Does anyone wonder about the TRAINING portion of my blog? I like to think that everything I do to move forward as a person, an individual, a good world citizen; my new embracing of subtlety, my enhanced attention to the little things, my carrying meat in my pocket…contributes to my enlightenment in all things, including stockdog work. That, and after this week I'll be sans dogs and sheep until the first of March. I'll still be TRAINING, and blogging, but it will require a very open mind and broad interpretation. Feel free to apply my techniques on the livestock of your choice.
That said, last Saturday at Jodi's Scout and I had what I'd call a break-through. After 15 minutes of her chasing sheep and me screaming (foreplay), I managed to get a grip on myself and Scout's collar and rethink my methodology to include me being in the right place and calming down, before expecting Scout to be in the right place and calmed down.
Prior to this I had released Scout to gather the sheep in a field that included obstacles like bisecting canals and 2 stock trailers which kept splitting the sheep and sending Scout into a chasing frenzy. Not sure why I EVER thought that would work. Sometimes my optimism borders on lunacy. Actually crosses the Rio Grande of slightly nutty and sets up residence on the WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? side of things. Anyway, once I grabbed Scout by the collar and calmly pulled the sheep together, I was able to get her to control her motion – creep forward, lie down, creep forward, lie down. It wasn't pretty, or elegant, but it was effective for what we were trying to do which was accomplish a task (penning the sheep) and not making me cry and use bad language at top volumn next to Jodi's neighbor's children's swingset. The sheep went into the pen, slowly at a walking speed, Scout lying down where I said to, behind them, and I danced and congratulated my beloved little freak dog emphatically.
What I learned was NOT to give up. Because I was close. REALLY REALLY CLOSE to putting Scout away and going into Jodi's house and grabbing Zip or Echo. I would have learned nothing. Scout would have learned nothing.
It reminded me of what Dianne said recently when someone else was having a bad training experience and wanted to put her dog up. "Don't put your dog away. When things are going bad, really bad, is the best time to learn. YOU WILL LEARN FROM THIS and SO WILL YOUR DOG."
Scout and I should be getting our PhDs in Things Going Really Bad.