A couple of months ago I wrote about Alfie in rather disparaging terms. While gathering the flock he’d abandoned his sheep herding duties, in favor of playing with a West Highland Terrier. Consequently he was in my very bad books. So poor Alfie had a big job on his hands to regain my trust, but it may just be that he took the scalding that he received to heart.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to a sort of sheepdog trial at his farm. I say sort of sheepdog trial because, it was rather more of a challenge than a trial, a course so difficult that the just achieving the retrieval of the sheep could be considered a victory in itself. Of course Fly would have been my first choice for such a challenge, but as luck would have it she decided to go just a little but lame the day before. So not wanting to miss out altogether, I set forth with Alfie, trying to ignore his misdemeanors of a few weeks previously.
The course was indeed daunting. The sheep were positioned 1000 yards away, across 3 fields, with a long steep bank to climb along the way. I took one look and thought ‘Alfie will never be able to do that’ But to cut a long story short, Alfie did it! Maybe not perfectly, but with half a dozen commands he arrived at the sheep. He worked with a real calmness, but was always in control, and although he didn’t quite take all of his direction commands, he returned them to me some style. I have to say I was delighted, it was an extraordinary run, which some of the more experienced dogs at the trial struggled with, and went a long way towards redeeming Alf from his disgrace of a few weeks previously.
So I took him home with new conviction to further his training over the winter and hope he becomes a top dog of future years.
A friend of mine, Nij Viyas, was at the trial, and filmed Alfie in action, it’s now posted on You Tube, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqdMUjxTxVQ