Jai still has not quite forgiven me for sending her alone into a dirt blowing battle to capture sheep behind enemy lines. The trailers full of probable monkeys, the people who scream guarding them. Were they even sheep?
She would consider another line of work, like ear model or ball tester.
But no. The other day I worked her in a small area. Smaller than DDs little pasture, which Jai HATES, but bigger than my car. The goal was to help her learn to work through pressure; to get her excited and build her confidence in situations that normally make her unsure.
These are days when I yell 'FUCK' a lot. I mean…A LOT. I really need a whistle for it.
DD put sheep in her corral and I walked beside Jai and encouraged her to flank, not letting her go to head; to come into my pressure and drive the sheep through my bubble and the sheeps' bubbles and her own thought bubbles,
"I'd like to squeaze through the fence and run away to be a Therapy Dog with a vest. A vest says 'I'm Working!" unlike a sweater that says "She can't have children!" … I would comfort people who aren't hungry but hate to waste good meat, be the inspiration for people who sit in roomy comfortable chairs and need something to do with their hands…."
"Jai! Walk up!" I said. Jai wagged once and continued to stare at the sheep from a prone, not walking up position, cringing, licking her lips.
"You keep saying your commands like they are a question," DD said, " You ask her -'Jai, walkup?'… You need to TELL HER TO WALK UP and GET HER EXCITED!"
Jay meanwhile licked her lips vigorously and issued a few new wags in my direction. Resumed staring.
"JAI! WALK THE FUCK UP! OMG WE JUST WON THE ORGANIC CHICKEN LOTTERY! CLAIM YOUR PRIZE!! WALK UP! WALK UPWALKUP! FUCK FUCK FUCK…"
Jai took a few steps, then laid down. Then she'd go to their heads. Or she'd go behind me and flank which resulted in perpetual swirling. It was a very patience-threatending endeavor.
Finally, I managed to use my deep baritone Double D voice (with a hint of Louis Armstrong) to insist in a way that worked,
"COME ONCOME ONCOMEON…SHAKE YOUR MONEY MAKER! YEAH! WALK UP!WALKUPWALKUP!!UH-HUH!"
and, after taking her frustration out on the ewes with a few grips, she lost the desire to leave, started to come in more and worked better.
I am leaving for the weekend, sans dogs, then I have just a few more days to work with her and Pat, and then we trial the following two weekends in Utah. I have *No Idea* what to expect. She can do nice outruns, she can work beautifully….or she can fall apart, take one flank only, blow me off, grip a ewe…. wag wag wag.
She should model that wag at some cattle dog club. That tail is the stuff of aussie pet dreams.
This post is dedicated to TT from AG. I wrote the entire thing on a conference call.