This was our last weekend working sheep in Southern Louisiana and Mississippi. It was a bitter-sweet weekend. The bitter... Saying farewell to all the wonderful people we've had the chance to meet. The sweet... Chesney (and all the other dogs) worked great this weekend. I will miss everyone that has helped me along the way this semester and thank them for their input and letting Chesney and I continue working.
On Saturday Chesney was working well. We worked on trying to get him deeper at the top of his outruns. Every time I thought he was drifting in tighter to his sheep, I would down him and then walk towards the sheep (not to him) and then send him on telling him "out". He went deeper the first time. We fetched them up to the top of the hill then another dog came for an outrun. Then I sent Chesney again to the same side to see if he would understand that he needed to be wider. He started to drift in so I downed him and walked towards the sheep again. I told him "out" and out he went. We repeated this about 5 times. One of the times he kicked himself out, it wasn't far enough, but he gave me something so I let him be. One of the outruns he started to drift in and I blew his down whistle and Chesney totally ignored it... 3 times. He did not get to work his sheep and was taken to the top of the hill to try that stunt again. Stinker! After outruns Chesney got a long break while we watched the younger dogs work.
When we needed the group out of the front field Chesney was called to duty where he had to sweep the field and bring them to me. This was a tougher outrun for him because I sent him to the left where he would have to run by a group of sheep in a pen. He should have ignored them, but he just couldn't help himself and got stuck. I called him back, not all the way back to me, then sent him again. He gathered the group well. I was WAY more impressed with the straightness of his fetch line. He was reading pressure well and was off to the side to bring them in straight. He was so good. I let him drive them to the gate we needed to move them through (which was where he ran past to gather and fetch the sheep). We put them in the side training field then sorted a handful out into the big field.
Once they were in the training field, I had Chesney walk past them leaving them alone and told him to get a drink. He did well leaving them be in the field. After some of the young dogs worked little outruns in the back field I had Chesney gather the group in the training field. His gather was so pretty, I didn't have to steady him at all. We sorted half them into the big field so Chesney and I could try a shed. Shedding was good, Chesney comes in enthusiastically, but still has trouble with the whole idea of pushing them at a reasonable pace away from the other group. He just moves so fast still with this! It will get better though.
After moving everyone into the big field at the end of the day we called it quits. I was very pleased wit him. He learned a lot.
Sunday was a good day. We sorted two groups for the other dogs to work. Chesney is really doing well in the pens where he can see a group of sheep on the other side of the fence. He is learning to just focus on the group in the pen he is in. We pushed a group of lighter sheep for the more advanced dogs to work in the big field, then we sorted another group for dogs to work in the arena.
I had Chesney drive the group around the open field for a little while to try and settle them and put them in a place for the other dogs to pick them up. Calli did some outruns so she could learn her down whistles. She was doing well. Chesney really seems to understand when we are helping young dogs work and just be back up for them. He will lay still when everything is under control and only tries to help when this get a little wild. I have to remind him that it's ok for things to get a little fast and busy, they are learning, like he did. He usually settles in and waits for me to ask for his help. Such a good boy.
We had a moment Sunday that I WISH I had on video. Chesney went to cover the group from heading to the gate in the corner of the big field. I shushed him to bring them back and he went out and covered the draw. The sheep didn't move so easily off him though, and he covered one steps at a time and counter acted every move the group made. He was stylish, thoughtful, and calm. He fetched them at a nice pace and in a straight line. It was probably the highlight of what I have been working on with him over this semester. What a great day to leave on!