Thursday, January 13, 2011

My dog has learned to be assertive

Long time no post.

Let me update you. Things were pretty dire for a while. It was so bad that I was actually considering quitting. We had a really bad training session that left me in tears on the way home, eating a cheeseburger for comfort (why am I fat, again??) and thinking about Terry's last words of the day "Paige, when it comes down to it, you need to quit messing around and MAKE her do it. She can, she's able, she's keen enough, but she's saying 'Fuck you, don't wanna' and not doing it."

So, I thought about this and resolved that since I had nothing to loose anyway, then I would do it. So, the next week we went out and I gave her the flank and she said "nooooo, that's uncomfortable" and I walked her down and had a come to jesus meeting about why that wasn't acceptable and sent her on her merry way. Soda said "oh shit" and tried to blow me off agin. Again, I walked her down and my trainer said "That's okay if it takes you 20 minutes because then she'll have 20 minutes of mad to deal with" (LOL). It took about 10 minutes and I caught her, repeated my come to Jesus meeting (with a bit more bamboo this time), and asked her to do what I had asked before and


it worked. Not only that, but I had a keen, biddable dog who did what I said, without question, quickly, keenly (man, she was on fire!) and she did it right. I was so happy. It saved us, and allowed us to move up to the next level.

So, we went to a trial and I had some glorious, sent from God moment where I worked my dog solely without looking at her. I just kept my eyes on the sheep and gave her the cues and she did them and we had a beautiful run. I had people asking "Oh, who's dog is that?" "did you see that little dog running? wow, that was really nice" and I was so proud I almost died. We tied for 2nd and took 3rd on the cross drive. We would have gotten an even better score if the outrun had been better.

Since then we're working on finishing advanced A (one leg left, would have finished the title at the last trial but I had a repeat judge, damnit) and then getting CH points and going to start intermediate B course and have begun working on our AKC-level shed. That is actually going about a million times better than I expected it to. We also starting working in the big field again with much more success and more confidence. I don't allow her blow me off anymore, pinning it on lack of keenness. She has to work, period and if she doesn't, then she gets corrected. May be controversial, but I can't argue with success.

We had our first lesson in about a month and half today and it was blah. Soda was still in vacation mode and definitely back to her old "Idon'twanna" attitude so we did some tuning up, reminding her that it wasn't really an option. I made it fun as could be and we got to do some real work, which brings me to the title of this post.

She used to have trouble getting some sheep out of the pens and the sheep would say "naw, don't wanna come out" and Soda would stand at the back of the pen, going googly eyed, wringing her paws saying "oh, okay. well, then what do I do, mom?" It's been getting better and better and for the last few months she's been walking out of the pens on her own. I used to have go back there with her and walk with her out because the pressure of walking into the sheep was too much. Anyway, I sent her to the back the pen to push them out and the sheep said "Don't wanna, and you ain't gonna make me, border collie" to which Soda dropped her head, turned on that border collie stare and said "Oh, but i am going to make you, so I'll ask one more time, please get of the pen." The sheep dropped her head too and said "Yer bluffing" and with a "Get up there!" from me Soda flew in and gripped that ewe right on the nose and the ewe said "oh, okay. you DO mean it" and she and 3 of her best friends listens and shuffled happily out of the pen. :) These were big heavy wooly puppy sheep for new dogs who just stand there and let the dogs circle them or move slowly when they practice wearing and my little wussy dog put on her big girl panties and showed them what was up.

Soda was so happy and proud of herself. I could feel her body tense up, and feel her eye turn on, and feel her watching the muscles of the sheep to make her next move. It's good for her to be in charge. It's so good for her and I was so proud. She has had some other "badass moments" and they've gotten more frequent when she stands up for herself but this was the cleanest, most in control moment we've had. Out of all the progress we've made, I think this makes me the proudest. It's wonderful watching her feel like a proper border collie and what needs to be done when the situation calls for it.