Gyp has thrived here at GSF and I am still just as much in love with him now as when I first saw him at the airport. Granted, it hasn't quite been all sunshine and roses as he's chewed up numerous items that he shouldn't have, he's torn his "puppy-proof" dog run up and I'm learning that it really needs to be "cougar-proof" just to keep the little guy in. He's also surprised me with his high energy level and the two of us are now clocking 4 miles of running in thirty minutes. He wants to be doing 5 or 6 miles a day... I'm still working up to that.
But then there all those amazing moments and days with him that make up for it all! The soft puppy fur, his tail wagging softly whenever he sees me, his company whenever I'm outside, and knowing that I've got a good working partner in the works. He's been worth every single penny that I spent on him.
It's been fun watching his confidence increase as each week falls away. For the longest time he was scared to come in the barn with me and wouldn't come within twenty feet of that building. Now he runs in there ahead of me and will happily spend his whole day in there, watching the goats and sheep. His hunting/herding instincts are juuuuuust starting to show. Just tiny moments here and there, showing what he will one day be. We'll be out on the 98 acres and he'll tree squirrels and follow rabbit trails. I encourage the tracking and treeing, knowing that it might come in handy someday if I need to track down a chicken-eating varmint.
Today was probably the best day I've had yet with my dog. After milking Ellie, I called Gyp up and gave him the sit-stay command outside the pen. He sat there and stared at the goats and sheep; I could tell he wanted to be in there more than anything, but seeing as my animals are not dog-broke, he has to stay outside the bounds. His staring unnerved the ruminants and kept them stock still, staring right back at my small pup. I used the opportunity to throw hay into the manger and enjoyed the complete peace that I had in doing so. Normally I get shoved around by eleven bodies who aren't really hungry, but just want to see what I'm doing. It can be downright frustrating sometimes trying to get hay in the mangers and this was one job that I've always wanted a dog to help me with. And today I didn't have a single goat or sheep paying attention to me. It. Was. So. Nice.
After throwing hay, I needed to milk the goats. This job can sometimes be interesting since one of the goats, Catherine, doesn't like to be led or get on the milking stand. And she was feeling ornery today. -_- She and I had gotten about halfway to the destination when she planted her feet and refused to go one step further. Not even her single-strand baling twine collar would convince her to move (that's a first... I don't think I've ever had an animal resist the twine for long!). Gyp remained sitting at the other side of the barn. Watching us... Watching intently. Wanting to work. I had a crazy idea that I wasn't so sure about but decided to try it. I called Gyp over and directly behind Catherine. I figured this could either work really well, or both the dog and the goat would blow up. Only one way to find out.
Catherine bugged out at the sight of a canine right behind her and stepped forward. That was enough to set Gyp off and I fairly squealed as I watched him suddenly drop his head and tail and go into "working mode" (in dog language, head/tail up = playing. Head/tail down = focused and working). Catherine continued to walk forward and I led her into the parlor. My fourteen week old pup began snaking his body from side to side around the goat; a move that experienced herding folk call "tucking the sides in". If he had been doing that move with more than one animal, it would have kept the stock bunched together and in the same spot.
And then it was over. It probably lasted only a minute before he suddenly snapped out of his trance and was back to his usual puppy self. I milked the goats while Gyp hung around the barn. A quick whistle brought him racing back when I needed him to help me lead Catherine back and then he and I finished barn chores together. Soaking grain for fodder, filling water buckets, throwing hay to the cow... It was awesome having him right there next to me and capable of helping me with puppy-sized tasks, and having a companion and working partner outside with me all the time has been the best thing ever.
Gyp's little herding spree may have only lasted a minute, but that was enough for me, for today. It offered a glimpse of the reliable farmhand that my dog will be someday.
Just a glimpse...