Yesterday I helped DD shave dog belly's…(I KNOW! I thought she waxed them, TOO, but no. Number 10 blade on HORSE clippers. She's rural old school. I have to say, with Jen and Scout I'm still looking at letting a salon in town do it. Tweeze a little around the nipples and imbedded ticks, wax the main parts….Her dogs swim in a POND, mine float on innertubes in a pool heated at 78 degrees. That's city water, my friends.)
Then we worked at P*tricks in his big field. I worked Pat and Rose. (Rose is UNSHAVEN. Or 'european' as we titter behind the artisan yard stump. She doesn't bathe, either!)
Pat was working really well for me. Still some trouble hitting the earth on that first contact down whistle, where I spit and blow a high pitched sound 3 times before the thought passes through to his brain that it's a deliberate sound that MEANS SOMETHING, and, even then, I have to help curry the message up there by running 20 yards toward him. But usually just that first time, when Pat's excitement and enthusiasm clearly has the best of him.
The rest of the time he tends to be really good about stopping, and more importantly SLLOOOOOWING DOWN.
Sadly I decided to try to pen toward the end of our first work and that did not go as well. When Pat gets tired, and/or stressed, he tends to kick out wider and wider, circling mindlessly, frantically. We had a better chance tap dancing our way into America's heart at this point then getting sheep into that pen. And neither Pat nor I had timing for either. I called him off but I'd worked him longer than I should have and felt bad about that.
Dianne reminded me, for the 234th time, that I need to remember that I should only pick one thing to work on and let that be enough. We had made progress with the fetch and the drive….The pen was too much.
Then I worked Rose. Fast fast fast. Lie down. Fast fast fast.
I like Rose very much. She's just an endearing little thing with passion for Her Work. It's a challenge to keep her backed off far enough that she isn't completely sucked into the sheep's bubble where all you have is either slicing, dicing or a lie down.
I love having the opportunity to work these very different dogs with very different styles and motivations.
Today I worked Pat and Rose again in P*trick's field. Pat was better still and we got a pen. I just ran him through the course and straight to the pen. It was quick and, except again at the top where he still isn't reliably lying down – preferring to bring the sheep to me as if my life depended upon it, as if they had The Cure for Belly Fur —- we continue to work better together every time.
Rose worked better for me also. I mostly drove the sheep around the field and through obstacles with her about 10 yards off to my side. It took awhile but she started to relax and instead of FAST – DOWN – FAST….we were getting some variation in her pace.
Now I'm going back to Boise. My son left yesterday to go live in New Mexico. Typical eighteen year old Get Me Out Of Idaho thing, he went to live with a friend of the family and try out some place new. I already miss him. Who will I watch Reno 911 and Trailer Park Boys with? Who will tell me what music to like?
I don't really want to go home. I'd rather fill this small shack with dogs and stop bathing. And shaving. And waxing. Just be that creepy woman who lives on the edge of town and communicates only through whistling. Strange off key whistle tones.
I'm going back though; E called and told me he just bought "us" a new vacuum. Hopefully he'll have it dressed in baggy black Dickeys(tm) and a plain white t-shirt; slouching on the couch in the family room. Hopefully it likes tamales.