Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Longest Journey

It was almost four years ago when I talked to a dear friend of mine about a dog. I had sold Lucy to Christine and she was heartbroken, afraid to call me, fearing that I would be angry with her. She had gotten Lucy from me as a pup and had to rehome her. Her husband, Dick had become allergic to dogs. He was somewhat allergic before but he had been exposed to a dog that set his allergies into overtime and as a result, he was allergic to Lucy, even though she was outside. Prior to that, he was fine with Lucy being an outside dog and sometimes she would be in the house. Christine loved Lucy dearly and was heartbroken.

She called me in tears asking what to do. They had sent Lucy to be boarded and get some stock time with Alison. They had to make a decision on what to do with Lucy. We talked about this at great length and as a breeder, I offered to take her back, put three months of training on her at no charge and sell her to a good home.

Lucy was a quick study and would turn herself inside out to please you. After three months, she was a solid Novice level and I offered her for sale. A few were very interested but soon turned her down once they saw she was a red dog. Soon I feel in love with her and as part of our agreement, bought her from Christine at a started dog price.

Lucy fit in here with no issues and I remember that she was the pick of the litter that I sent to Christine. I loved her best of all the pups as she was the brightest. I began to run Lucy in ranch courses and she did well, so well in fact that people wanted to buy her. At this time, there was no way she was leaving. I pointed out that they had her chance and many offers were made “If you ever want to sell her, I WILL buy her”

Over the months, Lucy grew into her own and began to win or place high in trials in Pronovice. She just kept getting better and better. She was a loving and endearing and kind dog and everyone who knew her feel in love with her. She would gaze at you with her deep, golden eyes and you would be smitten.

I began to train her on cattle and she quickly got a good head grip and was fearless. She would do anything you asked of you and do it with enthusiasm. Each day, I feel in love with her more and more. I would see Libbi, her grandmother, in some of her work and some of Tess. She was a great blend of Libbi and Tess. Her grandsires were Scott Glen’s Pleat and Martha’s Ryan. She maybe small but she was fearless.

She was eager to learn new skills each time you worked her and would remember what you taught her. I have never had a dog that was so easy to train. She made me look good.

I kept running her in ProNovice and she ran very well. She had a way with her sheep that settled them and she was easy to handle. After her run, she would snuggle up me and I would whisper to her that I loved her and she would wag her tail as if to say, “What’s not to love about me?”

I got her going for her Nursery year. She had wonderful outrun, a pretty good drive, steady pen and willingness that was par to none. She qualified for the Nursery Finals and on her last run in her Nursery year at Sue and George MacDonald’s trial, she won the class. She got a handmade breadbasket that sit proudly in our kitchen. In September at a popular trial, she won the PN class, easily far ahead of the other dogs. Tess won the Open class and I was teased that is was the DeltaBluez sweep…and it was, grandmother and granddaughter.

Lucy is a lot like Tess. Biddable, sweet and a real desire to please. They have the strength to move sheep, the ability to rate the stock and the ability to have you fall in love with them. It’s not often you fall in love with a dog and Lucy is one you can fall in love with.

I ran Lucy in a cattle arena trial and she won handily. She ran on ducks and sheep in an arena trial and did wonderful. It didn’t matter where or what you ran her on, she worked her little heart out for you. She had the special bond with you.

Monique began to run Lucy in an arena trials as well as the lower field trials. She did quite well with her and often would take her home to bond with her so she would work better with her on the trial field. Monique was one of my students who came here with Magick, an Aussie. She retired Magick so began to work Lucy to become a better handler and have a dog to work with. Monique tried to work Scott who totally ignored her and then Tess who did run for her, but you could tell that Tess was my dog. Tess did well for Monique at winter training trials and quickly showed where she needed to improved but as the spring/summer trials came along, then Tess was not longer available.

I sent her over one winter to work on a 3000 sheep operation to season her out. It was tough at first but she was game and soon, the operator asked to buy her. Of course, the answer was no and he asked to get a pup from her. She was fearless and would get down in the chute to push sheep through or the range to gather the large flock. I remember when Eric talked to me about the first time she sent her to gather the flock. She ran out, stopped, gathered some sheep, stopped again and then realized there were more sheep, flanked again then he flanked her to pick up the remainder. She quickly figured it all out and became an invaluable working dog.

She came back in the spring and after a brief hiatus, was quickly running in PN trials and doing well. She also ran for Monique that summer and spent the summer/fall with her while I recovered from the heart surgery. She would go back and forth between us. Lucy got better and better on her training and did chores to season her up. At this point, she developed a deep bond with Monique. We would take turns on running Lucy; if Monique could make it she ran her, if not or it was a big trial, I ran her.

That fall I sent her to Scott Glen to finish her out and get a shed on her. I was down for the fall and winter as I just had my Open-heart surgery and couldn’t train dogs. He worked her, cleaned up her flanks, taught her a shed and polished her up. He even like that little red dog!!

In March of this year, he ran her in Heppner and it was her first Open trial. She placed and did well on the wild sheep. Scott stopped by my house to drop her off and offered to buy her. I was stunned, as I never thought Scott would get a red dog but apparently he loved what he saw in her, wanted her, and asked for first dibs if I wanted to ever sell her. I agreed.

Lucy learned well at Scott’s and came back a fine tuned dog. She began to run in Open and quickly gained enough points for the Finals. At one trial, she qualified for the Double Lift and the night before the Double Lift I called Scott in a panic. No, he didn’t teach her a Double Lift (but she had a look back) and no he didn’t reach her an International shed. I think he was laughing at me at this point.

So game little Lucy and I did the Double Lift on range ewes. It took a bit to get the look back but she did. She had one of the best drives in the Double Lift and we almost had the International Shed. We had only two more to shed when time ran out. She was a trooper in the ring and prevented the sheep from regrouping and coming in between the marked sheep and sheep that had been cut out. She placed 8th out of 16th in the Double Lift, which was awesome as we both went into it, me for the second time and her for the first time. I remember petting her when she was in the tub, her eyes happy that I was pleased and her body wiggling with delight. The Judge came up to me after and told me that I had a very good dog and she did well for her first time. I looked at Lucy and beamed with pride at her!

August rolled around and she went back to Scott until the Finals. At this point, Tess (just retired), Roo, Lucy and Nan had all qualified for the Finals and I could only take two. I chose Roo since he had more Open trials experienceand Nan for the same reason. Lucy was going to be run by Jenny Glen. Both Scott and Jen ran Lucy in August and she got points for the next year, and again qualified for a Double Lift under Scott.

Lucy was going to the Big Show (USBCHA Finals), after only just moving to Open only six months prior. She was getting in harmony with Jenn and they collaborated up. Each day she would just get more confident and just better and better. Yes, she has her faults but she was willing to work with you through them. Pushing heavy sheep was not her forte but she would stick her nose where you told her and try and never give her. One key item about Lucy is that she never gave up, no matter how hard it was. It was shades of Tess, no matter if it was over her head; she would give it her all to you.

Lucy endeared herself to everyone. It was not hard to love her…she was transparent with her feelings, honest, ethical and gave you her heart.

Lucy did well at the Finals and placed 83rd out of 150 dogs. Jen was afraid the sheep might have been too tough for her but she watched her mother, Koko run and Koko handled the sheep with no issue. Lucy was fast on the sheep and handled them with ease, in fact, was a lot of dog on the sheep. She did unwind her flanks and Jenn was on her toes but got the shed and pen. I am sure Jen was sweating during her run as Lucy was showing she had gumption and go!! Monique and I sat on the edge of our chairs, like proud parents but nervous. Jenn did us proud with Lucy. Not many red dogs ran at the Finals but that little red dog turned a few heads.

After the Finals, Lucy went home with Monique and she would run her over the winter trials and in the spring come back to me. That way Monique had a dog to trial until we had another one ready for her. I already had Roo and Nan to run in Open. We had an agreement that she would work Lucy every week and run her at the trials. Monique doesn’t have a sheep farm so it was a huge commitment but she did it.

It was a hard decision but I really didn’t have a dog for Monique to run in the lower classes and she wanted to continue. In the spring, I would get Lucy back and we would figure out what trial she could run her at and which one I would. Monique offer to buy Lucy but Lucy was my little red heart dog and not for sale so Monique became her God-Aunt.

She faithfully kept her agreement, worked her, and ran her at trials. Since Lucy was an Open dog, which meant Monique had to make the jump to Open. At her first Open trial, she was nervous, thinking that if she did badly, that I would take Lucy away or be disappointed in her. I would never be disappointed in Monique as she tries very hard and loves Lucy. The first Open run, they did quite well, the main issue was handler errors. Monique worked diligently on that for the next trial and just got better and better.

Lucy was a joy to watch. It was plain to see that they enjoyed each other. Monique had accepted the fact that Lucy was not for sale and when Lucy was retired that she would go to her.

Every time she ran Lucy, a piece of my heart would hurt as I finally realized that Lucy was meant to be with her. That I was a part of her life, a part of her long journey, that she was meant to be with Monique and I was a person in her life who got her ready for Monique.

I had talked to Scott about Lucy and he was happy to hear how well she was doing. Since he asked to have first dibs on her, he would have the chance to buy her before Monique. Before I could broach the subject (he had been talking to Monique and hearing about their teamwork) he said she would be a good dog for her. He would be willing to give up his first dibs on Lucy.

Lucy was to be my replacement foundation bitch for Tess as she is the only female from the Tess x Pleat lines that I had. How can I sell a dog that I loved dearly, that gave me her all which snuggled next to on the bed and was to carry on Tess’s lines. Lucy had a big piece of my heart, right next to the Tess’ piece.

However, somethings are meant to be, karma, cosmic love and sometimes you are a part of someone else’s journey. This is the case with Lucy so at the end of 2009, I had a talk with Monique. I agreed to sell her with some conditions. That I got my Lucy pups and if she every needed to give her up, she came back to me.

It took me a long time to come to that decision and it was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made. To let go a big piece of my heart and I cried a few nights over this decision.

Monique was very quiet when I talked to her and I didn’t know she wanted her or not. As she left, she thanked me for selling Lucy to her (I think she was in shock) and deep down, it was the right decision. I cried that night, tears of sadness and happiness.

Lucy has finally ended her long journey. She has come full circle and touched many lives with her love. We love you Lucy and miss you dearly but you are home now.

Note: for Lucy stories, do a search of my site….you will find many of them


Monique said...

More than you can ever know -- Thank You. --Monique

Pat A said...

Sometimes we need to listen to who the dog wants to live with and that is not always the easy thing to do.

Anonymous said...
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DeltaBluez Tess said...

The removed post was a porn spammer, in case you were wondering

Kelly said...

Thank you for blogging Lucy's journey. I know it was a hard decision but I've seen the bond between Monique and Lucy, you did a great thing. I am happy we have our own Lucy daughter - she's very special to us and sounds like she's a lot like her mama!