a blog about Kilt and her kids plus Trouble our JRT mascot.

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Teaching (tending to) your spouse

Whoa...there is a headliner :0)   I worked a little, a very little with Wayne and Jet.  Now I am introducing him to working our sheep on our 3 acres with Yoko. It's a bit tricky, because we have no fences and if they get away from him, they are up the mountain in deep brush or on the main canyon road.  Yoko has worked the sheep on the property all spring and trust me, she has them dialed in.  I have even taught her the words "Pen them."  She knows her job.  So, now I am trying to teach Wayne.  It's not fair to let the 9 sheep get fat and lazy in their 1/3 of an acre pen and barn.  They need to come out and run a bit.  The grazing will be next to gone this month.  No more green grass until next winter.

When I am home, I say to Wayne, "Let's go let the sheep graze."  I only offer to help if he gets in trouble. I stand by, just in case. I know I should use the other dogs once in awhile.  But, Yoko is so proud of her work and Wayne has to say little or nothing to her.  She knows all the boundaries.  When the sheep are getting too far up the drive, she stands and gives me a look.  "Okay, Mom...now?"  I just need to nod and she is off.  Sometimes Yoko makes her own decisions as to where the sheep should be and requires no assistance from me.  Even if she doesn't look like she is paying full attention to where the sheep are on the property, trust me, she knows exactly where they are and what they are doing.

Lots of loose eyed breeds are good at "tending."  In Europe and in the U.S. they have "C" courses for large grazes.  I have watched my friends teach their dogs to tend using a mowed rectangle around a grazing area or a furrowed pathway around the graze area.  The dog walks/trots the furrowed path keeping the livestock in the graze area. 

"Tending dogs are used to move, feed and protect the flock. It's a livestock management type of herding historically done by GSDs (Belgians & Briards). Before the industrial revolution, shepherding was a full time job, moving the sheep from place to place daily to graze them in harvested or vacant fields, government land, roadsides, where ever grass grew. There weren't fences to contain the sheep, that was the dog's job. The dog protected the sheep from predators, by patrolling a border (natural or man made) and prevented the sheep from eating or trespassing in other areas. At the end of the day, the dogs gathered the sheep out of the pasture and following the shepherd, lead the flock home for the night. Tending dogs compete on C Course."

I'm no expert on "tending," but Yoko has figured out the sheep boundaries and is tending to them, so they don't go up the mountain, eat my roses, or get down to the main canyon road.   Every dog has something "special" that they do better than the other dogs.  This just happens to be Yoko's specialty.
The other day while I was at work, Wayne had Yoko take the sheep out on the property.  I asked him how it went?  He said, "No problem, Yoko does a great job."  Yea Yoko.  Brave Wayne. :0)

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