As the curtain rang down on the final livestock sale at the Templeton Livestock Auction, a group of 6 little girls paraded through the crowd that was surrounding the auction ring. Each had a little Border Collie puppy that was for sale.
But for me, the idea of rearing a new puppy that would soon be a mature canine, when Zee and I already had 7 dogs of varying skills and obedience didn’t sound very appealing. And more dogs that don’t mind are a real pain.
Obedience for us, when we’re out gathering cattle is a must. I have just sent my
lead dog Bob to get ahead of about 30 cattle to stop them before they run down into a canyon where the brush and trees are impenetrable, and cattle can just hide out till a person just has to say, “We’ll try again another day” (which is somewhat demoralizing to the old Ego).
Everything is going like its supposed to until a young dog of mine by the name of Spider runs to help Bob, but just like when a green cowboy is in the wrong place, he scatters the herd. All the while I’m screaming to,
” GET BACK! GET BACK! GET BACK! You son of a B#$%@!”
We’re headed home now. Empty handed. And I’m sure I could hear some of the cattle snickering to themselves about how ‘that Spider dog helped us get away, we certainly heard his name a lot’.
I said to Zee, “That Spider needs to have his ears cleaned or a swift kick”. Zee replied, “You know, neither will work. You need to take a lesson or two from your daughter-in-law Tricia”. Tricia just happens to be a very well respected dog trainer.
But just like two people that don’t have much in common, Spider and I are not going to become best friends. So the next gather he will most likely be staying at home. Unless he looks at me with those eyes that are saying:
“I promise this time I won’t screw up, just one more chance, please.”
The auction is over now, and as I walk to my pick-up and Gary, a friend of mine calls to me:
“Come here, I’ve got a puppy for you that your going to just love”.
I reply, “I don’t know Gary I’ve already got a bunch that need some training.”
Gary answered, “This pup is so smart, just ask him what you want done and he will do it.”
There was something about Trigger. The young girl that carried him in her arms for most of the day had given him the name, and I liked it. I was drawn to this rambunctious bundle of energy, and before I knew it Trigger was in my arms. All ready for a new life as a working Cow Dog.
By the time I got back to the ranch, Trigger was laying beside me fast asleep. No car sickness and no whining.
“Wake up Trigger were home, your going to be greeted by 7 big brothers and big sisters I hope they like you.”
Bob, as head of the house strode over, took a sniff and looked at me, took another sniff and then he and Trigger walked away together. And now their six week-long friendship has grown into mutual admiration.
As I brought Trigger into the house Zee said, “This will be his first and last inside the house visit. I want you to call Tricia right now and tell her you want some dog training lessons.”
It would be a week before Trigger and I could meet Tricia for an hour long lesson. Afterwards Tricia said to me ,
“If you do as I tell you, you and Trigger will be quite a pair. I can tell you that this pup is something special so listen carefully.”
Tricia said something to me that I wish I had heard years earlier. Of course in those earlier years I probably didn’t have ears to hear her message. She said, “I’m going to teach you a method that will have Trigger wanting to please you, wanting to do as you say and not doing it out of fear but out of respect. To start with I’m going to give you this handful of of Hotdog pieces.”
Then Tricia said, “Let me work with Trigger for 5 minutes.” She positioned him in a sitting position and gave him a piece of Hotdog. Well, in only 5 minutes Trigger was loving to sit down on command. And hearing the word ‘sit’ meant a tasty piece of Hotdog would be forth coming.
Next came the singular word ‘Trigger‘. Once she had his attention, then came, ‘Come Here Trigger’, ‘Good Boy ‘, and as he approached the word ‘Sit ‘ was followed by a little pat on the head and a piece of Hotdog.
Amazing what a Hotdog can accomplish. But I was also wondering if I was going to have to carry Hotdog bits in my pocket forever?
“No” Tricia replied, “Only for 2 weeks then we will progress to doing all sorts of things without the Hotdog because Trigger will be having fun and pleasing you will be his idea.”
“See you in 2 weeks.”