Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chore Dog

The past month I have been treating a large wound on one of our sheep.  It was nasty, requiring daily bandage changes, debrieding, cleaning, antibiotic shots, among other things.  This wound required I be at our field every day. 

I clearly understand how utterly important it is to have a reliable, honest chore dog.  One that you can trust to stay in the same position and not harass the sheep while you work on one.  A dog that will hold a single while you restrain it, back off a the appropriate time, yet remain ready to help at a moments notice. 

That dog has been Beth.  

I tried to use Brynn for these chores, because she really needs the practical work.  But I had to be able to concentrate on treating this ewe (who was less than cooperative once she started feeling better).  One day I used Brynn, the sheep were unsettled, jumpy.  It was difficult to get them calmed down enough to grab the ewe.  When I finally got the ewe restrained, I put Brynn in a lie down, expecting her to stay.  That was a mistake.  As I was bent over, scrubbing the ewe's leg all the sheep came flying into the shelter where I had the ewe restrained, knocked my supplies over, flipped me over onto my arse.  I was none too happy.  

"Who me?  I didn't do that..."

Brynn was banned from helping me with this chore.  I simply could not properly take care of the ewe and keep an eye on Brynn at the same time.  I needed Beth. 

Every day we would go into the pen, corner the sheep so I could get the halter on the one I was treating.  After we did this several days in a row Beth knew which sheep I needed and held her in the group.  She made my job of catching that particular ewe simple.   

It built our relationship.  I learned to trust her and she learned to trust me.  

While John is trying to decide if he wants to do anymore trials with her, I have continued with working her daily. 

Our relationship has grown, matured.  I have her almost completely on whistles - which she prefers to voice commands.  

She is working better than ever.  

I respect her ability to move anything, without being mean to her sheep.  
The sheep respect her and do not give her crap.  

The ewes that used to turn on her, know better now.  

Inside flanks are still a challenge for her.  I suspect they always will be. 

Now she will confidently drive all over the field, to and fro.  She will still react and bust up her sheep if I put too much pressure on her, although I am learning how to read that before it happens and back off. 

Is it selfish of me to hope that John does not want to trial her and I will get her back?  It would be cool to see how she would do in a trial now that we have this consistent foundation of work under us. 

I cannot help myself, who could resist this face?  

I love this dog, entirely too much.  Is that even possible? 


Doniene said...

Wow!! Those partners are great aren't they!!!


gvmama said...

Consistency and experience :0) I always let Kilt do my ranch work because she makes it EASY. But, I realized that Yoko needed to take over her mother's jobs on the ranch if she were to gain the confidence her mother has with sheep. It's a little rougher on me, but alredy I can see the benefits.

Mara said...

Loved reading this post :) And no, it's not possible to love them too much!

RYKER said...

I agree, never too much love. I am so happy for the two of you!

Kirby @ Dog.Nerd.101 said...

Great post, great pictures. All about the relationship... well done. I hope you get her back!