A Post of Answers

Love your questions and comments on the last post. Thank you for providing the chance to dig a little deeper into the story.  

Do the ewes typically hunt new dogs?  Well, it’s not unusual (many stock dogs who see a lot of stock have probably experienced it) but those ewes who go out of their way, without provocation, are few and far between.  The ewes notice a lot of things and a new dog is pretty obvious to them.  The ewes also have lambs at their side, so they are less tolerant right now.  The yearlings in the flock, and ewes without lambs, hardly care.  This is also a flock that lives year round at pasture.  They get bothered by predators and the like.  They have developed a few survival smarts and being aware of strangers in their midst is one of them.  

An adult dog would be more imposing just on size and the ewes think twice before making a charge.  In my experience many adult animals do not favour or coddle young that do not belong to them.  I realize there are exceptions and there are adults who faun over any young, but most adults in this group will be quick to deter strange youngsters, including any strange lamb.  

Crow is marked very differently.  I wonder if it isn’t his white blaze on a dark face that has the sheep taking more notice of him.  

He’s pretty sure of himself and a bit oblivious.  He’s a bit too courageous for his own good and he doesn’t get upset by much.  He’s already recovered and is smarter for it.  He has more energy than I expected and that doesn’t help settle sheep.  However his tolerance of things without getting upset about them will balance that out.  

Wren on the other hand, really wants to be liked and gets upset when things are stressful.  She is sensitive and I, and the other dogs, can easily give her concern with a light reprimand.  She doesn’t recover as quickly as Crow does either.  The ewes accept her better but she’s careful not to rock the boat.  She’s also a solid white, fluffy dog, and is more familiar to the ewes.  

The really interesting thing would be a way of determining how much of their personalities is nature and how much is nuture.   Crow was handled excessively, Wren hardly at all.  For the job description, Wren is my pick but Crow might surprise me yet.  He has something within that is intriguing.   

Yes, there are some dogs that do not make it as guardians.  While I have no data to make any claims I would suggest too much prey drive often weans a lot of dogs out of a job.  Not being assertive enough is the other.  If the dog is too demure about predators, they’ll get worn out in short order.  A dog that is hyperactive is also not a good thing.  These dogs are so much more than predator deterrents.  They are overseers of your flock.  They can keep stock calm, or make stock riled up.  They can tell you a lot about what is happening, such as where predator pressure is coming from, or location of a dead animal.  

I do have a deep sense of gratitude for this land and this life.  I love my dogs to pieces although I am aware that I hold them in a different light than most people get to.  I love that this flock is here because it provides such a fascinating foray into working dogs.  I’m incredulous that we held to a dream of raising sheep in this very natural, gorgeous and stark manner that nature is.  Along with all the good have been numerous uglies, some so tough for me to digest I haven’t been able to write about them yet.  But like nature the uglies are good in their own light and in their own time, and we are most fortunate that the good far, far outweighs them.  

From the files

2 comments:

  1. Wow...your description of the two pups is much the same as my female and male and mine both have the same parents, but are a year apart. My female is a very soft pleaser and I am finding so rule oriented that she now keeps all the dogs in line and will tear anything apart that messes with her charges. But....I have yet to see her in action moving any of the sheep or goats. She is a blend of guardian and herder. The young pup is very confident and quick to learn...but he also is harder to correct. He loves all the livestock and is fearless. So...based on what you've said and a clean bill of health from the Dr. for me, I am ready to begin working with them on the ewes and whethers. I was thinking of starting them on lambs, but I think I'd rather start now based on your advice. The advantage is that all of my ewes and whethers are familiar with my dogs. Thanks so much for the information and insight into the intuitive training of your LGD's. It is like opening many doors, but until one is opened you don't know what will lie beyond. What you find will determine the next door to be opened in the training and experience of each dog and that may not be the same for both dogs. I love the process you are going through and the experimental aspect of it all. I hope you don't mind sharing. It is very helpful to me as I tend to be intuitive with my animals, but this is still new to me and you have given me the confidence to know that I am at least on the right track. I love your beautiful LGD's. Such a fascinating and complex world they will be living in and the marrying of it all together...livestock, experienced LGD's, LGD pups, predators, terrain, weather, man's influences...nature's influences, etc.... I find it gloriously interesting. You've opened your world to the rest of us and it's inspiring. Thanks.

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