Monday, November 28, 2011

Sheepdogs training at Downsview Park

Well, now that the pups have gone, we are slowly (really?) moved back to our normal routine. Sonic is desperate for some 1-2-1 attention and the most needed training and so do Sizzle and Sipzie. Both Sizzle and Sipzie have qualified for the UKA Finals this coming weekend at The Hand Arena where the held the First WAO. I think it is about time to put my training shoe on for them.
I always fancy to try herding with my shelties, whether they have the natural instinct or not. Over the last few winters, I have tried herding with Sing and Saturn, both of them were keen on the sheep and we had a lot of fun. I remembered Sing as a puppy like to herd those wild animals he saw at walk. The most scary moment was when he was just over a year old, we went to Dartmoor on holiday, he herd the wild ponies; then he often jump into the pond in Wimbledon Common to herd the ducks (this is one of the reason we hardly go to Wimbledon Common); and then at Seven Sisters Country Park, he tried to herd the sheep ...

We thought about training him in herding, I was looking everywhere to find a place near us to take him herding. I cannot remember who we spoke to but he told us not to do it IF we do not intend to work him around the sheep. Oh, that is the time well before I know anything about Agility and Flyball, so that is many many many years ago ...

The first time we tried the sheepdogs herding was 4 winters ago, we thought we are going to have some fun. Sing (he was 5) & Saturn (he was 2) had a go and Saturn was the one that is really keen and was working really well around the sheep.  Then, we tried again 2 winters ago and he still was very good but yesterday, he looked rather confused. We learned to try balancing the sheep, which means the sheep is between the handler/shepherd and the dog, and if the handler/shepherd moved to the left, the dog should move to the right and vice verser. 
To be honest, I was disappointed, not sure why. I haven't done much agility training with Saturn. He was injured after Crufts and never seems 100% right again, he have a lots of treatments over the summer and we have been keeping up on the exercises. When Sipzie was in season, I took him to training, the 1st week, he knock the jump wing down and was limping was a little while; then 2nd week, I took him back training, his back hasn't got the strength to power up ... we are back to do more exercises to help him build up his muscle. But, I think I am considering to retire him from Agility. He is still a young dog, only 6.5 years old. I was hoping to find an activity to keep his mind occupied. I thought he work really well around the sheep, maybe herding suits him but now I have doubt. Also, I am not sure if it was the bitches in season affected him. The boys, to be honest are very good when the bitches are in season but of course, being an entire male, they are very interested in the bitches when they are about, so I was very strict and control them over their over excited behaviours. At the sheepdogs training, when we tried to balancing the sheep, I got him to lie-down and he daren't move! Good that he is obedient, Bad that he isn't moving!

We were very lucky to be able to get a space from Downsview Park, very well-organised by Lynn Parker and a super fantastic roast lunch with all trimmings and lots of different puddings afterwards! I don't want to move after a satisfying lunch! Robert Putnam, that trains handlers and dogs at all level was very good. Well, I think to put up with a crap handler like me needs a lot of patient! Many of you probably don't know that I am actually scared of sheep, I am alright if they stay at a distance but when they are close to me, I get panic. Trust me, when the extremely friendly sheep surrounding me, I really don't know what to do. How on earth I want to try herding? I know I sacrifice myself a lot for the dogs!

Saturn took the morning session, of course he wasn't any good, so after all the handlers had a go, I was called back to have another go with the sheep with one of Robert's dogs. When Robert asked me which dog I want to work with, being such a silly woman, I pointed at Seren, the most experienced sheepdog and also the best assistant sheepdog lie-down at the corner of the ring. Believe me, I was so embarrassed when I can't get Seren to move! Apparently, she is the most loyal dog to Robert, she only works for him! After a couple of minutes of embarrassment, Robert brought out his other sheepdog Sis for me to work. Hehehe ... Sis is probably a good sheepdog but me being zero knowledge about sheep herding, we had a lot of fun but it didn't last very long as other handlers have to had a go too!

After lunch, I tried it with Sonic. I don't know what to expect from an 8 months old puppy. I know I have to give him a chance to meet the sheep. He was kinda keen at one point and then lost interest, then back on the sheep again. Robert thought our "stop" is not perfect and him being young so we only tried him for 5 minute. I am quite happy, hopefully we get more chance in future to try herding with him again.  All in all, I had a fab day.

here is the little clip of introducing Sonic to sheep:

And great thanks to Dennis Bay for this photo of Sonic

No comments: