Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Shepherding the Sheep at Zamora
On the first day of the Zamora trial (Friday afternoon after the last run of the day was completed) they had a little ceremony to honor the memory of Bill Slaven. Many of the handlers gathered at the trial field and there was a bag piper playing the pipes. Many of the family members were there. They had a couple of enlarged color photos of Bill Slaven, taken there on the ranch. Dusk was starting to settle. Handlers were relaxing, and many had a cold drink in hand. Several of us had our dogs with us and I had Spot there with me on a leash because I’d been giving him a walk after Coal’s run. Spot had never seen or heard a bag piper before and it was a new experience for him, but he didn’t overly react to it.
Dr. Madigan from UC Davis spoke (the same veterinarian who spoke at the funeral) about Bill Slaven. It was a similar speech only shorter and a bit lighter, with remembrances of Bill Slaven and his family, mostly based in the experiences during and following the devastating Zamora fire in 2006.
It was a fairly brief gathering, but very nice. I think it provided some closure to those folks who were unable to attend the funeral. The family had made up little gift bags for each of the handlers, which was very thoughtful.
It was strange though, that during the ceremony, here came the trial sheep out from their holding area, just walking across the field (sort of backwards on the cross drive line). But no one was out there shepherding them, and it seemed like no one had let them out because literally everyone there was gathered ‘round to hear Dr. Madigan. The sheep were just walking and grazing; there was no loose dog out there with them or anything. It was quite a backdrop for Dr. Madigan’s talk. A friend standing by me nudged me with her elbow…whispering, “who do you think is behind those sheep?” It was very fitting. I have to say it was strange being there all day at the trial with no Bill. I kept expecting him to appear on his quad bike, on the first day. The second day was a bit easier. But…who was shepherding those sheep? It is not hard to imagine who.