This is Kirk’s newest toy, aka farm work vehicle. It is already really coming in handy for buzzing down to the pasture with things inconveniently heavy to carry. The suspension is just so much better, compared to the tractor, which has none. And, it’s fun too. So what do you think Kirk is doing here?
He’s fashioning a custom-fit, comfortable traction mat in the back equipment rack, so that he can teach his pal Maggie to ride on the back. 😉 This may be a challenge, and we’ll see how well we stick to the idea of teaching her to do this. I’ve certainly seen farms where lots of Border Collies pile on the back of an ATV, and even stay on it until given permission to disembark. It’s a nice way to prevent accidentally running over them with the ATV, and keeps them organized when going through gates etc. Plus, it’s just cute, and most dogs think it’s fun.
But, Maggie is very sensitive about moving things, she finds them very scary. We tried holding her gently in the rack while Kirk drove very slowly, but she was acting so terrorized it was clear she was not in “learning mode” and would leap out of it the moment I let go of her. So, we switched tactics, instead working on incremental progress. The idea is to teach her to get in and out of it on her own, then tolerate the engine noise, next tolerate a moment or two of slow movement, and gradually move up to having her ride it. For Maggie (and probably all dogs), she does best if she feels in control of the scary things, instead of being subjected to them.
So, here is Kirk, holding a toy, while Maggie is practicing sitting still of her own free will, on the rack, waiting for her toy to be thrown. Within minutes, he had her willingly jumping into the rack, lying down and waiting for permission to leap after the thrown toy. We’ll do a lot of repetitions of this before getting her to try tolerating a little movement. But fortunately she is so toy-motivated, she will do almost anything to get you to throw a toy for her.
We worked with Gene on it a little bit too, using treats, since that is Gene’s best motivator. Gene is much less sensitive about moving things, so might take to this faster. And the competition doesn’t hurt either, Maggie quickly overcame her apprehension when she saw how much praise and attention Gene was getting for sitting politely in the rack!-)