Updated: Feb 3
The creek introduction is the second pasture transition for the pups. I had been waiting for the water level in the creek to drop a bit. This transition is always fun; for me and for the pups.
The pups have been living in a level field. The sheep and lambs spend their days with the pups and then go into their own field at night. Now, with this transition, the pups learn a lot about gravity! Inherent in this transition are many barrier challenges. I let the pups puzzle through these situations. You'll see in the video that the personalities of the individual pups really show themselves.
I allowed the pups to play in this field for about half an hour, which is how long it took them to run out of energy and need a big nap. I like the pups to wake up in a familiar environment, so I took them back to their pasture for the rest of the day.
A couple of days later, Mckenna and Emma supervised the pups in the creek field for close to an hour. So, not only were the pups challenged by the new environment, they were managed by people they are less familiar with; I watched from a distance. We also let the pups investigate without the security of having Sarika with them.
The next creek visit was with the sheep, and their lambs included. Now, as I write this, the pups and their flock have full access to their pasture, the creek pasture, and the lane that is the living area for the sheep. This is a BIG challenge for the pups because they can find themselves in a new area and across a fence line from where their siblings are. That can be scary for the "lost" pups, so I keep a close eye on this situation. I want to challenge the pups to think their way through problems rather than reacting with fear and a lack of confidence, but this needs to be a gently supported process. I'm pleased to report that today the only lost and frustrated baby I have seen was a single lamb. It raced around and made lots of noise, which was not overlooked by the pups! They studied that baby!
Three of the pups had the incredible timing of being just across the fence while one of the ewes gave birth to a set of twins. She's such a gentle, trusting soul that she didn't worry about the presence of the pups, and the pups were wise, given their tender age. They were calm and interested.
The video below shows the pups in the creek field on day #4. They had never been near the sheep when I fed them. The pups responded as every Maremma I have ever met has - with exuberant enthusiasm! It was fun to watch. There was so much activity in the group! I tried to count how many animals were part of this interaction and lost count. This is such a rich and wonderful education for the pups.