Leave that Flirt Stick Alone!
When we arrived at our class today, Pixel, the bearded collie was already being put through his paces with a flirt stick - a fluffy toy attached to a long pole by a length of string.
Nick , his human, was dancing it in front of him and making him very excited but he was not allowed to get it until she told him to – He had to ‘leave it’. We all sat and watched, and I must admit that I thought that he was absolutely brilliant at it.
Sue was delighted with him as well. Pamela had told her about Pixel’s desire to chase sheep last week and so Sue was determined to teach him to ‘leave’ livestock alone. Although Pixel is a very lovely dog, he has chased sheep on at least two occasions.
There was a small number of sheep in the field and Sue decided to take Pixel into the field to see just how strong his chasing instinct is. She explained that she would have to be a little bit mean to Pixel to show him that he should NEVER EVER chase sheep.
Pixel’s owner was naturally a bit concerned about this, but she needn’t have worried – Sue was only going to shout at him - and this reprimand could potentially save his life. Any farmer is well within his rights to shoot a dog that he sees chasing sheep and if a farmer sees a loose dog, he will alert his neighbours and they will be ready with loaded guns. Sue, herself, lost two dogs in this way when she worked in the Ardennes, so she knows exactly what she is talking about.
We all turned to watch him and, at first, Pixel seemed to ignore the sheep but when they started to run around, he was desperate to chase them despite Sue’s harsher words. We watched Pixel and the sheep through the electric fence, and I remembered how it had stung my bottom last week so, when Sue started to teach all of our humans to use flirt sticks, I wasn’t interested. I just wanted to go home.
I watched my classmates play with the flirt sticks with their humans and they seemed very good at leaving them alone when told to. I didn’t feel like joining in.
Our last task was a game designed to see how focused we were on our humans.
All of us wandered around the yard on loose leads and we sat, stood, lay down, went back and retrieved all at the same time without distracting each other. It was a tall order, but we all managed it – apart from when we were rootling on the floor for our classmates’ lost treats – somehow other dog’s treats taste so much better than our own, don’t they?