Working Swissies


As part of their "all-purpose farm dog" duties, one of the Swissy's many tasks on the farm was to herd and drive livestock.  Therefore, they were bred for and still do possess a strong herding instinct.  Axel is pictured here at 17 mos, the first time he ever even saw sheep (the closest he came before was cuddling in a wool sweater).  I was stunned that he knew almost immediately what to do, without being told...when so seldom does he do what he is told half the time!  That's why they call it instinct.  In retrospect, that's probably why he also grabs my pant legs and sleeves when were out running and playing in the yard.

On this day (Sept '05), Axel earned both legs toward his HCT (Herding Capability Test).  The next step would be his JHD (Junior Herding Dog) title, although that will require that Axel starts doing what he's told...not just what feels right!






The strength of a Swissy may be tested in several ways -- Carting and Weight Pulling, where in both cases the dog PULLS the weight, and then in Packing where the dog CARRIES the weight.  Axel started working toward his Novice Pack Dog title in April 2006, and completed his fourth and final leg in October 2006 (actually, he picked up a bonus/extra fifth leg he didn't need because our final hike was a back-to-back two day hike for two legs, and he only needed one). 

In each hike, Axel carried 20% of his body weight (130 pounds), which is 26 pounds, for either ten miles or eight miles (if it was a back-to-back two day hike).  Although you are able to use water and food from your pack during the hike, there is only so much you can eat and drink over a three hour time a dog must be in excellent condition to hike with that much weight on their back.









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