Last weekend Dianne Deal stayed with us while she taught three fully booked days of lessons in Yelm.
Dianne amazes me. She has such a positive attitude - all the time. Even when it is 100 degrees. Everyone is grumpy. Not Dianne - she is going like the energizer bunny. I think Dianne is powered by solar energy & sun block. The sun shines and she goes a thousand miles an hour.
Brynn's littermate Islay came to lessons again. She brought her handler Una with her.
I mentioned in this blog before that Una has become addicted to herding. Since the last time Dianne was here Una ran Islay in a small trial at Brigands. She made the decision this time to send Islay to Dianne for training in September.
It is like watching Brynn on the field when I see Islay working. They are very similar in working style.
It will be very cool to see Islay when she gets done with Dianne. I can't wait to see them on the trial field. Helping to put rescue dogs on the map.
I wish we knew for sure where Brynn's litter really came from. I would like to have another one from the same breeding. Alas - they are rescues, and there are so many wonderful dogs out there already. But I can dream...
As usual Dianne filled my head full of stuff. She was very happy with how both Beth and Brynn are coming along. No slippage back ward - only moving forward.
For me the process has been slower. I was remembering when I learned to speak German & later Spanish. At first you have to memorize the words & conjugations. You speak slowly the whole time thinking in English...mentally translating into the foreign language.
Then after a while, you are faster, your vocabulary has expanded. Things are quicker, some becoming a habit - but you still think in English then translate into the language.
You know you are fluent when you THINK in the foreign language.
It is the same thing with learning this "sport".
The flanks are coming more consistently. I don't have to mentally think which direction the flank is every time. 90% of the time I am getting it right. I am clearly not 'fluent' yet - but getting there.
I will be fluent when I think in the correct flank.
Now Dianne has me using my whistle most of the time. This evening Brynn was taking all of my flank whistles - as long as I get them right.
We did have a few moments where she stopped - looked at me like I lost my mind - then took the flank when I gave it to her verbally.
Driving is coming along. Brynn gets sticky driving. The trick with her is to keep her moving by giving her small flanks, back and forth so she doesnt hitch up. She is 'hitched' when she stops and lifts one leg in the air like a pointer.
Then stands there staring at the sheep. It is hard to get her to take a step forward.
One thing I worked on after Athena - was studying how Brynn listens. What are the cue's she gives me when I know she has heard me - such as a flick of the ear, or a twitch of her head in my direction. In the past when I think she was ignoring me - she wasn't - I just didnt give her direction.
Another thing we worked on in my lessons with Dianne was to watch the sheep. On top of all the new language I am learning I need to grasp a whole 'nuther concept.
Watch my dog in the periphery. Keep my dog in my peripheral vision - focus on the sheep. Where are the sheep going? Where are their heads pointed? If I keep watching my dog I miss all of this - in order to place my dog correctly behind them - I need to watch them - not my dog.
ARRRGGGHHHH! My head is going to EXPLODE!
At Dianne's suggestion this weekend we took the sheep out of the field and drove them up the road that is under construction near Cindy's house. This was AWESOME!
It is not often you are given the opportunity like this. No traffic, visual boundaries (ditches) & a nice long straight place to practice driving.
The sheep were not thrilled to be moving away from their pasture - so Brynn had to push a bit.
Once we got going - she kept a nice steady pace. I was happy.
That changed the minute we turned around to come back. The sheep wanted to run back to the barn. Brynn felt that draw and kept zipping to the front and hooking them back to me. A learning moment for me too.
I have said this a hundred times. I really need to keep things calm - not escalate to a bellowing fishwife. I did it again this evening when Brynn took off on me and tried to take things into her own 'paws'. Yelling only amps her up - it does not cause her to think - just move faster and morph in to "LAWN DART" mode.
Lawn Dart - is not disobedient. Lawn Dart is a little dog desperately trying to please me. And I imagine trying to stay as far away from me as possible. Like my kids have told me before "Scary Mommy is Ugly".
Brynn has seen "Scary Mommy" too.
Cindy took a picture of me tonight in "Scary Mommy" mode. It is VERY ugly.
Scary Mommy needs to tape her whistle to her mouth and shut up.
4 days ago