It's been a week of new additions, though not the new additions we were expecting.
The litter of puppies that was due last Friday has yet to put in an appearance. The mother, who's usually a stickler for due dates, is looking very relaxed about it all; it's OK for her, she knows what's going on! For the rest of us it's a tense time until they're all safely gathered in (well, out).
There are some new kids on the block. We've been given three smooth-coated puppies who'll be ready to start training in the spring. Being litter mates of about 10 weeks old, they're kicking up a fuss about being separated - even though they can still see each other - but we have to stick with it and try to ignore them until they quieten down. It's very hard, especially when you have neighbours AND it's a Sunday (though barking never sounds better on weekdays, so I don't know why I'm so worried about Sundays).
Whenever I notice they're being quiet I should go to them and tell them how clever and quiet they are, and reward them with some fuss. I'm always in the middle of something when this happens, juggling a cake out of the oven or trying to get involved in the latest Reading Group set book, but I have to do it. It's just the same when you're house training a puppy; if you're vigilant, it shouldn't take more than a day or two.
Our other new additions are our new sheep, this year's lambs taken straight off the Welsh hills and, compared with the ones who've just left us, they're TINY! To prove this point, they've been taking advantage of the holes in the hedge that were too small for the previous incumbents and have been taking the opportunity to explore the neighbouring fields. Still, getting them back makes a change of work for the dogs; they really benefit from having an actual job to do. You can tell by a dog's expression that it knows when it's done something useful and they learn so much (if only that Mum's voice gets very high when 14 sheep dodge in 14 directions out into the bridlepaths).
These little sheep will give the younger dogs a challenge, but it'll help keep their interest too. Endless training, going through the same exercise time and time again, gets boring for the trainer and the dog, so it's good to add a little excitement occasionally. We'll have to make a point of choosing six and getting them dogged in time for the next training course - you can have too much excitement!
In between my dog and puppy care duties, and keeping Andy's nose firmly to the grindstone of his Mac keyboard, this week will be dedicated to getting some new DVD titles onto the website. They're chiefly agricultural interest topics, but I've also got a selection of Richard Curtis' freestyle and obedience titles. I've been trying to find new sheepdog training or sheepdog-related DVDs but drawn a blank, so if anyone's made, or is making, a new DVD that's relevant to Border collies, I'd love to hear about it. The other thing the online shop needs is a good general obedience and training title, in addition to Jan Fennell's excellent "The Dog Listener", so I'm always willing to consider recommendations.
Right, must dash - it's all gone very quiet...