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A working dog’s life

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By Brad Bowman

Adriana Plum wants everyone to have fun including her animals.

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Plum will bring her working Australian Shepherds and ducks to the Harvest Showcase Saturday for herding and agility demonstrations.

Plum started training Certik, her Australian Shepherd, 10 years ago. Four championship titles later as the Most Versatile Aussie by the Australian Shepherd Club of America, Certik and Plum enjoy the tranquility of their Jackson Road farm.

“Whatever you work with cattle, sheep or ducks you have to treat them fairly,” Plum said. “If you don’t treat them fairly they will shut down on you and they won’t want to work. I got the ducks about two weeks ago. I want to make it fun for them, the people (at the demonstration) and my dogs. I want to have fun as much as anyone. The ducks’ reward for going through the obstacle course will finish with them jumping in a pool and that is their favorite part.”

Plum said the ducks and her dogs build a relationship based on trust and respect.

The ducks must get used to Certik herding them and trust that he won’t bite them.

Plum credits Certik for their success in the early training and competing years. Her She and her husband had dogs on their farm and after performing chores with livestock she noticed that Certik had mindfulness and wanted to work.

“I had no idea of all the different sports and competitions once I started working with them,” Plum said. “I talked to people and learned. He is a herding champion, obedience champion, agility champion and trekking dog, and utility dog. He is my first dog and he taught me everything.”

Plum breeds Certik once a year. Certik has sired puppies from Switzerland to Germany. Plum will not let him compete anymore, but his son Misko already is a herding champion.

“I want to get Misko’s championship in agility. Before I had kids I could go and travel a lot. I don’t go as often as I used to, but it is my time with my dogs,” Plum said. “There is no Aussie club here in Kentucky, so we travel a lot for herding and agility competitions and Ohio has a club too.”

Plum said the more titles she puts on her dogs the more proven they are as champions.

“Anyone can say, ‘My dog can herd or my dog can trek,’ but the trial proves that,” Plum said. “At home a dog may be able to do it, but take them somewhere they have never been like to a livestock trial in Muncie, Ind. They see sheep or ducks and it is completely different for them. The dog has to herd ducks he has never seen before, other dogs are barking and that is the challenge.”

Plum trains with a whistle and voice commands. One of the most vital things Plum uses for training is verbal correction.

“The dog has to learn two important words: yes and no,” Plum said. “No is very important. If you say,’ Don’t do this,’ or use something else they don’t learn. Always use the same word ‘no’ or ‘yes’ keep it simple.”

Plum uses a training whistle with different calls to signify different commands.

“With herding you can use voice or whistle,” Plum said. “It’s difficult to learn to use the training whistle. I still have problems with it. They say when you use your voice and yell at your dog something it is full of emotion, but a whistle isn’t. Instead of using your voice, Misko responds better to it.”

Plum works as a 4-H Dog Club Leader. She will coordinate with Henry County Extension Agent Cathy Toole for 4-H youth development in the fall.

“Having a dog is a lot of commitment and requires time. Everything needs to be fun,” Plum said. “Dogs are like kids you cannot come to the club meeting and then not practice with them at home and not do anything. It is a big commitment. It is good for kids. We teach them things like how to care for their dogs.”

For more information visit Plum’s website at: www.turkeyrunfarm.com

Or contact Cathy Toole at (502) 845- 2811.