And then I went and checked the sheep, and harrassed them a little with my dog. Unfortunately I forgot my whistle, and while First works ok on voice commands, it doesn't have the same sharp clarity. Whistles are a language of which the note is only a part - the tone, sharpness and volume also matter - and my mouth whistles are, to her, a bit like someone speaking really bad English with a mouthful of marshmallows while trying to give precise instructions about how to do brain surgery. Anyway, I took a short vid and a picture, which are under the cut.
These sheep haven't been worked by a dog for over a year, and they're all "WTF" about it and not wanting to stay together, although I thought they were relatively cooperative considering. It's interesting trying to hold a camera on a dog while it's working - if you look through the viewfinder everything is closer that it should be and it's all a bit weird. Mostly I didn't bother with whistles and just let her do her thing. You can see she's cutting in a bit as she goes round them, and not really taking her sides as she should. She's also doing that trademark First thing and not running to 12 o'clock*, and without the whistle I can't really make her. Also, standing on the side of a muddy hill holding a camera isn't the best time to be trying to move around, so instead of me being able to move off the sheep and actually take them somewhere, I had to stand there while she tried to hold them up to me. She did a reasonable job, but next time I'll take my whistle and someone else to hold the camera and we'll see if we can get some of her actually working rather than just running round an unruly mob.
* The dog is supposed to go to a balance point with the sheep in the middle, her at 12 o'clock and you at 6 o'clock. First has always been a bit lazy about that, she runs as far as is necessary to turn them and will then try to 'set' them from there. She's also smart enough to know that the fence that was running above where I was standing will stop them, so she's working using some kind of doggy triangulation between me and the fence to find her balance. It's a Thing. Damn useful when you need your dog to think for itself, not so much when you're trying to do things by the book.
I'm currently reading The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt. While it's primarily about non-traditional relationships (open relationships, polyamory and the like), so far it seems to have a lot of stuff that's useful for people in any kind of relationship, even if that relationship is only with themselves. You probably have to read a bit between the lines to find it, but yeah. Interesting reading. I like it when I read something that makes my eyes open a bit wider.