Friday, June 18, 2010

Buffy’s really is a "sheep-dog"

Okay, right now I’m feeling stupidly proud of Buffy.

Buffy is a Shetland Sheepdog. Herders continue to use dogs like her to help them herd sheep. There small size makes it easier for them to cross rough terrain and their coat holds up in cold weather. I believe it when I hear that Shelties can go 10-15 miles a day because we have yet to go on a walk or a hike and have Buffy tire out.

Some dogs have more aptitude to herd than others. Logically if you breed two dogs together that are good herders their puppies combined training at a young age and being around other herding dogs help them become good working dogs.

Conversely, dogs that are bred to be pets often lack the “herding instinct” whether it’s because of genetic reasons or what they are exposed to as a young puppy. So, when we signed Buffy up to take a herding instinct test, we weren’t really sure what to expect.

We signed with Magic’s Legacy a facility run by Shannon Wolfe in Southern Wisconsin. At this place Shannon runs demonstrations, helps trains dogs to herd and tests dogs to see if they have any herding instinct. Along with about 15 other dogs we registered for an afternoon of herding instinct tests.

Shannon started the afternoon by giving a demonstration of one of her dogs herding sheep. Using voice and whistle commands she was able to instruct her dog to bring sheep towards her, make her dog rotate the sheep clockwise AND counterclockwise and put the sheep into a pen.

After demonstrating what her dogs could do, she tested our dogs to see if they had any aptitude or interest in herding sheep.  Shannon would take one dog at a time around the pen with three sheep and see if anything would click with the dog.

When the dogs didn’t seem interested, Shannon would call “sheep party” and the dog's owner would come in and chase the sheep like it’s the most exciting thing ever and this often get the dog interested. I was looking forward to watching Diana herd sheep but to our surprise and delight, Buffy didn’t need any encouragement.

Buffy did a fantastic job. She ran wide around the sheep, (which is idea so that the dog can watch the whole herd). She worked quietly in general which showed that they felt secure and confident and not only chased the sheep but really herded them. There is a part towards the end of the video when Buffy looses one of sheep, crosses wide over to the left and pulls that sheep back into the group. That was impressive. Bear in mind, this was the first time Buffy had ever been around sheep.

Shannon Wolfe runs a fantastic program. She is very knowledgeable, knows how to work with a wide variety of the dog from little ones like Buffy to bigger dogs like Rottweilers. This was one of greatest experiences I had with Buffy well worth the registration fee and the drive up there. I would highly recommend sharing this experience with your dog.

What surprised me the most was how emotional this experience was for me (I was starting to tear-up a little bit).  I was proud of her that she was being successful but more overjoyed at how much fun she was having.

That'll do Buffy.

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