Monday, August 5, 2013

What's In There? and From the First Whistle

What's in there? What's in the dog that is natural, organic, essential? What's there that bubbles up to the surface when we leave the dog alone a bit to see what he's got? 

We had chore duties tonight so I let Ryme go out to bring the sheep in for sorting. He cast out and was relaxed in going into a tight corner to bring the sheep out, without a word from me. The sheep were munching happily near the fence on some green branches that the neighbor had pruned from a tree and tossed over, for the sheep to clean up. The sheep did not want to leave those lovely green branches. They haven't had anything green in a while--just grass hay and dry pasture. But Ryme simply convinced them without a word or whistle from me, to come on towards the barn for sorting, even scraping Scotties with horns, and silly lambs, out of a corner that they do not want to leave. Ryme can do a lot on his own in a familiar location with a chore that he knows. That is what's in there. The lambs get sorted from the others, so they can be fed extra. Ryme is handling the silly lambs very well. He seems much happier than a few days ago but I still sense some tentativeness.  I'm staying really quiet and just letting him work.

What's in there? Does Spot know the words "lie down"? I think he does. Our training assignment is to get a lie down on the sheep. Tonight I decided I was too tired from a Monday to do the "pasture aerobics" that we did yesterday, that is, working Spot in the open. So we took a break and went back to the small pen to work on his stop and some other things that will eventually make Spot more grown up in his work. No leash to go in and out of the pen. No long line on. Working on the lie down. I'm saying the flank words as he goes around but not forcing or commanding him to go one way or the other - still his choice pretty much at this point. Stop and walk up, and flank, and start over again. The stop is in there, when the pen keeps everything quiet. Good to's in there. Even if it flies out the window when we go to the pasture! :-)

Coal's assignment (or mainly, mine) is to make sure he obeys commands correctly "from the first whistle". We're kind of in boot camp mode, right now. I'm working on getting Coal's stop back (I know it's in there!) and tuning his flanks back up, for starters. It's in there. Coal is already behaving better after our lesson Saturday, some tuneup on Sunday, and more tuneup this evening. I'll keep at it, just being really clear about what I am asking and what I will settle for (which is only the best). He can do it.

Coal fetching some sheep to me, earlier in July

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