I wrote this and it was published in "The Working Border Collie magazine this month. Much thanks to Bruce Fogt for publishing it.
She came back to me and I began to run her with not much success for the first few years. I would call Scott, with tears in my eyes, and ask him “Why?” and he would offer words of encouragement to me. Then Tess and I would trek to another trial and we would struggle again. We would battle loggerheads on the field and never would be consistent. She was a talented dog and I couldn’t run her well.
At one trial, after a struggle around the course, she was fighting my commands and I was angry with her; however, we finally made it into the ring. I set up the shed and my eyes were furious at her. I looked at her from across the ring and saw love coming from her eyes. I stood still and in a moment of clarity, saw it all.
“Will you forgive me?” I asked her and her reply was to lick the tears from my face.
Running her was easy. We didn’t fight anymore and our bond deepened on the field. If I had stop her short for a dogleg fetch, she would do it. She would do the flanks for a dog leg fetch while other dogs ignored their handlers . Soon Tess had her own cheering section, and became known as the brave little dog that had a huge heart.
Our favorite part was in the shedding ring. We would dance and glance at each other. It was as if she could read my mind. I would set up the shed , sometimes with no opening and our eyes would connect across the sheep’s’ backs.. She would give me her sly grin, her eyes would glow, and then she would come in. After the shed, I would pet her, she would say, “Wasn’t that fun?”, and off we would go to the exhaust. Waiting at the exhaust, I would take her muzzle in my hand and slowly rub her ears.
One hot summer as we finished the course we walked off the field. I sat and she put her head in my lap. I rubbed her head and thought of our past; the past where I was the fool, where I did her wrong, where I was her greatest adversary. I looked down at my little dog and softly asked her again, “Tess will you forgive me?”
She replied, “There is nothing to forgive. You see, I love you for who you are. You needed to see the light. I have carried you on your journey before and now it is the time where we walk together in our journey, together as a team”
And thus, began our journey, of true partnership. Of the brave little dog who taught me about life and unconditional love. Of the brave little dog who taught me how to open my eyes and truly see what was in front of me all this time. Of the brave little dog who taught me how to be a real partner. And most of all, how to live life to the fullest.