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Posts tagged “herding

Bliss

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This is the face of a very happy dog! Nothing can make this boy smile like doing the job he was bred to do.


Two Heads

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… are better than one!


Gathered Together

 

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A small flock waits to see if someone will open the gate and let them into the pasture.


Circle Game

 

 

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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!


Goat Picnic

 

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Nothing says “cute” like a mini goat on a picnic table! Can’t tell he’s standing on a table? Here, let me back up a little:

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His Highness

 

 

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Even though I’m not a huge fan, it’s pretty hard not to like these little goats. There’s something about the floppy ears that give them a soft and woeful expression. But actually, they’re pretty tough and they don’t hesitate to hold their ground when my dog tries to move them off their lofty stone fortress. This little cutie was catching the last warm rays before sunset and I didn’t have the heart to disturb him.


There

 

 

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I forgot my camera when Hazer and I went herding this week. Given my camera is practically cloned to my hand, that’s a pretty big oversight. And it particularly irked me because I spent the better part of ten (precious) minutes packing it up and making sure I had everything I might need to get some good herding shots. It was a beautiful fall morning and the conditions were ripe for taking the kind of pictures I like to try to get. But in the chaos of feeding multiple critters (including myself) and getting out the door, I ran a bit late, and somehow managed to walk out the door without my gear. I realized my mistake about ten minutes up the road, but I was running on fumes and knew I barely had enough gas (and time) to get to the farm and back on what little I had left in the tank. I couldn’t go home and get my stuff, so there are no new herding photos. And it figures that there were five new curly goats at the farm that morning. Every few minutes I found myself muttering, “Oh THERE’S a Kodak moment!”

This photo is from last week’s herding session; a rare moment when Hazer had been told, “There” and was (against his better judgment) complying.


Friends

 

 

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When your back is up against a wall it’s good to have the help of a friend.

P.S. No goats (or dogs) were harmed to obtain this photo!


Beauty

 

 

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I’m not a big fan of goats, but I have to admit I’m a tad enamored with this one.  I guess the saying is true: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!


Water Sports (And Other Herding Games)

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This little guy was getting his first exposure to sheep on a very hot day. Being an Australian Cattle Dog, he quickly discovered the easiest way to cool off is to hop in the water tub. What you can’t see is the Border Collie, who’s driving the sheep toward him. (Though I’m pretty sure this confident little fella just thought he was a blue sheep magnet.) For a moment there he wasn’t sure which was more important; the water tub or the sheep! He waited until the sheep settled down a bit, then hopped out of the tub and went back to investigating the sheep. Atta boy!

It’s so exciting to watch a herding dog get their first taste of livestock. (And for some dogs, that “taste” is literal!) Even more exciting is helping your dog hone their herding skills. It’s not for the faint of heart and it can be a long and challenging journey, but it’s so rewarding. And addicting! I hope I get to see even more of this young pup in the future!