Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Learning to Trust

This weekend we will cross the mountains for a trip to the post.  Wessels Dirt Blowing Sheepdog Trial. 

Brynn and I have come a long way.  It will be interesting to see how we do this weekend.  We are running pro-novice on Sunday.
I pray we can work as partners on the trial field.  I hope I can control my anxiety.  My dream is to one day bring the confidence to the post I feel working my dog alone at home.

"I strive to be the person my dog thinks I am" ~ author unknown

Today we said goodbye to our range ewes.  

Brynn and I loaded them.  Together, as a team.  Both walking up and putting pressure on them slowly & surely.  Giving them time to think and then make the choice to jump up into the trailer on their own when they saw it was the only option open to them.  Just a small task, yet it was tremendous for me - especially with these sheep.   I knew each flank I gave Brynn, she would take.  No questions, she stepped the direction I needed, with the correct amount of pressure.  

I trust her.  She trusts me.  Together we did this, depending on each, like a dance.  It would have been impossible to do alone, or expect Brynn to do by herself.  

Partnership is a blessed thing.  

I was in awe of her slow, yet sure, inching steps forward.  I would move my arm ever so slightly, she would turn her head just a smidge...together we inched them forward.  The ewes respected Brynn, did not challenge her.  In turn Brynn respected them.  I was aware of the bubble and how my body position added pressure on them...and on to her.  

Working these sheep has been one of the best things I have ever done.  I am sad to see them go.  Alas they do not fit in my breeding program and sadly will not do well in our climate.  

They taught me a great deal.  Emphasized the bubble, by their dramatic reactions.  Gave a very clear definition of flight or fight zone.  How that zone changes with added pressure from a fence line, or a tree.  They showed me how they will hide in brush, behind fences, play circle the pen, protect lambs, attack the dog.  

I learned how to identify when my dog is too close, or not in contact.  

What precipitates a fight.  I also learned how they will run the fence line and defend their position from the highest ground. 

I learned how to watch the sheep.  The sheep tell me everything I need to know about where my dog is and what is needed next.  

With that, I have learned to trust Brynn.  I do not need to micro manage every nuance.  

Letting go and trusting is leap.  One that is precipitated by hours of practice.  

Working Brynn every day, moving sheep from one pasture to another.  Sorting, feeding, holding.  Normal chores has facilitated that trust.  

Not unlike letting go and learning to trust people.  It is a massive leap for me.  I have learned to anticipate pain, rejection or disappointment from trust.  

I have been learning...Trust is a choice.  I choose to bestow it, or withhold.  If someone violates that trust, then that is their problem, not a failing in my character.  

I used to blame myself if someone betrayed my trust.  How I convoluted that in my head is beyond me. 

The bottom line, I did not trust myself.  I did not trust my own instincts, knowledge or feelings.  

If you do not trust yourself and your own judgement, it is simply not possible to trust anything or anyone else. 

Isn't it amazing how learning to trust my dog, is teaching me how to trust myself? 

Through my dog's faith and trust in me, perhaps one day I will finally believe I'm the person my dog knows I am.  


1 comment:

Kelpie and Collie said...

You can have your own sheep behave just like the range sheep, if you separate them from your regular work sheep. My Cheviots are like the range ewes. I use them sparingly and for short times only. As to people interactions, for me it is simple. Only surround yourself with friends that bring you up, not down. If you spend time with someone and you go home thinking- WOW, that was FUN! can't wait to get together again, that is how it should be. If you go home and wonder "why would she/he say/do something like that to me?" then, well, you need to move on.