A sheepdog and his sheep

I continue to be amazed at the instinct that Indi shows for working sheep. He has now progressed to the point where I can send him down the paddock to gather the girls and bring them back up the hill to the cattle yard.

This is actually no mean feat for a young sheepdog because Molly, Dolly and the two Polly’s are very heavy sheep who are not particularly worried about Indi which makes it quite difficult for a young sheepdog to move.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Indi teaching him to be gentle with other animals smaller than him (Yoshi his rabbit playmate as a pup, then Millie the tiny feral kitten the kids rescued, plus the ducks and chickens) it is his natural behaviour anyway, but sometimes the puppy exuberance does take over a bit.

That training does seem to hold him back a bit with the sheep though. He will stand his ground and not backdown to them, but he doesn’t tend to be forceful and never bites, even when a bop to a sheep’s nose would make things easier for him and the sheep.

Indi knows his sides really well and can balance the sheep, his recall is impeccable but we still don’t have to stop until the sheep are in the yard and standing still. Our trainer tells me this is like panel beating a car – you fix one dent and another pops up elsewhere, so you go fix the new dent then another pops up somewhere else…and so on.

I am surprised how much I am enjoying working the sheep with Indi, it certainly makes me forget everything else other than the animals in front of me. All those videos of sheepdog trials make it look so easy, but it’s actually one of the hardest things I have tried to learn how to do.

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