Sometimes when I need to do a simple chore with one sheep, I’ll just take my crook down with me when I feed, and try to snag the single sheep with the crook while she’s eating. At those times, I prefer not to bring Maggie with me, as her presence anywhere on the property will make the sheep bunch up in anticipation of being moved. So if I want them to otherwise relax and eat, or spread out so I can look at them, she is not helpful to have around.
But often once I get down there and try to catch the wanted sheep, I can’t. You have one shot with a crook to get them, and once they know you’re after them, they are on guard and you don’t get a second chance. So that’s when I call up to the house on my cell phone, and ask Kirk to send Maggie down.
The first couple of times I did this, she was a little confused about the scenario. Usually we all go for walks together: the two humans and the two dogs. Kirk sending her out solo made her spin in front of the porch with a questioning look, until she heard me call her, then she’d shoot down to the field to assist. She can get from the house to the field in about 2.2 seconds if she knows there is sheep duty! She blasts down there, full throttle, squeezing under gates and sprinting in a frenzy to go right to work.
It didn’t take her long to figure out the pattern. From the window, she can see me in the field with the sheep. And I think she can see me struggle with the crook and not catch a sheep. She knows I need her help. And she is ready for the phone call.
So nowadays, Kirk says, when his phone rings in this instance, she perks up and goes to the door and looks back at him with expectation. She says, it’s for me, open the door. Clever border collie!