Thursday, October 6, 2011

Going to the Head of the Matter

Lesson for the Day:  Do not try to work your dog while sitting down and shooting a video.  It does not end well. 

It is finally getting through my thick skull why I need to watch my sheep more than I watch my dog.

I was so very proud of Brynn at Vashon, but it clearly showed me what was going a very big way.  I have been struggling with Brynn, trying to teach her how to hold a line.  Setting up training situations where she has to hold a line sideways to a draw, where the sheep are pushing on her.  But my timing has been seriously off.  I have been trying to keep her at the shoulder, just before she catches the eye of the sheep.  Trying to get her to feel that 'sweet-spot' where she can feel in control of the sheep, but not heading them.

I knew going into Vashon Brynn's outrun was golden.  Her lift is usually nice (with these very difficult range ewes, it was a bit, punchy).  We had been working on the issues on the fetch.  I was able to get her to acknowledge me on the fetch which was a HUGE accomplishment - then Brynn stuffed the sheep through the fetch panels, but the problems on the fetch and getting around the post are all from her going to the heads & catching their eye when she is feeling out of control.

We wont talk about the gripping - which I caused - from the tension in my voice and where I was laying her down & asking her to walk up.  I have no idea what was going on in my head when the sheep hid behind the pen.   Our scores before the DQ were 0-3-6-DQ. 

Dianne watched the video of our Pro/Novice run at Vashon and had some great pointers. How excellent is it that we have modern technology that will allow your trainer in another state to evaluate you and your dog and give training advice from watching a simple four minute video? 

My mission:  I need time my corrections so they are given at the right time, when Brynn still has a chance to offer a different behavior while she is still in control of the sheep.  Too soon and she loses them to the draw.  Too late and she sweeps immediately to the their heads.

To time my correction properly I need to watch the sheep, NOT MY DOG.

Imagine that?  How long have I been doing this?  Three years?  Doh!

If I watch for the subtle turn of their heads I will know when Brynn has finally moved up in the 'sweet-spot' and has control of them.

When I get her in the right spot, she just motors along, backs off and stops jerking  them all over the field.  

The sheep stop calling me names too.  Speaking of names...

This one is Maimie, a columbia/rambouillet.  We call her that because she was 'maimed' at the end of August.  It was not an intentional maiming, just one of those things that can happen.  

She and I have a working relationship. Every day I have had to catch her, tie her to a post, remove the wet/dry dressing, debried (scrub) the wound, inject her with antibiotics, give her probiotics, and until last week redress the wound.

Let me insert this little advert.  Granulex is a freaking AWESOME product!  

If you are at all squeamish, do not look at this picture.  I am putting in in here small, enlarge it to get the full impact.  This is what the wound looked like 2 weeks after the initial injury (the blue stuff is Blue Coat.  To give you perspective, hold up your palm and look at it...the wound was the size of an average person's palm.  Approx 4.5 inches by 5 inches.  

This is what it looks like 1 month later, after we began applying Granulex & daily dressing wet/dry dressing changes.  I shot this photo last week. I stopped with the dressings then and have kept the wound open. 

While this has given me countless hours doing meaningful chores with the dogs.  It has not endeared me to Maimie.  She is a gem when she is tied up - but getting her to that point has been increasingly difficult.  She is a wilely, smart ewe.

This is her sister, Piglet, also a columbia/ramboillet.  We call her that because she is the fattest ewe I have ever seen. 

This ewe thinks I am made out of grain.  She would follow me around like a puppy dog if I let her.  She gets whacked on the snout, a lot.

I named her Esther.  Esther has been enjoying her daily workout - NOT.   

My other Romney ewes have names too.  There is Sissy, Ruth & Beulah.  I named the cluns too, Dopey, Stupid, Dumbo, Goofy, Moron.  Usually their names are preceded by a 'F' word. 

Monique refuses to acknowledge my sheep naming.  She said they have names already.  619, 515, 404, 469, and so on. 



Ferreh Hiatt said...

If it makes you feel better, I name all of my ewe lambs too. Boys don't get names right off because, well, we might eat them if they grow well enough. If they don't reach weight by a year, they get to stick around and be herding sheep and then they get named.

BorderWars said...

The video and photos are great as always. I'm surprised one of those sheep didn't try and take a nibble on your lens. Glad that Maimie is doing well.