Wednesday, August 17, 2011
A Catahoula Learns Her Stock Dog ABC's - Part 1 of last weekend's fun!
I have a ton of pictures from the Sebago Orient Point weekend that I'm hoping to sort through this week, but I thought I'd start by putting up the most unusual event of the weekend - we took TQ's dog Bella for a sheepdog instinct test. I had never seen this before and it was quite fascinating. The Catahoula Leopard Cur is an American breed from Louisiana bred to be a multipurpose working dog - hunting, guarding and herding. We needed to board the dogs somewhere for the weekend, and in the process of looking around, TQ found Laurie Raynor-Carmody at the Long Island K-9 Academy and thought it would be fun to let Bella have a go at the stock work she was bred for.
The dog LOVED it and picked up the basics really fast!
Laurie starts the introduction of the dog to the sheep by walking the dog around the pen on-leash. This both gives her complete control of the situation and lets her encourage the dog to take interest in the sheep.
Bella was VERY interested.
The red paddle is the more emphatic of the two tools Laurie uses to control the interactions between the dog & sheep once the dog is let loose. Bella is a very energetic dog & has actually done some hunting in her past (groundhogs & mice, mostly, although she & Buzz did go after a bear one time - fortunately the bear went with the "flight" option of the fight-or-flight choice); TQ had warned Laurie about that so Laurie had started with the paddle, just in case Bella really went after the sheep.
Fortunately (and fascinatingly), Bella very quickly caught on to the idea that the game today was to just run the sheep around - and run around the sheep! She did get one good swat with the paddle when she snapped at a laggard heel, but that was enough to give her the right idea. After that, Laurie was able to switch to the rod, and Bella very quickly got the hang of running tight circles around the sheep ("Get around!"), without getting in too close (which brought a "Get out!")
Laurie had her switching directions on cue - and Bella was having the best time.
WOOOOF! As city dogs, Bella and Buzz aren't allowed to bark very much. She was quite happy to discover that that was an OK thing in this game, too.
Slowing down a bit, now.
Breather time for sheep (and dog and trainer).
Back for a little more "Get around!"
She had her second wind and I thing she would've done this all afternoon.
Next steps...learning "That'll do". That's when the dog's job is done, and when the dog hears "That'll do", she's supposed to walk away from the sheep and relax. That may be the hard part for Bella - at it took a while to wind down & just listen to "Sit!", which she knows - but I think she'll have another chance, TQ and I got such a kick out of watching her & he really wants to do it again sometime.