Well, I did have a sheep once. Actually, two, but the first one was dangerous (as in head butted a friend and bruised him up nicely, cornered me so I had to escape by climbing over a bunch of yard/garden equipment on the other side of a barn door, chased Kelly down the driveway) so we found him a new home. The second one we got to keep a goat company when her sister died. She was a nice sheep. Her name was Gwen. That’s her in the picture, above. Goats and sheep are social creatures, you can’t keep just one.
Koda was a puppy at the time we had them and she was scared of the goat. I couldn’t get her to go in the pen with them. So much for testing her sheep dog abilities.
Anyhow, the point of this story is that Koda’s herding instincts are so strong, I often wonder if she would have been a good herding dog. We didn’t have very convenient local places for me to try her at this. When she was young I took her to an outdoor dog show to check things out and got turned off by the way people were getting so mad at their dogs during the herding trials. Some guy on the sidelines told me that my puppy would be just as happy going for hikes in the woods, and that’s what we’ve done. Still, I do wonder….especially when I read blogs like BedlamFarm.
So often Koda’s herding instincts are such an annoyance. Like every time I call/command another of the animals, she kicks into gear and won’t let them come to me in a straight line. She chases the cat. Well, one of them. The other one will not be chased by a dog and Koda knows that. She herded that porcupine that Columbus wound up trying to retrieve. She stays uber focused on her tennis ball and drops it right into the middle of whatever we are doing outside (my garden, for one) if we don’t throw it for her. So focused. So, so focused.
Tonight, though, I asked for her help and she was the perfect herding dog. We have a rule that the cats don’t go out after supper because of all the coyotes and other predators around. Only the cats don’t like this rule and Max ran out as soon as he saw an opening. Columbus chased him into the garden, and Koda ran around to block him from running out of it.
“Good girl, Koda, keep him there,” I said, as I crept up to him. Max looked back at me and started to dart to the other side of the garden, which triggered Koda running around to block him again. At that point he decided I was the lesser of two evils.
“Good girl, Koda, you did your job well,” I told her, as I grabbed Max and held him securely (with Andy calling off Columbus who was waiting on the other side of the garden fence) until I got him inside.
Maybe someday I’ll get to try Koda with some sheep. Meanwhile, she’s practicing on the other pets.