Devyn has been training to herd sheep at Ewe-topia in Roy, WA. This place is fabulous. They have lots of sheep and ducks that are patient enough to put up with being bossed around by dogs who have no idea what they are doing. The owners, Linda and Joe, as well as their crew, take the time to endlessly encourage pups to chase the sheep, and then they work their way towards teaching the dogs commands and the proper way to herd animals. “Any dog can herd,” they say, and Devyn is certainly no exception! She has great instinct, and she will soon be a pro!
This was her 5th time in the pen with the sheep. The very first time she went (some time in January), I chased the sheep with her to show her that it was a good thing, that this was what she was supposed to do. The next couple of times, she ran after them, but really had no idea what to do with them. This time, though, she knew. She bossed those sheep around and even bit at them if they weren’t listening (that’s a good thing, Joe said. Got to show the sheep who’s in charge).
The pvc pipe might look a little intimidating, but I’m proud of how Deyvn has gotten used to it. She’s usually scared of things like that, but she reached the point where it was nothing but annoying, and even gave her signature frustrated yip when it would come near her as if to say “would you get that thing away from me, I’m herding here!”
The biting thing, if you are curious, is a fine line. Some dogs are naturally more confident and aggressive from the beginning. These dogs have to be discouraged from making contact with the sheep, as they could cause them harm. Other dogs, like Devyn, are encouraged to bite because they need to convince the sheep that they’re in charge. Devyn could easily be ignored by the sheep if they realize she isn’t a real threat.
If Devyn excels at herding, plenty of trials and competitions are out there for her to master, but for now, this is a great form of exercise, and a superb way at tiring Devyn out and making her one extremely satisfied pup.
Photos in this post compliments of Jake Cihla, 2013.