Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Pitcher or the Lazy School Horse?

Jack, the Border collie, arrived with lots of sheepdog trial and farm experience.

But I had to figure out the language of Jack.

At home, we started working with voice commands and have been trying to switch to whistles. We tested our progress during a sheepdog trial over the weekend.

The first run was not pretty. We got around the course, but he missed many of my commands, and we missed getting the sheep through the panels.

Jack the Pitcher?

"You looked like the catcher out there, and Jack, the pitcher," a friend observed. "You were giving commands, and Jack was shaking them off until you gave him one he liked."

Like many dogs, other animals, and humans, Jack favors turning one direction over the other, and he doesn't like to go off balance.

Jack the School Horse?

"You've got to think of him as a lazy school horse," his owner and trainer said. "He knows how to do the work, but he's a bit laid back. If he doesn't take a command, scold him a little, he'll do it."

I'm not sure what analogy worked, but I marched to the post on the trial field on Sunday with a different attitude--and, though there was some fussing at one panel, he moved the sheep through all three panels. We left the field with a much higher score.

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