I finally reached my breaking point.
I was chasing the lambs out of the f*#$@&g cornfield the other night and there it was. I didn’t know that it was so close, but boom, suddenly it was there. It was like reaching a perverse goal that you don’t really know that you are aiming for. I was just completely and utterly done with chasing sheep.
I had been thinking hard about getting a working dog for a while. I’ve never had a working dog before so I didn’t know how to go about getting one, training one, and all the myriad of other details that come with a four-legged coworker. At the IS&WF I spoke briefly with Wayne from Leaning Tree Stock Dogs about what I needed but we only had a few moments to chat (I was rather busy at the time) and so I got his contact information and called him. We spoke on the phone for a bit about what I needed from a dog and we spoke again when I went out to his place that evening to make sure that I got the right dog for what I needed. In this case, it would be about ninety-five percent sheep work helping me and about five percent cattle work helping dad when he needs it.
Working with sheep and working with cattle are two very different things for dogs. Cattle require some nipping and a little more forwardness from the dog whereas with sheep you don’t want practically any nipping and most of the work is done with the eyes and body language. Since sheep are such prey animals they have a tendency to strongly avoid any predator animal that seems to be hunting them, all the dog has to do is follow them in a menacing manner to make them move. However, teaching the dog to move when and where you want them to is how they can actually help you rather than just causing chaos in the flock.
That is where I am at with this guy. His name is Mike.
He is an almost two year-old Border Collie from working lines. Currently he is still living at Leaning Tree and I am going out there several times a week and working with him. This makes sense as they have the facilities for working with dogs to teach them as well as the fact that I don’t really know what I’m doing….
It will be a while before he comes home with me and I start him working with my sheep. I’m viewing this period as employee training time.
I’m sure that you will be seeing lots of this guy in the coming months, but for now, know that he is part of the reason that I am not on here as much as I have been.