What a difference some rays make!

Puppies meet sheep on a sunny Sunday

Two small border collie puppies looking at sheep
"They've let loose the ankle biters - let's go girls!"

After what feels like weeks of doing the dogs' morning routine in the rain, yesterday morning was bright, mild and wonderfully sunny.

      

Of course there's mud everywhere, but to see the dogs looking so happy with the sun on their fur made all the usual tasks seem easier and the work lighter. Rather than hurrying through everything I took my time, and I'm sure the dogs appreciated both my better mood and the better weather.

      
Border collie puppy looks on while the experienced sheepdog moves the sheep at a safe distance
"Just run that past me one more time, would you Carew?"
      

It was one of those days when you just don't want to go back indoors, so we took the opportunity to take our latest clutch of puppies to meet the sheep.

      

Audrey's (un-named) five and Kay's two (Hayley and Gretchen) came out with great enthusiasm to see what Carew was going to do. Carew loves this sort of work. Whatever Carew's faults (and believe me, I could list a few) she's brilliant when it comes to introducing a young dog or puppies to sheep. Carew was very shy around sheep when she was small, and I sometimes wonder (foolishly, I'm sure) whether it's her memory of being frightened that makes her so sensitive to the needs of a young dog or puppy.

Sheepdog moving sheep past the camera
"That's right girls, nice and slow and no funny business."
      

Yesterday, Carew was a star - as usual. She was very careful to keep the sheep moving, and keep the puppies' attention, but without ever pushing the sheep any closer to the puppies than they were comfortable with.

      

On the other hand (paw) when one or two puppies became quite bold and decided they'd like to join in, Carew made space for them between herself and the sheep, so the puppies felt they were pushing the sheep even though Carew was in control all the time.

      

It quickly became clear that the mixture of hooves, feet and paws was doing the grazing no good at all; every step was leaving a muddy scar, with a little bit more grass pushed out of reach beneath the wet surface.

      

The sun was still out though, so we couldn't resist fetching Dash, Madge and Jack to have some fun too.

Border collie puppies holding sheep to a fence
"You know Dash, if you do that "Away" thing they're always talking about, and I do the "Come Bye" thing..."
      

We always like to pick a Man of the Match after any training session, and on this occasion it was clearly the little Madge Mongrel. She's such a joy; polite, affectionate and busy, and shows real talent around the sheep.

      

At nine months, Madge (though tiny!) naturally keeps her sheep together, without harassing them, and is already happy to drive the sheep away.

Sweet little tricolour border collie pup
"Is it OK if I just stay here with you? Do you think? Just 'til things quieten down a bit?"

Her small size makes it easy to forget how old Madge is: we really must start training her in earnest once the ground dries up. Madge and at least 10 other deserving dogs, of course, though I doubt Jack will be pushing himself to the front of the training queue for a while!

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