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SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
One Great Man
One Great Man
This is written as a tribute to someone who has influenced my life in so many ways, I just wanted to share my story.
I had been working sheepdogs for a few years prior to getting invited to a sheepdog clinic. This was 12 years ago, my first clinic and I had just bought my first border collie. I decided to take her to the clinic. Most of what was said and what I saw went way over my head, but I was very interested in the concept and method being taught. Several months later, I was invited to another clinic, with the same clinician. Again, I took my border collie. I started understanding the teaching and was more comfortable working in front of people. Having a real natural dog can make the inexperienced handler look pretty good. The clinician was very kind, had a great sense of humor and a genius at reading dogs and sheep. It was amazing to me, and watching him was beginning to change the way I looked at training working dogs. I kept going to his and other clinics and realized out of all the others it was his method that I wanted to learn. I had to figure it out.
I went to trials and did okay, but I knew I needed more knowledge and training but with the same clinician. I decided to put on a clinic at my place and asked if he would do the clinic and he did. It was a great clinic, and through the years we have become good friends. instruct
I kept trialing and training, getting different dogs and even started giving a few lessons to help other people learn this “Method” of training that was beginning to make much more sense to me. Every year, for the last 11 years I have had this same clinician out to give clinics at my place and every year my training got better. My trialing got better too and I was able to compete as an open handler. I might not be the greatest handler out there, but what I have learned after all these years about dogs, is far more valuable than winning any trial. Finally, I can say that with the utmost sincerity! I was taught to be happy running my dogs my way, which was very hard at first, wasn’t it all about winning? But I have learned over the years if I was happy with the way my dog worked, placing well at a trial was an added bonus! Anyway, in my case if there is a problem with the run it is usually me and not my dog.
My friend and I talk a lot about dogs and about life. He never tells me what I want to hear but what I need to hear. He has a special talent and a unique way of communicating, no sugar coating just straightforward talk. At a clinic, while teaching his method of training, he usually touches the hearts of the people attending. Some are there just to watch, most are there to learn. If you listen to his stories and listen to what he is really saying, you will find some little treasure that will help in your life or in training, and that is truly a gift. That is why I feel He is such a Great Man.
Once I really got to know and understand him and his method, is when I started to really see changes in my own training. It was when I was able to understand and grasp the meaning behind him saying, “Don’t Make the Right, Correct the Wrong” and “Trust Your Dog”. For me, that was when I saw a whole new world open up in sheepdog training.
Some dogs running in trials today, in my opinion, are so mechanical and dependent upon their owners, they can’t think for themselves. One of the most important aspects of his training method that I learned was to let the dogs be more natural, and let them think. I am trying not to be perfect and controlling in the way I run my dogs, it is very difficult to let go and much easier to control, but I’m learning! It has been a long process.
He has a very practical way of looking at things, but at the same time is very passionate about what he believes. That’s why I feel he is a really great judge, and why he can relate to people so well. This man has accomplished so many great things in his life, most people will never know. He works hard traveling around the country judging trials and giving clinics to help people and their dogs. That is why I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of his hard work. I know there are countless numbers of people around the country who feel the same way about him than I do. So for all of us you have helped and for all our dogs, Thank You Jack Knox!
Jack, the hours of conversation and advice you have given to me are priceless. I am honored to have you as a mentor but most of all to be able to call you my friend!
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