My sessions with Ernie were interrupted a bit by our annual camping trip - we spent 4 days on Sonora Pass with friends, so Ernie didn't have much to do over the weekend. I did use him, however, on the day we left as well as today.
Before we left on Thursday, I used Ernie to move 75 ewes across a creek and down a gravel road onto fresh feed. When we left the house, our retired guard dog, Buck, jumped in the back of the truck with Ernie - so he got to go, too! Ernie did very well at quietly move the ewes across the creek. He was a little less careful once they got on the road - he resumed trying to get to their heads. As a result, they passed the opening I'd made in the fence the first time. We collected our wits (Ernie and I) and got them into the paddock on the second try. At that point, Ernie decided that he didn't want to be called off. We "discussed" it and he ultimately decided that I was serious about the "that'll do" command!
After we finished, I noticed Ernie was lame. I thought maybe he had a thorn in a pad, but when I examined him, I realized he'd cut himself on a hind leg between his foot and hock. I'm still not sure what he ran into, but Sami and Emma had to sew him up before we left for our trip. Emma was so sweet - she sat with him in the kennel while he was waking up from the anesthesia.
This morning, I took him with me to haul water and set up fence for another set of ewes. For some reason, he was very reluctant to get out of the truck. I finally encouraged him to join me, and I decided that we'd have a brief schooling session with this bunch of ewes (about 125 head). I sent him on several short outruns and asked him to lie down once he'd started fetching them to me. He wasn't wide enough, but he was much better than he's been - actually went around the sheep calmly. He also took the lie down command quite well, and was reasonably easy to call off. All in all, it seems like he's improving a little bit each time we go out to do a job!
When we got home from our camping trip on Sunday, Ernie wouldn't let Emma out of his sight. He's still a goofball, but the regular work is making him a more enjoyable dog to be around!