Yesterday's chores included vaccinating and de-worming the lambs, putting them through a footbath, and loading them in the trailer to move to a new pasture. The work, for Ernie, involved working the lambs through the corrals and loading the trailer - both situations which require thoughtfulness and calmness from a dog, as well as a good understanding of flank commands ("come bye" to circle to the left, "away" to go right). These have not always been strong points for Ernie. However, he did fairly well. He worked too closely to the sheep at times, and a few times he seemed to forget that we were working as partners, but we got the work done.
The work was not terribly demanding for Ernie from a physical standpoint - he probably worked for a total of 60 minutes during the course of our day. However, he was exhausted at the end of the day - a good sign that he was working hard mentally. At least for one day, my theory that real work - with a real endpoint and real goals - would be helpful for Ernie in developing our working partnership seemed to hold true.
Over the course of the next month, I will try to document Ernie's progress as we work together. The month will be interesting!