Friday, October 16, 2015

Sheepdog Fantasy Camp

In the past several weeks, I have been away at what I am lovingly calling Sheepdog Fantasy Camp. It has been very hard to come back to Earth, this week, and work a full five-day week at my Real Job. Oh my.

First we went to the USBCHA National Finals. We had an absolute blast.

Friends ran their dogs at the Finals for the first time and we cheered them on!

My boys had fun!

We sponsored a great dog!

Coal and I worked as hazers on the double lift final day!

My ancient point-and-shoot Fuji camera caught these cool water drops as our sponsored dog exited the field on the Semifinal day..

More friends ran their dogs who happen to be almost family!
More friends ran their dogs! It was a great time! 
Oh, the Finals. We were there for one day of prelims, the semi-finals day, and the final double-lift day. We saw the polar bear hide at the Niles. Oh my. We got caught up in the excitement of the Calcutta (but managed to keep our hands under the table so that we did not get called on for a bid) and cheered Elgar on, receiving his well-deserved silver buckle for being the Supreme Sheep Spotter, ever for all time at least in the West. We saw some great dog and handler team work. The sheep were really nice, but touchy, and they tested the dogs. I ran into an old friend who I totally did not expect to see in that setting and it was great to greet her and her husband. Amazing things happened. My friends did very well with their nursery dogs; I was so proud of them. Oh and the geographic setting was outrageously beautiful.

I guess you could say that I had a great time at the Finals.

Back to work for four short days and then we were immersed with both feet into four days of Derek Scrimgeour clinic. I had Spot entered all four days in a working slot. The piggy bank will need to be replenished but it was worth it.  I am going to have to write more about the clinics; they were fantastic.

"Give him two more years... "

Then back to work for four more hard days and I drove to Chico in the evening, after work, for the Patrick Ranch sheepdog trial in Durham. I have not done something like that in many years, or at least when I was much younger. But I made it OK. Oh my. Sheepdog fantasy camp leads a person into stretching what were formerly known as boundaries!

Patrick Ranch was our first dog trial since Dry Lake in May and I knew I would feel rusty. I also remembered what happened last year with those tough little sheep and I tried to prepare mentally for them so I wouldn't act so rusty even if I felt that way. Suffice to say I was happy with our performance, much happier than last year's when I was feeling really badly physically.  Coal was too slow and nice to the sheep on the first day but did much better on the second day, putting in a nice gather and drive, only to have us run out of time in the shedding ring. We will do better next time. Coal is nine years old now and I am guessing that this is our final swing through the local-ish trials and I am just enjoying my time with him on the field, as much as I can. He is peppy and enthusiastic and fit. All things to be thankful for. :-)

Spot......was entered in his first ever Pro-Novice run on those tough sheep. I did not have high hopes and was resolute to use it as training time and work him just as we did in the Derek clinics. In his first run he surpassed all expectations and put in a clear round for 5th place and we even penned. Woo hoo!  So very pleased with the young boy and hopeful for his future. The second day's run was disappointing; Spot apparently got spooked by one of those aggressive sheep. It was not to be our day. I did not see that he did anything really wrong to cause one of the sheep to come after him but it is my understanding that is what happened. We have confidence building to work on and many other things, over this winter. I was so proud that all of his criteria from his training held up though, on the trial field and on non dog-broke sheep. Derek told me to give him two more years...I believe it will be worth it.

Spot penning at Patrick Ranch in his first-ever PN run!
I'm super grateful for friends who took care of Chiefie so that I could travel to the Finals and to the Patrick Ranch trial. Chiefie just does not travel that well any more. On October 5th, he had a birthday and turned 14 years old...I must get a new picture of the whole gang soon.

The other surprise was how well Ryme handled all the travel and contact with other dogs and people. It was amazing to see Ryme seek attention from people he does not know. He also worked exhaust at Patrick Ranch and was nonplussed by the naughty sheep but more importantly by being out and about with all the working dogs and their handlers. I was really thrilled by this development in my troubled boy toward being so much more comfortable in the world. Wow!

There is a lot more to write but at least I got started. Whew. Sheepdog fantasy camp... you were fantastic!! :-)

1 comment:

Maureen Lyons said...

What a whirlwind of learning, great accomplishments, new adventures, friendship and fun all rolled up into a couple of weeks! I'd wish that it was like this for you all the time, but... would you survive it? ;o) Very happy you enjoyed a fantastic fantasy camp!