Now that song will be stuck in my head all day. But on another note, we went herding yesterday. We’ve been working the Pigmy goats a few weeks now and Hazer is really making some nice progress. It’s amazing how a herding dog changes their approach to reflect the type of livestock they’re working. We specifically chose to work the little goats because they have enough quickness and speed to keep Hazer on his toes, but also enough resistance to help him gain more confidence when they get bunched up in the corners of an arena or hop up on an obstacle. Sure, it would be fine to work livestock that moves gladly along, never offering a hint of resistance or flight, but that wouldn’t teach my dog how to handle everyday situations around the farm. Here, we don’t need a dog to drive livestock to the market, what we need is a dog who can gather and push them from place to place. And often on a small farm that means having to learn to navigate things you’ll never find on a trial course.
The chances of me ever having to use my dog to drive livestock across a vast field and through a couple of strategically placed panels are slim to none. Here, it’s far more likely that my goats, sheep or geese would run amok along the top of rock walls, duck under farm machinery and fence or end up in a neighbor’s garden. Then what do you do? In the photo above, one of the four Pigmy goats had suddenly split from the group and circled around behind. To avoid Hazer she would dive into the large branch that’s been dangling since our October snow storm. Frustrating obstacle? Yes, but a very realistic training scenario. It’s very woodsy here and that offers goats a perfect place to forage and hide. Time and time again Hazer had to stop, look back, then circle the branch and dive in after this little stinker. Eventually, he learned that it was easier to keep that goat with the others than to have to keep going back to get it! Good boy!! (There’s always a troublemaker in every group ….)
Hazer has been showing great improvement in listening and self-restraint. He’s looking more to me for direction and taking matters into his own hands less often. While not always the fastest dog, he’s capable of rating his pace so he can work for long periods without tiring. He never ever quits on the job at hand and when we make him take a little break he can’t wait to go back to work again. The more I herd with this dog the better he gets!