Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gong Show

This afternoon I went out before chore time to let Reba have some freedom. This blistering cold has been hard on her because it forces me to keep her cooped up (she get's cold if left in her dog run). Creating a hyper little Border Collie. As the temperature had creeped up to -25 I thought I'd give her a quick work.

Reba's one sided and needs some help going around the sheep. We had been doing awesome but the weather and lack of daylight has caused an erratic and inconsistent training schedule. Currently Reba wants to run back and forth with random crashes into the sheep. The plan for today was to get her circling both directions and quit. We were doing great when Reba crashed and two sheep broke off, and made a run for freedom. Reba had started out after the upstarts only to circle around behind me.

With my foggy and frosty glasses I thought she was still after the sheep. After all I could see her under the panels where the farm implements are kept, moving to cut them off. When suddenly the sheep behind me surged forward. Swinging around I see Reba behind me. If Reba's behind me who is in front of me? Someone had let Tessa outside. Of course nobody bothered to tell me. Let the gong show begin.

To put it politely, Tessa is fresh. She has not been able to work, run or play for the last 4 months. Only being allowed outside to use the facilities. Nothing else. This has created a hearing impairment. All those commands she knows - magically disappeared. You could literally see her thinking "Yeehaw! Get em!".

As a sheep runs by with Tessa flapping off the side I'm yelling at her to "Get out!", meanwhile Reba's thinking is "What the? Yeah, let's get em!" The sheep are scattering every which direction, which of course riles up Buddy who had been enjoying his grain. He starts running around like a wild thing. This winds the dogs and sheep up even more.

With some speedy maneuvering I manage to get Tessa stopped and recalled to my side. Looking up I see two sheep being pursued by Reba across the field. I decide to send Tessa to collect up the sheep, or at least get them heading in the right direction. Off she goes. And only one sheep comes back in front of her. Thankfully the remaining sheep realized it's buddy was back where the hay was and it came bleating in on it's own.

Lying Tessa down in the straw I begin the process of getting a wound up Reba stopped. Of course the moment I turn my back Tessa is up and moving back into the fray. With a deep breathe I call her off. The added bonus was her listening. Taking Tessa back into the house I try again with Reba. Buddy's racing back and forth is understandably driving her nuts. Change of plans. Get Buddy stopped and calmed down. Once accomplished, I refocus on Reba. All in all, it took about 5 minutes to get her calmed down and listening. The sun disappearing my sheep lesson is aborted for the day. Reba and I go for a quick walk in the field, then back to jail she goes.

I really did go out with the best of intentions...
In the photo: Reba on the stalk.

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