The first thing I want to say is an apology for how many photos are in this blog post...but, hey, it could be worse - I took 169 photos today, but I've pared it down to only around 20 - give or take a few - to share with you. :P
And then I want to say that THANE AND I GOT TO MEET SHEEP TODAY AND THANE HAD A HERDING EVALUATION AND I GRABBED A SHEEP BY ITS WOOL!!!
Anyway, to begin at the beginning, I've been looking for a place for quite some time where I could have Thane evaluated for herding instincts. I'm not even sure I want to pursue actual lessons at this point, with livestock probably still at least a couple years away for me, but (being rather obsessed with my dog) I just wanted to see how Thane would do around sheep.
I talked with Thane's breeder, and she recommended True Colors Farm in Washington, Maine - she took Thane's sire there for some training a while back. So I looked it up, and a few emails later, Thane and I hit the road and made the three-hour trek east!
|Thane sees the sheep.|
|The sheep see Thane.|
|Brenda and her Border Collie, Josie, show us how it's done.|
|Thane is curious but nervous - tail between his legs, hanging back.|
|Getting a little more bold...|
|Whoops, nope! Too scary!|
|A little more focused...|
|And then kind of "herding," and kind of just puppy zoomies.|
|Brenda uses the stick to keep Thane from hanging out with her.|
|She has to watch out for sheep, especially with an erratic puppy in the ring.|
|These sheep are well-broke and will stay close to Brenda.|
|Thane pauses to dissect a chunk of wool - best toy ever!!|
|Nice moves, Bud.|
|Kind of doing what he's supposed to be doing...|
|Brenda keeping him where he belongs.|
|Aaand slowing down.|
Thane had three different brief sessions in the ring; the second two were with sheep that were less broken and wouldn't stick close to Brenda - both to save her knees, and to try to encourage Thane to chase them. At this point his instincts are not yet fully "awakened." Brenda did say, however, that he didn't seem to be just chasing the sheep for fun - rather, he was trying to catch them, and was going for their heads. I'm under the impression that that's a good start. :P
I'm going to let him grow up more and try again in a couple months. It was a fun experience, though. I'll be showing you other photos from around the farm over the next few days, but for now, have a couple Border Collie photos. Another lady brought her two Border Collies for some troubleshooting...I admit that I couldn't see their flaws - it's so amazing to watch them work!
This is Doz:
Thane's herding style won't be quite like theirs, but it'll be really cool if someday he's as talented and responsive as these beautiful dogs!