Awesome Dog!

About 2 weeks ago, Hayley woke up to see a fox being chased by Bill and Ted over a fence. She went down there with Lightning, but by the time she got there the fox was well gone. Then Hayley noticed that Ma had some blood on her tail and legs and so thought she had been bitten. Turns out she wasn’t bitten, so we all thought she was going into labour, her udder was full, she was laying down all the time and her rear end had really dropped away. No lamb to date, so she most likely had a miscarriage which Mr Fox probably induced. Damn those foxes…

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and the sheep paddock is looking pretty exhausted! Time to move them into their new grazing area. Instead of herding them into the bottom paddock, we decided to rest that paddock a bit more and move them into the narrow strip between our paddocks and our neighbours. I have no real idea on how long they will stay in this small area, maybe 2-3weeks? We will be needing to water them by hand using buckets as there is no tap along this area, something that will have to be remedied by next year.

So today it was Lightining’s time to show us how good she really was. I filmed a little bit of her working, it is shakey sorry, but does show how good our Coolie dog is! Keep in mind that what you see is only the last little bit of the herding, she had already helped me get them out of the paddock and down and around about 75m in total. Rufus, Ma and the rest of their flock and the alpacas Bill and Ted, decided to try and escape around the back of the dam. Me with my still bung knee, couldn’t chase them back, but Lightning had them covered. She stopped a complete escape, by covering a pretty large area (made harder by being dotted with trees), to push them back to the correct side of the dam.

On a few occassions, Bill, Ted or Ma tried to get away and push through behind us, but Lightning was on the ball! Not letting them get through, and on the one occassion Ma made it past, Lightning lived up to her name by cutting her off and herded her back. It is great to see Lightning work, she is definately a quiet worker, and in many ways, I need to learn from her example! We are slowly getting the basic terminology worked out, come around, away, slow, easy, stay (well she does “stay” when she is not working, but when she is, she tends to come running to me… gotta work on that one). Other ones I am working on is “keep back” – when I want her walking with me, “up front” – when I want her at the front of the herd and, “to me” – when I want her pushing the herd towards me.

Anyway, here are the clips:

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Instinctive Herding

It was almost 6pm, light was quickly fading, the top paddock is exhausted and the cows need moving. Outside it was windy, wet and damn cold, but no rest for the wicked… So out I went, with rope in hand and some star pickets to fence off a run to the next paddock in the rotation. I could have waited until the weekend, but Ella had just calved and I wanted to make sure she and Bianca eat well so they can produce good milk for their calves. We choose to have livestock and with that choice come the responsibility of ensuring they are well looked after, so out I went into the fading light…

I left the gate open, thinking that they cows would stay put until I got some feed… won’t be doing that again! While getting the feed, they all decided to go for a wander into the winter paddock. “Crap” I thought, “I can hardly bloody see out here”.

Cue Lightning.

She was locked up in the back yard as per usual, and, as per usual, she escaped when she realised what I was doing. She is sooooo keen to work, that as soon as she knows I am moving the cows or the sheep, she escapes from the back yard. I definately needed her help tonight so wasn’t really annoyed that she had got out. All I could see were some shapes in the dark and with those horns, I didn’t want to get too close after Ella had just calved. Both Lightning and I slowly moved them back up to where they needed to be and when School Fees, got flighty and tried to break the pack, Lightning just darted from my side and gently pushed her back! No barking, no nipping, just a gentle arc run to “push” her back to the herd. She did this on about half a dozen times and the fold (herd) slowly made their way to the paddock gate. I didn’t use any voice commands (mainly as I was confusing myself) but I did use hand signals. I thought I was going to be out there until midnight, but Lightning herded by instinct and it worked a charm!

Tano-Li & Lightning

The two stars of today! Lightning and Tano-Li 🙂

For the last 2 weeks I have been wondering how in the world I was going to move both Bill and Ted into ther new paddock with the sheep… I moved Ruphus, Maa and the rest of the flock easy enough, but Bill and Ted were proving to be a little tricky. I tried all of the dogs on them. First Lightning. At 5 months old, it was a little early to get her working, but she did manage to chase them round in circles, but was a bit scattery with instructions. I found that if she didn’t start chasing the alpacas first, they would turn and try to run her down! At least I know they will be great herd guardians!

Next it was Coolie’s turn. She was great! She managed to get Bill out of the gate and almost got Ted! Unfortunately, she is going deaf and could not hear anything I was calling, so Bill managed to get back in and then they were off again…

Next Jedda… ummmm what can I say about her… well at least she stayed at my feet… not much else….

Fast forward 2 weeks. Tano-Li and I went to do the morning chores, let the chickens out, give them kitchen scraps and check on the animals. Both Bill and Ted were up at the gate and Lightning had managed to escape from the backyard (again). Bill and ted were eyeing Lightning off but stayed at the gate, so I opened it up fully and stepped back…. Slowly they came out, further and further, and finally enough for me to close the gate. Right now they’re out… how the bloody hell am I going to get them down to the new paddock without them running of into the winter paddock – in which case I would still be out there trying to round them up, and would be doing so for the next ummmmm thousand years! Cue Tano-Li! I asked Tano-Li to go down to the sheep paddock gate, mainly to get him away from the alpacas just in case. He went straight down to wait for me. Next cue Lightning! As opposed to two weeks ago, Lightning stayed behind me and darted left and right to keep the alpacas going in a straight line! We got them near the paddock and Tano-Li opened the gate. Bill tried to do a runna, but Lightning just rounded him back up with Bill. They then saw the sheep and then ran straight for them….into the paddock!!!!!

Perfect work by my two stars of the day: Tano-Li and Lightning!

Amazing Dog!

What an amazing girl we have! Toilet trained in 2 days, “sit” and “stay” already but have had a hiccup with “come”, so will have to use the treats (have avoided using them so far, but will have to use them to be certain). Once the basic commands are well and truely understood, next comes the herding commands… Fun times ahead!

Say Hello to Lighting!

Well, after a very long driving day, say hello to our newest family member, Lightning! She is a pure breed Koolie and we are hoping that she is of the same bloodline as Coolie. The lady that gave, that’s right GAVE her to us, was so besotted by Coolie and was so certain that her first Koolie was Coolie’s sister, that she took 3 swabs for DNA testing and gave us Lightning! It will be great to finally get some history on Coolie, but we need to wait as the swabs go overseas to get tested. Anyway, here is Lightning:

Puppy time!

With a new farm and livestock on its way, I wouldn’t be complete without a working dog as well! Our beloved girls Coolie and Jedda are a little old now at almost 12 and 13 to be working the stock so time to look for another puppy to love and cherish. After having Coolie and seeing how beautiful and intelligent she is, we would love to get another Koolie, but they are a bit hard to find and it would seem, there are a few dodgey people out there selling merle dogs as Koolies, but are just x breeds between Aust. cattle dog and a merle dog, and then calling them pure Koolies! Koolies have been around for over 100yrs but never really registered as a breed until recently, which seems to be the downfall! They are a loyal, beautifully tempered and intelligent dog, used predominately as a working dog. Tradition holds that they are a X between a kelpie, collie, Aust . Cattle dog and heeler, as well as dingo! Through the years, they were bred to work the stock and devloped the merle colouring in their coat and some devloping blue eyes and dual colour eyes. Despite the beautiful colours, the most important part of the breed is their temperament and intelligence, many handlers saying after working with Koolies, they would never work with another breed! Surfice to say, we got both our girls from the RSPCA and would love to do the same again, so if there is a Koolie there then awesome, if not, then which ever dog shines and attaches well to us, then we will give it another chance at life!