Friday, May 29, 2015

Unfamiliar Territory

Spot needs to get out to new places, at least new-to-him places. He needs unfamiliar territory, unfamiliar sheep and lots and lots of it. More of that driving thing. Driving for him and driving for me.

We had two opportunities to get out to new places, or at least unfamiliar places for him, a couple of weeks ago. Luckily for me and my vehicle, they were close by geographically. I remembered two places that we can go, where Spot has not been, (or has not been there much), so we tried to take advantage.

The first was a RESDA style workday in a drop-in format. You didn't have to run the RESDA course, you could just work your dog, and that we did.  He got to work some commercial-type sheep, a type that we do not normally have access to. I didn't take any chances and stayed pretty close. The main goal was not to see how much distance we could get, but how well we could maintain our normal criteria in a new place without him blowing it. Everything remained quiet and calm. Whew! There were some new handlers in attendance who watched me working Spot. It is also a little unnerving to have people so attentively watching you work your young dog in a new place, but that's something else we have to get used to. They wanted to know how I had possibly taught him to stay so wide off of his stock with such good flanks. I tried to explain how I had been cautioned from the get-go with this dog not to push him out and not to try to open up his flanks until he was older. I talked about how a dog who is too wide is a detriment; to this comment I got some strange looks. I said, I know it sounds like Nirvana when you are first starting out, to have a dog who runs way wide. But a too-wide dog cannot help you in some cases because he is too far off contact. Anyway I felt good about this attempt of ours to get out and about and work in a different place.

The next day we went to another location where Spot has been before but it has been a long time. We first got to work some Dorset brood ewes who were quite heavy. They were heavy in the sense that they were hard for the dog to push off of me (they were very clingy to the handler). Spot has never had to do this before. Again I didn't focus on distance but on good solid work at hand. Spot rose to the occasion and did well.

Coal and I then held some sheep for a friend to practice pickups off of a stock handler. Coal told me that his turn was way too short and he did not appreciate playing second fiddle to Spot all the time these days. Poor Coal. I remember taking him out to do these same things years ago. The time just flies.

For Spot's second turn, we had a much lighter group. There were several older weaned lambs mixed in with a couple of adults. For these Spot had to really work to keep them slow and not running about. We tried penning, which he has never done before. I really appreciated that my friend put out a couple of different sets of sheep for Spot. It is such great experience for him.

We didn't get to practice any of our new sheep-finding-at-a-distance skills...but we got out to two new places in one weekend. Mission accomplished.  Dang this is a lot of work!!! But as the video says, it is "time well spent." :)


Kathy said...

Sounds great for Spot!!! Are you referring to the dvd by Aled?

Billy said...

Yes, the Aled Owen video, "Time Well Spent." :-)