Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Couple of Good Dogs

Today we went to Zamora again for lessons with our trainer. What we did was walk way out into a different section of the property (over a mile) onto a large hilly field that I haven’t been on in probably a year. There were about 75 sheep out there and they had drifted off to the far fence. Since the sheep were so far away, we decided to send Bid, rather than Coal, for them. We thought it was a little too far yet for Coal. I wasn’t sure if Bid saw the sheep but he ran out well, and disappeared for a while from sight behind the hills. I waited and waited, and then eventually I saw him coming up along the fence line and by golly he got the sheep! It was so cool! Afterwards I was informed that this was probably a 600 yard outrun. Wow! Bid is working really well. After our gather we did some driving on the hillsides and then worked on our shedding. It’s all coming along. I was really pleased but didn’t want to push Bid because his chronically achy front feet are again a bit sore. The ground is so baked and hard, and there are huge cracks in the ground that a dog or sheep could get stuck in. So we tried to be very careful.

On to Coal. A group of probably 30 sheep were kind of hiding out partially behind one of the hills. I don’t know how far away they were, but not as far as Bid was sent; maybe 200-300 yards or so. We were pretty sure Coal did not see the sheep although some of them were visible (to us) between the hillsides. So we worked on Coal taking my “look” command. Finally we got Coal fixated on the right place; he ran out a long way then bent out beautifully around sheep and brought them. Our trainer said that little exercise alone was worth a week of training in Coal’s understanding of things.

We also worked with Coal and the sheep being on one hillside and us being on the other, facing one another. This creates an illusion of distance yet you can see what’s going on. We did some driving, lots of flanking, and actually introduced the turn back. At one point there was a packet of sheep behind a hill that Coal could not see, and we were able to turn him back to gather them from that far distance. I was really wowed; but it took a lot of concentration from both of us. Coal needs to get more obedience at a distance, and that is just a project that I am slowly plugging away at.

All in all it was another big outdoor adventure for a couple of good dogs on a Saturday morning!

1 comment:

Linda said...

You are making such wonderful progress, congratulations! You are on your way!