It was an eventful weekend, as usual. Somehow that doesn't sound right. If they're mostly eventful weekends, does that make the occasional boring one the one to note? Hmm. Anyway, it was a busy one for sure.
Saturday i loaded the dogs up and we drove over to Denise's for a little get-together and dog working. The sheep were feeling wild and i thought the dogs handled them pretty well. Zac and Jet did fine. I think Zac is needing more work than i've been giving him, he's feeling a little desperate to get more. I'll have to work on that. I had Denise holding sheep for Billy since he'll have to get used to that when i start running him in trials. He seemed to handle the "held sheep" part pretty well but i thought it was time to get him going just a little deeper at the top end. I just stopped him as he was going around and fussed at him a little to get him to lean more off the sheep. He was understanding it pretty quickly, started giving a bit more space on his own. I think he felt how it was working better for him to give a little more room on wilder sheep. I brought him out for a second session in the afternoon and he was definitely giving more room on his tighter left side, the one i'd worked on in the morning. It was kind of funny to see the look on his face when i was stopping him and fussing at him. He's been wrong so infrequently in his training that he seemed quite offended about it all, looking at me like "okay, i got it, don't get your panties in a twist". It was a fun day, with nice folks and good dog work. I especially enjoy when the young dogs come out for their little sessions. It's nice to get an early snapshot of dogs i may see for a long time.
Sunday was another lesson day at Julie's place. I didn't have quite as many dogs to get through this time around, so it was a bit more relaxed, which was nice. There were still plenty though. Laura brought out Linc and he made very significant progress from one session to the next in the round pen. He's going around the sheep in a calm and thoughtful manner now and looking more for a balance "point" rather than just racing around and around with adrenaline pumping in his ears. He's taking his down and feeling like it's a working command rather than a "stop working" command, so not fighting about it. I'm hoping she'll bring him out to my place in a couple of weeks so we can get him in a bigger space on a larger flock of calm sheep, and he should really leap forward in his training. I also worked with Pam's 1.5 year old bitch Fly in the round pen, and she made tremendous progress. I've worked her a few times since she was about 7 months old and she's been a busy little thing, racing around and not quite ready for the thinking stage. Yesterday i ended up giving her a bit of a correction that just kicked her into slowing down and thinking, and it was like a light went on for her. It felt good to her and she liked it. She's a smart one. Expect to hear more about Fly as i'll be taking her in for training shortly. There were several dogs working out on the pasture. Lauren came out with Mac and we ended up working on her seeing how to slow down running sheep by slipping Mac into the pressure enough to slow them without stopping them. She was seeing this really well and just needs Mac to be stopping a little more crisply. Mary came out with Ben and they're really getting to be a nice team. We worked some on keeping him up on his sheep, on his downs, and breaking one of his flanks into smaller pieces so it's a little more controlled. It's mostly polish work and they're going to do well on the trial field once they get those last little pieces worked out. Beth's Wisp had a really good day. She's a youngster getting started out and had some real "aha" moments yesterday. We worked on letting her catch running sheep so she'd learn to let go a bit and trust her instincts. In her second session, we moved to a part of the pasture where the sheep are hard to fetch (drawn back to their friends in another pen) and let her work out balancing them. It was fun to see her learning to trust herself. Where the 2 dogs in the round pen needed to learn to slow down and think a bit, Wisp is one that needs to speed up and not think so hard, and trust herself. Becca and Ted were also working out on the big pasture and we were doing some fine tuning and trying to let Ted know he can trust himself a bit more too. He's driving nicely but when the sheep lean to one side, Ted is a little unsure if he should fix the balance or not. I was trying to get Becca to see when this happens so she can give Ted a little encouragement so he'll go ahead and listen to himself - you can see that he's thinking he should fix it, is leaning that way, but not quite sure enough to just do it. He's really thinking and trying so hard to be a good dog. We also worked a tiny bit with Julie's Lark, on her shedding. It was a long day but full of really good dog work, and seeing them all making such good progress is fun and rewarding for me.
The other big event of the weekend was Spottie going to her new home. Assuming everyone gets along and it's a good fit, this will be her permanent retirement home, with Karen and Kenny Ancarrow (and the kids). She's still got some good working time left in her to show them the ropes on their sheep flock and the trial field. And she can help break them in while they get their dogs trained up. Karen has a really nice up-and-coming male named Joe (sire to Darci's Bear) as well as a youngster named Ru that i haven't seen but hear is pretty special. My hope is the twin 10 year old girls (Kathryn and Kailey) will be fighting over Spottie and have her spoiled rotten in no time. It sounds like they've made a good start on it in the first 24 hours she's been there.