This trial was allowed only two dogs per handler so I made the decision to run Maid and Nan in Open and leave Rainey and Sava back home. Hope and Ron came over and they had dogs in ProNovice, Nursery and Open. The first class to run was Novice, then followed by the other class. So again, we woke up in darkness, stumbled down to the van, loaded dogs and hit the road. It was extremely cold and very humid and by the time we had reached the trial field, the scar on my sternum from the heart operations was acting up. It was as if a hot knife was buried in my chest and I could hardly function. This was not a good way to start the day. I took a pain pill but it had no effect so I stayed in the van or in Judy’s RV. The cold really set it off so by staying warm, it did ease the pain. I didn’t watch a lot of runs and didn’t even pull out my camera to take any photos. It got very windy that it blew over the canopy and sent items flying all over. It got colder, windier and the sky began to darken. Rain blasted us from the sky as we scurried for cover. I retreated to Judy’s RV and hunkered down to watch the run. I had the lovely company of Judy, Nora and Cindy. I was warm, had hot coffee and wait for my turn.
I ran Maid first and she went out wide on the away side. She came in hard and the sheep bolted but one ornery ewe stood her ground. It was the same ewe that stood off all the other runs that she was a part of the group. I whistled to Maid to ease up but she had the fire in her ear and the ear muffs on. She marched the ewe down the field. Backwards, one step at a time until she was off the course and were called off.
I retreated back to the RV as it got colder and the sky got darker. Nan was one of the last dogs to run. By this time it was late in the afternoon and the sun had began to set. The wind snuck it's icy fingers into our souls and began to slowly such what warmth we had left, leaving us a empty hollow shell of a snow crystal. Then it was my turn.
As I walked to the post with the happy, bouncing Nan, I could see off in the distance the frosty clouds rolling in like a herd of angry horses. They billowed fast and furious. I shivered as I sent Nan. She ran deep and crisply to the sheep. Then the world went white for me.
The blizzard hit us, full force and almost knocked me off the stand. I braced and the cold froze my lips. My whistle was hard in my mouth and it was an effort to make a sound. Words were useless and the wind picked them up and flung them back into my face. I could only stand and try to help Nan. She lifted the sheep and began to bring them down and I could see dark shadows flickering in snow. The storm hit the setout and began to chase the sheep down the field. She had a nice line and turn at the post.
As you can see in the video, it began to snow heavily on her drive as the snow storm rolled in. Ron zoomed up so you could see the run but where I was, I couldn't hardly see most of the drive. At this point, Nan and I were running on blind trust. The sheep wanted to get out of the storm, Nan was running on blind trust and I was trusting her to do the right thing. At this point, I really felt a closeness to Nan, a real feeling of partnership, of trust and of being as one. I stayed focused and didn't let the snowstorm kick me out of the game. As i have said many times, "In the moment, you must focus" and I ignored all save but my dog, the sheep and the work.
A we got to the first of the three sets of drive panels, it was pretty much a white out at that are and I could see bits and pieces of the run. I blew walks up, steady and at the second panel, had to make a quick adjustment to make it. I didn't have a lot of time as it was white, white, a sheep, then white, white, then sheep, so during the white I replied on Nan to hold the line. The sheep wanted to hunker out of the storm and had no desire to part of the course.
Nan made the second panel and then we had to march them for the crossdrive up the field into the teeth of the storm. It was totally white and I could see Nan's black shadow in pieces and she was holding the line. At the third panel, I had the sheep line up and flanked up and hope she put them through. I think we made it but it was totally white so I don't know if we did or not but it was a gallant effort on Nan's part. At the turn, the sheep spotted the exhaust and made a break for it and I saw them dashing out of the whiteness and flanked Nan to cover them. We were a bit off for that and she swung them to the pen.
I had a hard time seeing the pen and we were requited to stay at the post. The pen was three sided and she tucked them in, so I thought but since I was having a hard time seeing the pen, two had slipped to one side. we made the attempt again but ran out of time. The missing of the pen cost us first place so it put us in sixth place. But Nan ran her heart for me and I was on cloud nine. Even though couldn't see most of the run, it was running on blind trust. She trusted me in the face of adversary and I trusted she could do right. In my mind, she won and she did, she won my respect as believing in me and I believed her.
It was a moment that we all desire and it happened on the snowy day.
Note: Ron had the camcorder on max zoom.
Good dog, Nan. I am so proud of you!! I love you!