Saturday, November 8, 2008

Scottish Times of a year ago

Remember last year when I went to the UK for work and a bit of a holiday? I posted pixs of the pups that I brought back. But WAIT, there was more!!

Angie, Kelvin and I went to Bobby Dalziel’s farm for a day. He was giving lessons and I was so pumped to meet Bobby and learn some tips that may help me.

Bobby is a very warm and funny person. He was dressed in comfortable clothes and you would never know that he was an International winner by his clothes or demeanor. He greeted me with a firm handshake and a warm hello and I felt at ease.

Bobby Dalziel

There were students from Europe, a whole gang of them and then us, Angie, Kelvin and I. The weather was cold and overcast and sometimes a bit chilly. It would tease you for a few minutes, duping you into taking off you coat and then the temperature would drop and you would put on your coat and then the cycle would repeat again.

Everyone was working at various levels, from the very basics to more advanced skills. Bobby would work with a person until they were doing the correct skills. It was nice to see how the dogs quickly got it as well as the handlers. Bobby explained the reasoning very clearly and we had lots of “ah ha” moments. Once he explained something in great detail and then we all looked confused and at each other in confusion. He burst out laughing and told us it was a joke. He had all of us on the joke.

He had Jamie, a stunning sable male. We talked about maybe Jamie coming to the States with me and we talked about what sheep, my handling and location. He was honest and said he would not suit me.
On a side note, Angie did get me a son of Jamie this year. Kuro will be a year old in December and is an outstanding working dog. Kuro is long legged, lean and black and white and doesn’t look like his sire but looks like his mother instead.

I questioned Bobby at great length about the US handling or dogs vs. the UK handling of dogs. He said we do not demand a lie down. He went into more detail as we (meaning US) let our dogs slide a step and not drop as asked. If you are working light sheep, or un dogged sheep, or need to make a precise turn, an instant down is critical. Actually, at any time an instant down is required.

He ran a demo with Jamie and a couple of more dogs. All dropped on their bellies when he blew his down. Once when a dog blew through his down, Bobby chased it down and then after that the dog dropped like a rock. He showed us Jamie (a top trial dog) to his work dogs (farm dogs) to a dog that he was staring. All were very obedient.

We learned quite a bit that morning and then Bobby showed us his sheep. He raises numerous sheep, mainly blackface. He had a flock in the pens and sorted some for the pups to work. The ewes were not too happy about being worked but with prompting from Bobby and a farm dog (named Kate, I believe) they were quickly sorted. They are very, very light and ran at the sight of a dog.

Scottish Blackface

Dalziel working his farm dog in the pen to sort sheep.

Still sorting.

Almost done

"Why me?"

Let's all look and stand in one direction.

Bobby explaining something to a guest.

Dalziel's farmdog pushing the sheep through a gate.
The last shove.

After the pups worked, it was time for lunch. We all went back to Bobby and Sheila’s farm. The house is as just a beautiful as it is on their website. We had brought our own lunches but Sheila also added extras to our plate as well as a hot cup of tea. Since we were not paying guests, we sat in the living room while the guests sat at the table. We certainly didn’t expect Bobby to come over and sit with us but he did. We all laughed and had a great lunch.

He is a down to earth person and he told fond stories of his trial days and his dogs. He answered any questions we had on training dogs and I felt welcome at their lovely house. Laughter filled the air and the scent of fresh baked food wandered about and the rain drizzled ever so slightly outside.

View of the kennels from one of the fields

After lunch the other guest went to work their dogs by themselves and Angie got her lessons. She worked several of her dogs and it was enjoyable to watch them work. Bobby was very helpful working on some detailed work as well as handling work. He didn’t stand and tell the person what to do but instead walked them through it and then had them do it and would be next to them as they did the exercise and guided the person as needed.
The training field near the house.

It was a fun and a fruitful day and the sun began to set so we quit. Those are the days that you wish could go on forever. As we drove homeward, we chatted non stop on how much fun we had as well as how much we learned. I never would have thought in a million years, that I would be at Bobby and Sheila Dalziel’s place, learning how to work my dog, eating lunch, laughing at jokes and feeling welcome.

It was one of the many great times that I had when I was staying with Angie and Kelvin in Scotland. I owe a big thanks to Angie and Kelvin for their generosity in taking care of me when I was there. Not to mention, making sure I got my two pups!! Also thanks to Bobby and Sheila for their kindness.

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