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Smalahundur

Last attempt at the shepherd's whistle.

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I own a couple of shepherd's whistles, low budget plastic ones. I can use them fine, no problem getting a tone out of them, whistling tunes, different commands, the works.

But on dogs, especially under pressure, or wanting to whistle very loud ( distance, windy conditions) I kinda "poop out".  No big deal, I am a good finger whistler, I can whistle louder on my fingers than on those shepherds whistles.

But that method has one big drawback, you regularly put fingers in your mouth that have been places you really (really) don't want to lick...Also I kinda like shepherds  whistles.

So just yesterday I talked to a friend who ordered some bc stuff, a couple of whistles, lanyards, training dvd's. But by some screw-up of the icelandic post company, and probably customs she ended up with an unwanted second shipment of the same stuff being underway. So rather than sending it back she decided to sell it.

So I decided to buy a Logan "supreme brass" of her. I don't mind metal whistles, heard good things about this model so we'll see. 

If I don't like it then I think am going to give up on whistles and keep to my fingers.

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Very stylish! That two hole whistle might have been a good option  for my kind of use. I imagine the bigger airflow it allows would help with my whistle trouble. But in this botched shipment were just  three whistles, two aluminium and the brass one I took. I'll report how I like it when it arrives.

Btw, we got an autumn lamb Maja. When putting the sheep in the stable last Saturday  to get the ones out of the herd we don't own  (roundup season) I noticed one of ours was in labor! Really lucky, if we hadn't, by sheer coincidence, done this chore last saturday we would not have noticed, and it would most likely not have lived through the night ( bad weather). Now it is warm and dry with mommy in the stable ( can post a pic when you are interested).

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Lamb reports are not legit without a picture :D .How do you know which sheep are not yours?  

I bought the two-hole turbo for Bonnie when she started losing her hearing, since this is supposed to give a particularly piercing sound in wind or fog or noise.  Unfortunately, it didn't matter much. but it's a nice whistle. 

 

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On 9/29/2018 at 3:44 AM, Smalahundur said:

I own a couple of shepherd's whistles, low budget plastic ones. I can use them fine, no problem getting a tone out of them, whistling tunes, different commands, the works.

But on dogs, especially under pressure, or wanting to whistle very loud ( distance, windy conditions) I kinda "poop out".  No big deal, I am a good finger whistler, I can whistle louder on my fingers than on those shepherds whistles.

I sure wish my finger whistles were as good as my mechanical whistles!  It's my project this winter (as it was last winter and the winter prior).  When the wind is blowing in your face, those finger whistles carry way farther than a mechanical whistle.  I hear ya about the icky part too, and of course, there's the matter of being cold.  Still, I think there's a reason why top hands finger whistle so yeah, carry the hand sanitizer!!

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Finger whistles reach farther and allow subtler variations. I'm told. I can't finger whistle.  The brass blasters are louder but taste foul in my mouth.

Donald

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We'll see. I have an opportunity now to re evaluate my whistles in general, as it looks like my Glàma's working career is over. Her replacement has been set to work this roundup season (we have been training since lambing season, bought him started), and I am very happy with him. I use lie down, walkon and recall whistles with him, but haven't thaught him directional and lookback whistles yet. From what I read, most people agree with you Donald, that for those who can do it, finger whisling is preferable. So I might stick to that anyway.

Btw I always thought I couldn't learn to whistle on my fingers, until the motivation of stockdogs got me to practise again. My wife thaught me:lol:.

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As I am a bit playing with my whistles I decided to try out an app called " voice pitch monitor" someone on the novice and beyond facebook group talked about.

That is a nice  tool for choosing and practicing whistle commands.. As the box says, it visualizes the pitch of the sound, and tells you what notes you are hitting.

Played a bit with it using both my plastic bb whistle, and my fingers. It encourages to "clean up" your whistles , producing a nice smooth grafic sounds better ( actually the other way round of course;)).

And I was rather content to find out that I am pretty consistent, and what's more, I pretty much strike the same pitch with my fingers as with the whistle. So it will probably be no problem to use both methods.

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What gorgeous sheep!!

I'll be interested to hear how your dog translates commands between finger and BB, Smalahundur; years ago I had a bitch I trained on a stainless steel whistle.  When I changed to one made of buffalo horn (which sounded identical to me), it took her about a month to get solid with my commands at distance.  She was one of those for whom everything had to be 'exact' and she sure could tell the difference in sound quality! ^_^

 

Amy

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While it didn't seem to make any difference to Mirk (he'd work to the whistles of different people) he could absolutely tell the difference. He'd been sent to Jack Knox for his early training. Jack didn't use an artificial whistle; he either just whistled or used his fingers.

Quite a few months after Mirk had been back home with us, we went to a sheepdog trial in VA. We'd gotten in quite late and were still sleeping during the first couple early runs. All of a sudden Mirk became very excited, running to the camper windows and wanting to get out. We looked out the window to see what'd gotten him so riled up and saw that Jack was at the handler's post. He recognized his whistles and wanted to get out there to work with him.

Jack told us one time that someone had been doing a project comparing the tones or qualities (I'm afraid I don't have the right vocabulary to describe it) of different whistles and recording a number of handlers using different whistles. When they compared them they discovered that Jack's finger whistles were significantly clearer and more distinctive than any of the whistles produced with artificial whistles. Not as many options then for types and materials in artificial whistles, but it was still pretty impressive to me that the finger whistles so demonstrably won out, but it was quite obviously apparent to my dog at least.

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8 hours ago, Smalahundur said:

And I was rather content to find out that I am pretty consistent, and what's more, I pretty much strike the same pitch with my fingers as with the whistle. So it will probably be no problem to use both methods.

I suspect this is key.  I have a dog who was run very successfully for years by a handler who has beautiful finger whistles.  This poor dog now has me with my mechanical whistles.  In my mind, I'm playing what he did, just on a corian whistle, but when I hear it on a video playback, I realize that it's not super close in some places.  As part of our transition package, he put Gail's whistles on my phone in two sets: one with him finger whistling, and one with my whistle.  His whistles are very close.  There are times when I blow a whistle and Gail's shoulders hunch up, as if to say "Oh come on, that's not even close!" and then she takes the command because she is a Very Good Girl.

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 We all use several different dialects: home town, family, professional, special venue (aka: sheepdog trials). Every handler's whistles migrate. They change over time and handler and dog adapt. Once I bought a cool buffalo horn whistle to replace my Boring! 2$ plastic one and introduced it at a little trial. Gael executed an impeccable outrun, lift and fetch but when Gael began her drive she fell apart at my first whistle.  Later, the judge asked, “What the hell happened to her?   She hadn’t lost a point until your drive!”
A friend had videotaped the fiasco and when I blew my new buffalo horn whistle, Gael stopped to stare at me and if a dog can knit her brows, Gael did: : “Are you speaking Portugese?  Aramaic?”
What I could say with plastic I could not say with buffalo horn.  Wrong dialect.

 

Donald

 

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Sweet little lammetje!  A nice mommy too, and the cute pink tag! Ours are yellow.  

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Yeah, she is cute isn't she. Our lammetje ( you actually speak dutch?) is doing great, looking even cuter now all dried up, and growing by the day. The mother is one of our few polled ewes. She saved her life by this pregnancy, being rather old and failed to be with lamb last year she was on the cull list. To answer your question about how we know our sheep from those of our neighbours, there is in the first place the archaic but still obliged method of cutting a "mark" in the lamb's ear(s) after birth. You can find them here:  http://www.landsmarkaskra.is/eyrnamork_heiti.jsp At the same time all the lambs get a lambtag with our farmnumber and a serial number. The animals that get to be production ewes get that bigger adult tag you see in the picture. The color is an area code.

Nice anecdote ms. McCaig. But as with anecdotes questionable if one can generalize it. There could have  been a myriad of reasons why the dog fell apart on the drive, to which the strange whistle sounds might just have added confusion ( a rather bold move btw, trying out your new whistle at a trial...;)) .

Also I think your analogy goes goo far. If one wanted to compare whistle commands with human language ( a perfectly reasonable thing, I agree)

I would rather say that a new whistle used by the same handler with the same whistle set would be a change in accent.

A different handler trying to imitate an other one's set ( for instance the previous owner) might count as a dialect. But maybe rather, like the situation Airbear describes, like trying to speak a foreign language, having a basic understanding of it and knowing the words, discovering that the natives have trouble understanding you though you would swear you pronounce the darned word pretty close to how it should be. Been there myself as a dutch guy living in Iceland. Fond memories of trying to explain I had climbed the "Dràpuhliðarfjall" to someone....

And a different whistle set unknown to the dog would be an foreign language one doesn't  speak, and is unrelated to the one(s) you do.

But maybe our resident linguist could give us her opinion on these musings.

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Mr. Smalahundru's distinction is well-taken though "dialect" and "accent" blur where they meet. The lowland Scots I was just talking with in the beer tent become incomprehensible when  local pals gossip.

The sheepdog's whistle comprehension is mysterious. Because I am unable to accurately replicate a new dog's recorded whistles I change them over to mine. Some get it on the first or second try, others take weeks.

I've seen Jack Knox work a young dog on whistles: flanks, stop, walk up, although that dog had never been previously trained to whistle commands.

Donald

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Not really. I personally use 4 different languages in my daily life, I can speak an additional local dutch language, frisian. Dutch dialects from the south can be rather difficult for me to understand, especially when spoken in their purest form ( f.i. by  elderly people). The difference between a dialect and an accent is pretty clear, a dialect is a local variation on a language, with differences in both vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.  An accent is just a difference in pronunciation (f.i. non native speakers).

I think that "bluriness" comes from the fact that these kind of analogies can never be accurate, just a vague ilustration of a point. Whistle commands have in common with human languages that they are both forms of communication, but a whistle set is obviously not the same as a human language.

I just tried to polish up your analogy a bit. I probably should have known better.

I don't have your kind of troubles with whistle sets from other trainers, because I train my dogs myself, never bought a fully trained stockdog. If I would I think I would start by teaching the dog my whistles.

Oh yeah, Donald, on a side note, and I have told you before, using "mr" in front of my forum handle is plain weird. As I pointed out to you multiple times, my name is not " mister stockdog". It kinda makes me feel as if I were a character in a children's book.

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No harm done, it's no biggie. In the written word there is a tendency to come over harsher than intended ( to be clear, I am talking about my own posts). 

I assume you want to be polite. Btw it was not the gender that was the point, but the use of mr. in combination with a forum handle instead of a name ( I am male).

Where I live now, contrary to my home country, mr and ms aren't used, just given names, no matter if you talk to a child or the prime minister ;)

What do you prefer yourself, Donald or mr. McCaig ?

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I studied Dutch with a Flemish teacher at the college for two years.  But I remember now very little; it was over 25 years ago.  

__________

I think dogs may be getting something else from the whistles than we can hear, since our hearing range is different than theirs. So it's possible that a whistle that sounds the same to our ears is quite different in the dog's ears, because it may contain wavelengths that are not in our range. 

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Interesting idea Maja, I wonder if there is some info on whistle wavelenghts on the net. The shepherds whistle may be bit uncommon, but not the type and method of generating sound.

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Dear Mr. McCaig,

I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your brand of  courtesy on these boards, which is something I had experienced when visiting family in the past in the Southern US.   

Smalahundur,

There are definitely silent whistles - these produce only ultrasonic sounds and to us they are silent.  So I think it's possible that some whistles produce accidentally at some point of whistling something ultrasonic.  It would be indeed very interesting to measure various acoustic aspects of different shepherds whistles, I'll let you know if I find anything.  

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