Yesterday DD stepped in and worked with me and Jai. The last couple of times I've worked Jai she has gripped. She tends to grip like Rose….once she commits to the bite, she's in it for the ride. You can really see her entire body change leading up to it, though, if you are observant, and, if you catch it in time, she is easy to talk down.
If one is watching one's dog and the sheep….back to the dog, because the sheep aren't moving, maybe, infact, facing and stamping one of those cloven hooves DOGWARD….one might, in theory, STOP the carnival ride that almost certainly will ensue.
One isn't always so observant. One is prone to…musing.
After the first (and only) grip yesterday, I was poised to lay Jai down if she so much as looked at the sheep in a pressure-loaded area (like up against a fence).
"WHY are you lying her down?" DD asked.
"Because…she's fixin' ta disrespect her some sheep," I sometimes try new things to soften the DD's incredulity. These days I'm playing with my Derek Fisher New Plymouth dialect.
"No she's not! Look at her BODY! See the difference in her posture now?"
"Uhhh, yup. Shorely I do…"
No. I didn't. Truthfully I had been noticing the sheep and the fence and how little room for a dog there was between the two. I'd also been thinking that sheep, if they were just a bit more cerebral, would be great in a crisis because they so quickly transition from OHMYGODWE'REGOINGTODIE to ' Yum! Grass! Let us eat!'
That' is precisely who I want seated next to me on a plane during extreme turbulence or an engine failure….but not unless it is a flight where snacks were served…. and not if I have to sit BETWEEN TWO of them….
Dianne, meanwhile, was blinking at me and waiting. As was Jai.
Because I wasn't whistling or yelling and time was passing Jai fixed me with a quick look and a wag. She looked relaxed alright.
"Yes," I agreed, "Relaxed. I see it."
"Send her Come by," DD instructed.
"WHUT THE HELL? Up agin yonder bob war wall?"
"Yes! Send her and just quietly say her name. No commands…just encourage her softly…soft corrections."
So DD sent Jai and every time Jai speeded up, she quietly, softly said, "Uh uh.." and when she was right she shshhhhed her on. When Jai stopped or tried to lie down instead of slowing, DD would say, 'Uh uh' again and Jai would move forward slowly, thoughtfully, easily. If she overflanked or didn't flank…'Uh uh'
DD encouraged Jai when she was right, and softly corrected brief moments of unsureness or the wrong flank.
She was right *ALOT*.
I'm certain I've addressed this before, processed it in writing on these very pages….and still I seem to need more time to start really putting it to work for me, but that whole quiet way of working a dog is the most beautiful thing to me. Trusting your dog to feel the sheep and the pressure and helping them through the places where they don't quite have it right, rather than just telling them with whistles or harshness that they are WRONG…It really brings out the talent and instinct and confidence in a sensitive dog like Jai. She worked beautifully and she was happy with herself.
The sheep and I were completely in awe, and hungry.