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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zulu's First Herding Adventure

Things have been busy the last few weeks, but my dogs haven't been neglected.

Today was Zulu's turn for an adventure and so we went for our very first herding lesson. I say 'we' because my prior job while Spot was herding was to be the person behind the camcorder videoing the event!

Today, Zulu and I took our chances together with the sheep and it was a BLAST! He's hooked, I'm hooked and another hobby begins.

Zulu had been around sheep very early in his puppy life and didn't show any interest. This is pretty common and doesn't necessarily mean that a dog won't 'turn on to sheep' later in life.

In the picture attached, Zulu was showing interest in the sheep at the Agility arena, although they're not dog savvy so they don't really give a darn about the dogs and so they don't move or run often. On the other hand, Zulu was showing a tremendous interest in the chickens when they were around so I knew there had to be some type of interest on his behalf.

We started off today by just letting Zulu hang around the area outside of the sheep pen so that he could explore and get a lay of the land. After a time, another herding Border Collie was brought out so that she could work the sheep while Zulu stayed outside. The idea was to see what type of interest he would show as the sheep went by.

Zulu was interested when the other Border Collie went out to the pasture, but as soon as the sheep passed by, he was immediately much more interested in them and let out a squeak of barks. My instructor laughed and informed me that he was now officially 'turned on to sheep' and we could move on to the next level which was going in with the sheep.

After initially being on leash with me, we let Zulu be free and I got to follow the instructor and the sheep while she worked Zulu. He did quite a bit of things nicely and it was really fun to see him work. He circles predominantly clockwise (I need to learn the herding term for that) and so I have homework to work him counter clockwise at home.

I admit, I had so much fun, even though I was just following in the sheep pack and watching my dog work. I was surprisingly comfortable around the sheep and have to thank my sheep friends for that (thanks Dave & Franna!). I've got a herding book I'd purchased quite a while ago and I think it's time to dust that off and read it again.

Zulu and I have another lesson in 3 weeks and I'm really looking forward to it!

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