Sunday, November 06, 2016

"Woof! Woof!" With Sheep

Liam Love, our newest Border Collie, often gets a bad rap in my blog posts AND he usually deserves it.  

When one considers the amount of furniture destruction, ongoing leash expenses, holes dug every day in the run, all that fencing we've had to install to keep Liam's nose and the rest of his body on the Lovestead----it adds up in both stress and the bottom line.

But, by golly, first and foremost, don't ever think that I don't love him intensely, no matter how mad I am at him or how often---in the heat of his latest destructive discoveries---I threaten to send him back to Hunters, Wash., where he lived before coming to the Lovestead.

Aside from his puppy habits, which are gradually and happily becoming memories of the past, Liam is as lovable as they come AND talented. 

We found out yesterday just how talented and just how much potential he has if we ever decided to turn him into a full-fledged herd dog. 

With a nice day on the docket and after learning our friends Gail and Randy had some time open at their farm where sheep, dogs and horses abound, Willie, Debbie and I loaded up the two pups and drove to Dover to see what they could do. 

Joe came from the Curless household, so it was a return home for him and Liam's first time ever. 

I had no expectations other than to see what Liam would do with a herding situation. I was pretty sure that he would enjoy it because I have to keep him tied or in the house whenever I move the horses from one place to another.  

Liam is quite vocal about his desire to get up close and personal with those horses, but it's kinda hard to convince a dog that those horses have a load of power packed into their hind hooves.   And, I'm not willing to provide him the experience to see just how much power. 

Anyway, when we arrived, Randy was working with another dog owner out in the big field with his large herd of sheep and a few goats.  So, we just watched, held on to our very eager dogs and eventually took our turns in a smaller pen.  

During his session, Joe was pretty concerned about Mom and Dad. It's important to note that Joe is about six months younger than Liam.  

We have learned that, even though they've got the herding instinct bred into them,  it takes a while for those Border Collies to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. 

When Liam entered the pen with Randy, I was immediately mesmerized and totally amazed at the quiet and calm magic that was happening in that enclosure between Liam and Randy and Liam and the small herd. 

He listened, he quickly learned instructions and put them into practice.   

Liam seemed to understand that this was a much different arena from what he had ever experienced and that it was important to tone down his enthusiasm and ramp up his self discipline.  

After watching a while, Gail came over and quietly told me that she was very impressed, adding that he could make a fine sheepdog trials competitor.    

While continuing to watch and snap photos, I did my very best to contain the inner pride and joy toward what I was watching with my newest beloved.  

It had been almost a year since the time when every single day (almost 24-7) for several weeks during the fall of 2015 had been filled with grief and anger at the loss of our beloved Kea. 

Here, on this lovely November day, I watched and admired young Liam, who had entered our lives the day after Thanksgiving as a bundle of joy and definitely a strong dose of therapy to diminish the grief.  

Liam, in this past year, has done his job every single morning with his wiggly, happy and occasionally dangerous greetings.  That first encounter always brings a smile and, of course, a wipe-off from the wet nose which has just come like a projectile into my face. 

The moments of watching him perform and learn alongside Randy were truly inspiring.  My only disappointment:  that Bill, who was home finishing up the box stall, was missing this. 

Nothing will ever replace our Kea.  And, I doubt that we'll ever pursue herd dog competitions with Liam, but having the opportunity to see his God-given potential while watching him have the time of his life doing what he was bred to do makes me very happy. 

We have no problem forgiving the torn up furniture or the daily trenches out there in the dog run because all that stuff is totally offset by the love-filled morning greetings and knowing that he is a very special dog. 

Enjoy the photos!  Thanks, Randy, Gail and Erica.  Twas a fun morning. 

Finally, How 'bout those ZAGS!  Unbelievably balanced and talented.  It's gonna be a fun year.  

Happy Sunday. 

Gail and I have known each other forever. Horses used to be the common denominator; now, it's Border Collies. 

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