Jen's fur is so pretty and soft, and her eyes so wise and kind, it's somewhat of a complete gruesome surprise to see her snarfing down 3 day old afterbirth in a steamy cowshit sauce; and yet, there she was at the Don Couch Cross Clinic on Saturday taking the time out of her efficient toddle sheepward to enjoy a sample or two of the nastiest offal around. I'm sure in her crowd it's like bridge mix.
It is always fun to work with Jen. She is slow and precise and intelligent and kind. I have time to think and respond correctly to the situation because no lives are at stake. I don't screech obscenities and she doesn't bark at me.
We were able to pen Couch's sheep pretty easily, and navigate the maltese cross for the most part…the lesser part being my issue. It was nice. Don Couch was very instructive on reading livestock and using only enough of one's own body pressure to move the sheep into the obstacle while the dog is mostly secondary, backup to one's own movement.
Later, in Greenleaf, Jen helped me move sheep from the big pasture to the arena so that a group of us could work at my house. I'm used to this process taking 15 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how fast I am with a latch, the canal's depth and current, plus my throwing arm and aim. Jen went out wide and brought me back the sheep. Just. Like.
That. I know most people take that for granted, but not me. It was so
cool and leisurely I could have done it over and over again for the simple pleasure
of seeing something happen effortlessly and right.
The process Scout and I normally employ is speeded up and more involved: Scout usually surprises the sheep from peaceful lowing to full on death throttle, while I wrestle with the gate. The sheep shoot by the arena, back to the other end of the field, one splits off and Scout chases it into the canal, while I scream and eventually sob; like a crybaby cracker bitch version of Samuel L. Jackson. Somewhere near a snag I capture and drag Scout from the swirling water, giving the sheep time and opportunity to wade out and spring back to the barn….rinse and repeat.
On Sunday Jen and I did it her way a few more times. Gathering the sheep out of the back half and moving them into the arena, thru the arena into the front. Slowly and steadily. I could have eaten a sandwich and Jen a chicken thigh while the business went down. It was that cool. But we didn't. Because Jen and I are on a diet. (I promise this time).
Sometimes Jen does turn a deaf ear to my commands, because she thinks I'm a
silly not-Partrick whose main job is chaffeur and personal chef,
massager of tire old lady hips, and that I should stick to these things because I'm good at them and while
its cute the first time I tell her Come by! when she prefers an Away for the situation,
it really sticks in her craw to be told twice. The second time rather
rudely. I'm sure if she could speak, she'd make me call her Mrs. Red
Top. Instead she produced the most horrible gas ever, the entire evening
into night, snoring and pooting right next to my bed, as if to say,
"Here's your Away, not-Patrick…Away…."
Sometime in the night the afterbirth formed an exclamation point on the carpet near my door.
Sunday evening I worked Scout with Dianne. Scout is the anti-Jen. Dianne suggests that I put some weight on Scout, that she is like an elite athlete, all skinny muscle and adrenalin, living on the endorphine high. When she slows down, she looks good. She thinks instead of just reacting.
I wonder sometimes if I shouldn't have Scout drag me along in a cart or little wagon. It would slow her down and make our time together more coordinated. It would give us both time to think.
I have to get back to my GPS class….