Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Showered. Really, I Did.

I visited Caeli today.

It's the first time I've seen my Border collie in six weeks. She's been kenneled at the herding trainer's farm where she's advancing her herding skills.

I wanted to see how she was progressing. Because owners can sometimes distract dogs-in-training, I stood at the house -- forty or so yards from the practice field. There, I watched as she walked from the kennel, drove the sheep a few hundred yards away, came back to her handler, then gathered the sheep again.

After several minutes, I walked from the house to the observation area adjacent to the field. There, I hoped to get a better look at her working sheep and to better hear the trainer's commands.

As Caeli moved around the sheep, she glanced at me, paused and took a longer look. The trainer told her to keep moving. Once done with the exercise, he gave the "that'll do" command and Caeli, tail wagging, came running to me.

How did she know that person, bundled and standing still, was her owner? I hadn't said a word or gestured to her. The wind was blowing my scent away from her, not toward her.

These Border collies have long memories. After spending hours working sheep with their handlers, I suspect they know more about us, our stances, our gestures, than we'll ever know about them.

I gave Ms. Caeli several pats and rubs and told her I was happy to see her. Then, she resumed her work for her master of the month.

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