This two page LO describes the first time the shelties were on sheep. The title is made from french knots done on plastic canvas and then coffee-dyed to mimic the sheeps' wool. The grid pattern in the photo mats and in the metal "fencing" mimic the real fencing that surrounded the pen. The background paper is a 12x12 print of a pastoral scene with hundreds of sheep, printed at 50% transparency.
Journaling: It was June 3, 2006. The sun rose, a big orange ball, in its usual place in the eastern sky. BUt this was no ordinary day. On this day, instincts would be tested, human-canine relationships strengthened and fun had by all. On this day, I would accompany Rusty and Flash into a ring, but not to jump over jumps, dash through tunnels and slide down teeter totters. On this day, they would face the WOOLIES. It was the day I had been waiting for since I brought home my first Shetland Sheepdog more than twenty years ago.
By the time we were ready to enter the ring, it was 4 PM and it was HOT -- DAMN HOT -- about 104 in the shade. Only about 50% of modern day Shetland Sheepdogs retain herding instinct. During this particular instinct test, though, the percentage was somewhat lower because some of the dogs simply would not work in the heat.
First up was Rusty. I was nervous as we entered the ring. How would she react? Would she show any interest? I hope so. Or, instead, would she nip and bite the sheep uncontrollably? I hope not. (In the real world of working dogs, one typically would not live to see the next day after harming a sheep.) Head spinning.....so many random thoughts running through my brain at once.
Now locked in the round pen with my dog by my side, we watched as the sheep stood grazing quietly before us. Almost immediately. one of them raised its head and stood motionless but for its rhythmic chewing. I remember being shocked at how truly unsightly they were. The sheep I knew were cute and white and cuddly and mostly appeared on Easter cards. These three appeared to have fallen into a mud puddle. And they were anything but cute and cuddly.
The WOOLIES stared intently at the wolf-intrudeer now poised to explode into action in front of them. Immediately, Rusty rose to the challenge; her ears met at the top of her head and she began quivering. I swallowed hard, unclipped her lead and watched, awestruck as her instinct awoke. She worked very close to the sheep and exhibited high herding drive. Not once did she nip them. She ran very fast, despite the heat.