Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trouble Pup

This is Luka, our Icelandic Sheepdog puppy. Well.... I say puppy, but Luka is one and 1/3 years old now and still acting-- for want of a more appropriate word-- "puppyish". And really now, it's getting a little old...

We had to go away for a few days last week and while we were gone, Luka wore out her welcome at my sister's house, barking, brawling, taking off unexpectedly. Sigh.....

Now, before I go off on a tirade, I should say that, aside from being adorable, Luka IS quite helpful when it comes to sheep. She can herd like nobody's business, her bark alone could move mountains of sheep and she is fearless and tough. If they try to butt her, she just keeps on keeping on.
And we've worked with her to help her adapt to all the situations on our farm: She comes with to do the chores, she walks the woods and fencelines, she is great with the kids and obeys (most) commands. But, MAN, is she hellacious when confronted with new situations. All her sheepherding smarts make her hyper aware of EVERYTHING: Trucks backing up, other dogs, squirrels, whatever. And she needs to DO something about every one of these things, something unpredictable and often LOUD.

Now, Icelandic Sheepdogs are a really interesting breed, able to herd rough sheep on rough pastures without human support. They are smart and tenacious and slightly more independent of spirit than your average border collie or aussie. They sailed with the Vikings and thrived on challenging Icelandic terrain. They are small but tough, smart, bossy, and-- if ours is any indication-- intense, very, very intense.

Luka is a very, very complicated pup.

In the next few months, we will be working to broaden her experiences. We'll take her EVERYWHERE until nothing seems worthy of her intense interest and concentration. We should have done this a long time ago, but Luka adapted so well to our specific situation we had no idea she'd be such a disaster away from home. So lots of new places, new sounds, new expectations and of course a ton of leadership through all of this.... is that enough to turn an overly-intense bundle of bossiness into a mellow all-around dog away from home?
Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

Ha. When a dog has Personality, it will always have Personality. Broader experience in life will only lead to greater interest in life!

But, you know, working dogs live to please you, so it's likely that with love and emphasis (emphasis on emphasis), she will come around. 18 months seems to be a moment for epiphany of many dogs. They suddenly Get It. So hang in there.


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