Monday, May 16, 2016

Bits 'N' Pieces, and Early May

Spot works the Scotties (mostly)
I'll post the cute picture of Spot first so that if anyone doesn't want to read the boring and rambling text that follows, they may choose to do so. :)

Early May has sometimes not been kind to me, I realized. I've now lost three dogs in a row in the week or two surrounding Mothers' Day. It's not that I'm dwelling on losing Chiefie but it is a big part of day-to-day, still. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

We went to the Mothers' Day trial at Spencer's yesterday. It was a very nice trial, a beautiful sunny and not too hot day in early May, and so good to see everyone. Since I haven't been to any of the spring trials in the area, it was great to catch up with all the trialling friends and spend some time visiting.  I had fun and the meal was great. There was BBQ tri-tip and many salads and lovely ice cream. :) Many folks offered their condolences about Chiefie, which is great. The dog people really "get it". But this also brought my mind back around to Chiefie for a good part of the day. Everyone is so kind, though. It was a good day.

But, it was also a sort of sad day wrapped around another (now) aging dog. Coal is 9, coming 10 in August. I entered him in the Open trial at Spencer's just for fun, to see what we could do. Lately he has not been wanting to take much direction from me at a distance, although he is still keen to work. At the trial there was a dog-leg fetch and he would not take direction from me to make that fetch. Had the fetch been the traditional straight-to-the-handler style, we would have been fine. :) After the post turn he seemed a bit fizzled, would not take his flanks and we bobbled the first panel. I decided it was time to walk off with dignity, so I turned around and thanked the judge and we RTed. I am not upset. I knew it was 50-50, based on what Coal has been doing at home, that this would be the outcome. I am a little sad but not upset. He has been a great trialling partner and taught me so much. Coal is still healthy, relatively sound, and still keen to work (although sort of on his own terms). He will do any job you ask, and is fairly obedient close at hand. We will hold sheep for others to practice their outruns, and still work and do chores, but not trial. It's OK as I had not planned to travel to any of the summer trialling opportunities in Oregon and Washington, anyway.  The painful part is that I now have two dogs who can't trial, and one who is not quite ready. That's the way it goes when you don't have a whole kennel full of dogs.  This is another thing that many of the dog people just "get".

Watching the trial, I have noticed that I see things more that I did not see before. I watched people setting up their sheds: those who made it look pretty and those for whom it did not go so well. I saw tight flanks, good flanks, and running sheep and quietly walking sheep. I'm just taking it all in. I think my eye has been developed a whole bunch this year, in this direction. I may not have a kennel full of trial dogs but I am getting better at recognizing good work when I see it. That's a good thing. :)

We're heading into the second half of May, now, which means foxtail season is here. Lots of work to do both on the ground and with getting Spot prepared to be a trial dog, eventually. Spot and I have a couple of clinics on our calendar, so that he can get some more exposure to new places. This kind of crazy disjointed and unpredictable year - 2016 - just rolls on.

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