Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Today Riffle and I went to the sheep ranch ML recommended to us.  So happy that a break in the weather allowed us to go - what a pretty sky!   Riff got a whole new look at sheep, and he seemed to enjoy it. 

Look, ma!  I can fly!

Of course the entire pasture was puddles, big and small....but the grass was green green green, and the little woolies were so clean they looked like they could be in a commercial.  Karen, the lady at the ranch, is an interesting character, and quite nice. Riff seemed to forget how "discriminating" he usually is, and walked right up to her to be petted.   We could tell she's been around a lot of border collies...she knew just what to do to make friends with him.  ML was nice enough to meet us there (Riff was happy to see her, too!), and stood by the fence and watched for a while.  :-)

K used her small female BC "Dickens" to bring in the sheep, penned up most of them, then kept about 10 head out for us.  She took Riff and I right out into their medium-sized pasture, since the smaller pens were way too muddy.   She used Dickens to keep the sheep fairly close to us while Riff, on a long-line held by K, sized-up the situation.   It didn't take K long to decide Riff would be fine without the lead.  When she let him loose, Riff was ready to chase some sheep around.  At that point, I just did my best to stay right next to Karen, and grab a few photos. 

Well...Riff was almost ready.  First he thought about chasing Dickens (but for only one half-hearted moment), then he thought he'd gobble up some sheep poop.  K said that eating poop is a stress-related behavior, and that we'd be working on building Riff's confidence.  She discouraged him from lingering over the poop, yelling "eh eh!"  and  "leave it!" and at one point threw the lead at him.  That action startled both Riff and I...but it did seem effective.   She said behavior like stopping to eat poop could get a dog run over by sheep. 

ML, the sheep, and Karen

Dickens holding the sheep
Riff checking it out

Riff ready to rock and roll!

Sometimes he veered away and ran around the whole little herd.
Sometimes he just chased a few.

...but he did actually make it all the way around them several times. 
Good boy!
Riff was a tired puppy when all was said and done. 

And the sheep were ready to get back to eating grass.

Afterwards, Karen asked if I had any questions - but my brain was out to lunch, so I didn't come up with much.  She said Riff "didn't do anything really wrong."  And - like most sheep people - she said the agility training will work against us a bit.  Ah, well....such is life. 

I noticed she didn't say he did anything really right, either...but progress is progress, and Riff definitely showed progress today.  So I was pleased. 

She invited Riff and I to come back tomorrow, if the weather is still good.  Of course the more often we get out there, the faster we'll learn.  Crikey, I need to start counting my pennies.  I need to figure out how to cram more activities into each day.  I need to find more energy. 

Tomorrow is packing-for-Reno day!

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