Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Whirlwind Year

It’s been a crazy year for me. From yet a few more heart surgeries, back to work full time, training dogs and trialing at the Finals, then fall and winter routines. But now, all is calm and quiet and life is good. It was a real struggle in the first half of the year, recovering so that I could have another major surgery and bearing with all the pain. But with good support from the family and friends the second half of the year went much better. Healing makes life so easier and running my dogs make the pain ebb even faster. I remember many times walking slowly up to the post, with my chest in major pain and on heavy duty pain pills, looking down at my dogs and seeing the love in their eyes and the intensity in their face, the pain disappeared and we connected and enjoyed ourselves. When you are doing something you love, you forget the hurt and remember the joy.

I remember brave little Nan running her heart out for me in a thunderstorm. Lightening struck all over the place and my hair was standing on the end from all the electricity in the air. Nan is terrified of thunder but her love for me; she ran and gave me her all. As we penned, a huge thunderbolt lit up the sky and she held her side at the pen. She placed second that day, one point behind first. As we raced off the field to the trailer, the white of her eyes showed and she bolted into my arms in the trailer, trembling with fear. We snuggled, Nan and I and I knew how deeply she loved me.

Lucy ran well for me for just having moving up to Open in March. She has a huge heart and gives all for you. She was the least experienced of my Open dogs but quickly made up for it but her willingness to do what you wanted. Her golden eyes would look at your in love and your heart would melt. She managed to make into two Double Lifts, one with me and one with Scott Glen. She ran game in the one with me and placed quite well considering she never did a Double Lift or International Shed.

This was the year that my Tess retired. She carried me over the many years to be the handler that I am today. She was patient while I flailed on the field. She is not a flashy dog but a steady dog that rates her sheep well and *knows* what to do. Many times, she placed in spite of me. Before each run we would do our country western dance and once an Open handler teased us about it and then after her brillant run, he met me at the gate and asked what was the name of the country western song. Often at the post, we would gaze into each others eyes and *just know*. In the shedding ring, our eyes once again would meet, and a sly smile would appear on her muzzle and she would come clean for the shed. Ah, it was the best of times with and on our last run, tears fell from my eyes as we walked over the field. She retired with honors, that old dog, won the beautiful quilt made by Kathy Rivers, having being the high scoring dog over six trials. She lives on through her sons and daughters and grandpups who run. She is my best friend, my partner and my savior. I love Tess with all of my heart as she has a big piece of my heart.

I remember Tess standing guard over me the many nights as I thrashed in pain on the couch and licked the tears off my face as I cried. She would lie gently next to me and put her paw on my side and nuzzle my face as she would a weak pup. Numerous nights I would wake up and she would standing above me, licking me and looking worried in her gray face. Many nights, Tess and Nan would stand guard next to me and if anything would wander near the front porch, they would protect me; Nan to the door with bared teeth and Tess braced next to me with her teeth also bared. Often it was a stray rabbit, crow or sometimes a coyote.

I missed a good portion of trials due to the surgery but the ones that I did make, the trial hosts made sure that I was able to run and rest. It was comforting to see the trial folks and helped in the healing process. The dogs ran amazingly well, no doubt carrying more of the load and covered my errors when I was too slow for a command. Luckily, for me with Tess, Nan and Lucy, they can carry you on their broad shoulders and make it look easy.

Work was great as they let me ease back in part time and then full time. People were quick to make sure that if I needed help, they would be there. I work for a great place, the FAA, have been there for 6.5 years, and enjoy my job.

Getty even drove the trailer to a trial in May right after my last major heart surgery and set it up, went home for band practice then came back for the trial and drove us home. It would have been too much for me to do it by myself but he rallied for me. He sat and watched a few runs with Tess in his lap.

My mom and brother were instrumental in me getting well so quickly. They spent a lot of time with me and made sure that I ate well and got my exercise. Nelson is a great cook and some of the dishes he made, I just had to eat even though I had no appetite. My mom is very active and loves to feed the animals and it would bring a smile to my face when the animals would crowd around her for treats. Tess and Nan especially loved it when mom and Kimiko would come over, as they would eat well too. And they had willing victims to toss the ball for them for hours on end.

It also made me realize what good friends that I had. They all rallied to take dogs while I was recovering in addition to help taking care of my sheep. Janet drove me to trials most of the year. During the first half of the year, I would sleep on the way to the trial while she drove. She also made sure that I had drinks and food so all I had to do was to be ready. Monique did a lot of sheep work for me. Ron took care of Janet and I at the "On the River Trial" so we didn't have to do the hard work. Everyone pitched in so I didn’t have to worry.

The summer was hot but wonderful. The grass grew as my spirits. Life was getting better and better. Four of my dogs qualified to run at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals. In September, Getty and I did the trek to Klamath Falls to run Nan and Roo. Jenny Glen ran Lucy in Open. Scott and Jenny Glen keeping in touch with me over the year with Sleat's progress and running her at the Nursery Finals. Tess was retired but her role was the cheerleader. Kathleen, Monique, Janet and Jerril, Kathy Davis and Ben K. joined us. Met a ton of new friends and saw the old friends and did blogging with Lise and Ben. We all had a blast.

Fall came quickly; shearing, then the ram were put to the ewes, young dogs were started to be trained, the farm was getting prepped for winter. A few trials were in order and then my yearly heart check up. It went well, I got the green light, and the hole was sealed. Then winter arrive quickly and a few more trials and next thing it was Christmas and now the New Year. This year just raced by very quickly and I can honestly say, I am happy to be alive, happy to have a good family and friends and happy to have good dogs and most importantly of all, good health. And of course, a wonderful supportive spouse, Getty.

Yep, it has been a whirlwind of a year but a good year. I am truly blessed.

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