Sunday, October 2, 2011

Battles with Sheep at Vashon

Friday we spent the day at Vashon Classic Sheep Dog Trial. It was held on the beautiful Vashon Island located in Puget Sound. It requires a short ferry ride to get to the trial.

We just missed our planned ferry, so we had to wait 45 minutes for the next one. Thankfully we arrived in time for my pro-novice run with Brynn.

You know you are going to have a hard time of it when it takes 4 people to get the sheep set out. Each set out took on average 10 minutes between runs. The sheep were fresh out of the Blue Mountains where they had been grazed all summer. Fighting off predators and dealing with the recent wolf reintroduction, which has made their lives interesting to say the least. These were mature range ewes, not lambs, and were not lacking in any confidence to say the least.

Wooly tough girl attitude oozing from their decadent fleece. 

The going was rough. That is not to say this was an impossible task. Many handlers laid down some fantastic runs. Patrick Shannahan won the P/N class with Abby, and he took first yesterday in open with Java (from what I understand he and Riggs also wowed the crowd with another stunning run today - not sure of what the scores are yet).

Karen Child laid down some beautiful runs with her dogs too. Watching and studying their runs you can see it was all about handling and how the dogs responded.

The Novice/Novice class that ran on Friday - no one got a score. They ended up awarding placement based on the outrun, because I believe out of 12 dogs every single one of them had to walk up the field.

This is how John's run with Beth went.

Talk to the judge for 10 minutes, while waiting for sheep to be set out.  

Stand at the post for another 10 minutes while the sheep are refusing to come out.  Finally they are walked into this point Beth forgot why she was there.  Then John gave her a shhhhhhh, she looked at him oddly and started to trot up the center of the field & cross.  Poor John just stood there stunned, not sure of what to do.  Before Beth even arrived near the sheep, they took off yet again....

Beth near the set out trailer approx 400 yards away.

Let me add, that Beth did manage to turn those damn ewes around and was bringing them down the field to John as he was running up.  I am not sure what happened with them on the out run.  Beth can handle these type of sheep, no problem and normally her outruns are gorgeous, I think she was just confused sitting at the post and taking a nap before being sent.  I believe she thought he wanted her to walk up the field and drive them somewhere?  Who is, what it is.  She is still a good dog in my book. 

I am so happy with Brynn I am damn near giddy.  John shot video of our pro-novice run which I am trying to decide if I am going to share.  Brynn got the sheep down the field to me on both her Pro-Novice run and the Ranch run. 

We DQed in P/N for a grip, actually the judge was being VERY lenient on grips - the last grip where Brynn's feet were actually off the ground and she was being drug across the field while hanging off the ewe's neck was a little bit obvious.

I have that grip on video - which is why I am hesitant to show it.

So you will have to settle with the shots John took of Brynn with my camera, during our ranch run.

After getting the sheep down the field to me and around the post Brynn does not want to let go of their eye to start the drive.

As I tried to flank her around behind, she would zip back to their heads and hold them - which pissed them off.   

When they would finally move off of her, she crowded them, essentially picking a fight, causing them to turn around and challenge her.

If the dogs were strong, yet respectful, the sheep would cooperate.  

Brynn is certainly strong enough, but it seems she lacks confidence in that strength.  I think it will come with time and miles.  She is under 3 years old, and it will come with maturity - if I don't mess her up before then. 

That said - I am still ECSTATIC about her run.  I can see exactly what I need to work on.  Obedience mixed with building confidence.  Learning to walk into the sheep, past the bubble and keep moving instead of catching the lead ewe's eye and locking up.  Brynn is a flanking dog, she is over flanking and is hesitant to pass the safety zone bubble.

As these shots with Becki Maloney's dog Finn can show you...this was the theme of the weekend.

"Hey girls, look, it is one of those furry things with teeth.  Lets f*ck with it."

"You want a piece of this?"  she bellows as she lunges at Finn

"We will f*ck you up!" the lead ewe snarls as her friends giggle from behind. 

"I am gonna break every bone in your back!"

"Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaa! Take THAT!"

"What did I tell you?  Don't f*ck with us bitches."

Who's next? 


gvmama said...

Good for you.....looks like our Calif. range sheep. Good adjectives....strong, but also, respectful. They are quite a challenge, aren't they?

Kelpie and Collie said...

Maybe a challenge, but no where appropriate for young novice dogs. Should have been open first, then the novice dogs, to break the sheep on experienced dogs first.

gvmama said...

P.S. I wouldn't put a novice dog on range sheep. Novice and nursery dogs... we should try to set them up to be sucessful. :0)