We took Kate across town to have a lesson with Becky Peterson, a longtime sheep breeder and Border Collie breeder. Becky lives and breathes sheep and dogs. She knows her stuff. She was the breeder for three of the Border Collies we have loved and owned - Paisley, Devon, and Phoebe. She has been "out of" the Border Collie business for a few years as far as breeding and trialing goes but still trains dogs and has her own collies.
Becky is no nonsense and we wanted to find out what she thought of Kate. The Farmer is not a dog trainer nor does he have any interest. He wants his dogs to be able to do basic farm work - to bring the sheep to him and to be able to move the flocks from field to field. Kate is now ready to get started. As I told you last week, her Border Collie brain has turned on.
Becky gathered a small group of "dog broke" sheep into one large uphill slanting field. Becky put a very long homemade yellow polypropylene lead on Kate so she could stop her.
And then she let her go.
The lesson wasn't long but Kate showed keen interest.
Becky wanted to see how Kate worked the sheep. She said she usually doesn't look forward to first lessons with dogs and their owners because it is such a crap shoot. Some collies don't want to work, some scatter the sheep and there is mass chaos. After about 15 minutes, Kate was tired. But Becky said she was suitably impressed and gave us hope that Kate would be a good working dog.
Our next step is to separate 10 adult ewes and put them in a large open pasture where Kate and The Farmer can practice for about 5 to 10 minutes a day. Fingers crossed.
You can see a video of Becky and her dog Peg doing a demo at the Big E here.