The clinic was small on purpose, so that we could take our time, not rush, and get everyone's dogs worked and questions answered without hurry. It was (almost) more like a picnic than a sheepdog clinic. We went way back in the property which is my favorite spot always, to work dogs.
When it came time for Spot's turns, he did pretty well. I was concerned that he was not quite getting it on his driving at that point but after the day at the clinic we seemed to have turned the corner, or gotten over the latest speed bump with the next step of his driving. We were able to work on a bit of steering and not just following the sheep where they wanted to go. We worked a lot on Spot's driving with inside and outside flanks. He started to really pick it up. Having so much real estate to work on made it a lot simpler to show Spot what I was going for without running into a fence or a really strong draw for the sheep. His other work was good even though he was excited.
The main message for me, however, was that I need to react more quickly on Spot's stops. I thought he was stopping pretty well but what that amounted to was he stopped on the second, third, or maybe even fourth command or whistle. Bill told me that I need to react if he does not stop immediately on that first whistle or command. Don't let it slide! I will need those crisp stops further on down the line and I need to get them now. Ok, nuff said!
At the end of Spot's second turn, something different happened. We had the infamous "Penny" ewe (she who will not be penned...) in our group of sheep and as usual she was somewhat frustrating for me to handle. She had led her group up on top of one of the small hills and Spot having not much experience with hills, had kind of lost track of where she and her little band had disappeared off to. We waited to see if Spot would find them. He looked back and forth behind the hill, every so often popping up like Mickey Mouse club ears and that goofy face...but he did not see Penny. Finally with a little help from a partial recall whistle from me, he came around in front of the hill and then saw the sheep. We waited some more. He disappeared behind the hill and then came on over the top behind the sheep, lifting them absolutely dead on which elicited a gasp from everyone who was watching. It was too cool. I had Spot fetch Penny's gang down the hill to us and I quit the session. Spot was so good, figuring all that out, that I wanted to quit on a high note.
I'm really grateful to RESDA and Bill and everyone else who helped, so that we could have this clinic opportunity. It was excellent timing for Spot and me. :) Below, Spot and his friends eagerly await their turns in the clinic.