Thursday, September 15, 2011

Herding is Healing.

*Wish I could take credit for that clever play on words, but I heard it at the clinic last weekend.

This past weekend Tiny Zoey, Psyche and I all loaded up into the HHR with my sister and headed to Prince Edward Island. Where we were going on the Island was about 6 hours from our farm. It was a long trip that started at 2 am. After a 6 hour shift. It was brutal. But! It was so worth it. We arrived at the farm where the clinic was being held just on time, to a hole herd of Border Collies and one Aussie running around. It was pretty intimidating at first for everyone else to already be there, but everyone was very friendly after I worked up the courage to get out of the car.

The first session was with Psyche, and it was... not what I'd thought it would be. She just wasn't digging the sheep; that I called. However, Lorna had me move the sheep myself, make them follow me around, all sorts of things, including bringing her bitch into the ring and having her work the sheep to see if her interest would get Psyche interested. None of that worked, and just when I was starting to think that Back Up Plan Zoey would have to be put into play, Lorna told me, "push the Sheep." I thought she meant with my energy, like she'd had me doing earlier, but she meant physically and wasn't long to tell me. So I started literally pushing the sheep around, and just like *snap* that Psyche was going crazy with all sorts of instinct. Of course, she was barking her little head off too, and chasing a little more than actually herding, but she was actually interested and that was great in my book. We worked on just having her keep the sheep around me in both away to me and come by manners, and then when I needed her to stop, backing myself and the sheep into the fence where I'd wait for Psyche to calm down and then step out again and ask for the direction I wanted. It was amazing to see. My little mutt was herding sheep!

Little Zoey tried her hand at herding too, but was way more interested in the yummy treats they left behind and running around acting like a fool. I think she'd have been a lot more into it if we weren't in a new place. This is the same little dog who at an agility trial will visit.

Day two wasn't exactly what I expected either. I thought Psyche would pick up where we'd left off the day before, but she needed a little more work to interest her, but then she was really into it. She was, however, breaking sheep off from the herd, so we had to work on that, but still. We had a hard time, too, with her pushing sheep AWAY from me, because she was trying really hard to stay close to me, so would come behind me and push the sheep away. That was really hard for me to be flustered about, because since I started agility, that has been what I was looking for. I WANTED her to want to stay with me. So I told Lorna and she was asking about her confidence issues, and she said, "Well, like *insert local agility lady I know here* says, 'Herding is healing'!"

Zoey didn't get a chance on Sunday, but I don't think her feelings were really hurt. ;)

We spent Saturday night with a family friend, her 2 cats, and her Papillion, Clarence. Mr. C wasn't so sure of Psyche and Zoey at first, but he was really eager to see them the next morning. Psyche slept on my bed, even at a place that isn't home, because after almost a year of Bella being gone, I just can't sleep without Psyche. The dogs were really well behaved--well, as well as they can be, what with them being their badselfs.

Sunday after the clinic we went to the beach, and both dogs swam! Crazyness! Little Tiny Zoey went out into sea and swam for a bit. She didn't really hate it either... didn't love it though. And Psyche and I waded out into sea where she swam circles around me, literally. Her first real trip to the beach, and she loved it.

Overall, I think the weekend was a really good opportunity for Psyche and I. I think through herding she increased her confidence, and I think we got the time together we needed after all of my crazy hours this summer and having just started college.

And we're going to another one in October... Crash will be tagging along! We've also got a trial this weekend, local, that Psyche, Crash and I will be heading to. Crash, of course, won't be competing. And next weekend? A day trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, to meet our internet-friend Abby! That'll be the Twins, Amanda and I.

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