Not wanting to mess with success, when it came to our turn, I sent Coal to the right again, as I had done on Saturday. He shot off over the hill and out of sight but I didn't worry. He knows those hills, I thought. Soon, however, it was apparent that too much time had passed. Coal must've gotten lost or he'd gone back to the letout pens. More tick-tock...starting to feel my energy drain. I was about to give up and go over to the judge when here Coal came over the top of the hill and lifted the sheep. So yes - he got to them somehow - but had wasted so much time I knew that any hopes of our completing the course today were gone. We completed the fetch and started on the drive; Coal and I were arguing about the whistles and drive lines, the sheep were squirrely in the wind, and I retired after much ado getting to the first drive panel. Enough was enough. I knew we wouldn't even have time to get our drive points finished. I was not unhappy, maybe a little disappointed at not getting to "attack the course" a second time, but not at all unhappy with my dog. We exhausted our sheep and I went back to helping with scores. Later I found out that Coal had indeed gone back to check the setout pens but had not stayed there long - he checked in and realized that wasn't where he was supposed to be - but then moved on to try to find his sheep. I tried to take this as good news!
Later in the day we were asked to help with setout for the first Nursery class. Coal worked pushing the sheep from the letout pens by relay over to the person spotting for the working dogs on the trial field. Coal thought this was great fun and I was happy to do it, again to keep warm instead of freezing in a lawn chair watching the trial.
On Monday we helped with setout for much of the day, for the Pro-Novice and remaining Nursery classes. Luckily, the weather was much improved over Sunday so it was not so unpleasant to be out on top of the hill at the top of the trial field. Coal worked his heart out. He loves working in the pens to push sheep up into the letout. He is quiet in the pens and doesn't upset the sheep, yet doesn't give them any ground. He did not want to quit, when we got a break and someone else took over for a while. I have to give credit to the "heart" in the little dog.
All in all Dunnigan Hills was a very fun trial and I was glad I was able to go. It's our last trial of the 2011 season, so what a wonderful way to close out the year. Thanks to all who made the trial possible!
|Coal - file photo|
photo credit L. Dillon