Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Andy Anderson

We meet the most interesting people in our travels with the dogs. I shudder to think of the opportunities I would have missed to meet the fabulous people that I know in the world of dogs, if I did not have the dogs. It would be a bleak existence, indeed. One of those very special gems of a dog handler has passed on - Andy Anderson. Andy was a true gentleman, a well-known horseman and a dog handler, and above all a kind soul who did not know a stranger. Always ready with a compliment about your run or a positive comment on the day at the trials, Andy was a familiar figure around the Bay Area with his dogs Bob, Joy, and Spur.  I was very saddened today to find out that Andy has passed away late last week. He will be truly missed by so many. There are so many good memories of Andy down at the Willowside Ranch in Pescadero for AHBA trials, or at the REDSA trials in Northern California. Andy was one of those people that I always looked for at the events and tried to spend time with him. It was always an enjoyable visit. Godspeed, Andy.

Andy's good bitch, Spur
Linda is awarding Andy with the goose egg that was laid literally during Spur's AHBA HRD-geese run!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RESDA Pro-Novice Class, Oak Springs Trial

Last Saturday we had the RESDA Oak Springs Trial. Rather than talk about the Open class first like I normally do, I thought I'd focus on the RESDA-style Pro-Novice class first for once.  The RESDA Pro-Novice class is a training opportunity for dogs and handlers alike, to gain some experience in a trial setting without the formality of running in RESDA Open. (Neither RESDA class has any bearing on a person or dog's status in USBCHA trials.)

George Powell is always videoing us so that we have mementos of our runs as well as a potential training tool for discovering our handler errors, in my case many. He and his Gracie had such a nice run this past Saturday that I thought I'd put up the photos that I took of them (which are nowhere near the quality of his videos!).

George and Gracie head out to the field
George and Gracie go to the "post" which in this case is the pen
Gracie has done her outrun and is picking up the sheep off the stock handler. George has moved up to help her on the outrun.
On the fetch
Bringing the sheep around the pen ("post") which will complete their fetch
Fetch is nearly done
Heading for Panel #1
Setting up Panel #1 (one side has blown over)
Panel 1 complete 
There is a dip in the field to Panel #2 but George and Gracie get it
The chute is optional in this class, but George and Gracie get it!
And they get the pen too! Well done!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Today is Coal's birthday!

Five years of joy! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rime Goes to Boonville

Every dog has his day. Sort of.

Rime got his first chance on the Boonville Green last Saturday. Following the Open eliminations trial for the upcoming Mendocino Fair, the RESDA "pro-novice" dogs got a turn on the Johnson ewes. I was really looking forward to getting Rime out on those sheep (which he has worked before, out in the open field at the Johnson ranch) and on that field (where he has never worked before). Thanks once again to Teri Tucker for these photos.

Rime and I head to our spot behind the pen, to begin
There was a problem up top. The sheep didn't want to come out of the chute. We must've stood and waited for our sheep for many minutes. It was not easy for a baby dog. I kept walking Rime around and trying to stay loose. Finally our sheep were set and I sent Rime out to the right. He ran out nicely but seemed to be cutting in a bit. I stopped him and blew him out. He bent out nicely - good boy. Then I noticed the wind was blowing and that the tarps on the end of the arena were flapping.

Rime starts a crossover to avoid the blowing tarps
Arghghgh, too bad, there goes the nice outrun. Rime did not like the blowing tarps and spooked. I urged him on around and the ewes gathered in a knot and started to stand up to him. By then I was hiking up the field to help.

Rime considers whether he is willing to go around the ewes and face up to both them and the tarps
Finally we got the sheep collected. He was under control. I liked it!  But then it was a long hike back for me to the pen so we could complete our fetch.

Rime holding the side that the sheep want to run to

Rime is listening while I hike back to the pen and we complete our gather
Finally we completed our turn around the pen and headed for the first panel. We are back on course. 

Thru the first panel!
Setting up the second panel nicely with Rime
See the tarps still blowing!
No more photos but we made the second panel just fine and walked that long walk again back to the pen. We gave the pen a couple of tries and I retired. I wanted Rime to have a good, no great, experience on his first trip to the Boonville as a participant dog. And the ewes wanted desperately to book to the exhaust pen in the lower corner. I didn't want Rime to have a blow up so we didn't push our luck. I was really pleased with him. We put the sheep into the exhaust and called it a day. Good boy, Rime!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mendocino Eliminations RESDA Trial

Not a form of digestive upset, except for some of  the handlers (grin), the RESDA eliminations trial last Saturday was a sort of "tryout" to narrow the field from 24 open dogs to 8 for the finals at the Mendocino County Fair sheepdog trial to be held on September 18th. Always a big draw for the sheepdog trial fans in Boonville, the eliminations is a hotly-contested race to see who can make it into that elite eight during the fair. A beautiful buckle and prize money and mainly bragging rights, are all at stake in September.

I have never made it into the Mendocino finals. Most years I have never even tried to enter this nearly-mythical race. This year I thought I should try as Coal is doing pretty well in the RESDA world, middle of the pack most times and would do better if I could clean up my perpetual handler errors. But on Saturday we had one of those magic runs that you dream about. Hardly a hoof or paw out of place.

Coal ran dog #9 out of 24 dogs so I had to wait all day to see his score and if his run would hold up. I was fairly certain it was good but I wasn't certain about how judge and longtime handler/rancher Nancy Todd would see it from up in her perch in the judge's stand.

When the trial was over, Coal was the eliminations trial winner. He got 57 points out of a possible 60! I was shocked and delighted. I about wore out my "thank you" responding to everyone's congratulations. It was just a great run and it was all the dog...and I didn't do anything stupid. I am really thankful for such a wonderful dog who clicked in at the right time on the wily Johnson ranch woolies. We were definitely in that elite eight for the first time. Wow! Photos by Teri Tucker - thank you!

Coal's lift - straight down the arena center towards me

Coal on the fetch on the Boonville Green
We have turned the post (pen) and completed our fetch, and started to the first panel
Thank you, Dee S., I am at this point channelling your long-ago advice, "defense, DEE-fense!" to the first panel.
And the second panel is neatly completed.

Coal bringing them steadily toward the chute
Thru the chute they buttah!
At the pen, breathing...
And in! Yes!
And that's how we came to have a nearly-clean run.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NCWSA Scottish Games Pleasanton CA, Labor Day Weekend

Just a reminder that entries are open for the Caledonian Club's Scottish Games NCWSA sheepdog trial, September 3-4 (Labor Day weekend), at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, CA. Come and join us for a good trial with a challenging and fun new courses.

Sheepdog Trial Entry Link

Sheep Dog Trials at the Games

This link to the Caledonian Club of San Francisco gives you just a taste of the other highlights of the weekend's Highland Games.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More Sonoma County Fair 2011Photos - Sheep Theme

Coal at the sheepdog trial (photo by Marcie G.)

Trial sheep from the Johnson ranch, Mendocino County (photo by Marcie G.)

In the Hall of History for the 75th Fair Anniversary

North Bay Wool Growers' booth in the Hall of History

4-H booth in the Hall of History

License plate outside the sheep shearing contest

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sonoma County Fair 2011 Sheepdog Trial

Here are some photos that  my friend Marcie G. took of Coal and me at last Saturday's RESDA sheepdog trial at the Sonoma County Fair.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sheep Shearing Contest

The 75th Anniversary of the Sonoma County Fair is under way.

Today I went to watch the sheep shearing contest. Some of the best shearers in the country, if not in the world, participate in this competition. Here are a few photos:

Getting ready - picking out the sheep to use in the contest
3 shearers working at once

Competition shearer
Blade shearing

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dog Hair is My Favorite Condiment

"Dog hair is my favorite condiment" was a phrase overheard at the handler's lunch potluck this past Saturday. I am quoting it with permission from its original source too! We were all hungrily gathered around in a cool kitchen to seek relief from the blistering heat outside at the Last Chance SDT up in Tulelake/Malin on the Cal/Oregon border. And what a tasty potluck it was too. I didn't find any dog hair in my lunch, but then I wasn't being too particular at that point either. Thanks Amy for the great quote!

One of the highlights of any trip up to that area is a much-appreciated stop at the Grass Lake rest area on route 97 at about 5,000 feet elevation. It has one of the nicest places to walk your dogs and get them out of their car crates for a few minutes when you are on a long trip. And it also has beautiful vistas of what is truly a lake made of grass. There are some beautiful tall trees and who would have thought - sea gulls - panhandling from picnickers. It also gives you a chance to walk around and start to adjust to the huge change you have just made in altitude.

Stopping at Grass Lake
The other highlight of the drive is of course all of the many different views that we get of Mt Shasta. There are just not words and certainly no cruddy photo from my phone does it justice.

Miss Mt Shasta in all her glory!
The Last Chance trial was a no-frills version but fun and of course very ably run with some of the most experienced trial organizers in the country doing all of the honors. The sheep were awesome not-quite-yearling replacement fine-wool ewe lambs belonging to the Rowleys. It was a very challenging trial. I was glad to see everyone that I normally do not see until the early spring events more local to me such as Zamora and Sonoma Wine Country. Sorry I do not have any actual sheepdog trial photos. It was so hot out I didn't even think about getting my camera out of the car...the heat does funny things to my brain. Coal and I did not do very well, but then the fine wools are the type that brings out his extreme eye the most and we have no chance to practice on that type of sheep. So I am trying to look at the whole thing as a practice and I have another long list of things to work on. We were very graciously hosted by dear friends and that certainly made the weekend. I hadn't been up to that area since the 2009 Finals and I hope to get back up there before the 2012 Finals! It is certainly a wonderful place to be for a dog trial.