While I was home in California for the weekend taking my firefighter test, I decided to take Tucker out to Anna's and work sheep, since I didn't have Chesney to work that weekend (he was still in Louisiana) I could concentrate on by Big Guy. On the way out there (it was early and I was driving with just Tucker) I got to thinking these crazy ideas. At least at first they seemed crazy, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured... Why not? And for this crazy thinking I was doing... I was thinking of trying to see if I could train Tucker up to run him in a Nov/Nov level course! Yep, crazy, I know. Well, crazy if you know Tucker and have seen him work.
Now lets take a few steps back to a week or so before all this. I found an English Shepherd Yahoo group. I posted some pictures and described Tucker's personality, everyone said that without a doubt they think Tucker is an English Shepherd. So I started doing some research on the groups archives to see if people have posted anything about working their dogs to see what their working traits were.
With this new information and way of thinking on how I was going to start Tucker for real this time, got me thinking that I could make him useful (not that he doesn't have a purpose of being the worlds greatest family dog). So we pull up and get out, I just let Tucker out of the car and he was very good. He just hung out with the other dogs, ran around a little, road with us to fix a fence, then hung out by the tree while I caught up with Anna, all the while the group of sheep were loose in the field and he didn't bother them.
I took him in to work three times that day, the first time I took him in it was burning off excited energy from not working regularly. Typical young, new dog stuff. I will say though, this time, compared to the first time I brought him out to work (almost 2 years before) he was simply listening better and acting much more responsive to my body language and pressure. Taking him out after the first work and letting him think helped for the second time I worked him. We spent much less time circling and more time actually fetching, even though he was still moving to fast and wearing a lot. The third time I took him in I had him walking and trotting slower behind the group and you could actually see him start thinking about where he needed to be, how hard he needed to push... and get this... actually stopping (either sitting or laying down) when I asked for a lay down.
On the drive home I had a new found confidence that my crazy idea wasn't so crazy... maybe. Only time will tell though, whether Mr. Tucker can handle the pressure of working with a person and progressing through the stages of training. Even if he doesn't make it past a novice level he will serve as a good teacher for me, helping me fine tune my working and handling abilities.