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 Herding Instinct

Date: Wed, 05 Feb. 2003 07:38:14 GMT

We did a fun little aside in herding this week. My instructor and I stopped in the middle of a lesson to enjoy the antics of the yearlings lambs. They are leaping into the air for no particular purpose, butting heads and taking short gallops - all in all expressing the joys and carefree attitude of youth.

Tsuki was standing nearby us. The sheep we had been working wandered off to the far side of the field. He looked at us, then them, then he headed over to the sheep at a trot, not the headlong speed of his normal outrun. I started to stop him and my instructor told me to let him go and see what happened. We turned half our attention back to the lambs.

Tsuki brought us the sheep - and lo and behold he didn't bring them at a dead run, and they didn't run us over. Once he got them to us he looked at us with that "now what?" face. He was waiting for orders and we didn't give him any. So he held the sheep to the fence near us for several minutes. Then uncertain he allowed them to drift off and back to their original corner. He looked at us for direction. "Should I get them?" We said nothing. For several seconds he stood there waiting to be told what to do, then he turned and trotted back out to the sheep and quietly brought them back to us.

That's the basic sheepdog in him. The desire to bring the sheep to his humans, and then keep them there. It really was beautiful to watch.

Diane Blackman





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