Thursday, July 19, 2007

To go with our cold spell, Laurent and I both ended up feeling quite lousy the morning after the ASCV's meeting and snuggling aside the fire held many appeals.

The meeting itself was interesting and nice to see some people I hadn't seen in a few months again! After being interested in the proposed Hereditary Diseases and Disorders Advisory Panel (seeing as how I want to keep abreast of all the information we have on the various problems and recomendations etc) I found myself volunteering for being a panel member. Not quite in the plans when I went but at least there are 5 other people too and I HAD sent an open invitation to the universe to find me a way of being more involved beyond my own dogs but not really sure what as I'm not particularly skilled in accounting, book-keeping or such or experienced enough for many other positions really. So no complaints really and it's a brilliant idea on the ASCV's behalf imo.

Other than that it's been rather quiet here. It's been pouring rain most of the time and very cold even when it's not. Our two large water tanks are full and our overflow tank is overflowing for the past two weeks. I feel awful seeing it wasted and since we're not on town water should the summer be long and dry we'll need it. So we've been talking about having a 2nd dam cut and sticking a diversionary pipe from the overflow tank to the 1st dam and then gravity feeding it to the 2nd or just taking the diversionary pipe straight to the second dam.

Neither the cold nor the wet has stopped the dogs from running around like mad fools though. I'm sure they must be some of the fittest dogs in the shire considering how much time they spend hooning around after each other. The darn thing is it only makes them more fit and with higher endurance! Hope has also been helping me (very gently, for no more than a 2-3 minutes at a time and keeping a keen eye on their respiratory rates) dog-break the sheep. I'd initially not wanted to work them thinking them further along than they are but they've still got aways to go before they're due so light, careful work is okay. Mostly focusing on giving me attention even around them, turning off hand signals, laying down etc. So far we've not even made them breathe harder than a normal rate they move at when trotting around or move at a fast clip so we're well and truly taking it easy. ;-)

The chief deciding factor was that four aren't tame at all and two are former bummer lambs which will allow some touching but not handling as such. The former bummers are 3rd lambers and have NO fear whatsoever and none of the normal tendancy of sheep to move away from dogs. Instead they'll actually come chase the dog from across the pasture and if she's near me I get nailed by virtue of not being able to dodge that fast. We were just trying to get to the second (unoccupied!) paddock to let the dogs run! Sheesh!

So they need to learn to work with us, at the very least so the poor dog doesn't get trampled and I don't get the fall-out for walking across the paddocks. I understand they don't care for being asked to move here or there but there may well come a time when they need to - chiefly when they're due to lamb and I need bring them in where I can assist if need be, help the littlies start nursing if mum isn't keen and they'll be safe from dying of cold or being lost to foxes, eagles or wandering dogs.

Hope is being a very, very good girl about it all... she is getting cooperation by simply not giving way rather than forcing them by gripping. Just dancing in and using her voice, blocking them from going past her until they decide it's easier to simply walk towards the human who is leading them towards good things anyway. As you can see she's having a war of wills with this ewe (the bummer ewe) about how she doesn't care how much she stomps or kicks she's not letting her go this way. The photo is small being resized but the look on her face I just love - so very intense the conversation between them - which is how she's controling them and her outer front elbow is set so that she can transfer her weight to her rear and move either way to block the ewe from breaking left or right.

And yes, you read that right. Her VOICE!

The little black dog that wouldn't bark at training has discovered her voice and upon being requested to will woof until the sheep decides she's obnoxious little black-tri mozzie, harumphs it's annoyance and rejoins the herd muttering, "fine, if you want me to go that way that darn bad..."

So it's been a learning experience for the little Hope dog, who loves this whole working thing more than air I think. Gods but she's a fast little thing though! She over-takes and speeds beyond even Verity when they romp and Sierra hasn't a snowflakes chance in hades in ever matching her speed! She looks like a little black sylph in the grass, a spirit of the rainy winds, rushing through the grass in great long bounds, so fast it hardly has time to rustle!

I am all in all very, very pleased with the progress both Hope, the sheep and myself have all made in our short little sessions. If all goes well, they'll lamb easily and the little ones will be healthy, vigorous babies who nurse easily and all I'll have to do is corral them every night into the pen. If all doesn't, at least this is in place so we'll have an easier time of things.

Verity meanwhile is about to find life will become more interesting. We're scheduled to have a meeting with a behaviourist who runs socialization classes as well so we can get into classes. The classes sound great - very gentle and progressing within the dog's comfort zone. They're also carefully set up and managed with very savy Delta trainers as volunteers. Should be a lovely experience for her I think and a nice stepping stone into the rest of the world getting to see the same lovely Very-Very Good Girl I see here at home!

A last little Hope brag, we had class again tonight and actually didn't get hollered at this time!!! In other words I didn't do anything to get hollered at for and instead was actually told she looked quite good! LOL Yippie!


aussienut said...

Wow - Hope sounds like she is fantastic on the sheep :). As for her neck breaking speeds - i'll let her off with Kinta and the two can just go *silly* together!!!! Sound like fun?!

Glad to hear show training went well - I had all good intentions of going, but wasn't feeling 100% when I came home - then Mum went to the effort of buying cakes for K's b'day - so..... :P.

Amanda O. said...

She's doing pretty well considering she's being trained by someone almost as novice as she is! LOL

I bet she'd have a blast with Kinta, you have GOT to come over sometime soon!

Hey if you're not feeling well, at least you're only missing out on a class. I felt ick and missed out Saturday's show! X-/ Murphy's Law strikes at the least opportune times eh!