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evidence of strength and weakness

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Hi Sue. By now you have learned that I am no expert in any of these matters. But your interesting questions keep pulling me in.


My answer to your two questions is a bit of anecdotal evidence. I have a 3 1/2 year old dog who tends to work rather close, and who flanks naturally and widely. Powerwise, she is medium at most. So I don't know what to make of all that, except maybe there are so many other factors involved that such intriguing slogans are too simplistic.



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Originally posted by Pipedream Farm:

To follow up with my own anecdotal evidence, I know of powerful and weak dogs that are wide flanking.

And powerful and weak ones that work close.


As to power, we could discuss it all day and stilll not come up with a satisfactory definition. Best I've been able to come up with, finally, is I know it when I see it--or don't.


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Guest totallyterry2003

It is nice to see that my little academic herding friends are having such a nice debate.

(God, I hope that I have spelled academic correctly)



You think that your sense of humor is yucky,

since dear Bill brought the pornography analogy into this thread, I realize that I am a sicko.


At my advanced age, watching a dog with lots of power is much more exciting to me than viewing pornography.


Seriously, can anyone name a wide flanking dog with lots of power? Do not include your own dog but a dog that we could relate to? I am not sure that I have ever seen a naturally wide flanking dog with lots of power.


Please note that my thoughts on this are slightly tainted because I own a very wide flanking dog that is weak.


Final thought for my academic herding friends to debate. There is a difference between presence push and power. A dog with presence and push can have no power. How do you tell the difference especially when the dog is being handled excellently?

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Terry wrote:


"Final thought for my academic herding friends to debate. There is a difference between presence push and power. A dog with presence and push can have no power."


First lets separate this from guts. A lot of people use the term power to describe a dog who is brave and will stand up to any challenge but who may not be able to move sheep well. In my mind, guts may be a component of power but the definition of power I use is the ability to make sheep go where they don't want to go.


What's your definition?



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This is one of the first questions I thought of when I started working Solo: what is power? It's difficult to characterize, because I think it has everything to do with how the sheep perceive the dog, and I have no idea what sheep see when they see a dog.


I see power as being related to the amount of implied, but controlled, threat communicated by the dog to the sheep. I think it can alternatively be referred to as "presence," but that doesn't really cover it either. Power is something that should be in evidence when a dog is quietly working sheep under normal conditions; I don't think a dog has to be actively threatening the sheep (pushing, gripping) to demonstrate power. (The latter would fall more into the "guts" category I guess, depending on the context.)


I think that a truly powerful dog (or at least a dog who is powerful in a useful fashion, or who has a handle on his own power) is a dog who is capable of manipulating or moderating (consciously or unconsciously) the amount of threat he portrays to the sheep. One of my dogs (who shall remain nameless) has much more power than the other. However, he also scares the crap out of sheep. I don't think the mere fact that he scares the crap out of sheep is evidence of power; I actually think it's evidence of a lack of control that lessens his power. He has problems with impulse control (how's that for egghead language?) that the sheep readily perceive, so they don't "like" him the way they seem to like my other dog (they see a loose cannon) and he has a much harder time controlling them. It's only when he's working with more control that I can truly assess (or attempt to, because let's face it, I'm a novice, how the hell do I know what I'm looking at?) what kind of power he really has. If push came to shove, yeah, I think he would be able to move sheep that my other dog would have problems with, but whether we would have a whole lot of control over where those sheep moved to, I don't know.


So, I think it is important to consider that power has elements of both impulsion and of control. A truly powerful dog has a large effect on sheep, is conscious of this effect, and is able to manipulate it usefully. A dog who merely scares the crap out of sheep is not necessarily powerful. A dog with a lot of push doesn't necessarily have power.


I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud.

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This is a discussion for a December's evening with a bottle of Dalwhinnie and a warm woodstove.


I very much like Denise's definition of power -- I think it covers it all. A dog can have power derived from presence, from push, from guts, from brains, from heart; I'll bet most powerful dogs have a blend of all these characteristics in lesser or greater quantities. Some weaker dogs may have some of these characteristics but not enough


But the bottom line is that a powerful dog is able to make sheep choose to go where they don't want to go rather than deal with him. I think it was said in reference to a cow dog, but I remember someone saying that a dog could make a freight train take a dirt road. That would be power.

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