Tapping into Herding Instinct

We had a great time this past weekend spending the day with friends catching up, visiting, and herding sheep with Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue. We were allowed two potential slots per household so Bella and Kronos signed up. They had fun herding the sheep.

Bella mostly followed me and wanted to be with me, but when she did that, the sheep stayed away. We walked back and forth quite a few times to have her always ‘bringing’ the sheep back to me. Some goats were brought out, but one gave her the staredown and she deferred to it not wanting to start trouble. She stayed behind for awhile occasionally alternating with pushing the sheep out of formation and bringing them back around again.

Kronos barked at the sheep and raced around on his fast legs like a lunatic, but Cathy got him to somewhat listen to her. She had to throw a cone near him to define a boundary on the sheep. Cathy said he was being a bully, so for those dogs you just bully them right back. He went in a couple of times to bite the sheeps’ hocks and Cathy scolded him which made his ears droop and tail tuck slightly. I told her he talks a big game, but when it comes down to it, he’s a big baby and she could tell. He was more interested in where I was and spent more time looking to find me than herding the sheep-next time I’ll just have to walk with the sheep with the trainer to work with him. Some dogs and breeds will work just to work, but others have to be given a reason to do so. During Kronos’s session while I was trying to stay back and videotape, the biggest sheep ran right through me with Kronos on its heels. I saw it coming toward me, but thought it would go around. Nope. Sent me flying forward, caught me halfway with a crack in my back and flipped my feet to  land on my back. I ended up scraped on my elbow through my jacket. My toe had been stepped on earlier in the session by the same sheep and felt worse after the headlong rush. I didn’t feel much at the time or right after-I never seem to when I hurt myself or break a bone. I got up, dusted myself off, walked around, and Cathy had me sit out the rest of the time. My knee, toe, and back were feeling it the next day for sure. It feels like a sprain and nothing super serious because I’m still able to move around. I’m feeling better each day, but still pretty sore.

None of us really knew what we were doing, but it was still neat and we had fun. Here are some pictures from the Herding day taken by one of the other awesome rescue photographers Kathleen Kingma.

 

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