I’m sure many of us have had or are still having experiences with kids and their dogs. I happen to be blessed with two young boys and a couple of dogs that love them almost as much as I do! We’re also fortunate enough to live on a lot of land in the middle of “nowhere”. This gives the boys and dogs plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy each other.
My boys are pretty close in age. Dustin is 8 and Brady is 6. They are about as opposite as day and night. Dustin is a very thoughtful child who loves to snuggle with the puppies and teach them how to be still. Brady is a very active boy who likes to make sure they get plenty of exercise in a day! This has always worked very well as the pups get the best of both worlds as they grow up.
I've walked back in the house many times to find Dustin and a pup snuggled up watching TV on the couch. He's also known to be hanging out in the kennels teaching the pups the finer points of a gate latch! The dogs seek him out on a regular basis to get a little one on one time with him.
I'm not sure I've EVER seen Brady be that still with a dog. He prefers to run life at warp speed and he likes the dogs to try to keep up. He took an interest in working dogs on stock about a year ago and has learned things at an amazing rate. I enjoy standing back and watching as he learns the different ways to deal with things. He's also such a mirror of me, which helps me to learn so much.
One of the funniest experiences to date, was watching from my kitchen window as Brady was "working" a dog on some yearling ewes. I saw him using his dog to move these ewes up into a corner of the corral. I watched and listened as he ever so quietly and calmly used his dog to settle these ewes there for a minute, right before he pounced on the nearest ewe!! He's been one of the top mutton busters in our county for quite awhile and I know why now! Of course his dog was sure it was her job to rescue her child from this sheep. Try to use your imagination on what happened next. At this point, I was running out the door to put a stop to the whole shebang.
Another time I happened to catch both boys and my dog Zac (which Brady likes to claim) in the corral putting 20 head of ewes up into the tub and alley. I noticed Brady had Zac putting the sheep in the tub while he was building a loop in his rope! He talked Dustin into shutting the gate behind them and Dustin was running around to the headgate to open it for Brady. It didn’t take me long to figure out what was coming next and to step out and ask if they thought this was going to be a wise idea. Of course they did! Next thing you know, a ewe is released and then roped by Brady with Zac coming around to slow her down. I’m pretty sure Brady and Zac had it planned all along. I was just sure that ewe was going to rip him off his feet though.
What these two experiences had in common was the complete trust Brady had in the dogs he was working. He doesn’t think about what “might” go wrong or what a bad wreck it could be. He just puts his faith in himself and his dog to get the job done. (Albeit, not always the kind of job I’d like to see done with my sheep!) Brady tends to go with what his gut tells him and learn from the mistakes he might make along the way. Unlike most of us adults, he really doesn’t have any preconceived notions of how this should work. The dogs seem to sense this and really looking forward to working with him.
Dustin has just recently started working his dog and takes a much different route when training. He’s a very methodical child by nature and goes through most things in life this way. He wants to know all the “how’s, what’s and where’s” of what he’s trying to do. He asks lots of questions and thinks about what he wants the outcome to be like when he’s done. This tends to make him much more of a worrier and of course a perfectionist. Since he has always been like this in every avenue of his life, I wasn’t surprised to see him handle dogs in this way. What I was surprised by was how much handling dogs has helped him to just “go with the flow”. All the variables in working dogs don’t really allow you to think through all the scenarios ahead of time but just to deal with them as they arise.
It is such a good experience for both of them, but probably even more so for me. First of all, it makes me think about how or why I do things so I can explain it to them if they ask. Also, it makes me work even harder on my own skills because I’m sure they’ll both be beating me on the trial field in the next few years! Now, if they can ever get their dad talked into leaving the place once and awhile, it’ll be quite the family affair.