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Friday, May 29 2015

Several of you have asked about Mesa, so here's the update. She is approximately 6 months old now and so we've not done a lot of livestock work with her. I keep goats and sheep in the yard and she regularly sees them, and occasionally does drive-bys on them, but I don't encourage interaction because the sheep are heavily pregnant and the goats have tiny babies. She shows a lot of interest without being a rabid, out-of-control maniac.

Rather than isolating her from the livestock like we did with Trace as a toddler, we are more casual around the small stock with Mesa, much as I did with Lily. She is learning that while just running them is unacceptable, moving them off the porch is okay. From time to time I let her gather the goats who behave much like knee-knocker sheep, assembling around me in a bewildered group. Once she gathers them, I let her orbit a few times and then call her off. We really don't do much more than that. I'm waiting for her mind to catch up to her body.

Mesa is finally in control of her body, and is now able to beat Trace in a game of fetch. This is no small feat.  Even though she is physically able to control tame goats and sheep, I don't think she has enough self-control yet to do much serious work with livestock. At this age, I'm just trying to impress upon her that merely because the stock is there, it doesn't mean she needs to run off and do anything with them. She likes making the livestock move but another really important part of being a stockdog is leaving the stock alone when moving them isn't necessary.

Although it's tempting to let her play with the stock because she's cute and she enjoys it, doing so isn't good for my livestock, and their welfare is first and foremost. My sheep are very pregnant now and they don't need to provide amusement for a baby predator. I want her to understand that she doesn't move sheep because it's a fun game for her. She moves sheep because I need them moved.

I have noticed that like Lily, she is a micromanaging sergeant-at-arms who likes to tell everyone else what to do. Although it can be a pain in the butt when she tries this with the other dogs, the behavior is very handy in a stockdog because the dog looks for what she perceives as someone not following rules and attempts to establish order. There is a fine line between encouraging this for my use and creating an Alexander The Great, a puppy marching the continent, bent on world domination.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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