On an evening check of the ewes I stop to watch some lambs who are racing about. They run up a hill slope and fly back down again, kicking their heels up and leaping about, oblivious to me or anyone else watching them. The best thing about their antics is how they can go from running flat out, to an abrupt stop, and then they gawk around in innocent wonder at where they are.
Tonight one little gaffer stops abruptly at young Lily’s feet. They stare at each other momentarily, each locked in a gaze of curiosity about the creature they have suddenly found themselves next to.
The lamb is full of energy from racing. She makes a little leap sideways and the tension bubble bursts. Lily is caught in her game.
For the first couple seconds it takes to snap these photos I just watch
through the lens but Lily’s playful response goes overboard and she
attempts to knock the lamb to prevent it from getting away, and makes a
grab for it.
Camera aside now, I let out a sharp verbal correction and watch her. It is all that is needed to stop Lily from continuing. She walks away from the lambs.
With the lamb races interrupted and the photo session done I move off in search of more lambs. Lily follows me and a moment later has another encounter with a single lamb.
She sniffs noses with the lamb and moves off toward a set of twins laying nearby. She comes right up to this pair and inspects them, acting like an angel this time and reminding me of Willow.
Granted these babes are at rest and there is no racing lambs to entice her into excitement but we’ll take our goods where we get them.
A moment later Lily walks away from the lambs and camera aside once more I make sure she knows I’m very happy with this behaviour.
This could not have been set up any better. An opportunity to correct Lily for being too excited, and following that, a moment to praise her for being appropriately curious and mindful. Catching moments as they occur is kind of how training of livestock guardian dogs evolves for me. But you can’t catch such moments if you are not prepared to stop a time or two and watch.
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