Thursday, February 18, 2016

Jack Knox Clinic at Hopland 2016

We went to the Jack Knox clinic at Hopland again this year. I think this is my fifth time to go to that clinic, but the first time I worked a dog in the clinic instead of just auditing.

It is no secret that I love to go to Hopland to the University farm there. As I have said many times, this is one of my very favorite places on earth.

Spot was in the clinic and worked well for me most of the time. All the clinic dogs worked their first turn in the round pen so that Jack could evaluate them.

In his subsequent turns, Spot and I worked out in the long narrow field that is next "door" to the round pen area, near the big lambing barn.  This is a nice field to work in with some trees and things to navigate around, and a draw back to the barn that pretty much simulates a real working situation that most of us deal with, in one way or another. In the field, Spot was very good. He took a bend out on the outrun, for sheep that he could not see, at first. He did not seem tense, which was a bonus! Jack told me to watch his flanks, and correct them when they are tight, which they sometimes are. The stops also needed work. None of this was a huge breakthrough but it was nice to get some coaching and some different ideas on getting the stop. There were a lot of other nice dogs, to watch. I always learn a lot by paying attention to the other handlers and dogs in this clinic when they take their turns.

On Sunday Spot's first turn in the field was also very nice. He showed me a glimpse of what his truly adult self may be like. It was good. There were no problems. I was beginning to wonder if Spot would show us any of his issues! Jack had some good insight for me as to the number and pace of my commands. I have run my other dogs in trials, Coal and Bid, a certain way, with a lot of whistles, but it seems that Spot needs a method with fewer commands so that he stays cooler-headed, at least for now.  What they needed is perhaps not what Spot needs. We will give it a try.

We got to see his older sister, Daisy, too as she was in the clinic. It was nice to see her and her owners as I don't think they were there last year. Daisy and Spot are like bookends as they look so much alike, and have the same goofy ear set. Daisy has just a little white tip on one of her ears, however, and of course she is dainty and feminine, where Spot is just a big moose. But it was fun to compare notes on them. :)

Our second turn out in the field started off fine but then we were interrupted by a random ewe who tried to jump in with our working set and join up with them, and as a result, got herself stuck in the fence. I called Spot back and we retreated, so that the ewe would not feel any extra pressure. People in the clinic ran to help. There was a doctor, a veterinarian, a farrier, and several others in attendance, besides, Jack, who all helped to free the silly ewe. They got her loose and then Jack called us back to work. This little hiatus on a warm day seemed to get Spot going a little bit more tense than when we started our turn, maybe, and he did show us a little bit more of a brief panic behavior. It was good to have Jack work through this with me. We called him off then put him right back to work.

The advice was to give Spot his head some more than I have been. I also watched Jack putting dogs through their paces of bringing sheep up to a fence, pulling the sheep back off that fence, putting them into corners and taking them out. These types of exercises are going to get added to our training list as well.

The clinic was low-key and the two days just seemed to fly by. Since I was still getting over being sick I did not take the pages of notes like I normally do at a clinic. I am hoping that I retain at least some of the great work that I saw. I really enjoyed working Spot with Jack, so I am sending in a deposit to get into another one of his clinics this year. I really appreciate all the work that the University staff put into these events, and I'm sure everyone else did, too, who was there.

Jack also will have a book coming out, which will be really interesting to read. At the clinic the talk was that they hope the book will appear later this year. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Sounds like a great clinic for you and Spot!!! Please keep me posted on Jack's book. I wonder if Outrun Press will be the publisher?? Colt and I are jealous as our weather has not been good for working sheep. Bad snow conditions.

Kathy and Colt
and Mambo in training, Jasper