As I wrote yesterday’s post “Honest Abe, clever Abe,” I did it gleefully, knowing it would cause husband Jim to curse when he read it on the blog. His view of Abe is different than mine, thus the cursing.
You see, Abe belongs to our son Cass, and he loves Cass dearly. But when it comes to actually working, being a herding dog, Abe only works for me. It drives Jim crazy. If he tries to tell Abe what to do, Abe will turn his back and walk away, either go to the house, or go sit in the truck. There is no way he’ll take commands.
Abe adores working sheep with me. He tries to figure out what I want to do and then simply works to get it done. He’s had no formal training and certainly hasn’t ever heard a whistle. But he knows I use certain words and phases, such as “go around,” “other way,” and “turn them.” I also give him hand signals. This all came about not because of any effort to train him – he’s just worked with me a lot. I can read a lot of his body language as well, so it’s a mutual thing.
Late in the summer every year, we always have a few lambs that slip through the fence into the highway right-of-way, eating the lush grass that is never cut. I’ll get a call from a trooper or trucker, so Abe and I load up and go down the road to get the lambs back in. I talk to Abe as we drive, telling him what we’re going to do: “We’re going to work sheep. You’ll have to ‘get them’ and put them through the gate.” When we get to the pasture and I open the door, Abe jumps out, runs down the fenceline and gets the lambs, putting them back in the pasture just as I get the gate open. Mission accomplished. It’s as though he listened to everything I’d told him.
As I said, it drives Jim crazy.