Took Fate to a nearby lake today for the first time, and boy, she took to the water. She dove in chased balls, flirted with strange male dogs, tore up and down the beach, swam like a Lab. She loves every bit of life, every single minute. A new dimension for her, I think she ought to be in the Dog Olympics, if there is such a thing. (And I'm sure there is such a thing, and I know I wouldn't care to be in it!)
I'm slowing Fate down, teaching her to walk up and stand, and face the sheep. Today, for the first time, she paused to give two of the ewes some eye, she held them in place. This trait is not developed in very young border collies, it takes awhile for it to develop and Fate is heading for seven months, slowing her down is allowing her to develop her other tools beyond speed – her authority, her eye, her stance.
It is time for her to circle the sheep less, walk up to them more deliberately, she is just sensing that she has power over them, up to now, she didn't really grasp that. Her best progress now comes when Red is not in sight, so he is in the farmhouse after he gets his turn to work.
I think it shows up clearly on the video, about halfway through. You can see her slowing down on command, thus giving the eye a chance to develop. I am enjoying recording this progress, successes and mistakes. I am proud of us, we are hanging in there with one another. And as usual, a dog like Fate will make me a better human, I have no choice but to be patient and careful.
Fate usually works in a crowded pasture, as Red always has, there is usually a pony and two donkeys to work around. I love that, I call it farm herding. Farm dogs have to handle many things, a lot of them are different from the work of trial dogs. In fact, the nature of their work changes almost every day. They are all quite at ease with one another now, as ought to happen with a farm dog. Check out the video, see a working dog use her eye for one of the first times. And also learn to lie down more crisply.
Our Olympic Pirate Dog went to the lake today for the first time, and she was more like a helicopter than a dog, she dove into the water, danced in the air, hopped and flew through the sand. More photos later. I am grateful for things that make me happy, a poet called them charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Chloe has been seen by several horse people recently, including the people who owned her, and she has been pronounced fit and healthy. Maria has been riding her and lunging with her every day, and we are learning that ponies have their own minds, like donkeys, and do not live to please.
Still, she is a perfect addition to Bedlam Farm, she is easy-going, loves people and attention, and shows a lot of affection. She is Simon- like her approachability and ease with children, she will be a hit at the Bedlam Farm Open House on Columbus Day Weekend – just a few weeks away.
We got a little rain last night, not much but some, and hopefully we will get some more. I don't recall seeing things so dry in my time in the country, the animals are working hard for their grass, we may have to put hay out for them early. I feel for the people in other parts of the country feeling awful droughts and struggling to care for their animals. Hay in many parts of the country is now $10 a bale, people are having to give their animals up, an awful choice to have to make.
Chloe is happy here, settled. She loves to hang out with the donkeys, she is at ease with Red and Fate working around her, we love to see her galloping around the pasture and whinnying her greetings to Maria and me.
I went out to shoot a video this morning, and I hit the slow-motion prompt by mistake, I was about to delete the video but decided to watch it instead, and I'm glad I did, it was a surprise, it seemed beautiful and arresting to me, a chance to see this explosive and keen dog in slower motion, it was a beautiful to me a kind of ballet. I love new perspectives, and this show's Fate's extraordinary energy and drive. Fate is increasingly responsive to me in the pasture, she keys on Red or Chloe, sometimes me or Maria, so I am working with her alone more.
I am learning, as always, to be calm, clear and consistent.
Fate still can't really move the sheep so Red comes in, works, gets the sheep where they need to be. I don't want to cut in on his work time, he loves it as much as Fate does. But we are doing very well in our long-distance commands and directionals. Next, a campaign to slow her down and do less circling of the flock, she needs to develop her eye and herding confidence, she can't do that on the run. One step at a time, I've learned to do this with border collies.
Watching the slow motion video has been helpful to me as well as interesting, because I see her getting ahead of the flock, stopping it and turning it, and giving some of the ewes some eye. I hadn't quite seen that as clearly. She is very confident out there, and we are communicating very well. When the sheep challenge her, she just moves on. More and more, she is challenging them.
I love this slow motion perspective, it's understandably a bit longer – five minutes – but it was worth it for me.
I'm building up my You Tube channel again, these small videos have gotten 10,000 views in the last week or so, glad to add this to the story-telling repertoire. (And thanks to the new people who are supporting the blog by subscribing, much appreciated. It helps. Thanks for supporting my work.
Fate moves so quickly, I sometimes don't quite grasp her amazing athleticism and agility. Come and see, this was an interesting accident. I'll do more slow motion videos from time to time.