Dancing Hearts Blog

Working Sheepdog Partnership Transformed

Janis and Bryn: Personal Story of Transformation

Bryn as an adorable 6 week old puppy

(This is a guest blog by Janis Reuter)

Here I sit. A moment for contemplation of the journey Bryn and I began a year ago with Kathy’s Magic of Partnership. Killiebrae Bryn, a sweet and strong border collie with much natural ability for stock dog work, came home two years ago. In choosing Bryn my hopes were for a dog I could work on our small sheep farm and train both of us to participate in Stock Dog Trials.

My frustration and lack of understanding of how to work WITH my Bryn rather than AT her was interfering with any real progress

My first year with Bryn I worked at learning the “in’s and out’s” of trial training. She took to farm work eagerly and we learned to move, sort and gather sheep, push them through chutes and generally get the chores done. Our biggest struggle was my reliance on book learning (as well as DVDs!) to teach myself how to train for trialing. Oops! My reliance on my academic abilities didn’t quite cut the mustard when it came to all the dynamics of sheep, dog and human. My frustration and lack of understanding of how to work WITH my Bryn rather than AT her was interfering with any real progress.

Consistent coaching turned out to be all the difference.

Bryn at 9 months, eager to learn.We met Kathy a number of years ago but the distance to her home made connecting with her as a teacher difficult. Then we got the opportunity to have her here as she passed on the way to trials further west. Once we got those first lessons Bryn and I decided we needed to make it work to participate on a regular schedule with Kathy. Those first few months taking on the dedication to consistently use Kathy’s method were an eye opener! Bryn began to really partner with me, a joy for both us. I can not find the words to describe the sense of growing accomplishment and skill as that partnership deepened. We now work with Kathy on a regular basis, including video lessons over the winter. It is making a world of positive difference!

Clarity, Communication, Competence, Commitment and Coaching. Kathy’s 5 Cs. The essential ingredients creating a working partnership. I’m now going “backwards” here. Kathy’s ability as a coach is outstanding. I might mention I am quite a fussbudget about teaching competency. In my first career I supervised, managed, educated through classes and workshops. I understand the difficult task of teaching well. Kathy is a highly competent stock dog handler and a highly competent coach and teacher.

The 5Cs structure is such a strong foundation for learning skill and developing partnership.

This structure provided me with a comprehensive way to organize my goals, my process and kept me in mind constantly of the importance of partnering with Bryn.

A strong foundation is in place.

Bryn driving sheep across the pastureSo now, a year later, my foundation with Bryn is strong and we are learning together how to work those sheep! My frustration and impatience can be held in check. We are communicating and working together to gain competence with the active support and presence of extraordinary coaching. I am committed to working manageable goals rather than jumping from step A to step Q! Stepping back and insuring I clearly understand both my needs and Bryn’s has made a world of difference. Last year I and Bryn both often ended up with mindless hectic action. This year we are well on our way, running Novice Trials, doing our farm chores capably and staying calm and connected.

We want to continue developing our partnership and gaining handling and working skill. We plan on succeeding in our current Novice goals and moving on to pro-novice trialing. Most importantly, I want to ensure I continue to deepen my patnerships with Bryn, my sweet Kayza and wild man Reid! Each of these partnerships look different, feel different and each has it’s own rewards. We are all experiencing a way more contented yet focused life these days. HOORAY.


Here’s what I would LOVE for YOU to do for each Personal Story of Transformation published here:

Show your appreciation. Send supportive comments. Share your similar experiences. These brave and wonderful women love their dogs with all of their heart, and would love to feel your gratitude for their willingness to share.

Get Your Free Copy of the 5 C’s that helps Janis: “5 Step Formula for Dog Training Success!”

One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope this will work for my and my dog too.
    I’m looking forward on starting this way of live with her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *