Reese is continuing to make great progress. She is flanking better and continuing to give the sheep space and not diving in on them even if they are standing at the fence, she will just take them off and continue working. At this point we have started working on her finding balance and getting more comfortable there. That is her most uncomfortable place and makes her nervous. She can only handle it for very short spurts before she has to be flanked out.
She made some great progress with balance and held it for the longest time yet the first day she worked. She got to work 7 times. I am so glad I had the opportunity to have her work that many times. She makes leaps and bounds of progress with Kathy and I will take every chance I can get to have her work with Reese and I. It is going to be a slow process to get Reese comfortable at balance but hopefully once we do that she will be over a large hump of what is holding us back. For now this is where she is at and what we will work on until she is comfortable there.
I started working Reese again at this clinic and it was so fun to be back working with her. I haven't worked her since July before we went to our first clinic and the re-training began. Kathy stepped in when needed of course. My friend Loretta worked her 3 times as she understands a bit more what Kathy is looking for in the small changes we need to see in Reese to keep progressing. I worked her 4 times and I am learning to relax more, not raise my voice as that puts Reese over the top, and that if I slow down and get out of the sheep everything else will slow down and Reese relaxes even more.
Those that hadn't seen Reese since the first clinic were pretty amazed at how far she has come, and how well she is doing. Between watching her work and listening to people gasp "oh my!" but in a good way, (thanks Jeannie) at the sight of what she was now able to do, brought me to a bit of an emotional - but happy meltdown. Yes, I cried, happy tears of course. The progress Reese has made might seem small to some people but to those who saw what a mess she was just a few short months ago know how much change has taken place.
It just makes me so happy to see my dog actually working and really thinking when she is on stock now. She is trying so hard and that is all I can ask. As Kathy always says it is about the smallest change and the slightest try. It really applies to a dog like Reese and what we are looking for.
She didn't totally flip out when I went in the round pen to work her either. It felt like it got better each time I worked her. On one of the first runs it felt like she was starting to revert back to one of her old habits of circling and not thinking and then I started to get nervous and tense which of course just made Reese more amped. So Kathy stepped in and helped get things back in line that run. By our last run of the weekend I had much more confidence working her.
I also got the chance to take some photos. Here are a few of them, and you can see the rest at my Flickr Photostream on the right. I only got a couple of Reese and they are a bit blurry as she still moves pretty fast in the round pen and of course you can't take pictures when you are working your own dog.