Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rock stars!

Yesterday was supposed to be the last warmish day in Colorado for a while, so I decided to take the dogs out to Cathy's. I wanted to work on the top of Taz's outrun again and spend some time with Craig just doing close-ish drive aways with me strongly enforcing his stop. After Saturday's craziness, I figured I might have a difficult time with both dogs adjusting to me again really laying down the law.

Well, they surprised me :-)

Taz did phenomenal outruns! He was super wide at the bottom and did flatten a little at the top, but still came in fairly far behind the sheep. What the...? Okay, so I decided to work on that bit of flattening, and I lied him down. He didn't strongly kick himself out, so I growled the "Get out of that!" and then he kicked himself way out! Unbelievable! This is one of those very rare days where I feel like this is easy! I don't know if it's because we were in Cathy's pasture again (rather than the bigger, more open alfalfa field) or that Cathy was the one holding, or just that he had maybe been thinking about what happened on Saturday or what, but Taz's outruns looked terrific yesterday.

His lifts were sometimes a bit messy, though, especially if I had lied him down in the middle of his flank. He'd wing and wang a little before getting things going, and often I had to lie him down again and let the sheep get some distance before he could bring them forward. His fetches were also not stellar. He was too close and fast most of the time, but I was able to slow him down some of the time with a few "hey"s. I'll have to work on this next, I guess, though I saw this as slight progress as well, since I am usually only able to get him to stop altogether on the fetch, rather than slowing him down. This felt like the some progress in his pace development. His turns around the imaginary post looked pretty good, too—not so fast and choppy. All in all, he really looked good.

Craig also looked terrific! He was listening to me much, much better from the get go. Even so, I did enforce the lie downs pretty strongly at first, which resulted in him not blowing me off so much throughout the rest of the session. We did a few outruns to keep things fun and light, and his outruns were absolutely flawless. Craig is so pretty to watch when he's correct and running confidently. He brought the sheep right to my feet without so much as a "take time" from me. Driving was a little more difficult, of course, but not so much of a fight. When he did get too close to the heads, I tried to just check him first, and often he would self-correct (as he had done for Mark, but not at all for me on Saturday). If that wasn't enough, I'd flank him. Sometimes he went too far, but we didn't have too much back and forth and we were usually able to recover. We did a nice cross drive and then ended our session with a successful pen!

It was so much fun! I was proud of my dogs and myself, too, though today really was mostly the dogs shining. I am going to try to make it out twice a week this winter—see if I can pick up a time during the week and one on the weekends, too. I think what also probably helped the dogs today is simply that it was only a couple of days between work sessions and we all could actually retain some of the lessons we learned the last time out!