12 July 2015

Banksy goes sheepherding.

Banksy is suture free and back to being Banksy! No more cones, no more quiet walking only. We all survived pretty good, and Banksy has a great big souvenir scar she gets to keep forever. So for her special treat in honor of good behavior during jail time, I took her sheep herding. I would personally prefer a brownie sundae or getting my car vacuumed for a special treat, but this was just for her.

I'm not sure what I think about sheepherding. I'm not sure what the sheep think about it. I'm not really sure what Banksy thinks about it either. Banksy is difficult to know sometimes.

I would say that it is extremely apparent that we are both beginners at sheep herding. Banksy worked with George, the dogsheep whisperer. Because we had no idea what she would do, as in potentially eating a sheep, she needed to be in with a pro. I did my herding turn with Cricket, an 11 year old border collie who could probably herd the sheep in the roundpen with her eyes shut and me sitting in the car. She tolerated me just fine. We all took our turns walking the sheep around the roundpen. Calmly. It took Banksy a couple times to get the idea of calmly.

There are many things about working with sheep and a dog in the roundpen that remind me of working with horses on the ground. The same things are hard for me, the same principles are at work. All about how everybody's feet move and how you apply and remove pressure. And all the same things that Banksy does outside of the roundpen happen in there too. So it's weird, but cool, to watch how she works them out with a whole other person and 3 big sheep.

Her first time in she was wild, and volatile, and a little bit scared. All at once. There was no sense of balance, which is how things can be with Banksy sometimes. She got pretty over the top and had to be captured from spinning wild circles around the edge of the roundpen, with the sheep just hanging out in the middle patiently. Brain explosion. George thought she was a very quirky dog. Maybe too high strung to be very good on sheep. As he talked, she lay outside the roundpen staring at the dust that was maybe going to move, with giant crazy eyes. Crazy eyes not good for Banksy. But he'd try again, and maybe be a little tougher with her, with how he used the flag. Just like horses! Maybe she'd settle in a little on her second try.

He right away found the right amount of pressure and I thought she looked awesome! But what do I know. She was sometimes tentative, and then when she got moving sometimes had to be slowed down. And did not want to lie down! All our millions of LieDowns, did not work. Yeah, yeah, she does it at home. But she needs to do it better because you really need this with the sheep. She finally had them moving around pretty good, in a way that he said was actually quite nice for such an inexperienced dog.

We will go again. I think this could be really good for her to work on how to control the slow down button in her brain, and it was more fun than I thought it would be. Sheep. Not so bad. Hope they don't hate having to walk around and around a dusty roundpen all morning. Sorry sheep, thanks for your patience. Never thought I'd spend a day out in the sun learning to walk around slowly with sheep, not in a million years. Life throws us surprises, and we roll with them. Calmly and quietly, around and around in a dusty circle.


Kelly and Pruli and oh yeah BC Ben said...

More herding videos please!!!! My rehomed BC has learned EVERYTHING he needs to learn about life by herding my little flock of Jacob sheep. It saved his life, literally. He was busting through an invisible fence to chase motorcycles in his last home. No more. I'm so glad you gave it a shot! Your instructor is SO CALM compared to the one I stopped going to. Can we come to CA from Maine? :) We do just fine with our own sheep now, but it was nice to have some guidance at first. Yeah for Banksy's return to action!!!

team small dog said...

This is great to hear. George the herding instructor is very calm, that was something i liked about him. He really related everything to working with horses. I will have to do some more herding to figure out how to make an interesting video, I was just holding my phone up at random times, a lot of round and round. I think it seems best when it's very calm with just enough fast to put the sheep back in line, then back to calm! That is from my grand total of 4 hours now of sheep experience!

Merinda said...

We started herding originally as a reward for my corgi. But he was actually pretty good & loved it. Now I do it more than agility!
It really does help to settle their mind. There is a lot of mental exhaustion afterwards :)