Information on working terriers, dogs, natural history, hunting, and the environment, with occasional political commentary as I see fit. This web log is associated with the Terrierman.com web site.
Yeah, Patrick, I think I made a pretty stupid mistake when I spoke for the "herding (trialing) community" and guessed that they wouldn't call (what you do) terrier work, "work."It's been bothering me, because retractions and apologies damage my over inflated sense of righteousness and rightness. :c)But lets revisit the issue, and if you promise not to sick your terrier on my jewels, then I apologize and admit that the comment was stupid and insulting.Tools of the Trialing trade:* Metal Whistle to ease communication, it's hard to have to whistle the natural way. * Shepherds Crook to lean on, it's hard standing up for 10 minutes. Can also be used to wave drastically in the air when your whistle fails and you resort to shouting and as a self defense weapon when the overzealous dog stampedes the sheep right at you.* Business suit. You must look dapper while trialing. The dog doesn't have to look good, but you damned well better look smart.Provided equipment:* Sheep. Sometimes they might be out of sight, but they are never hiding in the ground. They might be ornery, but they are pretty much guaranteed to have seen a dog before.* Shepherds poll to tell you where to stand. * Gates. Otherwise used to keep snow from drifting across highways, these obstacles simulate something really important that sheep see all the time in the pastures.* The course map. Trial judge will explain the route before you go. Unlike daily sheep work where you have to navigate mine fields with no map (the Brits mined their pastures against German invasion in WWII, and the movie Red Dawn inspired many American ranchers to do the same against a potential Cuban air invasion).Time between sending the dog and saying "that'll do" is typically no more than 15 minutes.Very hard work. You just might have to dust off the cuffs on your nice slacks and launder your oxford shirt.Tools of the Terrier trade:* Locator collar. When your dog goes out of sight, it's not just around a little hill, it's under ground.* A Shovel or three, axe, heavy iron bar, knife, nets, first aid kit, gun* Workmen's boots or hiking boots, backpack to carry all the equipment in, partner to carry the heavy stuff, camera to capture the good moments because no one is sitting in the bleachers to see your accomplishments. You wouldn't be caught dead in a business suit, this isn't a spectator sport and the only people who WORK in a business suit are inside air conditioned offices punching keyboards.Provided equipment: noneYou have to find the prey animals. They aren't domesticated in the slightest, and when they are on someone's farm, they are unwelcome pests, not domesticated livestock. They have never seen the end of a vaccine needle and carry several diseases that are communicable to your dog and you. They have fangs and claws.Sure, there is usually only one of them, maybe two and not a whole flock. But this work entails driving them out of their homes, away from their offspring, in the dark, not trotting around an obstacle course in a pasture.Sheep have seen border collies before and lived. Scant few varmints have seen a terrier before and few survive the experience. This changes the game ever so slightly.There's no poll to tell you where to stand, you have to walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, and find the settes yourself. Time from releasing dog to chaining him back up, anywhere from an half hour to the better part of a day. Some areas will require return visits. Since there are no points awarded and no dog food sponsorships, you either have to barter with a farmer for prize money, or settle with the self satisfaction of a job well done.Now, one of these two scenarios sounds like a game to me, the other one sounds like work.Sorry Patrick, I was young and stupid. Call off the terrier.
I never saw this one. I guess I don't watch enough sports to see the beer commercials. :)
I don't watch much sports either, and don't drink at all, but if there's an ad like this with a border terrier in it, it has a reasonably good chance of eventually making its way to me ;)No worries on the dogs, Chris; we diggers are pretty secure on what our work is and don't expect others to really understand it. A long day in the field by myself, and I can barely stand, and after a cold day chasing fox in January and February, when the dark rushes in early and the adrenaline falls in me as I drive home, I am often in danger of falling asleep at the wheel on the drive back. In summer, I am soaked through with sweat and raising bubbles on my bald pate. Either way you are likely to be done in if you are out at 7 and conming back 10 or 12 hours later.Still, at the end of the day, it's been a good day if the dog is alive and more-or-less well and we can both do it again the next weekend. Posthole diggers that can do the job I need weigh 15 pounds, a shovel worth having is 5 pounds, the pack and contents (trowel, vet kit, water, knife, tie outs, leash, locator box, camera, saw, gloves, etc.) is at least another 10 or 12 pounds, and the bar is at least 5 pounds more, so it adds up on a hot day. And then, of course, along with the walking, there's the digging in between. You have to be a bit nuts to dig on the dogs, but if you have the bug it's all worth it. Not sure why, but it is.Patrick
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