Monday, November 9, 2015

Cold Mornings & Good Dogs

It's around 28 degrees outside and the wood stove is roaring. The house is nearly up to 55 degrees and all the sheepdogs are here, inside, and well rested. They earned it, too. Because Gibson has been working overtime with the flock this week. My seven fat sheep (one ram, four eyes, and two wethers) have been breaking through their electric fencing (thick wool makes the shock almost non-existent) and they have been hitting up the local bar across the street. By "bar" I mean the piles of fermenting apples scattered around the trees at my neighbor's property. They waddle over there, eat their fill, and then waddle back. The neighbors don't care if they are there but I do - so I send Gibson over to gather them and get them back across the road.

Gibson adores this. His outrun is up the road an 1/8th of a mile and then cuts across the driveway, behind the sheep. Then he does that classic slinky walk up the the sheep who all life their heads in awareness of the wolf in the shadows. At this I yell out "Lie down!" hoping just his presence will send them home but of course it doesn't and here is where our down and dirty version of sheep herding departs from the trialers and pros. Gibson just runs in close, circles them, dodges and ducks from ram horns and butting heads and annoys the hell out of them until they head right back home to their own pen where no dogs act so uncivilized like the shifty dogs at the bar. It's quite the sight. Sometimes Friday is with us but she watches the show, doesn't really participate.

Both of my dogs are "soft" meaning they don't get aggressive with the sheep at all, sometimes to their detriment. Gibson won't grip (bite) a sheep to get a point across and he will back down from a bossy sheep - but backing down isn't the same as giving in. He'll just stop bothering the bullies and start working with more responsive/nervous sheep getting them to move and once the majority takes off even the ballsy sheep want to be with their flock and follow suit. He never fails, just works the angles. A dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.


Blogger Beth said...

Hi Jenna! How often do you work with the dogs on these skills?
I don't think there is a big community of these type working dogs down here in Georgia-or maybe I am just horribly unaware. You see a lot of the large, guardian type dogs that hang out with people's flocks but I never hear of people having herding dogs.

November 9, 2015 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Cat H said...

Good boy Gibby!!

November 9, 2015 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Gardening in Texas said...

I love to read about your border. We have a 16 year old retired border that spent her time herding our rowdy kids. She would have been a great trainer for your dog earlier on.

November 9, 2015 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Goose Goose said...

I like the farming posts better than the falconry. lol. But the other day I saw someone post about how they like the falconry stories, suffer, I will. lol.

I don't know sheep. Interesting to read.

November 9, 2015 at 8:47 PM  

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