This weekend Jai and I worked on loosening up her eye and flanking.
Jai would say that she worked at maintaining her quiet canadian politeness in the face of profound rudeness and frankly bad whistling. But that my pants definitely do NOT make my ass look big.
And she practiced perfecting her Away, which is her very favorite flank.
When I whistle, or shriek,
"FOR THE LOVE OF WORKING BRED JESUS, WILL YOU APPLY YOUR BLACK ASS CLOCKWISE TO THOSE SHEEP, YOU CAN HEAR ME! I SEE YOU WAGGING!"
(The last is a Come Bye whistle, with a tail, and a frantic claw on the end…like sobbing and screaming 'Fuck' through a tiny brass device)
She will do anything to avoid the Come Bye. BUT she is ALWAYS polite about it.
(She does. She wags. When you tell her to do something that she doesn't want to do, she looks at you and wags,
Like, "Thanks for that suggestion! That might be really good for another dog to try for you sometime…maybe that aussie you have….or a pretend dog… But I'm just going to stick with my plan…"
Then she takes her preferred flank.)
DD has orange cones set up in her small pasture. The directive was No Straight Lines. To drive our dogs around and through cones flanking constantly to loosen eye and tighten listening,
"Even my most solid dog, Fame, blew a gasket on this one the first time," she said, "He left the field."
The dogs get used to driving straight lines to and through obstacles. They think they understand what is expected, anticipate what is required, and work almost by rote, half listening, half anticipating.
This constant flanking and random manuevering is initially stressful because it changes the game and it becomes about listening and reacting.
I think Jai was humming the entire first run. The canadian national anthem.
"Don't get harsh on your corrections," DD advised, "Just flank, correct, and make her take the flank, use your body if you have to physically pressure her into it. Stay close enough to her to reinforce your commands. But don't let emotion enter into it. Encourage her when she's right."
All good suggestions. Jai cannot stand harsh corrections. She wags more, gets wider and evenually will lay down and look away, as if in contemplation of Canada…and maybe going North and getting a job in the goose fields. All that honking cannot be worse than the noise coming from the Beloved Loud American Petting Machine and her whistle.
The second run went better. She still hates the Come Bye, which almost always puts her in a pressure situation. She is very passive aggressive in her desire to avoid it. But I'm a bitch and I have time.
This might seem like a good exercise in flanking and listening, but it's also a great exercise in paying attention and being calm. Two things I'm not good at. DD tells me this stuff all the time and I wag and think about other things.
I plan to practice alot in her field next weekend while housesitting.