Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the River, July 24-26

My friend, Ron Green came over from the Spokane area to run in the "On the River" trial which was being held at Acme, which is north of Sedro Woolley. I had to go to work for part of Thursday so while I was at work, Ron hitched up the trailer and got it ready to go. We had gone grocery shopping the night before so we were fine in the food department. Janet would be headed up later that day and we were all camping together. Ron had brought Kane to run in PN and Tigr to run in PN and Nursery. I had entered Nan and Lucy in Open and Janet entered Scott in PN. The trial started on Friday and would run to Saturday and the top twelve Open dogs would advance to the Double Lift on Sunday.

Ron drove up to the site and for most of the way we were tailed by police. We didn't get pulled over but we sure were glad all the lights were working properly. We arrived late afternoon and had our choice of prime spots and set up. Since my trailer is missing the awning, we set up a pop up. By the time Janet arrived, camp was set and we then set up her pop up. We had the new picnic table and the new stove all set up. Numerous chairswere set about as well as several ice chests. The fridge was crammed full of food and we had lots of Mike's Hard Limeade and Lemonade. We travel in style.

Next to the camp was a huge field for the dogs to run and just down the field was a river. It was quiet and very calming and good to be away from the city. I grilled Bratwursts for dinner and we had rollups and drinks and soon we were not only full but happy. It was warm but not overly hot. Ron pitched his tent and Janet and I took over the trailer and we all settled down for the night. I had just got a Honda quiet 2K generator and it was the first time we used it and it was quite nice.

Friday was early and the mist was still on the field as we meet for the handler?s meeting. Open was the first class up and then PN and Nursery. Bill Berhow was the judge.

The Open outrun was close to 500 yards and over a dip and the dogs would lose sight of the sheep for a bit. They would pass the setout on their way up the field. The field was freshly mowed and the trial site was stunning. Half of the sheep were just taken off Decatur Island and never worked by dogs and the other half was the farm flock. They were wily Scotties and great sheep to work. I really enjoyed the sheep.

Nan was the first of my Open dog to run and she went out fast and wide. She had a nice lift but the sheep tried to sprint back to the setout. She would take my come bye flanks but would not hold the pressure. We finally got the sheep back on line at the fetch gates. She had a nice turn at the post and her drive was pretty good but wobbly in a couple of places. We got the shed in seconds and it was a great shed. The sheep were in the mouth of the pen and going in when two of the lamb actually squeezed through the bars of the gate and escaped. Every time we would pen the sheep up, they would try to sneak through the gate opening and soon we ran out of time. We got a 66 for the score, with 0 off for the outrun, lift and shed. We lost 16 for the fetch, 8 for the drive and 10 for the pen.

Lucy was much later in the day when it was blazing hot. She was focused on the sheep in the exhaust behind me and not pay attention to the sheep in from of her. I finally got her looking for the sheep and sent her. She took a step forward and did a turn about and tried to get the sheep in the exhaust. I gave her a correction and she finally got going in the right direction. As she passed the stout, she then turned and ran to it and tried to get the sheep in the setout. I was able to call her off and tried to send her forward to the sheep at the setout area. She would not advance past the setout and would run up and down an imaginary line and refused to go up the field. I called her off and was very disappointed on how she refused to go up the field.

There were some great runs by Candy Kennedy with her Moss, being one with a screaming score of 91. Yes, 91 points and it was a wonderful run. He is one nice dog. Candy and Jan Heermann came all the way up from California to run in a few trials. We enjoyed meeting them and it was nice have two new trial friends.

Dirk laid down an awesome run with Amos and snagged a 89 for his efforts. Jim and Zot rallied and scooped up third place with 85. We placed in the top third. About 30% of the run either RT or DQ.

Ron ran Tigr and Kane and both were fast and not listening well. It was dead in the middle of the afternoon, very hot and the sheep just wanted to bed in the shade. Janet ran Scott who would not flank on the fetch and she had some issues on her run. It was not a good day for all of us.

We all sat around after the runs and discussed what went right (not much) and what we needed to do to have good runs on Saturday. Dinner was a catered affair by the river. Tess was my dinner buddy since she didn’t run in the trial. Janet and Ron were the other dinner folks. Quite a few handlers went to the dinner. Lamb chops and chicken were the main dishes, with tons of tasty side dishes. Tess was happy to eat my leftover. To my horror, Janet pointed out that Tess was straddling the grill that the meat was cooked on earlier and was licking it clean. It was on the ground and I am sure Tess thought she died and went to heaven. I called her off and noticed the charcoal grill marks on her otherwise white pristine chest!! Dessert was a cherry cobbler and I had two servings. It was awesome and I hope that I can get the recipe.

Saturday was hot and all the handler scrambled under the tent. The sheep having been on the course were suddenly wise to the draws and any weakness in the handling soon began to show. PN was first and Ron ran an excellent, almost picture perfect run with Tigr which held for all day. He got his first Nursery leg as well as first place in Nursery and PN. Both Nursery and PN were run as one class. Kane was on the muscle but quickly decided that listening to his down was in his best interest and had a good run. Janet and Scott had a good run, a bit off on the fetch but overall a nice, flowing run and was something to be proud of.

Lucy was my first dog up in Open and I was a bit concerned about her outrun. The day before she never found her sheep and was also drawn by the sheep in the exhaust behind her. I sent her and she turned to the sheep in the exhaust and I gave her a hard correction then she flanked out properly and I shhh her. Just before she reached the setout, I blew hard, fast away flanks so she would not get caught up by the setout. She had a brief hesitation but went on and at the very end of the setout, she stopped and turned into the same area as the day before. I stopped her and flanked and she cut in and so I stopped her and blew a hard flank and she looked back and then took off. She was slow to start but then picked up speed when she saw her sheep. I let her lift on her own and she brought them to my feet and she had a nice turn at the post. Her drives were solid and I had her lean into the sheep as they would stall if the dog was put on a down. She had very nice turns and came into the shedding ring with vigor. She had a stunning shed and then a great pen and I was very happy with her. We both looked at each other at the end of the run and she smiled with pleasure. I gave her a quick hug and then she bounced off to the water tub. Her score was a 74, points off were 7 for her outrun, 0 for her lift, 5 for the fetch, 8 for the drive, 0 for the shed and 6 for the pen.

Nan was last and it was early evening and blazing hot. The clouds rolled in and huge lightning bolts lit up the sky and the roll of thunder made the ground quiver. Nan is deathly afraid of thunder and gun shots. But her love for me, kept her fast to my feet and we walked up to the post. I saw the huge whites of her eyes as they began to bugle out and she shook with fear. She looked up the field and I sent her with a sssh and a good girl. She ran like a bat out of hell.

I gave her a couple of flanks to let her know that I was still with her as the noise of the thunder kept on. She didn’t need the flanks but needed the reassurance more. I saw her dig in and run harder and she got to the top with ease and came on strong to the sheep. She had a nice lift and they were a tad offline but she quickly got them back online. She was fast but brought them straight to me and I slowed her down at the post.

The storm ceased for a minute and she had a nice, slow turn at the post and then her drive was amazing. She was leaning hard on the sheep but kept them on line and under control. I blew a few steadies that she took, a brief hitch up but still connected to me. She turned then neatly at the crossdrive and into the ring for a textbook shed. It began to thunder again and the skies lit up like the Fourth of July. We marched the sheep up to the pen and as they stood in the mouth, it crashed a huge thunder, the ground trembled and I felt like the ground would open up and we would fall in. The sheep filed in and Nan held her ground. Her eyes were still wide and I called her to me and gave her a big huge and she relaxed.. She was hot and a bundle of nerves and I was dizzy.

Dirk got me a bottle of water and my heart finally quit shaking so hard and I got dizzy from the heat. It was a hard run for Nan and I. As soon as she was cooled off, we ran for the trailer as the rain began to fall and the thunder began to be more frenzied. The audience gave a huge round of applause as it was a stunning run and put it us second place, just one point behind first place. It was an 87. Outrun lost 2, lift was 1, fetch was 4, drive was 4, shed was 1 and nothing off her pen.
Her score was 87 and first place was 88. With that high score, we made it into the Double Lift.

I put Nan in a crate and she flipped the crate and peed from being so scared so I took her out and I held her n my arms as we laid on the bed. She was panting and shaking and I talked to her and she slowly began to calm down even though it still was thundering and raining. I got up and she laid on the bed. I went to let Ron in the trailer and as he grabbed the trailer handler, he jumped. I saw the door glow for a second it heard a huge thunder crash. A bolt of lightning hit several trees by the setout, burned the trees and fried part of the setout. Dirk had put the sheep into exhaust pen for the night as if they were in the setout, they would have not made it. Ron got jolted from the electricity shock from the metal and all the dogs jumped in the trailer. I just happened to be standing on a rug and had my hand on a bench wood. Lucy was spooked in the trailer but not as bad as Nan. Tess jumped a bit but was not afraid of thunder.

We had dinner which was huge burritos. Nan was still too scared and on the bed to eat her dinner but the scent of my burrito drew her off the bed and next to me. It was still raining and thundering and the fact she was not freaking out and staring longingly at my burritos was a good sign. So, I feed her little bits of my burrito and she ended up eating half of it and soon was at ease. She then polished off her dinner and began to relax. Tess had jumped to the bed and was snoozing so Nan then joined her as well as Lucy and soon all three dogs were asleep. Kane, and Tigr were outside and fine. It was muggy in the trailer and we kept the windows wide open.

The Double Lift was the top twelve combined Open scores and Nan was in with a nice score.

They did the draw for the Double Lift and we were in 11th pace to run. Sunday was goingto be a tight day for me as I had to run in the Double Lift and go to Joe and Heather’s wedding in the late afternoon.

That night, I was in bed with three dogs curled around me. Nan was still a tiny bit nervous and did some heavy panting but not freaking out. I dreamed on not embarrassing myself in the Double Lift as I did the last time I was on this field.

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