|It's a stretch, sometimes!|
Another installment in the ongoing saga that is becoming Spot's Progress, and another sheepdog lesson for Spot and his handler (moi). We worked on driving, with me staying a lot closer and in contact with Spot. There are so many layers and so many moving parts: not too fast, not too slow (slow is not Spot's problem however); we need left, right, stop, and don't run to the heads...oh my. And oh yes those lefts and rights must be at the proper trajectory not just the correct requested direction... the stops need to happen right away and not three miles later... connection with the sheep, taking direction and feeling in flow...oh we are so not there yet... but we are getting a little bit closer and a little bit smoother.
Also we worked on some medium gathers, not too long so that Spot would feel out of touch with me, but not so short as to where there was too small of a space to work on a fetch. We're working on getting a nice fetch at good pace and lifting at balance and oh so many more moving parts. The heart of a dog is in its gather. I am still thinking through, that shiny little gold nugget of a phrase that I had never heard before.
It was a little bit more smooth, this trip, than the last lesson. Spot only blew up (I think) twice, and they were tiny blowups, as opposed to the half a dozen or more (I stopped counting) last time. I am more critical of our work so it was probably better than I am making it sound. :) I think I even heard some Good Boy, Spot in the background because I am too slow to praise the poor dog when he is right on.
I should also be counting my own faux pas in handling. Yelling at the dog to "lie down" when he has already blown through the sheep is probably not going to be too productive, and is quite possibly counter-productive. These are things I know and have known for many years but sometimes they fly out of my mouth with indiscretion. So, I only did that once this trip. Yay, me. :) We are only human and it is an indication of frustration and probably a good time to go take a break.
On the positive side, I love being able to try things on the fly as they occur... we were going to send Spot for the sheep who had wandered around back to the top of a little hill on our left. Spot was, however, looking for the sheep in their last seen location at the bottom of that little hill, on our right. Look Spot, look! I am not one to miss an opportunity to give him an unexpected experience in scanning for sheep. It took a couple of tries but we got him out there and he got to practice another nice little fetch.
Things are a little bit smoother, but we still have a lot to do. No big surprises there! :)