Willie, Maggie and I spent the last three days in sheepdog heaven at a Patrick Shannahan clinic hosted by Laura Wentz. Imagine watching brilliant dogs work white wooly sheep framed by the reds and oranges of fall in the midwest. Sweet. (And okay, a tad chilly when the wind came up.)
I brought the camera along and got some good photos of Patti Summer’s Shay (fitting, since she is always taking great photos of other people’s dogs). This image is a great illustration that sheep herding is not just about your dog going to the right or left around the sheep, or walking up when told. It’s about communication between the dog and the sheep, and what the sheep learn from the dog’s behavior (and vice versa). Here, a balky ewe is evaluating Shay, and deciding how committed Shay is to taking charge. Shay is learning how to use her eye and her intention to convince the sheep to move away, without ever having to touch her.
Laura’s sheep were great for all of us: Fast and flighty one moment, stubborn and ‘heavy’ the next–perfect for teaching young dogs how to handle different situations.
Patti reciprocated and took some photos of Maggie working.
Jim and Tootsie came along too on Sunday, here’s a photo of Toots meeting Davey, a color coordinated new friend, who had never met a dog who looked anything like a Cav before. Davey is a real sweetheart, (pay no attention to his eyebrows!) and charmed everyone, Tootsie included.
We learned so much over the course of three days… lots for Maggie and I to work on together over the winter. Only sad note was that Willie was supposed to run, but his shoulder turned out not to be healed. I thought it might be good enough, but it was clear that he was only running at 60-70% speed, and I pulled him right away. Bummer. Back to UW to see his bone doc, and more restrictions and physical therapy no doubt. It just so damn hard to keep restricting him over and over again. I’ll keep you posted. Here’s a photo of Willie that Pattie took and converted to black and white. Sweet William she called him (Awww….): (This is the look I also tease him with by calling it his “Spaniel Face.”)
Thanks again to Patrick for his wise advice and benevolent approach, to Laura W for hosting, and to Patti, Donna, Rowie, Annie, Paul, Janet, Mary, Julie, Sandy & Laura for being such great company. It was heaven to spend the weekend with you all.