Sunday, July 4, 2010

Whidbey Island Open write up (June 19)

Sunday was like Saturday, misty and cool. The fog slowly rolled off the field and the first dog was sent. I sat in my trailer, on my bed, with coffee in hand, dogs by my side and watched the first few runs. I had a prime seat to see most of the outrun, the lift, most of the fetch, all of the drive, none of the pen and all of the shed. I was dead on the cross drive so I could really see if the cross drive was high or low. The sheep were fast in the chilly morning and puff of steam came from their nostrils as they were worked around the course.

Soon Lucy came into view and she was poetry in motion. She was calm and settled the stock and they had a near flawless run aside from a pull through at the first panel.. On part of her run, the sun peeked out and kissed her the approval of a wonderful run. Tess, Nan and I smiled at her score of 92.

Other runs soon followed but none was as near as nice. I gather Roo and we went to try the course. The day before he was not listening and I hoped by me running up the field to make him see “God” that he would have religion today. He cast out nice and deep but the sheep bolted and he struggled to get them back online. The drive was rough but he tried to do right. The wind was blowing in my face quite hard so it was tough for him to hear me and when I used my voice it echoed and you could see he was confused. Nevertheless, he gave me his best and we got the pen but timed out in the shed. We didn’t place high but I got him to listen to me.

Ben (Ben and his dog, Nick) showed up so we had the bakery items and watched more runs while on my bed, again with the girls curled next to us. We ate, laughed and watched runs and it was a fine afternoon.

By the end of the day, the sheep had been run about six times and just didn’t want to play. They would run back to the set out or bolt to the exhaust. On the drive, they would outrun the dogs to the exhaust or set out. The runs before Nan went down in RT or DQs, the wind had picked up and the sheep decided to punch out for the day. I stroked Nan’s little nose and she gazed up at me. I didn’t let my fears of the failed runs before me, take over my mind but instead looked at the sheep and then at Nan. I spoke softly to her, ”Beautiful, we are going to have do a hell of a run to place” She looked at me and our eyes joined and I felt her response as she said “We can do it.” I smiled at my brave little dog and as we walked to the post, I felt a deep connection with her, far deeper than I ever had before.

She ran deep and came up sweet behind the sheep. The set out person and dog were in the way of the fetch and as she lifted the sheep, they bolted towards the set out. She spin and caught them and I flanked her and she got them back on the fetch. I saw her tipped ear swirling as I whistled to her and she put them smartly through the fetch panels. She had a snug turn and a dead on first leg to the first panel. Many dogs had a rough time at the first panels but Nan put the sheep through easily. We had a slight bobble on the drive, not much really, but the wind was blowing hard into my face. Nan tried to take every command and she snuck the sheep through the second panel and straight to the pen. The sheep slipped into the pen and we quickly went to the shed. We gazed at each other in the ring, I flipped my hand, called her and she had a tidy shed and held the surly ewes. We danced as one after our run and at the exhaust, I praised her and she rolled over so I could rub her belly. A just reward for such an awesome run. She got 88 for second place (0-0-3-9-0-0)

We quickly loaded up and headed home as it was getting late. There were a few more runs after us but I wanted to get home. I drove around over Deception Pass than have the long ferry wait.. Tess slept while Nan hung her head next to me, quite proud of herself and I praised her all the way home. She knew she had taken over Tess’s spot as top dog and had just proven it.

Ben texted me my results and it was great to see the umber on the screen, I quickly texted Monique to tell her of her victory and we all danced. It was a good victory to be beat by my student and one of my dogs. She had an awesome run and all the hours they spent together at the farm, finally paid off. I was happy with Nan, as she has come a long way, three years ago when she first came here. Together we have bonded and she has been a true partner with a huge heart. I thought that I could never love another dog as much as I love Tess, but I love Nan just as much.

We rolled in as dusk settled and Getty had dinner ready for us. We ate and chatted and the girls got most of my bread. Nan topped the evening off by hopping on the couch, putting her head in my lap and started to snore. It was a hard earned snore and soon, her paws were kicking to and fro, as if reliving her run again. I petted her silky ears and whispered in her ears “Nan, you are a gift and I love you. Stay true and sleep well” and soon her paws ceased to move and she fell into a deep sleep, her snoring stopped and her soft, warm breath warmed my hands.

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