We decided to spend the day having some doggie fun!! I arranged for the birthday boy and his big brother to take part in a ‘herding instincts test’ at Ewenique Farm in Alfred, ON. I thought that it would just be fun to take part in a dog activity that isn’t very popular among the majority of dog-people and to see if the boys could live up to there name.
I have always thought that Indie had some herding instinct simply because, well, he already herds the cats, Travis and us!! I’ll admit however that my hopes for Travis were, well, much lower.
We arrived well ahead of our scheduled time and took the opportunity to watch some other dogs work. The 3 dogs ahead of us worked well and were keen on the sheep – most a little too keen. While we watched we had some admirers ask to take picture of the boys – we obliged and why not – they are so darn good looking!! My husband later told me there were some whispers (in French) that there was some doubt ‘Shelties’ (aka Shetland Sheepdogs for those of you who are unaware of the Shelties proper name) could herd sheep. I am a little unsure of why there was a disconnect between a Shelties herding abilities and there name but apparently there was.
When it was our turn Indie went first – it was his birthday after all! I was told right away to take him off the leash. Indie stood around for a minute, barked at the evaluator and then at the experienced dog (Kate) in the pen with us. When the evaluator had Kate move the sheep forward, Indie immediately took off to join in the fun! He was quick and worked close to the sheep – thankfully no nipping! He continued well as long as the sheep were moving and kept close. As soon as the stopped or moved away a look of ‘duh’ swept over him. Kate would get them moving again and the fun would start all over again!
Next up was Travis – my hopes were almost non existent. Travis is my Velcro dog and I can tell you now there was no way I was chasing sheep around for his enjoyment. After the initial shock of ‘OMG my feet are muddy’ Travis realized there were sheep in the ring…but better yet another dog!! After a quick visit with Kate – who outright ignored him – Travis was on to bigger and better things…me! The evaluator encouraged me to get Travis interested in the sheep (I thought it was futile) but lo-and-behold….Travis moved out around the sheep! He was mostly slow moving them around the pen and would frequently come back to me, but whenever Kate had the sheep moving fast Travis would jump in on the action. He always kept his distance but he thought it was great fun to chase them around a little!
In the end, both Indie and Travis passed their herding instincts test!! It was great fun for them and for me as I have never taken part in an activity like this before. While it isn’t on my immediate radar, I think this is something we may pursue more in the future.
I have herding dogs!!