Monday, May 29, 2006

Taz and me

My name is Laura, and I've decided to keep a training blog for my 23-
month-old border collie, Taz. I've been trying to train him to work stock since he was about nine or ten months old, and it has been one of the most difficult things I've ever undertaken. I am determined to do all of Taz's training myself (rather than have someone else more qualified train him), even though I'm as green as he is and have zero prior stock experience. I do work with a trainer and I go to clinics given by some of the most accomplished handlers in the world, but it's a huge challenge for a novice handler to train a young dog without any stock of my own. Still, I know it can be done, and I'm hoping that recording our progress will help me see any holes or patterns in our work so I can become a little more methodical in my training efforts.

Taz is a strong dog, powerful and keen and a bit pushy. He has a nice sense of balance and can work quietly and calmly (though he often does not exhibit these traits when he is working with me). Even I can see he's got tremendous potential, and enough experienced handlers have told me as much. He works very nicely for other people, but we've struggled in our journey together. My timing is terrible, and my body language is worse! I chose this picture to introduce us because it kind of depicts our story--we're just getting started walking to the post, and Taz is leading the way, directing us toward the sheep. I'm not nearly as in control as I know I should be, but I am smiling in anticipation. I hope to be able to train Taz to high levels without losing that joy or resorting to harsh methods. I know we're not where we could be right now, but I'm hoping that with lots of hard work, dedication, creativity, and practice--and some help along the way from others more experienced--we will eventually get there. I don't have any illusions that we'll ever win the National Finals, but I hope that someday Taz will be able to compete in the Open class at ISDS-style trials. Taz may be 10 years old by then, but I won't care! We'll have accomplished this together, starting from scratch and learning from each other along the way. Future posts will detail our progress--and with any luck, we'll reach our goal sooner rather than later!