Tilly (Starvon Valkyrja Mist for Bowkol), at 2 years old, is our youngest dog, and the first dog I have ever deliberately chosen for her potential as a working Vallhund. Happily she is developing into exactly what I wanted, having had experience of working Loki and Megan, and knowing what characteristics I was looking for and the type of work I wanted her to do.
Was this just a happy accident? Of course some of it was luck on my part, but I also think there are certain things to bear in mind that can increase your chances of choosing a good working Vallhund.
Not all Vallhunds have a herding instinct; some are just not interested, whilst some are actually afraid of livestock. Whilst it may be possible to nurture an instinct, so that the dog eventually ‘turns on’ years later, (such dogs may indeed eventually gain herding titles), that doesn’t mean they are necessarily good workers in the ‘real world’. Some have a strong ‘heeling’ instinct, but would much rather that they worked together with you, and are really not happy to go to the heads of stock or stand their ground when challenged. Then there are some dogs (Loki) that seem to only find their true place in the world once they have started to work.
What I was personally looking for was a dog of real use as a practical ‘chore’ dog and useful Farmers companion. I had in mind certain criteria.
Read more: Wanted - Puppy for Work!
A great deal has happened since June 09 when I & our two Vallhunds – Loki [Starvon off the Cuff for Bowkol] & Megan [Castleavery Gold Gaiety for Bowkol] ventured up to Pickering to begin our Herding training with ‘All Breeds’ herding trainer Jackie Goulder. [In photos below, Loki is the ‘bob tailed’ Vall, Megan has a ‘full Spitz tail’.]
We found that both dogs had inherited a strong herding instinct. Loki was very biddable, Megan less so. Loki found it harder to ‘bounce back’ after correction whilst Megan remained unperturbed by such things. Work in the round pen had made them calmer around sheep, there was less barking, more steadiness. Megan was prepared to nip & pull wool if a sheep challenged her, Loki generally didn’t need to.
Read more: Herding Trials and Tribulations!