Ever have that feeling that you’re going nowhere, not accomplishing anything?
Apparently dogs have this problem too. Dogs with behavioral problems such as shyness, moodiness, and destruction of the home, histories of abuse, and pent-up energy can actually improve when the dog feels it has a “purpose”!
According to West Magazine (a supplement of the Los Angeles Times), there is a place set aside for doggie daycare and “occupational therapy” called Drummond Ranch. It is located in Acton near the Angeles National Forest, and has a satellite location in Malibu.
Each day before their commutes to work, the dogs are dropped off here by their owners (at considerable expense, partially owing to the fact that Acton is rather far for most Los Angelenos to drive and at $3 a gallon, this is a serious consideration). The cost of the services dogs enjoy at these locations adds another $175 per month to the tab.
What goes on at these special facilities? Well the answer is…sheep herding. Janna Duncan, who runs the operations in Acton and Malibu has 60 sheep which are regularly “rounded up” by the visiting dogs (all varieties of breeds) each day. Apparently the presence of sheep awakens herding instincts in dogs that give them the sense of purpose they seek; they put aside their mental difficulties and concentrate fully on the job to be done. Even Pomeranians can be good herders.
Debbie Chase, whose Golden Retriever/German Shepherd/Chow mix dog James Dean is a regular says: “He was on Prozac. He was so shy and grumpy. He didn’t want to interact with humans or other dogs. But the first time he got in there with the sheep he did all the herding techniques right out of the gate. And he became a different dog.”
The chase is very tiring for both the dogs and the sheep. Dogs are allowed two runs of 10 to 15 minutes of herding per session. And the sheep are rotated as well.
The Malibu location is operates twice a week and is frequented by the dogs of film executives, authors and a surf shop owner. Jennifer Absey whose formerly aggressive German Shepherd Kayleigh is a regular at the Malibu site said “We have our share of industry people here, but no one’s famous or trying to show off their wealth. Besides, if you’re really rich, I guess you just get your own sheep.”
Sounds very L.A. to me.