Saturday, August 23, 2008

Herding and Hurting

After my rant about Luka last post, our pup proved herself very useful this week when we discovered one of this year's lambs with an eye injury. I was lucky enough to spot Chloe out in the pasture with her left eye swollen and oozy. It looked, more or less, like the little girl had been punched in the eye. Chloe's Mother, Maya, is one of our most cagey and cautious ewes, and her cute little twins stick to her like glue. Catching the trio in the large, wooded and hilly pasture next door was going to be tricky. We decided to unleash the hounds.

Luka wasn't sure what to do. This was the very first time the pup had been given carte blanche with the sheep, indeed, the first time she had actually been lifted into the pasture and asked to do her crazy little Icie thing. She ran towards the sheep and then, when Charlie, our most intimidating-looking ram, took a step closer to investigate, she came running back towards us. And, for perhaps the first time ever... she was silent. Not a yip. not a peep.

It didn't take her long to turn it around, though. A few encouraging word and Maggie's game if slightly ineffective presence had her rushing off, that trademark bark trailing behind her. And let me tell you, the sheep took notice.

What was most amazing was that the two dogs were able to isolate Maya and her twins and move them into the barn. It wasn't pretty, or quick, but they did it. They really did.

While in the pasture, I worked on Luka's recall. Calling her back from the flock, rewarding her then sending her again. We're getting there anyway. It'd be great to find a herding trainer in our area, one that works with pesky little loose-eyed barking driving dogs rather than stealthy BCs.

Maggie, after all, knows exactly what she's doing. The sheep just don't always care.

Anyway, Chloe's eye is on the mend. It's no longer a thoroughly swollen mess, although the left side of her forehead is still a bit large. She can see out of it now, no problem, and there is no more ooze. We've been treating it with warm washes and antibiotic biotic ointment. She and her fam are enjoying a comfortable stay in the barn, replete with hay and grain, organic apple cider vinegar and extra vitamins. We still don't know what happened to cause it. Most likely is a bee sting, but then the pasture is rife with thorns and prickers and what not. Perhaps she was butted by one of the rams. Hard to say.

Lest we damn Luka with too much praise, this week she also managed to drive our newest escape artist, little Caroline, AWAY from the barn and down the road upon discovering her out and about. She did this twice-- twice! Luckily, while the adult Icelandics scoff at Maggie's apparent lack of gravitas, the lambs respond quite well to her quiet, steely-eyed persistence. I later found Maggie patiently waiting in the barn, a cornered Caroline (On her 4th or 5th escape!) awaiting rescue. She was so happy to see a human, she allowed me to walk up to her, grab her, and hoist her over the fence into the pasture without any struggle at all.

I guess it's all a bit topsy-turvy around here: The little dog works the big sheep, and the big dog works the little ones.

1 comment:

Christy said...

That is so great that the puppy is proving useful! Catching sheep can be so hard, having a dog to help could definitely be a help!