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Letterman herding demo

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Hey I'm sorry,but I saw the Letterman herding demo and I was really disappointed. Just shows Tom leading sheep on a path outside into the studio and the dogs are flagging the sheep. I wanted to see real work in action. Sorry,flame away.

 

Sue Barta

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I would love to hear opinions of the demo from anyone who has herding experience. I have never seen sheep-hearding in person, with the exception of a clinic for novice's - which involved 5 sheep in a small pen with a BC and their person, neither of which had done it before.

 

I was somewhat unimpressed by the Letterman demo. It appeared to me that the sheep were quite dog-broke and went very willingly. Or was it that the dogs were just really good at what they did? Having no experience, I am afraid I can't tell the difference. :rolleyes:

 

Critiques, please!!

 

Betsy

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For that sort of situation, any SMART person would use very well dog broke sheep. I done many demos over the years and you never know what will happen. The sheep need to be fairly non reactive--the wind didn't help Tom any here since wind makes sheep a bit jumpy. Whenever working in a crowded situation people will invariably try to pet the sheep and dogs, so for the case of New Yorkers (many who would probably have been terrified of dogs and sheep :rolleyes: ) the barriers were an aid to prevent lawsuits.

 

Now for those who know herding, a demo such as this doesn't usually allow much of a showcase of the dog's talents--perhaps the dog's temperment since the dog will work thru such strange circumstances. But safety for the people and animals MUST be considered when doing something like this. For those who have never had the joy to see a dog work on tough sheep in difficult situations, these 'easy ' demos give them quite a thrill.

 

Tom did the necessary thing when he asked Pearl to head the sheep and act as a lead dog. If you work in practical situations, the lead dog can be of great value (although heading the sheep when they are running too fast can be a problem in a trial)

 

As for the sheep going willingly, I'd bet that wasn't a first take. Any smart person doing such a demo would want to walk the sheep thru a time or two to make sure the dogs didn't have to grip that recalcitrant ewe who didn't want to enter the elevator. JQ Public tends to frown on such necessities of daily life with sheep--although I've never had to take sheep into an elevator :D . Unfortunately we didn't get to see the real work--when the sheep jumped the barrier.

 

And, yes, Tom's dogs ARE that good. Have you ever had a farm dog on the streets of NYC? It's noisy, crowded, smelly and a very strange place for a dog. It is a tribute to him and his dogs that they could handle that situation

 

Pam

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I agree the herding demo was not much. However, I was also extremely impressed that the dogs could operate in such a strange and noisy environment. It is too bad that Letterman did not spend a minute or two with the dogs.

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Tommy said they did a couple of practice runs to decide exactly what they were gonna do. I know they did one with like a dozen sheep - too many. We all got a big kick at Sam's trial listening to Tommy and Gene telling all about the experience, pretty darned funny hearing about a sheep running around on 55th Street and being tackled by a cop. I figure it's just a good thing it wasn't the sheep with the sheep cam on its back!

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Give me a break.

 

I agree that the work was not that impressive to the trained eye compared to, say, what you can see at a (USBCHA) trial. But those of you who have done demos know that the conditions are usually far from ideal for demonstrating the fine points. Moreover, I would be willing to bet $$ that not one person who has posted here complaining about the poor quality could have even come close to doing the job Wilson & dogs did.

 

Yes the sheep looked very "broke", it is likely they did one or more dry runs, etc. Only a fool would try to do a demo on national TV on a crowded city street without making damn sure that no problems would arise ( by using dog broke sheep, practice runs, etc.). It was clear the sheep wanted to run. I am not sure whether they wanted to follow Mr. Wilson or run past him. He made good use of his dogs.

 

charlie torre

 

 

P.S. I see that Pam Wolf pretty much said what I said, only better. Oh well. Just change my post to "Me too."

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Well said, Pam. Thank you for your response.

 

While I've never really risen to repectable trial level myself, one thing I've learned is that the more seemingly boring the "performance" or "demo" -- for lack of better terms --- more than likely, the more skillful the combination of the workmanship of the dogs and the handler. It took more than a couple of years of working with my own dogs for me to appreciate the nuances and fine points of a supposedly boring demo, and what I still lack in skill and knowledge makes me wonder what else I'm still missing.

 

As for gripping, one of the dogs on Letterman did get a good one in, when the sheep were escorted into the foyer, getting ready to make a left turn toward the hall, I think it was Pearl and got a grip in. Anyone else notice that?

 

My opinion of the Letterman demo--far too short, although Tom Wilson's handling skills and dogs have always left me inspired. I'd go to a clinic of his in a heartbeat.

 

Vicki

 

BTW, I could have done without that lame muscial accompaniment.

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Would the audience of the Letterman Show been more entertained (this is an entertainment show) by the finer points of herding than they were by this herding stunt? I wonder if the audience would have even noticed the finer points of herding over just seeing sheep and dogs in the city.

 

Mark

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Ha! I didn't see the grip. I'll have to review the video tape.

 

Wouldn't it have been nice if the Sheep Cam had been pointed backwards, so we could see the dog working?

 

I've been trying to imagine what it must have been like to work sheep in that environment. Don't you think that the pavement would have had a very unsettling influence on the sheep? I've herded sheep down paved roads once or twice (by accident, unfortunately) and the sheep seemed rather skittish. We had a trial here last summer where the sheep had to cross a little asphalt lane. Only the strongest dogs could get the sheep across, and then only with much difficulty. Then it rained. Nobody, I mean nobody, could get the dogs to cross that shiny asphalt. And we had some of the very best dogs in the country at that trial. So, when thinking about the Letterman demo it's good to remember that pavement + sheep = trouble.

 

charlie torre

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charlie,

 

when you review the tape count the number of nips/grips that Pearl takes. I think you'll find it was a few more than 1. Also look for Gene S. and his dogs (who were backing up Tommy) at the doors after the sheep have entered the building; they're standing on the left side of the screen when the camera pans back towards the front doors.

 

Mark

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Want to know what happens when a demo isn't well thought out? A few years ago someone in Kansas City had the brilliant idea to re-enact a cattle drive. Apparently they went out to the Flint Hills and got some range cows and got a bunch of City Cowboys to drive them thru town. I missed the disaster, but there were rumors of cows on the parking garage etc :rolleyes:

 

Finally someone got smart and got the bright idea to use cows with calves. They seperated the cows from the calves about an hour before the demo. The calves were left at the end point and the cows trucked to the start. Well, by the time they started the calves were bawling for mom and mom was eager to find her baby. Worked well--also they decided to use 'real' cowboys, not the city kind :eek:

 

Pam

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Mark: Exxxcellent. I'll check it out tonight.

 

Pam: That's hilarious. They have a festival near here (Trailing of the Sheep, Sun Valley, ID) where they move thousands of sheep down main street from one town to the next. Amazingly, it works pretty well.

 

While I can't compete with cattle drives gone wild, I certainly can supply a healthy list of my own sheepdog demos gone kaput. Most recently, I gave a demo in a horse arena at the County Fair. After 15-20 minutes of absolute perfection (if I do say so myself), I had the bright idea to have some kids try and herd the sheep. Ooops. Horse arenas really aren't meant to contain sheep. 2 hours later I had found all the sheep that had been touring the fairgrounds. Some had cotton candy.

 

charlie

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I hope no one thinks I was "disappointed". I posed the question asking for critiques because I have zero experience and really want to know a true evaluation.

 

All of your explanations make a lot of sense and I'm going to watch it again with your words in mind.

 

Thanks!! :rolleyes:

 

Betsy

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I have to say that I didn't see Tommy on the Letterman show....I was asleep.

 

However, I am pretty certain that Letterman did not intend for this stunt to be educational or even a DEMO (as so many here have referred to it) to showcase Tommy, Dot or Pearl's skills.....Letterman is an ENTERTAINER....this was a STUNT....I'm fairly certain Tommy was invited to choreograph a JOKE which included walking sheep down a busy NY street, into a building, up an elevator and into the studio....intended to get LAUGHs...ha ha. Even though this didn't fall under 'stupid pet tricks', it is the same genre of entertainment.

 

Those of us who know better take this far too seriously.

 

Elizabeth

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