"That little dog is all heart; she just needs to figure a few things out…" –L. Calzacorta, Figuring Things Out, or the First Rule of Scout
Lavon has theories about Scout. He is intrigued, I think, by the combination of her Intense Desire and Immense Misswire. He thinks deciphering how to communicate with Scout is like learning a foreign language…
(I wonder how you say, "LIKE THE SERIOUS FUCK DOWN, YOU LITTLE BLACK PSYCHOPATH!!!?" in Scoutish? I think I will never know.)
But it seems more involved than merely finding the Common Language. It's also finding and tapping MOTIVATION. Rewriting History.
Maybe it's like teaching a bear to ride a bike. To wear clothing and pedal around in circles based on some end game incentive. THERE ARE DONUTS INVOLVED!!
The difference between Want and Need; balance between Fear and Respect.
Sure, it SEEMS like the easy thing for the omnivore who REALLY WANTS THE FOOD would be to maul the man holding the bike, the bike itself, and anyone else between him and the Sugary Treats…but somehow, sometimes a bear is taught to demean itself and ride something it's ancestors never wired it for, dressed like my mother's sisters for reasons probably more complicated than JUST food and/or fear of the handler.
Anyway, bike and a ring and an audience are not a bear's native stomping grounds. Fear is an ingrediant; Respect is a recipe. Want is now, Need is chronic.
Or maybe not. Yawn. Who knows? I do know that my Aunt Yoris could NOT be
taught to ride a bike, though she did enjoy salmon and dancing badly to
I also believe that Scout lives in a world of chronic Fear and an Impulsive response to Want. She has little Respect, and Need is biological. Her drives are Chronic and Impulsive. Need sits in the back; respect is bound and gagged, riding in the trunk. She was born with some of this, and I put some of this into her by not knowing what the Fuck I was Doing.
Lavon has worked Scout on sheep a few times in the past, accidentally and on purpose, and, as I've written about here, mostly these sessions result in Lavon and one ewe getting an intense cardio-vascular work out.
He has not, before now, ever implied by word or gesture that he thought it would be in anyone's benefit to make this a regular thing. HOWEVER> NOR has he ever said that Scout wouldn't make a dog, as they say. He's always maintained that she has "more try in her" than any other dog he knows.
DISCLAIMER: Lavon seems to like dogs with a bit more…independance in their thinking.
Scout is enthusiastic and Scout is different. I have no idea how to make this 35 pound furry fury stop biting at my feet when I run – bark, bite my feet, bark, repeat. Every time. I + have tried = Everything. I have tried reward and correction and everything in between. I have been as harsh to her as I am capable of being to any living creature to NO AVAIL. So, I live with it. Or I don't bring her, if I'm not in the mood to be barked at and bitten by my own dog for 5 – 8 miles. I do not THINK of working Scout. It's not good for us. Those days are over for me and Scout.
Last week Lavon started working Scout daily. At first, it was just hard to watch. Circling, barking, running through the sheep. To me there was nothing that she was doing out there that should be encouraged or allowed. She was like a One Dog/5 Ewe Civil War Reenactment. Lavon stood in the midst of all this chaos, calmly and then not-as-calmly, asking her to "Lie Down." "Scout, LIE DOWN!" …"SCOUT! YOU LIE DOWN!!"
Scout was doing no such thing. I can only imagine how Ulysses S. Grant felt.
"If what you are doing doesn't work, try something completely different." –Lavon's Second Rule of Scout – HURRY HURRY HURRY!!
Lavon attached a long line to Scout. This got Scout's attention. Though it has occasionally crossed my mind otherwise, Scout is not insane. She sees situations maybe TOO CLEARLY.
She knows when she no longer has the upper paw. The long line made her aware that Lavon did have a say in what was happening out there with her and the sheep. She needed him to get what she wanted.
But it was what Lavon did next, that made me wonder, at first, if I had questioned the sanity of the wrong creature out there on the field.
Once Lavon could get Scout to down, as soon as she barely hit the ground for him, he'd send her into the sheep, no regard for bending out or flanking correctly, just in with hard encouragement – shusshing and, 'HURRY HURRY HURRY' shusssh shussh shushh.
This method has never been employed with Scout. Because it seems LUDICROUS.
Sheep were initially going everywhere. Ending up loaded haphazardly on his flatbed trailer. Scout staring up at them, then at Lavon.
Lavon would lie her down again. She'd take it. Then again, HURRY HURRY HURRY.
I took turns covering my ears, my eyes, my mouth.
But it wasn't long into this new method that Scout changed profoundly. Physically. Tail down, bark gone. And she was listening to Lavon. She was lying down. He called her off the sheep easily. He worked her in the big field.
"She gives me what I want, and she gets what she wants." Lavon explained it. -Lavon's Third Rule of Scout.
Anyway, it's been one week today. It's been an interesting week. Each time he works her, Lavon claims she does better than the last. He's excited about working her. She is, of course, excited to be working. She respects him. They have balance.
Tomorrow when I take her running, she will bite at my feet, rush at me and bark. This isn't about me, though.
tracy stevens said:
I love to read your posts about Scout because I have a cattledog that is probably wired just like Scout. I don’t train him anymore either. Your blog is very humorous. Thanks for sharing your experience.