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Observations on dogs with early hearing loss


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#41 Journey

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 02:53 PM

Maja, I just have to say I admire and respect your keeping Bonnie regardless, kudo's to you!
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#42 Maja

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 12:52 AM

Thank you, Karen, but no kudos are due, since there was no choice for me there to make really, the question just never even came up in our case (no reflection on other people's choices: were Bonnie different, the question might have come up).


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#43 Maja

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 04:27 AM

Hitchcock move over.  Now it is Bonnie who is the master of suspense, albeit of a different type..

 

The flock stupidly managed to get itself into two separate fields and stayed in the place where they were only separated by a fence, but with no simple way to put them together again.  So I had to peel off the one half of the flock, move them away from the others by about 150 m, turn left, then left again, and then straight up back to the other half-flock. 

 

The plan was: I walk with Bonnie up to the flock and with me close to her, I can direct her somewhat. So I give her the hand signal to stay with me. She misinterprets it.

 

She takes off like shot on an outrun. I just stand where I was. She peels the one half of the sheep off the fence.  Prevents a ewe from committing suicide-by-fence to go the other flock.  Brings everybody skudde-fashion at a dead run towards  me. I just stand there.

 

They run past me at a gallop to where their shed is ahead.  Bonnie hesitates for a second, flanks, turns the flock mid-gallop left and moves them through the gate. Turns them left again and drives them towards the other flock, now invisible. I walk towards them at a comparative snail's pace.

 

Bonnie drives the sheep about  150 m through two gates to where the other half of the in the flock is. Turns them left again and now she drives  the entire flock at a steady pace to the end of the field where there is still some grass.  By then I am only about 220 m from her. 

 

She turns to me, I give her the 'come to me' hand signal, she comes back like a shot. The End :) .


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#44 Maja

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 09:53 AM

I have a suicidal ewe-lamb. She takes a running start, uses other sheep as a spring board,  hops onto their backs and into the feeder, whereupon she often gets stuck - each bodily protrusion in a different part of the in-between of the feeder bars.  And she gets as tangled as the syntax in the previous sentence. 

 

Then come woe-full bleating and begging for a rescue.  The flock usually wonders off, away form the irritating noise of the bouncing sheep who had it coming anyhow.  So when I hear her, I go and extract the sheep. And she, being alone, will keep wanting to stay where she last saw her flock, since it is now about 500 yd and not visible.

 

Then comes Bonnie and  drives the ewe quite a bit, but not knowing herself yet where the flock is, she makes some mistakes, while the ewe fights every inch of the way with zeal worthy of a more intelligent decision.

 

So we compromise, and I leave Bonnie with the ewe whom Bonnie holds about half way to the flock, while I go with Darine and fetch the flock from the pasture to the ewe, and they reunite in the middle.  And all I say to Bonnie is nothing. 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#45 GentleLake

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:18 AM

Good girl, Bonnie! 

 

I loved both of these stories. It's great to know she can still be such a clever and useful girl even without being able -- or needing -- to hear you.

 

Of course one of the things that makes these tales so wonderful is your wit when writing them, It's hard for me to believe you're not a native English speaker/writer. B)

 

I used to have a suicidal ewe lamb, too. The flock had just outgrown the combination grain and hay feeder, so while jostling for position for the morning grain feeding, she'd found there was a small triangular space where she could stick her head in under the brace. This worked for a while until she began to grow and her neck wool had become thick enough that she could still push her head in, but she couldn't pull back out. She'd do this every. single. morning without fail, and since I'd feed in the morning and then head straight to work from the barn, I'd come back 9 hours later after work and find her still stuck in the now empty trough bleating her fool head off while the rest of the flock had gone off to graze. Of course I'd have to pull her out so she could get some water and go back to rejoin the flock. It took about a week or so of this (because she never. would. learn) till I came armed with a hammer, some nails and some wire to close that hole up. Then we built a new grain feeder so there was enough room for everyone. :rolleyes:

 

Sheep are funny creatures, and I don't think they're as stupid as many people say they are. But one real flaw in their cognitive process is that they don't seem to be able to unlearn a behavior that profited them at one time but has later had very negative consequences.


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#46 Sue R

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:44 PM

Your Bonnie stories are gems! Thank you for sharing.

Once or twice, we've had to use our deaf dog because the hearing dogs were injured or otherwise unusable. With much less training than either of them but with some instinct and a strong desire to be a partner, she vastly exceeded my expectations. She and I both ended the jobs in a very happy frame of mind.
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#47 Maja

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 02:57 AM

Gentle Lake,

Thank you for you kind words, writing is easier, since you can't hear my Polish accent :lol: :lol: , which is because I didn't start learning English until I was 16.

 

Sheep are funny creatures, and I don't think they're as stupid as many people say they are. But one real flaw in their cognitive process is that they don't seem to be able to unlearn a behavior that profited them at one time but has later had very negative consequences.

I think you really found the essence of  the sheep problem.  I find myself holding usually two notions about sheep simultaneously: "They are very wise. They are very foolish." and you explain this very well.  

 

I had one sheep that actually killed herself doing what you describe. She was at our place on loan and we were away for a few hours. Her head was bigger than our sheep's (differed breed) and she thought she was stuck when she wasn't.  When I found her dead and "stuck" I just had to swing her body by 90 degrees and the head fell out from between the bars all by itself. Very sad.

 

Sue,

Yes, the dog's happiness is just incredible.  Bonnie positively glows  after we do some real work.  And the clever munchkin  knows the real job from the made up ones. 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#48 sjones

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Posted 01 September 2017 - 09:06 PM

Working dogs, deaf or hearing are amazing, love this!

 

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#49 Maja

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 10:28 AM

The sneaky weasel Bonnie went to do the chores today with my husband instead of her mother, who was asleep at a crucial moment.  The Chief Shepherd, absorbed in his own tasks and thoughts, never caught on that he had the wrong dog until the sheep, the ducks, and the ducklings were all tucked in, and when upon returning he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the  dog next to him had a suspiciously fox-like, perky trot instead of the energy-conserving casual waddle of the 11 yo Kelly. 

 

(it means that not only did she hear nothing of what was being said to her, there were no hand signals)


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#50 Smalahundur

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 11:58 AM

When he only noticed after the sheep, ducks and ducklings were tucked in, I'd argue he did take the right dog... ;)

"Milli manns og hests og hunds hangir leyniþráður"


#51 Maja

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 12:02 PM

Good point! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#52 GentleLake

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 12:55 PM

Too funny!

 

And, yes, very good point about having exactly the right dog for the task. ;)


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#53 Journey

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 11:08 AM

Ah, she knows the task! Good for her :)
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#54 Maja

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 06:58 AM

We have moved farm (an incredible effort), and now that we have taken away the well-known context from Bonnie and Kelly (11 yo, failing eye-sight), it is  Darinka's time to shine. Who knows she might work out her flank glitch yet. She loves the mountains (although by the local definition, these are not yet mountains) and the newness of it all.  Bonnie will have to wait until the fencing is better, to do some work, since I can't risk her taking off in a drive to who-knows-where (e.g. nearby river).  Poor lil' Bonnie. 


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#55 GentleLake

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 08:20 AM

Congratulations on the new farm! How exciting.

 

I hope Bonnie and Kelly are able to adjust quickly. I'm sure it's a very confusing time for them.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#56 Smalahundur

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 03:22 PM

I know your pain, we moved farm three years ago, from our rental to the one we bought. We lived and had a small livestock operation there for ten years, what an incredible amount of stuff and junk you can accumulate over such a length of time....
Congratulations on your move!

"Milli manns og hests og hunds hangir leyniþráður"


#57 Maja

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 04:47 AM

The problem with Kelly is that she is not aware that she can't see well and she wanders off on "expotitions" in this new and exciting place, the good side is that her sniffer works just fine. So if you call her she will trace back the tracks, rather than go in a straight line.

This is the place.  What you can't see is the beautiful and barn and the sheep barn.

Attached Files


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23


#58 Smalahundur

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 05:13 AM

That looks gorgeous.

"Milli manns og hests og hunds hangir leyniþráður"


#59 Maja

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 01:46 AM

Recently I came o a conclusion, which however, requires an introduction.

When I  was training Bonnie I did two things:

  1. I used the trick  recommended by Derek Scrimgeour of creating the path of nice voice-harsh voice.  There wasn’t really a “harsh” voice” in the learning process; it was more like hot and cold game. It worked really well with Bonnie, and made her a very quick learner. 

 

  1. When she was trained fairly well, I used to work with her using precise command mode, where I required a very exact execution of my fairly frequent commands, and a scarce command mode, where I only used the absolute minimum to get the job done. And it worked great producing a both reliable and thinking dog.  The latter system evolved e.g. into “find the sheep” task, in which she would go about 400yds gather the sheep including sleeping lambs (for in  this command she actually swept the area and looked for sheep), bring them all home and lie down in front of the sheep pen.  This she would do while I was doing something else was not even in her sight until the final stage.

And now I have been trying to teach Bonnie hand signals, and we are not doing very well at all.  Yesterday, I brought the sheep home with her and she  was a rather pathetic shadow of her old self, and more importantly her reaction to my signals was zilch.  And in general, her response to my teaching her optical commands I would say – if I didn’t know better-  is really dumb.

 

And I have come to realize that Bonnie still does  not know she can’t hear me.  She is waiting for voice tone guidance, which I had used so abundantly for learning and with this not forthcoming she goes into the “sparse command” mode, but since she does not have enough information about the task, she becomes nervous and distressed about what to do. That’s why she looks at me (or rather is looks to me)  but she does not react to the hand signals because she still expects the voice to come. But it never does.  And with me teaching her  optical commands she too expects that in learning the hand signals I will guide her with the tone of voice and that silence is either you’re doing ok or do whatever you think best. And when she does not know what to do, she is frustrated that I am not telling her what to do and it really shows in her work.  Because in the past she could execute complicated tasks without me in sight if I chose to teach her so, but her whole purpose is to do these tasks for me. 

 

She does not work sheep for herself but for the team work.  And her not being aware that I haven’t stopped talking, but that she stopped hearing causes her distress and makes her all but unable to learn things in a new way.


"Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds" - Prov. 27-23



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