Lessons from Herding Dog Trainers

star alisdair sharpter 2010

Ah, lucky me. Last week I had two half hour lessons with Alisdair McRae, who I used to call "the Tiger Woods of Herding," but well . . .  you know. Alisdair won Open on both Saturday and Sunday at the Portage Trial this weekend, which is pretty much par for the course with him. He is also a clear and kind teacher, and he understands herding dogs as well as anyone in the world. I write this because my lessons reminded me of the universal importance of creating a win for our dogs, and the universal difficulty in always knowing how to do that. I wanted to work on my timing; Willie and I are doing nice outruns and fetches, but our drives look like zig zags instead of the lovely straight lines we are all attempting to achieve. I felt like I was always one step behind, and never able to react Read More

Willie gets in over his head

Well, I can't tell you that last night went smoothly, but my Willie boy tried his best and ended up learning a lot about working sheep last night. (We went to a good friends, Peg, who has a lot more sheep and a lot more land than I do and is extremely generous with her time.) First, Will and I drove a flock of about 35 sheep into a pen at the end of a long field, and then turned and walked 40 yards in the other direction, where Peg had brought out a group of 5 or 6 ewes about 250 yards away. I waited until I was sure Willie had seen them, and then sent him "Come Bye" (clockwise). He began correctly, but then stopped part way there and looked back at the flock he had just worked (who were behind him and me both). I said Come Bye again, and he started right but again slowed and looked back. Read More