Monday, November 8, 2010

Sybil and the Sheep

When it happens, finally, for the first time, the feeling is like nothing you can imagine. Okay, maybe you can - like when you were a kid and you really, REALLY wanted that Schwinn Stingray banana seat bike for your birthday. You'd pass by the local Western Auto every day just to put fingerprints on the glass window and drool down your chin as you stared at it, wishing you were riding it down to the Superior Dairy for a sundae right this minute. You could visualize the whole thing - putting the rubber band around your pant leg (to keep it from getting caught in the chain), clothespinning the ace of spades to the front wheel, making sure you'd taken those dorky reflectors off the wheels and from under the rear of that ultra cool, glittery banana seat, throwing a leg over and pedaling like mad down the tree-lined main street to the dairy, skidding to a halt, sideways of course. And afterwards, all sugared up, you'd pop a wheelie as you left, holding it as long as you could, making sure everyone saw you, hoping you didn't pull a boner and crash or worse yet, walk it off backwards. Yeah, you remember that. It was like that with me about Sybil and working. At 5 weeks, Hank was pure poetry on ducks. Sybil didn't even know they were there. At 11 weeks, Henry got it on with the sheep like he'd been waiting to do that his whole life. Sybil - she saw some big woolley things in the pen that clearly were doing fine without her help. Every day and every night, we'd walk out to the pen, usually with Ho Dog. He'd move sheep and/or ducks around her; mostly, she found other things far more interesting. She did turn onto the calves at around 8 weeks, but there was no way she was gonna be working cattle at any age less than about 5 or 6 months. But, I kept at it, allowing her to take her time and trying not to show how disappointed I was. Poor Ho Dog - he kept moving sheep or ducks literally over her, time after time, until all he could do was hobble around and bark at 'em to get 'em moving. And still she ignored them. Two days ago, with daddy Hoke, she perked up a bit as he ran the sheep by her. Even took a step towards them. I saw my dad wheeling that bike around the Western Auto store. Yesterday, with Ho Dog, she started trying to head them as he moved them by her. There was my dad, loading the bike into his Dodge pickup. And this afternoon, in a driving rainstorm, my dad flung open the garage door and there was that purple, metal flake Stingray with the gold metal flake banana seat and sissy bar. I didn't have the camera out due to the heavy rain, but I was too busy cheering her on as she actually took over from Ho Dog and started moving them herself, and even taking on the big young wether Jubal when he challenged her to a duel! This evening, during a break in the weather, we went back out with camera and momma Cricket, and it only got better. Sybil took charge, and took 'em off the fenceline, across the arena, kept control of them for the most part, took on the stragglers and basically, made me so proud I could bust! I knew she had it in her, it was just a matter of letting it come out on its own. She does show more talent as a driving dog, like her momma, and shows incredible rate for such a young (14 weeks) pup, as well as the strong eye her momma has.

Oh, this is gonna be a ride! Don't forget to click on the pix. Most were taken near dark so they won't be well in focus, but you can see some fine stuff.

With her 'training wheels', momma Cricket

Taking on the runners

The one that didn't get away - this wether lamb has been a problem for a while now and just may end up in the freezer if he doesn't get with the programme

The training wheels come off. Cricket comes back to hang with me and let Sybil take it from here

Taking care of a group of runners, including that dang wether lamb

I got 'em, I got 'em. NOW what? Pretty pose, tho - reminds me so much of her momma

Keeping them moving on the fenceline - amazing show of rate and balance and patience, something her poppa Hoke lacks

Checking the lead sheep to stop the flow and regroup

THIS was jaw-droppingly amazing - she pulled them OFF the fenceline and took them across the arena!

Now she's got them at the other side of the arena headed back south again

Keeping an eye on the two stragglers. Note how calm the sheep are and how slow they are walking

She's waiting for them to make the turn. This was just flat amazing - the amount of patience and positioning needed to turn a corner is something hard enough for experienced dogs to do, let alone a 14 week old puppy her first time out

Posing pretty again while watching the goat going nuts on the other side of the fence

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