Hi everyone. I hope you are having a great day. I know that I am. I am inside the house with the goatlady on this rainy day and today is my turn to tell you a little about me. I came to the ranch from Rainer, Oregon. I am an Australian Shepherd, raised and trained to herd.
I have done lots of traveling, even on planes, which not all dogs get to do. I have been to Florida, Texas and Colorado. My whole life was about training to herd animals, competitions, and showing people how well I am trained. Through my travels across the country, there have been some humans who wanted to keep me on a trial basis to see how well I do in the show ring. When I was asked to herd, it was always in an enclosed area. If the animals didn’t do what I wanted them to, they could really not get too far away. Each time I did well, the kennel got points and I moved up in the competition. That’s called “legs”. In Texas, I did so well that a man wanted to keep me for awhile and maybe even for good. I was so excited about this as I loved it there. You see, I came from a good home but there were lots of us Aussies, and if you didn’t perform well, you just didn’t get as many rewards. It was not a bad place to live, but my new home was awesome. The man loved working with me and we spent lots of time together until a woman came into his life. He just did not have the time for me anymore. I was sent back to Oregon, where my owners’ lives had changed as well – they were no longer together. Now it had become lonely there too.
One day a woman came to visit, and I was allowed to meet her. I don’t know why, but I went right up to her. (There was something about her I just liked.) Little did I know then, that she was going to change my life forever. You see she, was the goat lady, and she took me home that day; first to her house and then to a barn. I was happy. I love barns. Barns mean cows, horses or sheep to herd. I looked around for the animals to herd. There were none that I recognized. Now don’t get me wrong. There were animals in the barn and in the pasture. GOATS. Yes, GOATS! And they have eyes unlike anything that I have ever herded before. Well, the goatlady took me to meet the. When we got out to the pasture, they had gotten out – misbehaving. Much to my un-liking, I was given commands to go round them up. Nothing against the goatlady but she could not even remember my name much less a command. In short, she had no idea what she was doing. Instead of “Away to me”, she would say, ” Away from me”. ” Go by” was “Go around” and, well, you get the picture. I had no idea where she wanted them, but I thought I would try to help, and give it my best shot. So, I got started herding them. Now this was no easy task, as the GOATS had no idea what I was going to do or what I wanted from them. Tto make matters worse, the GOATS, well, they were just down right mean. They wouldn’t move away from me. Instead they tried to hit me with their horns or stomp at me. Now really, I herd cows, big cows – they could step on those guys. It took a while but we soon got them in. I was thanking the Lord for that, as they had no, and I mean NO manners. Then we were off. We went to meet the goatlady’s friends. I met Jan first. She was nice and she had a lot of dogs, different from the dogs where I came from. They like to go find birds. O.K., each to his own. Chasing down birds would not be my idea of fun, but Jan also had lots of horses. Now that could be fun – going out and getting them. I could do that.! But no, the goatlady had other plans. Too bad, because those were the first REAL animals I had seen – ones that I could herd to show off what I can do. Before I could convince her to let me, we were off to yet another friend’s house – Eileen and Mick’s house. They are really nice and have the prettiest dog ever. Her name is Ginny, and I was in love at first glance. She is a little stand-offish, but so pretty that she makes my heart jump!
So, then we were off to the goatlady’s moms’ house. Yes, she has two moms and a sister Connie. I loved the family. Connie also has that something about her that I really loved, just like the goatlady! Yes, I thought. I could live with this family for the rest of my life. Maybe I could even come here and stay sometimes. What I did’nt know then. Is that I would be able to go there often.
Then we were off to see Elsie. We didn’t stay too long, but, little did I know, that we would be back for lessons. You see, she is a dog trainer, just like the people where I was born.
I didn’t know it, but I was again on a 2 week trial with the goatlady to see if I could herd the GOATS. And this would involve lessons and going out on a job with the goatlady and her sister Connie. That first job was something that I had never experienced before. Sleeping in a tent with a mattress. The goatlady brought one of my favorite things. A frizbee. O, how I love to play frizbee. So, when the goatlady or her sis was not working with the goats on the clearing, we played frizbee. It was great. But when the job was done. And time to load the goats. That is when I was asked to work. Now remember, the goatlady and her sis had only had a few lessons in giving commands to a herding dog. So, it was a mess. First the goatlady tried to get me to herd. Then her sis tried to get me to herd. And I was trying. But, this was a challenge, as the goats don’t act anything like the animals that I had herded before. But, I was willing to give it a try, however, I was not sure if the goatlady would ever figure out how to give me the right commands. And for tht matter. Her sis was not that good either. Well after what seemed like all day. We got the last one loaded and my new owners were very happy with me.
The next morning we went back to Elsie’s house and she spent some time with me herding goats. Seemed simple enough. We were in a field. The goats could not get out. She had gates all around just like I was used to. Elsie knew the commands and she was nice. Then it was the goatlady’s turn. That was funny. I had a hard time not laughing at her, and I really didn’t want to mind her. Elsie informed me of my bad manners, and that was not acceptable! She also let me know that if I was going to live here I must learn to do the job I was being brought in for. I listened to her advice. And so my new life started.
I have now been here a year and I love it. There have been many lessons for both of us, but I could not ask for a better place. I have learned that herding for competitions is much different then herding on a working ranch. I work in places that don’t always have fences. Sometimes, when I am asked to go get the goats they are down in little ravines where I can’t see them right away. Or worse yet, they may be inside thickets of blackberry bushes where it hurts to go in and get them. But, all in all, it is fun. A year later, the goatlady and I have figured out how to communicate with each other when herding. She now knows the commands (although she still gets them mixed up.) My life here is good. The goats still do not like me, they stomp and make noises at me, but I don’t really care. They have to listen to me when I am asked to do something with them, or else the goatlady gets after them. I live here and this is where I am going to stay for the rest of my life. What a great home! I will be back to tell you more of my side of things around here later.