Now that my little girl is six months old, she was formally evaluated and passed her HIC eval last week.
Let the journey begin....
Her written critique was pretty darn exciting (if I do say so myself), and probably the best part is that she shows "Medium Eye", which isn't terribly common in GSD's - most are loose-eyed. My other GSD works loose-eyed, so this is very exciting to me. Readily corrected, works silently (no nonsense barking), and other really promising comments. This week we're starting real lessons, and I couldn't be happier.
Since she's young, we'll be training formally once a week. On off-days, we'll be continuing work on livestock manners, at home and at friends' properties. Her poultry manners are improving, though she isn't calm enough to go into the coop and collect eggs yet (that one takes a while, but we're getting closer). The goal is for her to watch me, which is a pretty big feat when feathery lunches are squawking around you. It's a good sign when the birds settle down and start to eat when the dog in the pen - they can tell when a dog is bonkers, and when the dog is under control.
We also started the slow, patient process of acclimating her to our LGD (livestock guardian donkey). It's a two-way street - the donkey needs to learn that she's an "acceptable" canine, not a coyote or stray dog. She needs to learn that the donkey is un-herdable, and must be left alone. This isn't something to rush, so right now the goal is calm sniffing through the fence.
This will be the second GSD I've trained for herding work. It's 90% exciting, but 10% daunting when I think that we're starting from square one, especially when I look back at all of the obstacles and struggles I went through with my first dog (pictured below).... who is now sensible and trustworthy around all creatures great and small. I'm very proud of what I did with my first dog, but I have much bigger hopes and goals for Ayla.... wish us luck.