Lessons Learned

Our dogs go to many goose control visits each week and participate in sheepdog trials and herding demos throughout the year.Therefore, understanding their work is very important, but just as important is understanding how to behave and interact with the sheep and the geese they are working, as well as the people and dogs we encounter.

I have to say, I try to learn things as we go along too, as in, how each dog differently relates to things like problem sheep, or loud noises or being tired. I try to refine and grow my handling skills as time goes on and take a realistic, evenhanded approach to each job, each dog, each situation. That's not always easy in a long day or difficult situation. But I find one thing learned from the farm very important, that each dog, sheep, or even chicken, each animal, person, can come off as good sometimes and not so, at other times.

Dogs tend not usually to take those swings from good to bad to heart, as many people do.It's important to try to do your best for the animals' and the operations' sake every step of the way, but it's important not to get upset or stay that way when something doesn't go the way you want it to. Being patient is key. Teaching your dogs to respect all the life that they work with, very important, that is actually the whole thing right there. But understand that your dogs, your sheep, chickens and so on, can do good things as well as bad, and forgiving and moving on to the best, keeps you from going down a rabbit hole.

These can be hard lessons, that it is not all nicey-nice, sheep, calves, lamb, bunnies lying down together, maybe what some think we should aim for, but you are actually working with predator and prey animals after all. You have to understand, learn, grow and be realistic and all the hard work can be very rewarding. Often I think, if we accepted each other's flaws and worked with each other with respect we would be better off. After all the number one rule of sheep herding is, be kind to sheep.

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