Monday, March 31, 2008

Exhausting Fun

It has been two years since we have experienced the local Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog trial, and over the weekend I realized how much I missed it during the 2007 hiatus. While we were hanging out putting our sore feet up on a bale of hay, a friend commented to me that it was "exhausting fun" and I totally agree with that conclusion. There were many "one for the book" story opportunities that came up over the weekend while I was running scores and doing other "gofer" jobs as they arose.

Friday's runs included the Nursery #1 and Pro-Novice /Nursery #2 runs. The sheep were fresh range ewes and while not unreasonable, they did not tolerate a lot of pressure from dogs but especially not from the humans. I would love to have the opportunity to work this kind of sheep more often.

Bid and I got a score of 35 points in P-N; it's not our best but I was pleased to get 'round the course and to have the opportunity to complete it. He ran out beautifully and brought me the sheep, which is all we can really ask. If you think about it, these darn dogs are amazing, in that they will keep doing this over and over again in different situations that are completely unknown to them. I made a major error, giving him the wrong whistle on the driveaway to the first set of panels. Like the good boy that he is, Bid took that whistle and did what I asked him to do.

Later in the afternoon on Friday a couple of ewes decided that they were being pressured way too heavily by a young dog and they jumped over the fence past the setout crew and over into the neighbors' field. Luckily they did not jump a second time, out of the neighbors' fence. We drove around to block the driveway, meanwhile the setout crew and the Irish judge worked furiously on the recovery operation, which was a complete success despite the light rainfall that had set in after the lunch break. The ewes were soon returned to the proper field and the trial resumed.

By Sunday afternoon the sheep had clearly taken total control of the trial, and were running a lot faster. All of the dogs who competed late in the trial had to show complete composure and control in order to get any kind of a decent run at all.

The judges and crew were all sweethearts to work with and it is a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in helping with a trial with the caliber of dog work that was presented in the Open class.

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