Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nice Workday in Boonville

RESDA sponsored a nice workday yesterday just outside of Boonville at the Johnson Ranch. The workday's purpose was two-fold: to train the tough Targhee ewes to work a little better for the dogs, and to let the dogs have some exposure on that type of sheep so that we and they learn to handle them better. These ewes and others like them, from the same ranch, will be used for a few of the RESDA trials this season.

The handlers were split into three groups: working dogs, letout, and exhaust, and we all rotated positions.The shared work duties seemed to play out all right. The exhaust group needed to guard areas where the sheep were not supposed to go, as well as to channel the used sheep into their holding area. There were some tricky bits of pulling sheep out of between the parked cars and so forth but all good work for the dogs in getting acquainted with these ewes.

Ryme proved to be really handy as a backup dog and I was very pleased with what appears to be progress in his ability to hold his cool and be a good helper. I have been getting quite a bit of encouragement from several respected friends telling me not to give up on Ryme. So he and I are continuing to work together and his attitude is definitely showing a lot of improvement. There were several times yesterday when he could have blown his cool, shouldered a sheep or run through them with his tail in the air but he did not. In fact there were a few times where he nipped one on the nose out of necessity, and then got the group moving while maintaining his cool. So it was a very good outing for him.

Coal ran like a top. I could not have been more pleased with him. After two trial weekends in a row on range ewes where we retired three out of four runs, culminating with a smash into a ditch, it was so nice to send him on an outrun and have him do a great job through the whole run. He didn't show any sign of the tentative dog that was seen at Zamora and Sonoma Wine Country. I am not sure what the difference is since he's never been to this field at Boonville before, and the sheep were very similar to the Sonoma Wine Country sheep. Anyway Coal worked well too and it was a great confidence builder for both of us. I made the RESDA course into a driving course (you could do anything you wanted in your eight minutes of working time) and ended with a shed. The sheep were very nice to drive and shed.

Thank you RESDA for setting up these wonderful opportunities!

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