This weekend I, with DDs help, started Duke. He’s only nearly 8 months, but he seems ready. He has been breaking out of the yard and joining me in my big pasture when I work the other dogs. He isn’t insane about it, like a puppy; he usually goes around and, with some fierce reluctance, will call off.
I’ve been afraid of opening this door formally for Duke. Like approaching that suspicious unattended, yet attractive package at the airport. Sure, it could be full of cash or cool clothes in my size— or it could be motherfucking snakes. One thing I am NOT: A puppy trainer. Biz is easy, and she is training us both. Duke has more….velocity.
Long story short, he was very good. The second day even better.
DD thinks I should be working him regularly, so that is the plan. He doesn’t really have a stand, or lie down – he prefers to sit, if anything – a nice compromise, sort of dashing even – but, style points aside, he takes correction and he really really really wants to work. He had been on sheep a few times in the last couple of months, and was always very interested, but fast and focused on the moving wool to the exclusion of much else. He required precision timing…instead of the sort that comes with a sun dial, which is what I have. Now Duke seems to be actually working and letting someone help him figure it out. On or off the field, I couldn’t like Duke more. I’m sure within the next few months he will scare the living shit out of me and be the source of much crying and cussing, but so was my new industrial strength weed whacker, and that turned out okay. I’m also certain in the end Duke will be completely different from my other dogs in a really fun way.
I’m teaching (ha) Biz to drive by taking my current 6 crazed sheep across the lane into a big mint field. I’m hoping the combination of large unfamiliar ground, coupled with mint being a popular ingredient to serve with lamb, will keep their pace more moderate and unsure, this giving Biz a chance to feel them and appreciate driving the way she really values an outrun and endless fetch. So far, so good. If not, I’ll add garlic and some wine. I may anyway.
Jai and I are building confidence. We watch movies together and snuggle. We run longer distances in prettier places. We do happy work in the pasture where everything is Ok and corrections are for lenses, not dogs. Jai takes on my emotions and the last year there have been too many for a sensitive border collie to absorb without gripping something. I envy her that outlet, sarcasm and wine don’t cut it like a good pair of canines. I also envy her ceaseless optimism and ability to eat an entire plate of cookies in the time it takes me to shut a cupboard not 15 feet away and still keep her girlish figure.
Scout continues to wish she had her dead mother stuffed in the attic. Or that I’d let her work the chickens more. We compromise by me never looking under the bed in her room.