Ch/IrCh Gallus Macracker at Kyleca JW x Merrythorpe Blackberry Way
D.O.B. 30th March 2005 Breeders: Mr and Mrs M.J Jay
Liz's DIVA was kept as a show potential puppy and has enjoyed modest success in the ring including Best of Breed awards at Open shows and a card from Crufts in March 2007.
However a couple of months later an informal instinct test at The Glebe revealed her true potential as a sheepdog, and her career has since taken a turn in another direction.
Though not the first Talraz Beardie to work sheep, as Liz was training her great-grandmother Talraz Tutti Frutti (Lulu) back in the mid-1990's, Diva has the honour of being the first UK Beardie to be officially awarded the Swedish Herding Aptitude Test Certificate when tested by expert visiting Beardie trainer Carl Borgstrom in August 2007.
Described then as "very promising - but lacking a little in confidence" she has continued to train on with two or three lessons a month courtesy of Jackie Goulder at her sheepdog training centre. On Carl's return visit in May 2008 he was delighted with her progress, finding her calm, confident and reliable. The tips he has passed on will ensure that she continues to improve!
Below: An early lesson, at Jackie's - Diva dragging a long line but working by herself
Learning left-handed corners when working with Carl Borgstrom in August 2007. The right-handed corners came more naturally to her so this exercise really made her think
In the picture below Diva is doing close work in the barn to build confidence. Sheep are quite large close up and the novice sheepdog can become overawed and show a reluctance to creep behind the large woolly bodies without moral support from the handler. However within a few minutes Diva was happy and relaxed with this exercise and enjoying herself immensely.
Diva moving a small flock across the field at a nice steady pace - for a video clip of her in action please visit YouTube and enter "Diva Herding". More will be added in due course.
A slight battle of wills here, and Diva is showing patience and determination when faced with a reluctant ewe. Sheep can read their dogs & will take advantage of any weakness. Here just by waiting and refusing to back down Diva was able to turn the ewe back to the rest of the flock without barking or nipping
A very necessary skill for a sheepdog & handler is being able to guide the sheep through a gate- and here are Diva and Liz practising hard
Below - Diva on an outrun, sent to gather and fetch the flock on her "away" side
Now DIVA has the basics, she needs lots of experience to build her confidence, which several months into her training is growing all the time. Below a series of pictures showing her working on penning, easing the sheep inside and then kindly but firmly guarding the pen mouth. She truly loves her work and never quits unless told to do so - always a good sign!!
Below: DIVA practising driving on a group of around 25 Swaledales
Wide Running - An important part of sheepdog training, especially when working with wild flighty sheep, is for the dog to learn to give the sheep space when necessary. Not all dogs do this naturally and Beardies especially seem to like to work close. Here Diva travels fast and wide on her away side as the sheep remaiin undisturbed in the middle of the paddock, she now understands what's required!
Another picture of Diva at work showing her keeping a good distance from the sheep, she has now learned that it is often easier for her to control them without getting too close.
Below: Diva with Gianni at the June 2009 Clinic at The Glebe