I use my stock dogs on a regular basis to work sheep and I am lucky to have them and they are lucky to have this life, even though, to this point, the work we do is pretty basic and pretty ‘loose’ (gathering, penning, trailing a mob, sorting sheep). I have yet to train the skills for a top notch chore dog (working singles, working the race, backing, real mustering, shedding). In part because I did not realize what is possible with a dog and in part that I lack the skills to do so effeciently.
Yet after working with Cajun last evening, out on the pasture, I know I have not even touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of working dogs and my relationship with them.
These dogs are so much more than any previous type of training method or dog activity ever made them out to be. I have an entirely different outlook on dogs and what it is to train and work with them than I did when heavily involved in other dog activities. Although stock dog work is occasionally so frustrating it brings me to tears, this outlook is far more intuitive and tantalizing. Working with dogs as I do now has shed light on all I didn’t know and how much there is still to learn.