Up and Coming: Rye

By Anne Wheatley (*Photo Credit also to Anne)

Rye is out of Mary Thompson’s Teagan and by Kevan Gretton’s Bud. There are plenty of good dogs behind this boy. People say when you’re thinking about a puppy, start with good breeding but know that getting a puppy is a crap shoot no matter what.

Rye was born in October 2021. I write about him from the perspective of someone who’s been herding for 10 or 12 years, got my own sheep 5 yrs ago, but never trained a pup before. Mary Thompson and Viki Kidd have both helped us out at times, but I can say I’ve been training Rye mostly on my own so far and I’m loving it!

I’m learning a lot. I’ve thought from the start about what I’d like him to have experienced in 2 years time, while constantly assessing who and where he was at the time. That’s led me to think of ways to help him be keen and confident, because he wasn’t so much at first. He came out of the box with speed and fairly open flanks. Too wide occasionally. I've had to pull him in. I’ve taught him to both stand and lie down. The stand is important at the pen and when shedding, but also for a dog that may need help with presence. While we trained the stand, lots of good open handlers told me to make him lie on his belly while he’s young and teach the stand later.

I think the best window for learning and the rate at which lessons are learned is early in a dogs life - provided they are ready to learn. We’re never not teaching says Faansi Basson so I think a lot about what I do and how - obsessively so sometimes. I’m absolutely sure I’ve made mistakes and possibly messed him up some. But not for lack of time and effort invested and a genuine want to teach my dog and learn from him and from the process.

I ran Rye at his first trial at the end of August at Dead Hill SDT in Michigan. He was 22 months old. I entered him in Nursery at the last minute on prodding from friends at the trial. I haven’t been that nervous since the first time I ran a dog in Open. Rye came 4th out of 9 dogs. Then we ran in PN twice in classes of more than 20 dogs. I was calmer for that. Rye came 2nd in the first class and 1st in the next class. I was thrilled!

I’m looking forward to continuing to work with this boy and not lose his stop and his nice open flanks as he develops his confidence and forward. We keep working on his outrun. We’re training the pen moves, with and without a pen - making the sheep go where they don’t want to go and working in corners and on the fence. Whenever a sizable gap appears between groups of sheep I call Rye to me and lie him down. He’s starting to get it.

The more we work and he enjoys it, the keener he gets. Fingers crossed for this dog.

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