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Maralynn

A sheepdog by default

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I don't have sheep anymore. Just no time for both SAR and sheep. But my folks still have a small flock. Kolt was exposed to stockwork at a friend's place when he was about 9 m/o. Didn't take long for his tail to go down and his brain to engage with the idea of work. But he's done nothing more in the way of working sheep.

 

I was at the folk's place for the long Easter weekend. Took the dogs out for a run in the field and, as they rounded the barn way ahead of me, Kolt started alarm barking. The sheep had broken out of their paddock looking for something fresh and tender to eat.

 

I called both dogs out and told Kolt to shut up. He did and followed me. That started to get in the way and push the sheep away from where I wanted them. So I figured "why not?" looked at Kolt, motioned with my arm, and told him to "go out". Tail down, mind in "work" mode, he ran a nice arc around to the other side of the sheep, downed on my command and stayed put while the sheep slowly decided to make their way back into the paddock.

 

I was grinning from ear to ear. These dogs are the coolest :)

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WTG Kolt! That is so cool!

 

....maybe you can work sheep at your folks' more often?

 

After a rough start with a "professional" trainer in a pressurized round pen with 3 flighty sheep, I've had Otto on herding hiatus, ahem, to "mature." But one day, we were on an open space bike-run, and some cow-calf pairs were grazing there. Some of those calves were huge (yearlings?) Anyway, one giant stood across the center of the trail. I dismounted, leashed Otto, and walked slowly forward. Calf: no budge. I stopped. Otto yanked the leash out of my hand, causing me to drop the bike, and before I had time to right it and stand up, he had moved the calf off the trail, pushed it out into the field, and tucked it in, along with a few of the other pairs, up against a fence line. He held them for a moment. I recalled him and he came right back. Looking at me like: "job done. let's go."

 

I regret very much his poor start in the round pen, because I think it made absolutely no sense to him. This situation made perfect sense to him.

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I regret very much his poor start in the round pen, because I think it made absolutely no sense to him. This situation made perfect sense to him.

 

Or maybe he's had the time he needed to mature a little. ;)

 

It's possible, too, that the trainer wasn't the right fit. An awful lot of dogs are successfully started in round pens, but I'd think the trainer would either have appropriate sheep (and/) or the know how to work with a dog to keep the sheep from being overly stressed and therefore flighty. I've seen dogs start out in the pen scattering the sheep all over the place but under the tutelage of a good trainer calmed right down enough in 10 minutes so that the sheep were no longer wild. Flightiness in sheep is often the result of an overly excited dog.

 

Anyway, very cool experience. B)

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Alfreda confesses: "Anyway, one giant stood across the center of the trail. I dismounted, leashed Otto, and walked slowly forward . . ."

 

Please don't EVER work another man's stock with your dog without his explicit permission. Among other issues, you have given the stock owner the legal right to kill your dog.

 

Now you know.

 

Donald McCaig

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Please don't EVER work another man's stock with your dog without his explicit permission. Among other issues, you have given the stock owner the legal right to kill your dog.

 

Even if the stock is loose on public property or someones else's property and not on it's owners' land? I'd think that might possibly present a different legal scenario.

 

And I'd think that it might vary from location to location.

 

Nonetheless, a good thing to be aware of and perhaps look into in your locality.

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The laws can vary by state, but in states where the law does permit ranchers to take lethal action in defense of their livestock, those laws hold true regardless of whether the livestock are grazing on public or private land. I'm sure Donald simply wishes to warn you in case some cowboy or farmer rode up unbeknownst and lit into you for "bothering his cows," but bear in mind, there is also the very real danger of a protective mama cow turning to attack your dog, which could be deadly for your dog and dangerous to you as well. So ... just be careful. :)

That said, it sounds like your dog did a lovely and thoughtful job. There's nothing like the magic of seeing our dogs' raw talent manifest before our eyes! :)

 

 

Even if the stock is loose on public property or someones else's property and not on it's owners' land? I'd think that might possibly present a different legal scenario.

 

And I'd think that it might vary from location to location.

 

Nonetheless, a good thing to be aware of and perhaps look into in your locality.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Alfreda confesses: "Anyway, one giant stood across the center of the trail. I dismounted, leashed Otto, and walked slowly forward . . ."

 

Please don't EVER work another man's stock with your dog without his explicit permission. Among other issues, you have given the stock owner the legal right to kill your dog.

 

Now you know.

 

Donald McCaig

Good grief, that kind of backfired. Apparently Donald thinks I'm a total idiot. :)

 

As a generally responsible adult, and dog owner, I am well aware of, not only my local public open space rules, but state laws, and in general livestock etiquette. I had no intention of "working" anyone else's stock without permission! This is multi-use public open space. Cows are there seasonally on open space grazing leases.

 

Many bikers would just blast toward a calf in the middle of the trail. I got off my bike and leashed my dog. I walked forward and stopped and waited. There was no way to bush whack around the cow with the bike. What happened next was accidental. If a ranger had seen it, I suppose I could have gotten a ticket.

 

I want to assure you also, that Otto was not chasing or harrassing. He was not barking or gripping. He moved the one off to the side and tucked it in with some others up against a fence, all very calmly. I would say they respected him.

 

I am very sorry I shared this now. It wasn't my intention to highjack Maralynn's thread about Kolt.

 

To me it was an example of how, we might tend to under estimate our dogs, and the degree to which given a context, they can infer what needs to be done and do it. I thought that was also the spirit in which Maralynn was so pleasantly surprised by Kolt. :)

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Good grief, that kind of backfired. Apparently Donald thinks I'm a total idiot. :)

 

As a generally responsible adult, and dog owner, I am well aware of, not only my local public open space rules, but state laws, and in general livestock etiquette. I had no intention of "working" anyone else's stock without permission! This is multi-use public open space. Cows are there seasonally on open space grazing leases.

 

Many bikers would just blast toward a calf in the middle of the trail. I got off my bike and leashed my dog. I walked forward and stopped and waited. There was no way to bush whack around the cow with the bike. What happened next was accidental. If a ranger had seen it, I suppose I could have gotten a ticket.

 

I want to assure you also, that Otto was not chasing or harrassing. He was not barking or gripping. He moved the one off to the side and tucked it in with some others up against a fence, all very calmly. I would say they respected him.

 

I am very sorry I shared this now. It wasn't my intention to highjack Maralynn's thread about Kolt.

 

To me it was an example of how, we might tend to under estimate our dogs, and the degree to which given a context, they can infer what needs to be done and do it. I thought that was also the spirit in which Maralynn was so pleasantly surprised by Kolt. :)

 

Sheesh :D

 

Don't feel sorry! Your story is really nice. thanks for sharing.

And everyone keep on sharing! I love these. I have one as well:

 

My uncle had two border collies, one of which never showed much talent for herding, so they only gave her some training when she was about 8 months, realised she wasn't gonna do that great, and then stopped and did other sports with her.

 

When she was much older they were walking on a road next to a field. Three lambs had gotten through the fence and onto the road, and she rounded them up in no time and kept them pinned to the fence so my aunt and uncle could put them back.

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Alfreda - I am sure that Donald's reply to your post was not intended to offend in any way but to be a helpful warning with the intent to save you and your dog the possibility of grief due to injury from working a strange (and likely not dog-broke) and very large animal or an irate stockperson with a gun. He tends to be blunt and to the point, but I am sure he meant no harm but only help.

 

My husband once proudly showed off our old Rocket on someone else's cows (the owner was present). Our dog, who worked bulls, young stock, and cow-calf pairs in our herd without incident, came away with a broken foreleg. Working dog-broke and compliant cattle is not the same thing as attempting to move non-broke cattle who don't respect a dog. The dog paid for the human's misjudgment.

 

Another time, when a neighbor's bull was out and attempting to access some heifers that were not yet ready in maturity for safe breeding but who were already cycling, we tried to help the neighbor re-paddock his bull. The bull ran over our experienced working Aussie multiple times. He was not dog-broke and did not respect the dog.

 

Your dog did very nicely but it was a situation that could have ended unhappily, and Donald's advice was good advice and well-intentioned. Please don't be offended by it.

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Sue,

Thanks for your interesting stories and for your good intentions.

 

No. Bluntness is not the problem. Bluntness is good!

 

So, I will be blunt too:

The problem is that both you and Donald are mistaken in your presumptions. Without knowing me, or my history, Donald misread my posts and/or misunderstood the situation I was trying to describe.

 

So, the “advice,” while generally sound, is very poorly targeted.

 

Let’s take a look at the story you’ve shared about your husband: he deliberately sent a dog out to work strange cows in order to show-off. As you say, the injured dog suffered because of the human’s ego and poor judgment.

 

My little story is exactly the opposite. I did NOT send my dog out to work cattle. I was on a public trail, I had leashed him and he broke loose. I called him back and he came.

 

In the intervening seconds as I stood the bike up, and assessed the situation, I saw my dog moving them off trail and bunching them up. As I said, I called him off and he came.

 

So, my sincere respect to you Sue, and your superior knowledge of cattle, but I did NOT use poor judgment. Nor was I showing off. Nor was I ignorant about cows (generally) or laws.

 

Finally, for 5 generations before me, my extended family had a cattle ranch, so I actually grew up with respect for livestock, landscape, private property, public lands, and sadly, an awareness that the world is full of irate people who carry guns.

 

Here in the mountain west there are horrible stories all the time: a recent court case in eastern OR focused on 2 hunters on USFS land who shot to death 2 LGDs while they were minding their 1000-ewe flock with a Peruvian shepherd. A year or 2 ago a hunter on USFS land outside of Missoula shot 2 out 3 pet huskies. They were running out in front of their owner who was X-country skiing. The hunter said he thought they were wolves. In the local open space I have frequented for the last 15 yrs with permitted off-leash dogs, I have witnessed men harassing cows, out in the field, well off the trail. They were rushing them and shouting so they could get a reaction and take selfies.

 

So yes, the world is full of idiots with no respect, poor judgment, armed with cameras, and guns.

 

Just as the internet is full of people jumping to erroneous conclusions! :)

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Alfreda - I'll pass on everything else you wrote in rebuttal to me because I don't think it merits a reply, but I do resent your attributing Rocket's injury to my husband's "ego" and "poor judgment". Perhaps it was my fault that I said "showing off" instead of "demonstrating" (which is a better description of him endeavoring to show the farmer what a good dog could do to help manage his cows). "Ego" had nothing to do with it and you read that into my words. And I consider it misjudgment as I said rather than "poor judgment". Both the dogs mentioned in my stories had successfully worked our herd for their lifetimes, and also assisted in helping neighbors with their cattle when the need arose, and, with the exception of these two stories, were successful. These were just two stories of what can happen when the livestock are not compliant versus the times when even non-dog-broke cattle respond well to a dog's movements. With cattle you do not know, the outcome can be even less predictable.

 

And that's the last I will say on this. Don't worry, you don't need to be concerned about me making a comment about any of your posts in the future. You've made it plain that a well-intended reply is not worth the effort.

 

Maralynn - I'm sorry to have diverged from your post, which was quite delightful. Now, Kolt wants to know if he can visit the grandparents and their sheep more often, and help out on the farm!

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You know what guys, life's too short to get upset about what strangers may say on line. It can have no effect on your real life and isn't worth æ second thought. Face to face you might even like each other, or not. You'll probably never find out. Move on.

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My two cents: whenever one tells a story they should consider the message that might be received by the reader. Maybe anyone who reads Alfreda's story and thinks, "Hey, I bet Spot could do that too, the next time I run into stock on the trail," will think twice about that idea after reading some of the subsequent warnings posted before the thread descended into (unwarranted) nastiness.

 

J.

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My two cents: whenever one tells a story they should consider the message that might be received by the reader. Maybe anyone who reads Alfreda's story and thinks, "Hey, I bet Spot could do that too, the next time I run into stock on the trail," will think twice about that idea after reading some of the subsequent warnings posted before the thread descended into (unwarranted) nastiness.

 

J.

this is a valid point so:

 

For the Record:

 

Anyone who might be reading this thread and thinking of letting their dog chase, worry, or “work” someone else’s livestock: DON’T DO IT!

 

Get permission or buy your own, and even then, be wise and careful because as Sue’s excellent stories illustrate, accidents can happen and livestock can do a lot of harm to a dog (and vice versa) not to mention people.

 

 

o.k. have at it ! :) The sad thing is, in the big picture, we're really all on the same side: we all love and care for the dogs, we all care about and respect livestock (I hope), and we all dislike having our stories or our intentions misinterpreted!!!

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There is a reason why those of us who raise and train cattle dogs put only the most experienced of our dogs on cow-calf pairs. An angry mother is way more dangerous than a pen full of rodeo bulls when protecting her calf. I'm very glad your pup was not hurt in his adventure.

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You know what guys, life's too short to get upset about what strangers may say on line. It can have no effect on your real life and isn't worth æ second thought. Face to face you might even like each other, or not. You'll probably never find out. Move on.

 

Can't like this enough.

 

Also remembering that nuances are lost in typing that affect the tone of a story so that different people read different things.

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Always amazed at the track some threads might take. Oh well, that's the internet for you.

 

FWIW, I wasn't that surprised by my experience with Kolt. I tried what I did because he is a biddable team player and I knew that his genetics strongly favored what I was asking. I.E. I strongly suspected he could handle what I asked. Because the only thing less fun than loose sheep is loose sheep with a clueless dog...

 

But it's still the coolest to see things kick in like that. Especially since, since I lost Missy, I haven't had a dog quite so helpful and "user friendly" from the get go!

 

While my folks don't have a good area to play with stockwork, there's not much I can train for there. But there are occasional loose sheep or chickens to put away or chores that a dog can help with. Enough stuff where a useful dog can come in handy.

 

And now back to SAR - we have part 2 of certification testing tonight :)

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