Saturday, March 14, 2009

Porter's first herding class

Porter is passed out on the living room floor, and I'm about ready to collapse into bed. He had his first herding class today. It was my first class too. I honestly expected him to drag me around the round pen as he wildly chased after the sheep. Before we even went into the pen, the instructor said that some dogs are so excited about the sheep that they have to actually work from outside the pen in the beginning. I thought for sure that would be Porter! I was pleasantly surprised when he was calm. In fact, he even took his eyes off the sheep sometimes, which shocked me.

The instructor said he has good "stock sense" and that he will be a good teacher for me. She also said that he is very sensitive to me, and I don't need to have a very heavy hand with the lead. She had a lot of other compliments for him, but my exhausted brain has forgotten most of them. When you first start herding, the dog is on leash, which means the handler has to do just as much as the dog. I did not realize this before today. I'm thinking that either I will lose a lot of weight training Porter -- or that maybe Mike should be his herding trainer, since he likes to run.

I found it interesting that the other dogs were there for fun, which was a bit intimidating at first. Some of those other dogs have a lot of formal experience in obedience and agility. Porter was the only working dog, so at first I felt like Cinderella at the ball and was afraid we were going to look completely incompetent next to the other dogs. Luckily, Porter is a smart cookie, and while he wasn't the best dog, he certainly didn't embarrass me. His biggest fault right now is that he doesn't respect the sheep's space, which is why they scatter so often when he runs at them. So, we have a lot to work on in the coming weeks!


Nancy K. said...

How fun!! Good for you for giving your dog the opportunity to hone his natural instincts! I can't wait to see more. Maybe Bella and I can learn vicariously through you and Porter?????


Deborah said...

The first class was pretty simple, but Katherine videotaped it. We just had to move the sheep from one side of the round pen to the other. Still, that gives us a lot to work on at home with our own sheep. I'm hoping she'll get it edited pretty soon, so I can get it online.

Mom L said...

Good job, Porter! I can't help it - I keep thinking of Babe, the pig, herding sheep!!!

Nancy in Atlanta

Deborah said...

I thought of Babe the sheep-herding pig a few times myself!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I would love to find a herding class like that to take Jackson to! I don't know that he has any stock sense, but sometimes I could use a "hand" and it would be nice if he could provide it.


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