ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Meet Finn Henry. He’s a Sheepadoodle (a mix between an Old English sheepdog and poodle). His mom, News 6 anchor Ginger Gadsden said the 2-year-old pup has a ton of energy.
“We walk him twice a day and they’re long, long walks and he gets playtime in the yard, but he still has tons of energy at the end of the day,” Ginger said.
Ginger said she noticed early on that Finn showed certain characteristics.
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“He was nudging me to the kitchen and to the back door when he wanted to go out. Basically any room I went in, he would headbutt me,” Ginger said.
After a bit of research, Ginger found out Finn was showing traits of herding. To get the pup in his element, she took him to Linden Hollow Sheep Farm in St. Cloud.
“He’s never been around sheep before so I thought, ‘He’s going to see these sheep and chase them and maybe have them for lunch’ but thank goodness they’re trained,” Ginger said.
That’s where Natalie Cole comes in. She’s one of the trainers at the farm. Her grandmother owns the farm and is experienced in canine competitions specializing in sheepdog events.
“Herding is a type of hunting, but it’s more of a gather so you train on their instincts, their prey drive,” Cole said.
With several animals, including a flock of sheep on property, Cole invites dogs, with herding instincts like Finn, to learn how to gather the bunch.
“When we start puppies, we’ll start them in the round pen, on a long line. We teach them to go around the sheep gently, bring the sheep to us, then we mold them into other things we want them to do,” Cole said.
After a couple of classes, Finn is right at home.
“I’m so proud of the way he handled himself and just knew what to do instinctively because it’s in his DNA. He’s half Old English sheepdog, so he wants to herd and that farm allows him to do it ... he’s actually doing a job,” Ginger said.
As Ginger and Finn are learning, it’s not just physical but mental work wrangling the sheep.
“The dog has to learn to pay attention to us and the stock. When the dog is moving the stock they have to do it in a calm manner,” Cole said.
Cole and her grandmother use different whistling noises to give commands to the dog.
“We have a whistle for come by and away, walk up and lie down. Those are all the directions we use for our dogs out there,” Cole said.
Ginger said she’s a proud dog mom.
“I’m really proud to talk about what he’s done and I love showing the video especially the slow motion action shots,” Ginger said.
The video showing Finn taking charge and herding the sheep around the farm. Ginger said he shows all the signs that he is enjoying this new hobby.
“After each class he’s got a smile with the tongue hanging out. He flopped for the ride home, he was exhausted,” Ginger said.