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

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Special people and special dogs

Yep, I finally broke down and had a lesson with Yoko.  Well, actually TWO lessons this year.  I had a short lesson with Suzy Applegate when I was breeding Kilt to Buzz.  And, on Thursday I drove to Pine Valley with a friend and had a lesson with Wilda Bahr.

I have always admired Wilda for being such a nice person.  When I went to Sonoma the very first time by myself several years ago and parked at a campground sleeping in my truck, Wilda befriended me. She invited me for appetizers and drinks and introduced me to many handlers.  She also said, "I don't understand how you look so good in the morning after sleeping in your truck."  She came over to view my sleeping/organization of things in my Avalanche.  I have never forgotten her graciousness.  She also checked in on me at the trial each day and asked how my dogs were doing.  These are things you don't forget.  These are special people.  Just as I will never forget Diane Pagel's graciousness at LaCamas (Washington) when my ribs were broken.  I was in agony trying to suck it up, because I had come so far to trial Yoko.  Diane fed me, and gave me her bed while she slept on her trailer couch.  She took time to even take some pictures of Yoko and I trialing at LaCamas.  I never forget friends like that.  Thank-you for being you.

Back to Wilda....one thing I have admired is the ability of her dogs to be able to take wide, sweeping, square flanks on the fetch when needed.  I have not mastered this with any of my dogs.  My dogs "if" they give any ground on the fetch give only a bit of ground.  This tends to speed up the sheep versus catching the lead sheep's eye. 

Yoko is a loose eyed dog.  I don't ask her for square flanks, because of her lack of eye. She gets along with a slicey type of flank driving. She kind of works like my Aussies I had in the past. When she brings the sheep on her fetch when "trialing," she says, "I have them and I am not letting go of them."  I stop her and try to flank her to no avail.  I'm lucky if she gives me a few feet which tends to make the sheep go even faster in the direction they are going.  Luckily she balances quite well, but there are those instances when the sheep have a strong draw that you need a wide square sweeping flank in order to catch the lead sheep's eye to turn them to make the fetch panels. 

This is what I wanted to learn.  Wilda took time to get to know Yoko.  I really appreciated her "read" of her.  Yoko is sensitive, always wants to be right, and gets excited and stressed, if she thinks she might be wrong, type of dog.   Once she is stressed, she will try many behaviors as fast as she can to see if that's what you want without really "thinking."  When she gets to that point, she needs a time-out to get her head straight. She is a difficult read. 

Wilda watched Yoko's reactions to our corrections on our first go round.  The second time out she figured her out nicely.  She knew we couldn't ask for square flanks driving, or Yoko would go into orbit on the outruns.  She is a naturally wide outrunner.  We only are asking her to flank squarely with distance on the fetch.  We send her on her outrun, let her bring them on, stop her and ask for a flank.  If she doesn't give enough ground, squarely at a 45 degree angle, I stop her and very quietly point my wand at her while walking into her and ask her for another flank making sure she turns out away and gives ground.  Then we flank her the other way around her sheep and do the other side, all of the time only on the fetch. 

This may be sheep herding 101 for many of you, but it is something I have missed along the way.  Anyway, I am looking forward to trailering out to the desert this weekend and working for a few minutes now and again on this exercise.  As most of you know I have never been sure that Yoko would make it this far as a trial dog.  She is what I call a "sleepy" dog....slow to mature.  Plus, she lacks eye and push.  But, she is the sweetest pup ever and I enjoy working her.  That's what counts. :0)   I'm setting my goals on open next year.

1 comment:

DeltaBluez Tess said...

I truly enjoy our friendship and hope we do many more trials together again.

Beside Yoko and Rainey are *soulmates* on the trial field!