Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whidbey Island – Saturday - Part Two

Since I am not a morning person, I was slow to get up at before the crack of dawn, so I slept in for another 10 minutes, then made my way carefully down the ladder to solid ground. The girls went for their morning potty run as I sipped the hot java that Jeanne had brewed. She woke up way before me and must have a good dose of the morning genes in her DNA as my DNA is loaded with evening genes.

Cyril Roberts of Wales was the Judge. He will also be judging the trial at Sue and George’s the following week. Cyril has judged many trials in the UK and the Welsh Nationals. Cyril is a shepherd and we were glad to welcome him back. He had judged about four years ago and he did not laugh too hard at me back then. I ran Tess in Open and Roo in Nursery.

The Handlers meeting was at 7:45, the first run was on deck at eight, and I was fifth place up with Tess. The sheep were set on top of a hill, about 450-500 yards away. As you looked up the field, the setout was to the left and it provided a heavy draw to the sheep. They used five Katahdin ewes and lambs and they were very light and very reactive. The dogs had to be far off the stock and you had to place the dog properly otherwise the sheep would bolt to the set out or down the field to the exhaust. They have been through the routine many times before and were wise to the fact.

Tess shivered in anticipation, her hindquarters stuck up in the air, and she turned her head to me. It has been an old, comfortable routine between us now, she sees the sheep and turns at me, we locked eyes, and our love for each other pierces out hearts. I send her with a shhh, her feet kicked up tufts of dried grass, and clods of dirt and her white tip tail spun side to side with the force of her paws hitting the ground. She swung out, checked her sheep and then swung out wider. The sheep all turned and stared at her as she came around at 11:00 position. She hitched up and then very cautiously began to lift the sheep. She had a nice lift and they ran down the field and started to get offline but she swung on an away and tucked them in, a little too neatly and they skimmed the fetch panels. She had a nice turn around the post, missed the panels, and was a little high on her drive. She marched them into the pen but not before one ewe stood eye to eye to her before she turned to join her companions in the pen. At the shed, she came in quickly like a hot knife on butter and began to hold them but was not the allotted time so we set up the shed again. The sheep were tight as frat boys on a kegger night and refused to yield so we timed out.

Her tongue was long and dripping large drops of sweat as she trotted to the water tub. She soaked in the tub, her eyes bright and sparkling, as she knew she had done a good job. The offline at the top of the fetch, missed panels cost us and we had a score of 64. It was not the winning score but I was very happy on how well the seasoned veteran worked the sheep.

Lucy ran in the middle of the day. She went out at a nice pear shape and had a nice lift. A little bobble at the top but got it set right and the sheep came down to my feet with only 3 points off so far. Then she had a hard time pushing the sheep for the drive. They kept facing her and she would not lean into them but stay off the pressure point and not into the bubble. It was that way all during the drive and the sheep stopped and faced her the entire time. It was quite frustrating as she can do it but chose not to do it that day. She followed the sheep than pushed the sheep through the drive and we lost 16 points. As a result, she did not hold the pressure at the critical time at the pen so the sheep would slip around and around at the pen. We timed out and got a score of 61.

Nan ran at late afternoon and the sheep had been run several times and were getting tired of being the unwilling participants. It showed clearly in the flaring nostrils, the ears twitches and the angry stamping of the hoof. Some had the high-headed attitude of Clint Eastwood’s “Make my Day”. Na started nice and then kicked out wide, deep, and stopped as I told her at the top and then came down with the sheep. She was pushy on the sheep and I had to rein her in to have a steady pace. She had a nice turn at the post, a little low and high on her drive and one missed panel but a very nice drive. The sheep got tired of her push and took a bit of convincing to go into the pen but in the end, she put them in. In the shedding ring, the sheep were tight to each other and we ran out of time. She ran well, was very pleased with herself, and lavished in my praise to her. Her score was 65.

We placed mid pack, I think but I do not have the placings yet so I am not sure. For Sunday, I had to change rethink how I would run the girls and hope they would do better than today. Overall, I was happy on certain aspects of their runs and on other areas, we need to freshen up a bit. They placed in the same area and points off in the same areas so that tells me where I need to work on as homework.

Suzanne and Jet ran in the middle of the day and had a nice run. I do not have the score but he is a very willing dog and calms the sheep. Gayle ran her Kate, who is as old as Tess is and she placed second. Lani ran Blair and he had a smoking run and the crowd went wild at the end of his run. That was very smooth and a joy to watch.

Nursery had some good run and some runs that needed some work. I think there were eight or nine dogs so at least two got a leg. I do not remember who won though. We had a handler’s dinner and there were some great spreads. Jeanne made salmon that was exquisite. There was a yellow rice dish that had sausage that I had to have seconds of and if you made that dish and read this blog, please send me the recipe. It is awesome!! The dessert so were good that I had to have several of them. Night fell quickly and the chilly air began to wrap around out legs so we all headed back to our trailers for the night. As I entered the warmth of Jeanne’s trailer and as well as the warmth of Jeanne’s kindness, I really felt blessed that I had such good handler friends, dogs who loved me and ran well and most importantly of all, my good health.

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