Fate’s doing really well in her therapy work with Jon, but sheepherding?
Jon is trying again. When Fate was a puppy, Jon tried to train her to herd sheep. But she never seemed to be able to move them around, didn’t have the eye, as trainers say. Fate would retreat if the sheep so much as looked at her.
When Jon heard the words “I’m not Red” one day while trying to teach Fate to herd, he let go of the idea that she would be moving the sheep like Red did. Then he let her do what she became known for, running around them, endlessly.
When Red died Jon thought he’s try again. Fate was always so focused on Red when he was herding, maybe without him there, she’d focus more on the sheep.
So every morning and afternoon for the past few days, Jon takes Fate out to the sheep and mostly, just has her sit near them. He’s trying to calm her down enough to pay attention to him and break her of her habit of running in a circles around the sheep.
Sometimes he has her walk up to them, and a couple of times they even moved. Although I’m not sure if they were responding to Fate or Jon (or Bud).
This morning Fate sat calmly with the sheep, until she didn’t and then Jon made her lay down again and again.
As in her therapy work, Fate’s enthusiasm often makes her lose focus. ( I get that, I can be the same way.)
Bud, of course, loves to join in the herding lessons, when he’s not wandering the pastures, looking for something to chase. He can move the sheep, but has even less of an attention span for the work than Fate.
Since Fate no longer gets to run around the sheep in the morning, I throw the ball for her instead. And I have to say, she’s as enthusiastic chasing the ball, as she is circling the sheep.
I admire Jon’s patience and his willingness to try training Fate again. I think you can see their connection to each other in the photo I took this morning.
Part of training Fate is about breaking old habits and obsessions and creating new ones. (I get that too.)
I’m curious to see what happens…