Friday, November 14, 2008
Bapper, Rambo and Chevy were Ken's dog broke sheep. They were easy to work with and handle. Unfortunately, too easy to handle. I had discovered when I went to dog trials the sheep there behaved differently! They were NOT interested in running towards me irregardless of what my dog was doing. This was a serious impediment to my training. Decision made Ken's sheep went to a new home and I went sheep shopping.
After much debate and angst, I bit the bullet and purchased 6 cull ewes. This meant they were cheap. I knew I'd have my work cut out for me as I "dog" broke them. What I know now - I wish I knew then. Much to my surprise these sheep had no, as in zip, zero, nada, interest in hanging out in the corral. These sheep were bound and determined to run away. And run they did. First running into the brushy back forty. I managed to get 4 of them back down to the corral. Putting my exhausted dog away I went looking for the other 2. The old owner had assured me that they came nicely to "Here, sheep, sheep!" accompanied by the rattle of a grain bucket.
Carrying my bucket of grain and calling like a lunatic I began the trek through the scrub to look for the sheep. Fighting mosquitoes, prickly bush and my fear of the neighborhood cougar, I spotted one in the distance. Trying to act nonchalant, I began a stealthy circle around the sheep. (These sheep had no interest in coming to my grain call.) My thinking being if I got behind it, it would at least run towards the yard. I have never seen sheep run like these ones did. While they didn't look it I'm sure they were part deer or gazelle. They were fast and agile. They were also gone. And not back into the barnyard! Discouraged I began walking the fence line. With no sight nor sound of the sheep, hot and tired, I began the long walk back home.
Only to discover them calmly grazing alongside the cattle in the neighboring field. Okay, now what? Walking home, gathering the dog and finally, successfully moving the sheep back into the corral. Whoo Hooo!
Time passed and while remaining freakishly wild, the sheep started to settle in. I became more brave while working them. One evening a friend of Ken's came to visit and work his dog. His young, not really trained dog...
While working one of the sheep broke from the herd and ran like the gazelle it was back into the corral. I thought it wouldn't be a big deal as they were locked up at night anyhow. Rather than stop where it was fed this sheep chose to run through the corral and out the fence. As it was getting late, (and I was still irritated with my last chasing adventure), I decided the sheep could come home on it's own or get ate by a wild animal.
The next morning outside doing chores (What you need to realize is when I do chores I generally roll out of bed, pull on some sweats, don't stop to brush my hair, or teeth, put on a bra, deodorant, etc. I generally do all that and shower AFTER I've fed the animals.) when a car pulls into the driveway. An older gentleman rolls down the window, "hey, are you missing a sheep?" Surprise I nod an affirmative, he then proceeds to tell me it's just down the road. Not wanting to be responsible for a vehicle animal collision I gather up my trusty grain bucket and begin walking down the road. And I walked and walked, then walked some more. Still no sign of the sheep from hell. Calling, shaking the grain bucket - nothing!
About a mile down the road, a large truck slows down, a man shouts out the window "If you're looking for a sheep it's a 1/2 mile ahead of you. Inspired I pick up speed. Another mile passes. Still no sheep. Hot, tired, hungry, sweaty and grouchy I try to decide what to do. My mom pulls up in her car with the dog riding shotgun. Guzzling the Gatorade she brought me we drive down the road - still no sign of sheep. (By this time it's 25 degrees Celsius out...) While I was ready to quit and head home, mom decides we need to start stopping at houses. Where I live on the east side of the road is a large national park bordered by a large provincial park, on the west side of the road are acreages. As a last ditch effort we pull into the grazing reserve. Mom felt they should be notified. While mom's talking with the caretaker (I had refused to get out of the car looking like I did.) I noticed the sheep. My sheep! It was walking around the corner of a building.
Remember, I'm hot, tired and mildly grouchy at this point. Hopping out of the car I persuasively start shaking the grain. The sheep's head shoots into the air! It begins to trot in the opposite direction. Infuriated I let the dog out of the car. Springing into action the race is on! And the sheep is once again gone... sigh. Wishing I could just leave the stupid thing, I once again begin walking only this time with Tessa. Periodically I'd stop and send Tessa into the brush (no this was not open field - all heavy bush), after another mile and half we reached the horse gate leading to the road. Heaven sent, my mom was sitting there with the car. Exhausted, home I went. And no - the sheep was never seen again. I hope it died a nasty death by coyote!
Needless to say I did learn a lesson. The remaining sheep (less the one who impaled herself days prior) went to the auction market. And I went sheep shopping once again...
In the picture: Bapper, Rambo and Chevy in a stand off with Tessa. The next picture would have been the dog diving into the sheep, mouth agape, and sheep scattering every which direction.