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Left home again, but she brought me pictures.

September 21, 2012

Robin was gone last weekend. Dan and I were in charge here, but there wasn’t very much to do. When Robin got back she showed me photos of the Sheepdog Trials at the place where she spent the weekend. She said that she could only watch a few dogs because she had to work (Yeah, right. Sounds like a vacation to me.) Robin said that I could probably explain these to you from a sheepdog’s perspective.

Robin heard that the  sheep they were using for the trial were very difficult for a dog to work in a competition. The sheep live in the mountains with guardian dogs and are usually moved by people using ATV’s, so these sheep didn’t understand what to do when a sheepdog showed up.

In the competition each dog works a group of three sheep. The sheep are let out of the pens that are behind those gray tarps and the dog is supposed to get them and bring them to the handler at the other end of the arena. Then the dog has to make the sheep go through 2 different sets of gates, a Y-chute, and into a pen. (Those gates don’t look like gates to me. Gates are usually in the middle of a fence, but these are just openings between 2 panels. How silly–what good is a fence with only 2 panels?). The person (handler) can talk or whistle to the dog, but has to stand on these little boards at each obstacle, so can’t help with moving the sheep. The dog gets points for the obstacles and I think they lose points if they don’t do it right or take too long.

Robin said that this dog got the sheep through the first gate, but got stuck at the second. See how those sheep just aren’t paying attention even when the dog gets up close? The announcer said that it’s OK for the dog to “grip” if done right. The dog can bite at the nose to get the sheep to pay attention, but if the dog bites the leg or flank and hangs on–that’s not so good. I want to think that I’d do that, but those are big sheep and they look a little scary. Robin said that this handler didn’t finish the course because she was running out of time and the sheep were too obstinate.Here is another dog. That’s the first gate and the sheep just went through, but not like normal sheep. They are still looking at the dog instead of walking where they are supposed to. I’m not going to talk between all these photos. You just need to watch.

The sheep were so mean to this dog that the handler pulled him from the course too. The dog is young and if a dog gets intimidated before they have very much experience it can be very hard to bring them back. [Robin’s comment: Negative experiences have so much impact on a young Border Collie–it seems as though they never forget. Rusty admits that he is intimidated by the ewes that challenge him and that sometimes makes doing the job difficult.]

Here is the next dog. I wish I knew their names but Robin didn’t tell me. By the way, it’s a different group of sheep each time.

That took a long time but the dog got them through the second gate.

Those sheep still haven’t learned to respect the dog.

Robin said that the dog was was running out of time and the Y-chute is the hardest obstacle, so the handler skipped that one. The dog worked to get the sheep in the pen and the announcer called “Time” just BEFORE the sheep walked in the pen. Wow! I’m jealous of these dogs, but I don’t think I want to be around sheep that are that mean.

OK. I’ve explained the sheepdog trials. Can we go herd our sheep now?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Shaw permalink
    September 21, 2012 3:11 am

    Good job Rusty & Robin! I like knowing about your experiences!! And wish I was with you! Linda

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