Matilda totally washed out as a herding dog. Her inner land shark made herding a hopeless disaster. Unfortunately, unlike Ketchum, who washed out of herding thirteen and a half years ago, and again 6 years ago, just to make sure, Matilda cannot just be a ranch dog. Left to her own devices, Matilda is 100% guaranteed to make the most terrible choices. She is a wellspring of chaos and energy, and putting her to work is a must.
She does disc (Toss and Fetch), and Dock Diving, and we work a bit at Rally Obedience, but she still needs more.
So, I have always wanted to try bite sports (Schutzhund, IPO, IGP, French or Mondioring, PSA - all the weird acronym names!). I love how happily the dogs work, and how springy the heel work is. I think the bite work itself is incredible to watch, with dogs putting everything they have into biting and holding a guy in a bite suit, and loving every minute of it.
I think Matilda may be a natural. Or at least as a good a natural as could be from a dog not specifically bred for bite sports, like a German Shepherd or malanois. She is fearless, forward, uses her teeth readily (as the sheep can attest!), but has no desire to be fearful and aggressive towards humans (only this is a necessary component, as a dog that is worried and defensive already should never learn the power of biting a human!). She loves the game of tug, which is a smaller, less vigorous style of bite work.
So, we have begun doing the research and training necessary to pass the first test (called BH in Schutzhung/ IPO/ IGP). We have also begun studying and training tracking (one of the three elements necessary for an IGP 1 title). In spite of the slow and thoughtful pace required to do a track, Matilda seems to really enjoy it, and it makes her unusually thoughtful, and slows down her crazy if even for a few minutes!
Mostly, I've just been trying to understand the convoluted mess that is Schutzhund! Every time I think I get it, there's a new element that I never knew existed, like Search and Rescue (SAR), or area searches for little hunks of wood and cloth called articles.
I love diving into a new sport! Especially one that is complicated and requires all sorts of parts and pieces. This will be a long journey, made longer by my inexperience, but I look forward to exploring this new direction, and sharing it with you guys. Follow us on Facebook for photos and videos, and our podcast, Your Dog's Best Life for more in-depth training information and explorations.