Monday, August 11, 2014

Spot's Progress, 8-11-2014

Taking a cue from over at Flying Mule Farm and Ernie's Progress :), here's another installment in the ongoing Progress of Spot.

Last week, before we left for the State of Jefferson, I was afraid to jinx myself by revealing publicly that Spot had helped me with feeding the sheep, not once, but twice.  It is true, not just a rumor, however, that Spot has walked out with the wheelbarrow of alfalfa flakes, and me, "guarding me" from the sheep until I get to the place where I want to spread out the hay. Of course it helps that none of the sheep want to be near Spot. The sheep have gotten used to Coal and Ryme, and they will walk pretty closely to grab a mouthful of some of that green alfalfa off of the cart. But with Spot, the sometimes impetuous "new kid", they kept their distance.

Spot's eyes were as big as dinner plates the first time I tried it. I actually hadn't planned it, but he was there and I was there and so I just opened the gate and out we went into the field with the hay. He could not believe that we were walking among sheep so close and not doing anything but walking. I just kept saying that'll do and talking to him like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. I really like to take a dog out with me to feed. Our sheep have horns and I have gotten caught by a horn by accident which is no fun and quite painful.I want the sheep to keep their distance until I have the hay transported to the chosen location.

Our other big brag is that I worked Spot on the big trial field at the State of Jefferson, on the Suffolk ewes, when practice time was offered after the trial. Spot was a little bit excited but I was so pleased to see that most, if not all, of his behavior was very similar to at home. It was a little over the top but not by much. Very exciting for both of us! It was his first public outing...and I was so glad it went well. We did not totally embarrass ourselves. :)  We were so grateful to be offered practice time on a lovely big field with sheep that are different than ours! Fantastic!

Spot will be two years old this month. Other dogs might have made it to this level of training at about twelve to fifteen months of age, where he is almost twenty-four months. I am trying to not look at how long it is taking but how much progress we are making, which this summer has been a LOT. I can't try to force a time-based agenda on the dog. Making the transition to simple chores is a huge step forward.

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