Monday, March 19, 2012

Dogs.

I'll update on my lesson from Friday and trail ride on Saturday later today, but first I want to delve into something a little different--a brag on my amazing puppies. Yesterday they got the call to arms to help get a friend's steer loaded onto the trailer. The steer had been running around for the past three hours and had taken down pretty much all of the already dismal fencing with him, meaning he had free run of the property. And of course he didn't want to get on the trailer. It was going to be his last trip.

But first, let me give you a formal introduction to the stars of this show.


Darcy is a 3yo Kelpie. WTF is a Kelpie, you say? Think of the herding ability of a Border Collie, but with a little more biting involved. They are bad ass working dogs that excel at herding (think loping around and around and around a herd of animals to keep them together), but they have no problem going hard after a cow/steer/bull to get them where they want them whereas Border Collies are more reserved with their teeth--as they should be for cute fuzzy sheep. She is a little bit of a nutcase in general, she doesn't like other people, but she thinks all other dogs were put on this earth to be her BFFs. When she works, she's great for the aforementioned dual-purposeness as she can do both jobs (the other two dogs on the job cannot), but she can get too focused on the big picture and will try to go after any cow that takes off instead of staying with the one you're after.

"omg, ballllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!"
Emily, really only known as Pig unless she's in trouble, is a 2yo Blue Heeler. She loves to snuggle, she thinks all humans were put on this earth to be her BFFs, and you can count on one hand the number of dogs she tolerates. She gets very, very focused on the things she likes. Balls, sticks, food (Red Vines are her favorite), bunnies, and especially cows. She's only good for getting behind or in front of a cow to get it or keep it moving. She doesn't herd--she heels. She has no problem biting a charging steer right in the face (ask me how I know--you saved Hubby's ass on that one, Pig!), or taking down a pissed of cow by the back leg (again, this is on her list of accomplishments). She's been kicked in the jaw/head/chest/ribs more times than I can count and it doesn't faze her for a second. It's all part of the job. However, she's pretty one dimensional and has to be called off when you're trying to calmly move a herd or calmly move anything.

Dakota is a 3yo Border Collie. He belongs to the friend who owns the beefers. He's been trained on whistles to herd, but he's probably the worst working Border Collie alive. He's super laid back and would much rather lay around and get pets than herd things. He was fun to work with though and awesome to watch when he was doing his job. However, he'd only pay attention long enough to help Darcy get the steer headed in the right direction, and then he'd get distracted by me, or a mud puddle, or a flower, or a butterfly in front of his face.

Darcy and Emily know their basic obedience--come, sit, down, stay--but they've also been trained on three commands:

Get Him. Pretty self explanatory.

Wait. Basically, "fall back". They're allowed to keep following, but they're not allowed to actively move the animal.

Leave it. This one is Darcy's big command. It means, "Stay in the field, but leave the animal you're currently working and find the one I want you on." Emily has a sixth doggy sense that tells her which one does not belong and once she locks onto that animal, she can dive into a moving herd and pull it right back out again.

I can give all of these commands to them as far away as I need to--if they can hear me, they'll do it. This especially came in handy last night when we were working with a very pissed of steer that was charging anything in its path and no one wanted to get too close, and helpful again when he went diving into the pond and I had to keep the dogs on him from the bank as they dove in after him.

Pig got kicked twice in the head--one so hard in the jaw I heard it from across the gate, but she checked in with Hubby and no harm was done. She got his head down to the ground (PETA would probably arrest us) and we were able to get him into the barn with her half-dragging him (she weighs 38lbs, by the way). However, he was one pissed off Mother Effer and charged Hubby and the friend once in there. Dakota rallied and turned him only to have him jump the round pen panel acting as a gate inside the barn. I was waiting outside at another exit with Darcy and Pig on the leash to keep them from going in and upsetting him even more and he took direct aim at me. Fortunately, the friend's dad was in the barn at the door I was at and yanked me and the puppies in as he charged.

After that, even with dogs things were getting too dangerous with the steer getting way too wound up, so we called it quits after an hour. Of course, things probably would have gone a lot smoother if the farm we were working on had had good fence and a good chute system. But the girls had fun and I was super proud of them. They worked non-stop the whole time, and when we were done Pig was trying to get Dakota to play with her like she had just gotten started. Now, though, they're zonked out on the couch. Working late is tough work for puppies.

in the truck ready to go home.
"are we needed again?"

5 comments:

  1. I don't know if you saw this link I posted on FB today but I thought of you when I saw the Kelpie!

    http://isaleshko.com/elderly-animals/

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    Replies
    1. NINETEEN?! Wow! Those pics are gorgeous!

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  2. LOVE Kelpies and heelers. Best dogs ever. You have a gorgeous pair!!

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