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  • Julie Muller

Longlining and Sheep Snubbing

A bearded collie and a Welsh sheepdog about to play
Bruno and Pixel have a play after Sunday School

The weather was too hot for us to be outside for the whole of our last class with Sue. Instead, she led us into a canvas covered sheep shed strewn with delicious sheep dropping -daubed straw. Boy – it smelt so good, and it tasted even better!!

We were light on numbers this week – both Coco, the Labra Dane, and my friend Pixel were missing. I was so disappointed. Pixel was such a star last week.

The main thrust of our lesson today was longlining, and this involved us being attached to our humans by a very long lead.

Our humans had to walk very purposefully forward, and, if we pulled too far in front, they had to take a sharp military turn and walk in the opposite direction. This meant that we were forced to walk alongside them. It didn’t take us long to realise that if we didn’t pull ahead, we would get a treat.

And then, even more exciting we had to go and practice outside – with the sheep as spectators. First, we walked parallel with the sheep and then we walked directly towards them, but before we had any opportunity to lunge at them our humans, would turn and walk in the opposite direction. We soon forgot about the sheep. I think that Pixel would have enjoyed this game and what’s more I think that he could have forgotten about the sheep too, It was far more fun and rewarding to stay with our humans than to bother about silly sheep.

It was very hot work, so as soon as we got the chance we went to recover in the shade and watched our classmates and their humans stride up and down the field. Everyone seemed to be able to ignore the sheep – and the sheep definitely took no notice of us.

I really think that Pixel would have been good at this game. He is so clever, and his humans clearly spend so much time working with him.

Eventually we went inside again, and we all had long drinks of refreshingly cold water.

Once inside we played a few bonding games. Pamela and Sue set up a line of upturned buckets which we were asked to weave between, with our humans, both on and off the lead. After a few false starts, we all found it so easy.

But then, two of us and our humans were asked to weave our way along the line – starting at opposite ends of the line of buckets. Jarvis and I did it first – and we nailed it!!

Then Wanda and Gemma tried it, and they found it a little bit more challenging.

Sue’s original plan had been for us all to weave through the buckets together, at the same time, but it was just too hot for us to concentrate, and as it is important that all activities finish on a positive note, she decided to give us something even more fun to do

- Musical chairs

with Sue singing along to “How Much Is That Doggie in The Window?”

It was hilarious – especially as the spaces between the chairs was quite wide and there was a certain amount of cheating – especially by Pamela!!!

It was a lovely end to the class – and the course. I think that our humans were amazed just how much control they had if they ‘would only tune’ into us - both on and off our lead.

We have learnt so much -

For example - The most important command is “Leave” and that applies to everything from stealing food to ignoring sheep.

The best way to control us is to predict when we could behave badly and divert our attention by doing something else.

Our humans need to be ‘fun’ to be around so that we are not tempted to stray and make mischief elsewhere – Never a truer statement that “the devil makes work for idle paws!!”

All of us dogs have the instinct to hunt and potentially kill, so our humans need to put us on our leads whenever there are sheep or other livestock around or if there are breeding birds abouts such as skylark and curlew.

The simple instruction to “Leave’ could save our lives, as well as the lives and livelihoods of all of the animals with which we come into contact– consciously – and otherwise.

After the lesson Julie put everything that she had learnt into practice and I walked by her side, without my lead, all the way to the car.

I really enjoyed Sunday School – thank you Sue and Pam.

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