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January 6, 2011

Following a break to rest and drink, Lilly entered the round pen for the third and final time in her 1-hour herding instinct test. The task of working livestock is one of the most mentally taxing things a dog can do. Lilly showed tremendous stamina of body and brain. Still, she went a little wild on her third try.

She chased, then regained composure. She worked the flock a bit, but Lilly got nippy and pushy again with the goats, so we stopped before things went completely to pot.

Perhaps the most important thing for our loyal readers and fans to notice in this third and final herding instinct test video is that Lilly continued to work … even when the farm dogs start barking when a couple of people and a couple of new dogs arrived.

This is important development for a few reasons:

  • Lilly is afraid of other dogs.
  • Lilly typically will not “work” (particularly do agility) in front of other dogs.
  • Lilly is wildly sound sensitive and often shuts down or freaks out if there is unexpected noise.

Ultimately, in her first 1 hour of herding, Lilly NEVER did get the whole idea of not following the goats so closely. Maybe that will come with time.

Lilly did, however, show decent progress. She appears to have some basic instinct for the work, but we won’t really know what’s what until she has a few more lessons. If she continues to progress, that’s good. If she plateaus or back-slides, that’s not so good.

Because it’s both a financial and time commitment (at least a 1/2 day, including prep and drive time), I’ll have to work out some details in the coming weeks.

BUT, I hope to get Lilly out to the farm again every other week (as weather also allows) until we figure out if she makes progress. Then, if so, we might have to find time/$$ to go once a week for a while.

I am, however, lucky that so far Lilly does show good stamina … because Cathy can get a lot done in an hour, if Lilly keeps working hard.

Once again, I’ve embedded the full-size video file below. If your Internet connection speed is slow, you’ll probably be happier with the condensed video file link instead. This one is about 5 minutes.

(full-size file) (smaller file)

If you’ve come to our herding stories already in progress, you can catch up via … Lilly’s Big Year , Lilly’s Herding Instinct Test, Part 1 , and Lilly’s Herding Instinct Test, Part 2

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I think that stamina is a sign that you’ve found something that Lilly was really made to do. That’s how it looks to me – she knows that she’s supposed to move those goats around… even if she doesn’t yet know exactly how to do it.

    What a joy to watch those videos. I felt like I was seeing the real Lilly!

  2. Again amazing. Fantastic she could ignore the barking dogs. Judging from what I could see she didn’t even blink an eye.

    This was a great series to watch! Looking forward to Lilly’s next herding session!

  3. You’ll be amazed at how fast she grows. Not to put undo expectations, but she’s doing great and looks to be free of a lot of problems that might take a long time to overcome like being overly aggressive or biting the goats.

    We did 3 tries our first time too, and the dog’s were spent for the rest of the day. It’s truly like no other experience for working the mind and body at the same time.

    Just wait until she finds the “smart pills.”

  4. It’s been fun to see all these videos of Lilly at work. Kona has a strong prey drive and is often able to function in situations that would normally freak her out when there’s something to stalk (or a good scent to track). Maybe Lilly is similar in that using something so instinctual overrides her nerves. For Kona, having any ol’ job just doesn’t do the trick. I thought that using agility or scent work would help her adjust to new places but no luck. Now if I could put a deer on a leash. . .

  5. Great news that Lilly kept working with the other dogs arriving/barking! Even if it turns out she doesn’t have the ability to herd – you now have evidence that she does have the ability to work around doggy distractions. =)

  6. That is really interesting, especially if she doesn’t usually “work” around other dogs. Perhaps herding requires so much of her focus that she doesn’t even notice them? Lilly is definitely lovely to watch. And she looks so happy to be out there. That’s the first, most crucial part, right? Getting the drive. Everything else will come with work and time.

    Thank you for sharing these videos.

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