash their hands.