Well to say the least, I am horrible about keeping up on this blog. I just get so side tracked with actually spending time with my boy rather than writing about it on the computer. Don't get me wrong we keep working journals, but I always forget to start putting them up here for others to read (after reading the more interesting blogs I'm sure ;) ). Anyways Chesney and I had such a great day a week ago that I had to share.
The drive to where we get to work our sheepies was very pleasant and Chesney was (for the first time in a long time) not acting stupidly excited. Once we got out and greeted friends he hung out by my side, said hello to Calli, then just stuck with me all day, which was a first for me to not have to keep nagging him about staying with me or tying him up at the truck to just watch. So he earned being able to be off leash. The sheep we were to work were in the large field when we arrived, but Chesney didn't see them in the corner so I took him out and kept telling him to "look" which we've been working on to mean, "Hey look for your sheep. They're out there"
He did great, going out just far enough in front of me and really looking, so now I know he understands what it means. Yay! His outrun was good and he stopped at the top waiting for me to whistle him on, and on he went.
On his fetch I had him bring them straight to me since the last few times he's worked I have been having him flank and drive them somewhere else with hopes of being able to redirect him on the fly while fetching to prepare us for fetch panels. He had a bit of a hiccup because he was anticipating me to redirect him but I just stood there and blew his bring them to me whistle (Tweet Tweet, Tweet Tweet) And he did just that. Once close to my feet, I, yes I practice my job when bringing them around the post and it went well. Then we did some driving around the field, calling off, outruns, and just moving the sheep from here to there. After 20 minutes... Time for water, this Louisiana heat is brutal.
We hung out a little in the shade and watched some people work their dogs in the arena and while I chatted with friends, Chesney was right there by my side the whole time just happily hanging out. I was so taken back by this and so happy.
I actually felt like I had a serious old time working dog. Hahah. The trainer needed some help with bringing the sheep in the field to a section that was laid out for a Bouvie to do some tending work, and Chesney was the man to call on for the job. The sheep by this time had moved to the far end of the pasture for shade, I said to Chesney "look!" and Look he did, Then sent him "away" and off he went to bring me sheep. He fetched them up nice, and was taking his "Take Time" whistle so well that the ladies were not running at me like a freight train and all was good when they got to me to be held until the Bouvie was sent in place. We were asked to stay close incase the sheep got to be the wiser and make a break for the hills, which they did twice, but Chesney was right there to put them back. Good Dog! After being bored because everything was under control, off to get a drink and a dip in the tub.
As soon as Chesney got out of the tub he came to sit with me by the fence and watch more dogs work in the arena, while the Bouvie finished tending the sheep we were to work, in the big field. Time for us to go back to work! The sheep were in yet a different corner or the pasture which is perfect for Chesney. This time I sent him "away" without telling him to look and being the good boy he is (and with his new found trust in me sending him that there are really sheep out there) away he went. It only took one redirect (on the fly, which was a first) for him to finally spot them (the grass is really long). Once again he dropped behind them and brought them to me.
At that point Calli was ready to work the group in the big pasture.
By the way, Calli is a little, cutie of a puppy that I brought back from California (with my friend) for my friend to actually have a working pup and a working pup she is! She is a star and only 7 months old. Well anyways while Calli is working Chesney just gets the idea (after me reminding him once) to stay back off the sheep while Calli was working and even a couple of times when they were thinking of breaking for the draw he was there to stop them without me saying anything!
When Calli was finished I put the whole flock back together after everyone was done working in the arena, and started trying some shedding with Chesney. I mean he's had such a great day so far why not try something else new, or hard. Right? Right! Well after 3 attempts Chesney really started to get it and on the fourth one it really clicked, so we ended on that note. He started to really keep the two groups separate and when one wanted to break he covered and drove them away. Success.
After that day of working I am, to say the least, truely exstatic with my boy who is just 3.5 years old and basically started, his training, over (after 2 years of stupidness because I didn't know better) just a little over a year ago. We've come a very long way to say the least, and I can't thank Anna enough. It's amazing how fast I picked something up when it was being taught properly.
Also that day I got to practice my photography skills with taking pictures of working dogs (which I think is most fun). Here is one of the fun ones I got from the day of Calli! Donna (Calli's owner, my friend) calls it a magazine shot.
Things to be worked on: Shedding and keeping the two groups separate. Having him gather the big group back together after driving them away to draw out his whistle so he starts to understand distances. Continue to work on his look back for gathering the group we split off (setting up for a double life... If we ever need to use one). I would like to work on putting a stand on him for penning and shedding. Freeing up his walk up, he gets stuck sometimes and it takes a flank whistle to snap him out of it.
Off to work my dog... Lots to do!