Thursday, April 16, 2009

Evil Beth and Weaving Ranger

'Evil Beth' made an appearance during our lesson with Karen Child on Tuesday. FINALLY someone else saw what I deal with in the field with her alone. Karen was surprised at the change in Beth from the last time I had a lesson with her (before the Scott Glen clinic). At the clinic Scott told me to back off on correcting Beth, let her build the enthusiasm for the sheep and her work. I have done that, but now she is a MONSTER! Enthusiasm for sheep is not a problem - respecting me is another issue all together different.

I felt terrible for Karen at the beginning of the lesson. When she asked me how things were going with Beth - I burst into tears. I explained to her that I was so frustrated I didn't know which end was up. I have had so many conflicting instructions on how to deal with Beth.

Beth is challenging me even more now, refusing to lay down until I yell it at her four times, she blows off my flanking commands, crosses over on outruns, and won't listen when I call her off - when I turn my back to walk over and set up another outrun Beth shoots away and harasses the sheep.

Beth also refuses to get wet or step in mud. It is quite hysterical to watch this little dog, running hell bent for leather, suddenly screech to a halt and tippy toe through the mud, or even worse, go around it completely - going between me and the sheep to avoid it.

Seeing this it made Karen determined to force Beth to deal with the mud. So we set it up with the sheep in a corner surrounded by mud. Then repeatedly sent Beth on outruns so she would have to go through the mud.

Beth didn't like it at all. The first few times we sent her, she crossed on the outrun, then ran down the fence line on the side that did not have as much mud on it. This had the opposite result we wanted because it drove the sheep in the wrong direction - then Beth started chasing them down the fence line away from us. Next thing I know Karen is running across the field at waving her hat yelling "lie down" (because I couldn't move fast enough ) Beth even blew Karen off. It was ugly.

After several attempts she finally did it right and went, somewhat gingerly, through the mud. What a party we had when she got those sheep to me!

Additionally Beth was flat out refusing to 'lie down' anywhere near water or in the mud. Karen had me go over and force Beth into a down. I had to do this twice. I made sure I didn't set her up for failure and tell her to lie down in really muddy spot, it was only slightly muddy.

Karen said she needed to respond to my 'lie down' command with a 'YES MA'AM" and plop right down. Beth doesn't do that. She may stop and look at me, or sit, or lie down slightly then leap up again and flank all on her own. It is frustrating, I could have sworn we were past this nonsense.

Later in the next lesson, Karen had me walk the sheep in a figure 8. She stood approx 50 feet from the post. Beth had to keep the sheep to me as we walked past Karen. This was to start desensitizing Beth to lifting sheep off another person and keep them with me. Each time we got near Karen, she asked me to put her in a lie down...then Karen would reach over and try to pet Beth. It took a bit to get Beth to lie down near Karen. Then when Karen went to her and tried to pet her Beth GROWLED at her and looked like she was going to take her hand off at the wrist. Karen decided to not pet her that time. As we kept doing this and Karen kept praising Beth....she finally warmed up a bit and Karen was able to pet her.

I have NEVER seen Beth bare her teeth at ANYONE! My guess is Karen has her number and Beth knows the jig is up.

To sum this up in a nutshell: We have a dysfunctional communication issue that can only be solved by remedial sheep therapy - beginning with smaller field & going back to basics. First thing, working on 'lie down means lie down' not a suggestion to run in the other direction. *sigh*

I can't wait until John stops working all this overtime and can start working Beth again. She is his dog, not mine & it is clearly starting to show.

Can we tell I am a wee bit frustrated???

Now some good news! RANGER IS WEAVING!! Finally! He is weaving six poles consistently with a spot on perfect entry - he is ready to move up to more! We took a break in agility class so I would have time to get Ranger weaving. He already has jumps, tunnel, chute, dog walk, beginning on the teeter. We were stuck on the weaves. Now that he has that we can move forward! WOOHOO!

You know..I kinda like this whole unemployment gig. I just wish I didn't have to go back to work at some point. I could very easily live a 'lady of leisure' lifestyle. Yep...dogs, dogs and more dogs. Now, where is my box of Bon Bon's...


kiwichick said...

Congrats on Rangers weaves. Beth sounds like my 13 year old BC Shandy. She always did things her way, but we did manage to do some great things together so there is hope for you and Beth. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

One thing that I have found working for me is to only take lessons from one person and only auditing clinics. That makes it easier for me to keep things consistent and not put me and my dogs in situation we are not prepared for.
You have some good trainers around you so I am sure you and Beth will work it out.

sheepkelpie said...

I see wisps of Lucy in Beth, in the down dept. Lucy is better, but it has taken a loooooooooong time. It is NOT her forte. I would put Ms Beth on a light weight long line and keep her "honest" that way.

StellaStar said...

Awww! That can be so frustrating when they don't listen, especially when you know they understand. Yay for Ranger, and good luck with Beth!