First, since this is supposed to ,at least part of the time, related to training dogs on sheep for eventual trialing …or 'sheeping' as Dianne has never once called it, but someone overheard it somewhere at a trial and it stick cracks me up…anyway….a brief update:
Worked dogs in P*tricks field on Saturday morning. Lately Dianne has been letting me train with her retired open dog 'Pat' who is a HUMPER of the FIRST MAGNITUDE. Sweet dog, beautiful dog, talented dog….but if he were a person, his fly would always be open and he'd perpetually be staring at boobs and trying to sop up anything he could spill 'accidentally' in your lap with his greasy handkerchief, one monogrammed with his mother's initials. He would wear tiger striped bikini briefs and they would be on backwards. He's a great dog, though. He just has his hump set at the slightest hint of any emotion that isn't raw unequivocal authority. I reek of raw equivocal compromise. I sweat affection. I may scream 'NONONONO FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY GET YOUR GODDAMNED THRASHING CANINE PELVIS OFF ME!" but Pat interprets this as 'How about a hump before I fall and then send you on the wrong flank?'
In fairness to Pat, half the dogs that day were females in or coming out of season and I had pet them all, let them rest languidly against me.
When Dianne said, "Katy, grab Pat and go out about midway in the pasture and send him to get those sheep in the far corner,"
I'm certain she expected me to do just that. As easy as that. Pat and I had been working better and better together. We had been to the desert a couple of times and I had worked him, pre-socializing with the bitches, that very morning to a fair amount of success. He was beginning to listen to me instead of frantically searching for Dianne.
So, I grabbed Pat, as indicated. I walked about 20 yards out, and stopped, preparing to send him. My feet had only just barely come to a halt. I don't think I even got the 'C–' in 'Come-bye' out before he was on me so fast I didn't even see it coming. He had both front paws wrapped around my legs and I could not move. I yelled, I tried to kick and swat at his earnest face…FINALLY getting him off me I walked another 10 yards….again I stopped…again he latched his randy self upon my limbs. This went on, 10 yards at a time, across the entire 20 acre (?) field. At one point I actually thought that if I put him on the AWAY side instead of the COME BY it might help….but no…until finally I couldn't even yell anymore. I was weak from struggling, and I could hear the laughter behind me,
"KATY!"hahahah "KICK HIM!" hahahah "KICK" haha "HIM!"…
We were about 10 feet from the sheep before they had more appeal to Pat then my leg and I was able to send him.
When we returned to where Dianne sat, face red from laughter, residual tears on her cheeks…still grinning sort of I Told You So-ish.
"Do you ever see him do that to me?" she asked.
No, I replied. She just nodded. We left it at that.
Sunday we went out to the desert. When Pat tried his Good Morning hump, I smacked him and he immediately understood. I think the difference was not the force of the smack, it was that I didn't hesitate or put a lot of thought into it, I just did it and I really meant it. I knew what I wanted from him and I got it.
Once again this thing with training a dog makes me think about the one key concept that I finally grasped in mountain biking that really helped me: Keep your eyes on where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. If you are looking at that ravine you don't want to ride into, or the rock you don't want to hit…your tires will follow your eyes.
When I react to the moment with authority, knowing what I want from the dog, and without emotion, I see results. I know this intellectually, but I'm still in that phase where most of the time my mind is spinning on "OH GOD, WHAT IF I CAN'T DO THIS…" or "What if he/she won't stop…or go..."
Anyway, it was a great time in the desert. Normally when I say I have 2 things, I have 3 because I like that number better, but I have to go to the BOOKSTORE now…so the other 2 things will have to wait until later tonight maybe. Or tomorrow.