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Herding with Chinooks!

Most people don't think of Chinooks as dogs with natural herding instinct.  However, since they descend from Belgian Shepherds and German Shepherds, most have quite a bit of natural hearing ability.  We had not had an opportunity to try our dogs in herding until we found Suzanne White in Maine who gives private lessons.  Jess got a herding lesson for her birthday and chose Mahoosuc to join her for this new adventure at Little Dove Farm in Appleton, ME.  Suzanne warned us at the start that this was a slow process and that Mahoosuc might not be able to work the sheep and that Jess might not get to work Mahoosuc at all for the first lesson.  For the first 20 minutes, Suzanne walked Mahoosuc behind the sheep, teaching her to stay on the outside, to keep herself under control around the sheep and to move the sheep in certain ways.  Mahoosuc demonstrated her ability to learn quickly and maintain control and within no time, she was given much more leeway and opportunity. Jess got to head into the pen and Mahoosuc next learned to work with Jess in close proximity.  Mahoosuc is very bonded to her, so she had to learn to work away from Jess. Eventually, Jess and Mahoosuc got to work together, taking direction from Suzanne who stayed in one corner of the pen.  Mahoosuc never lost control and had a real presence - she innately knew when and where to stop to hold the sheep once they were cornered.  She took commands at a distance with ease and earned high praise from Suzanne as a dog with tons of potential to go far in this sport!  We may eventually get some sheep or goats here at GreatMountain, so we are excited to think that at least one of our dogs might be able to help us tend them.  Jess will take more lessons with Mahoosuc, so stay tuned for more photos!

Mahoosuc and Suzanne at the beginning of the lesson

Suzanne keeps a small rake in front of Mahoosuc to keep her from charging forward.

Immediately, Mahoosuc showed she understood when to stop.

Within no time, Suzanne trusted Mahoosuc to work without close supervision

Suzanne keeps Mahoosuc under control as she moves the sheep and Jess walks with them.

Again, very quickly Mahoosuc was allowed more freedom to work.

Mahoosuc did a great job taking commands to stop and hold the sheep.

Without being told, Mahoosuc laid down, holding the sheep in place - look at Suzanne smiling at her.

Eventually, Jess and Mahoosuc got to work the sheep together - what a gift! 

Predictably, Mahoosuc figured things out before Jess did! 

This was remarkable - Jess made a mistake and got in front of the sheep while they were moving.  Mahoosuc stopped dead, figuring out on her own that if she continued moving the sheep, they'd run into Jess.

When Jess called her forward, though, she was on the move again.

She stopped every time on command.

At the end of the lesson, Mahoosuc just got to run with the sheep.  Instead of going wild, she kept bringing the sheep to Jess, just like she was supposed to!  What an incredible natural instinct she has!

The end to a perfect lesson.

Suzanne and Jess admire Mahoosuc while she keeps her eyes on the sheep. 

Mahoosuc cooling off after the lesson.

Mahoosuc got to play with a real herding dog - hopefully, she learned some tips! 

A fun day for all involved! 

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