Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Puppy School

Milly and Sheba are really growing. They are eating us out of house and home..literally! Not only do they go through their dog food like crazy, they have actually been eating our house! For some reason, they have decided that they really like chewing up the posts that are holding up our porch. They also like peeling the paint off the house and eating that! Other than that, they are really sweet puppies, and very smart. Especially Sheba. Milly is more of a "princess". It's like she knows she has a higher breeding than Sheba does! She definately has the conformation and hair of a show-quality OES (Old English Sheepdog, aka "Bob"). She has several champions in her pedigree. But, where Sheba lacks in breeding and conformation, and hair quality, she certainly makes up for in drive and attentiveness.
Milly was head-butted in the ribs one day by Cocoa (one of our ewes), so now she is afraid of the sheep. In fact, she seems to be afraid of just about everything. But Sheba has no fear. We heard a coyote the other morning and it sounded like he was right out in the yard. The dogs were barking and carrying on like mad. I looked out but couldn't see anything. So Greg got his flashlight and went outside to check it out. The dogs went out with him. Sheba ran straight out to the barn, barking all the way. Milly stayed back at the house and waited for Greg and Sheba to take care the intruder!
Last week, while Greg was in Italy, both dogs became hyper-vigilant. They drove me nuts! They barked at every little sound and movement. I don't know if they were "protecting" me, or if they thought Greg was coming home. They were even barking at birds chirping outside. They really went crazy when the guineas sounded their alarm. They don't normally pay that much attention to the fowl sounds, and seem to have stopped doing now that Greg is home. But, while he was away, it was a different story.
I have been working on their obedience training. They both will follow the "sit" command very well, although Milly sometimes seems to think she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to. They will both also "come" on command (again, Milly sometimes decides to ignore it if she has something more important to do). So, now we have been working on "stay". Of course, with two of them, it took a little bit of work to get the idea across, but they acually seemed to have it figured out by the end of the first day. We worked on it all week, and Greg was quite impressed when he got home. Of course, Milly occassionally needs a reminder that she is supposed to stay until I call her!

Their favorite thing is when we all go out for a hike over the land. At first they were afraid of the hay bales laying out on the pastures. But now that they have become accustomed to them, they will chase each-other and play "tag" all around them. Sheba is a master at the art of chase and has figured out that the hay bales are a great concealer, letting her double back on Milly and play "hide-and-seek. They are so funny to watch. Sheba is really very good at figuring out how to make the game more fun. And she is faster than Milly. If she doesn't want to be caught, Milly is not catching her!
Sheba is turning out to be a great farm dog. She has no fear, is attentive, and a ready and willing student. I think she will not lack confidence in working with the sheep. While Milly is smart, and basically a good dog, she will have to earn her keep by producing show-quality puppies, I'm afraid!

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