Suki’s a HIC

On Thursday Suki earned her HIC, or Herding Instinct Certified, title. It’s a test to see if the dog has the natural instinct to herd livestock. In the US the title is HIT, or Herding Instinct Tested. I like the Canadian one because I can make jokes about Suki being a hick (shh, just pretend the C in HIC isn’t technically a soft one).

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It could have gone better, but for the day and the sheep she was working with I think Suki did really well. These sheep were not easy to work with; they were hot, tired, and feeling a little ornery. Suki was a bit apprehensive of the situation and just when she was starting to get into it one of the sheep took a running headbutt and sent her rolling, which really threw her confidence. I was feeling a bit discouraged until the evaluator brought her trained Sheltie in and the sheep even gave her a hard time.

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“Bah, Ram, Ewe? No? Okay then…”

I was told Suki needs to build up her confidence, but that if herding is something I want to pursue I should definitely go for it. We didn’t sign up for the actual herding clinic this month and just did the instinct test, but there is probably another one in June and I’m going to aim to have worked on Suki’s confidence for then. I think working on herding itself will be a good confidence booster for her, but it never hurts to pad the odds in your favour a little.

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I was told working with ducks might be helpful. They can put more pressure on a dog, but don’t have the size intimidation factor. I asked J if we should we get Campbells or Runners for Suki but he wasn’t very impressed. I thought it was funny.

Suki was pretty velcroed to me during the test, so I’m going to start trying to build her comfort working further away. The plan for this month is to reinforcing her target training (running to stand on a coloured circle), then gradually increasing the distance she has to run to touch the target. I’m hoping this will make her more comfortable working further away from me. I’m also going to work on crate training her so I can keep her kenneled next time, which will hopefully prevent other dogs from approaching her and throwing her off her game. Even if herding is fun, it’s still a pretty stressful environment and I think it’s best not to socialize dogs there as it’s easy to overload them.

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Suki got a certificate, an evaluation sheet, and a chunk of wool to chase around at home. I’m really looking forward to hopefully furthering her herding, and I can finally check “try herding with Suki” off the bucket list. I can see myself getting really hooked on this sport.

 

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2 responses to “Suki’s a HIC

    • I’m sure Torrey would love herding! If there’s ever a herding test in your area I highly recommend it.

      The Schip’s herding ancestry isn’t really recognized over here, but in Belgium they consider Schipperkes to be shepherds or sheepdogs. The Belgian club even has an article on the meaning of the name: http://www.schipperke.be/main/index.php/en/articles/breed-name
      My personal theory is that the Leuvenaar, the breed Schips descend from, was a regional term for dogs from another landrace, the Altdeutsche Hütehunde. The Flemish Milk Sheep is descended from the Friesian Milk Sheep, so there’s proof there was trade of sheep between the two countries. It’s very likely dogs or pups would have been traded along with sheep. The look of Alties varies a lot, but some of the smaller ones even look like fluffy Schipperkes (http://huetefuchs.de/images/schwarzekl_520.jpg), Alties can be born tailless, and the east/middle German variety of Altie comes in the same colours Schips have in their genetics: Black, red, and black and tan.

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