Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grand Old Dog

It was a couple of weeks ago when I was at the Labor Day weekend Trial. I brought Tess along as my lap warmer and pillow thief.....which, I might she did both jobs quite well. She also went to the handler's dinner and was fed by most of the handlers.  They all saw her shaved sides and pitiful eyes and knew of her story, so she milked it for all it was worth. All of them have had a favorite old dog and their hearts warmed to the old beggar and they were generous with their dinner with her. Even the diehards broke down and one even gave her the dinner plate to polish off.

Tess was loose under the handler's tent for most of the day on the Novice and Ranch runs. As the sheep needed to be exhausted, she would half rise, somehow hoping she could do it. But alas, after five or so runs, she put her head down on the ground  as she knew she would not be called for that job. As handlers went to the post, she looked up at their eyes, hoping she would be called but it was not to be. Again, she put her head on the ground in despair.

I went up to the judges area to take some photos and asked a handler to hang on to Tess. She waited until she could sneak away and ignored everyone as they tried to call her back. She slowly worked her way to be behind me in hopes of going to the post. Joe the judge saw her sad eyes and threw her some chips and she ate them and then looked at the post, the sheep and the handler. She gave a heavy sigh and nudged me, as if to ask, "Is it my turn yet?"

I patted her soft head, finished taking the photographs and called her off. Her shoulders drooped and she trotted behind me, occasionally glancing over her shoulder, should they need her assistance. They didn't.

We sat under the tent and she watched run after run and watched the sheep get exhausted and would give me a Woeful Look. It was heartbreaking and hurt my heart deeply. I walked over to Judy and had a talk with her.

The flock needed to be moved from holding pen to setout. I stood up and softly called to Tess, "Tess, let's you see your sheep?"

Tess leaped up like a rocket and began to scan the field. The sheep were down in a gully, back in the woods in a pen. We walked down the gully and Tess was scanning right to left. She spied them then froze. "Away" I whispered, expecting her to trot but she broke into a full gallop, wispy dust funnels left behind as she raced down the path.

The sheep spilled out of the pen, like sand from a bucket, wavering right and left, many colors blending in and tall ears turning to pinpoint the dog that was behind them. Her paws dug into the dusty path, her tail turned like a rudder as she broke to one side to cover one runaway. She tucked the wayward ewe in and the flock raced up the gully to the field.

Bright colors spilling out of a black hole.

Tess, with her ears back to me, coming behind the sheep to drive them to the setout. I was running to catch up to this but was left behind. Tess knew what to do.

 She covers to the side so they do not go down another gully.

 It was a blazing hot and dusty day.

You can see her shaved side. But she was in full working mode and showed no signs of being injured.

Tess was not showing any sign of her age or injury.   She was taking my verbal commands on the fly and was keeping the sheep in line.

Look how happy she is. She is totally happy! The spark is in her eyes and the spring is in her step. She is joyful and full of life.

You would never know she is over 13 years old and recovering from an horrific accident. She is one tough dog with a huge heart.

I finally caught up with her. I can see that she is happy. It brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. 

 She is keeping up with the running flock and acting like she was two years old again.

Look how far she is reaching out. 

 You can see the lovely leather collar made by Linda Johnson as a gift for her. A lot of people admired her beautiful collar and it suits her well.

Another reaching out photo. Tess was having to work fast to keep the flock on course and going in the right direction.

Soon it was all done.She raced into my arms at the end and licked my tears off my face. I kissed her  grizzled muzzled and looked into her clouded eyes. I told her that it was a job well done. Tess was happy and her eyes glowed with delight. Her tail wagged and she snuggled with me.  There was a spring in her walk and she carried herself with pride.  It was a grand ending to the day for a grand old dog. She is a Grand Old Dog.

Photos: Carolyn  Harwell Look Back Photography


Karen said...

Wipes tears from cheeks....
What a grand old lady she is:)

gvmama said...

So glad they let Tess have her moment. :0)

Howard said...

Wonderful story! What a great inspiration she is...a grand old dame!

Diane said...

This is Lacee's mom...I was just thinking about Tess and wondering how she was doing. I am SO glad to see she's doing quite well!! I am very happy for you both.

DeltaBluez Tess said...

Hey Lacee's Mom. Glad you stopped by. Tess has been back to her old self and thinking she is the Queen of the farm. She is and it's great to see her gallop by!