It's been awhile since I've updated everyone on our border collie puppy, Piper. She is now 32 weeks old (8 months). We live on a farm with about 11 cows, 20 ewes, 7 dairy goats, 7 pigs (departing shortly for the freezer), 100 or so hens, currently 40 broilers, 2 greyhounds, untold numbers of barn cats, 50 geese, 30 ducks, etc. Animals get out a lot and we were sick of being the 'dog' for all these years. So we got Piper last summer and it's been an utter pleasure watching her develop. We tought her to sit and lie down in under 2 minutes. She has an uncanny knack for learning commands, names and people in moments. She's maturing and showing less puppy "chase all the animals all the time" instincts... but of course, as any border collie owner will tell you, our tennis ball budget is about 8 balls per week. If she is awake, there is a tennis ball in her mouth and she wants it thrown. It's not uncommon to be showering and suddenly to find a tennis ball at your feet. I wake up to a wet tennis ball on my face every morning. If you are standing, she'll pin them inbetween your knees. Generally, dogs begin herding training at 10-12 months. But, since Piper is exposed to so much livestock (and potential bad habits), we started her at 7.5 months with her first casual lessons. We drive around 2.5 hours to Scio in central Oregon and work with Ian Caldicott at Wolston Farm. How the training works is we go in the fenced field (known as rings when you're training) with his dogs, which are trained. He trains us. Ian then goes in the ring with our dog, and he trains her. We get to observe and he gives us input on her tendencies as strengths. She is apparently very talented and eager to work, a good combination. Her compulsions at this point is to pin the animals and not let them move, not even blink an eyelash. It drives her mental if they dare move. So, she is a strong gatherer dog (rather than driver). It's appraently very easy to train a dog with this desire to control the animals to learn to slip behind them and move them. They'll quickly discover that moving the animals is as much control as pinning them in the corner. Or so we're told! A lot of people told us to get a trained dog and that we were saving ourselves untold hours of work. At this point, I am extremely glad we didn't. Having us learn how to use the dog to its best ability is as important, if not more, than getting the dog trained to work the livestock. If we had bought a trained dog, we would have made no sense to him/her and we quickly would have been ignored, since the with the lack of focus, the dog will just do what it instinctively wants to do. An interesting thing to note is that a month into her training, we have only taught her two commands. A lot of people think using the commans and telling the dog what to do is all herding is. We're being trained to work the dogs using simply our body language and the inflection in our voice, the commands come later when she's more advanced. Here are some photos. These were of Piper's first lessons about a month ago, back before it started raining. Piper loves Ian to bits, he's a dog guy. Finally, this is one of Ian's dog on the big course, which is 450 yards out to the sheep (you can barely see them there). The dog (I can't remember if it's Joe Kidd or Bear) is going on a right handed "fetch" and then "lift". On the big course, all the commands are given by whistles. It's utterly amazing to watch first hand, and it will send chills up my spine the day Piper is advanced enough to do the big course.