Thursday, February 28, 2013

The new ISDS rules regarding eye exams, DNA CEA testing as of June 1, 2013

I wrote to the ISDS and they promptly wrote me back. If you didn't know as of June 1, 2013, the dogs need to have the DNA CEA testing done and forwarded to the ISDS for the litter to be registered. I have the info that the ISDS sent me. Additionally I added a list of questions and their answers below. I am still asking more questions and when I get those answers, I will post them as well.

Eye Examinations and ISDS Rules
News from the Carlisle Meetings – January 2013
DNA CEA - Before any progeny are to be registered, the sire and dam must have been DNA CEA tested. Results of the tests must be the original DNA CEA result and vet submission form, forwarded on to the ISDS Office.

This rule takes effect from 1st June 2013.
An ophthalmic test is recommended where the sire/dam is involved in producing 2 or more litters and the sire/dam is over the age of 2 years. It is important that ophthalmic tests continue for all dogs to ensure eye diseases are detected.

MICROCHIPPING - With immediate effect, all puppies must be microchipped before registration.

 Note – For National Trial entry:
·     Dogs registered before 1 June 2013 - an ophthalmic test is required in the absence of a DNA CEA test.
·     Dogs registered after 1 June 2013 - an ophthalmic test is not required.

 Further information can be found on the Society website  How Examination under the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme can help you and your breed” – article by Professor Sheila Crispin
Additional material “DNA Testing for Inherited eye diseases in Border Collies”.

Optigen give details of a number of clinics organised, you can find information on their website and select ‘Clinic Schedule’.
Idexx provide information for vets -

 My questions to the ISDA. Questions in red, answers in italics
If the DNA CEA results are dam is  Normal and sire is  Carrier, and the pups can be registered?
Existing registration rules apply: Yes the pups can be registered (one parent Normal and other parent Carrier), each pup must have a microchip and a statement will appear on their Certificate declaring the DNA CEA status of the parents. 
If the pup is to be bred, the pup will have to have a DNA CEA test done?  (are dam is Normal and sire is  Carrier)
Yes the pup will need a DNA CEA test before future breeding. 
What is one of the results is affected and one is Normal? Sire is affected, dam is Normal?
Existing registration rules apply:  If a dog is CEA Affected following an ophthalmic examination and either of its parents has only an ophthalmic pass then that parent is immediately barred from the registration of further matings until it is DNA CEA tested.  A dog diagnosed at an ophthalmic examination as being affected by PRA may not have any further progeny registered. 

There are only two pairings normally permitted to breed under the DNA CEA rules.  That is, one parent must be DNA CEA Normal and the other parent may be DNA CEA Normal or Carrier.  Breeding from CEA Affected dogs is prohibited except where the dog is of exceptional merit (of genetic benefit) then an appeal may be made to the Stud Book Committee for permission to breed with a DNA CEA Normal dog. 

If two carriers are bred, then what happens?
Mating two carrier parents is not permitted.  If one is a Carrier then it should only be mated with a DNA CEA Normal dog. 
If both parents are found to be carriers during the transition period, then the puppy registration folder would need to be approved by the Stud Book Committee.  If the Stud Book Committee approve the registration of the litter then all pups would need to be microchipped and the pups certificates will be marked with the carrier status of both parents and those pups will also need a DNA CEA tested before future breeding.  Some of the litter could be affected by CEA which should be picked up at an ophthalmic test.  If the pups are affected by CEA at an ophthalmic test or DNA test, they will be prohibited from breeding. 

What if one of the results is affected and one is carrier? Sire is affected and dam is Carrier?
Existing registration rules apply:  If a dog is CEA Affected following an ophthalmic examination and either of its parents has only an ophthalmic pass then that parent is immediately barred from the registration of further matings until it is DNA CEA tested.  A dog diagnosed at an ophthalmic examination as being affected by PRA may not have any further progeny registered. 
There are only two pairings normally permitted to breed under the DNA CEA rules.  That is, one parent must be DNA CEA Normal and the other parent may be DNA CEA Normal or Carrier.  Breeding from CEA Affected dogs is prohibited except where the dog is of exceptional merit (of genetic benefit) then an appeal may be made to the Stud Book Committee for permission to breed with a DNA CEA Normal dog. 

Is the June 1st date the actual mating date or birth of pups date?
After the 1st June, 2013 any mating card will be processed but both the sire and dam owner must ensure we receive the DNA CEA test result and vet sample submission form before puppy registration. If a puppy folder is received in the office, it will be held until we receive the DNA CEA test results. 

What is sire/dam have had the DNA CEA done, for example two years ago and a pup from that litter (Both parents were Normal), “Moss” is now two years old and cleared “NORMAL” by parentage, and then breed to a bitch on June 2, 2013? Will he have to be re-tested or is he clear by parentage? (Ignore the breeding bitch in this example)
New rule from 1st June, 2013: Each breeding dog will require a DNA CEA test in its own right; an inherited status will not be accepted.   

What is sire/dam have had the DNA CEA done, for example two years ago and a pup from that litter (one parent was Normal and one was CARRIER), “Moss” has not been tested and then breed to a bitch on June 2, 2013? Will he have to be re-tested? (Ignore the breeding bitch in this example)
“Moss”needs one DNA CEA test in his own right if he is bred from after 1stJune, 2013, registration rules apply as normal. If he was DNA CEA tested before 1st June, 2013 then the existing result will be used and a further DNA CEA test will not be required.

What if a mating was done and one parent was not tested. Will the papers be on hold until the parent is done?
After 1st June, 2013 registration will not progress until we have a DNA CEA test result for each parent.  

What if the owner of the untested bitch of the litter (for this example) refuses to do the DNA CEA test? Can the pups be tested and if (Normal or Carrier) then be registered?
Again this case would need to be considered by the Stud Book Committee.

What if a mating was done and one parent was not tested (and the ISDS per the rules does not register the pups) . Can one of the pups be tested and the result is Normal, how does one get the pup registered?
After 1st June, 2013 registration will not progress until we have a DNA CEA test result for each parent. Same as 6) above, the pup cannot be registered unless we have the parents results.

What if the owner of the untested bitch of the litter (for this example) refuses to do the DNA CEA test? Can the pups be tested and if (Normal or Carrier) then be registered? Or will all the pups be unable to be registered? Can a pup be ROM?
A Registration On Merit is for dogs of exceptional working standard over the age of 2 years. ROM’s now cost £500 but require the DNA CEA test and ophthalmic test but also need to pass a working test or have gained points at trials.

Why do we have to do the DNA CEA test if BOTH parents were normal and the now the pups are clear by parent heritage? What is the reasoning behind this?
Having checked your question with our Chief Executive, National Presidents and Chairman, they have confirmed that an inherited Normal DNA status is not acceptable for breeding. By testing each breeding dog in its own right we will have a much clearer picture of the pattern of Normal, Carrier and Affected status. This will ensure that our data is accurate but also will be helpful where accidental matings may occur either with or without a breeders knowledge.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

LGDs and how they co-exist with pedators

This is a great video on LGD and their roles in guarding sheep and protecting against predators.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Warped sense of Humor - The Barn

I loved this one. I get fun apps on my iPhone all the time. One of them has this sound.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Make Room at the Inn

This was never published I wrote this for Border Collie rescue many years ago. I took this dog in and the next day a family was looking for a dog for their young children It was a match made in heaven.
Make Room at the Inn
By Diane Pagel - 1997
The sad eyes drilled into my heart and soul and clutched at my deepest emotions. “Won’t you take me home and love me, even for just a few weeks.”  I turn away; I have no space at home. I am working long hours and don’t have time for my own dogs let alone a foster. I walked away briskly, feeling that in my mind I had justified that I could not take on any more dogs, let alone a foster. I never looked back, even as the door closed behind me and I could smell his smell of despair and loneliness.
I got in my car, breathed deeply of my dog’s scent and brushed off the dog hair that was on passenger seat. Not that I mind there is dog hair but it gave me something to do. I turned on the car and let it warm up and found a station I could relax in the music until I was ready to go. Closing my eyes, and resting my head, the guilt then washed away. Why, did I have this feeling to stop at the local humane society on the way home, knowing that I couldn’t take another dog. The car just seemed to have a mind of its own and drove it and then next thing I knew I was in the shelter looking at a black and white bundle of fur. He had been there for a bit, his time was almost up. A bit gray around the muzzle, a little stiff in the hips and eyes turning cloudy. Slow to get up and greet you but his love poured out of his soul to you. Reading his card it said his owner died in a nursing home and the children then turned the dog into the shelter. He was 12. He gave 12 years of his life to his dad. His dad had asked the children to take care of him when he passed away but the effort of caring for an old dog was too much. Therefore, in the days before Christmas he was sent on his last and final journey.
Not much else was written down. The children had brought him and told the shelter worker to find him a new home. The children who were adults with children of their own had no time or energy for the old dog. Surely, you will find him a good home they asked. The worker told them the chances of placing an old Border Collie was pretty slim. Not when puppies could be had. They left him anyways. They had more important thing to do. Christmas shopping and celebrating the holidays.
His name was Rex.  Somewhere in my faded memory I thought that Rex meant King. Yes, he was a King. He was regal and royal and had a presence about him. I sighed and thought, “Yes, he will find a home.” Besides I have not time nor a place.

I adjusted my seatbelt to go and put the car in reverse. It was cold and I turned my heater on full blast. I shivered. It would be a long ride home and I was late.
I walked into the house with all the Christmas decorations up and the husband waiting at the door to help me carry my gifts inside. I walked in with a gift in my arms. His eyes got wide and he said “Yes, there is room at the Inn
We placed Rex on his Christmas blanket, He came home to stay.  We made room at the Inn, can you?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In the moment, you must focus.

This was published within the last couple of years in the Working Border Collie Magazine.
In the moment, you must focus.
by Diane Pagel 2010
Ever watch the runs of the top handlers, wonder how they seem so cool and collected, and lay down stellar runs, one after each other? We all know they were Novices once and had not so stellar runs. So how did they rise to the top? They could even take an average dog and make the dog look like a star.  They shone with a talented dog. Even when the talented dog was sold, it usually never shined as brightly with the new owner.  Did these top handlers have some mystery recipe? What was it?
Just one simple word.

How many of you have lost your focus on the trial field, then have your run fall apart? How many of you have carried that one error to the next element and then proceeded to continue to have a bad run?” How many of you gone to the post with the words in your mind saying, “I can’t beat this top handler” or “My dog grips at the top so I have to be hard on him” or “My dog is weak.”
I know that I certainly have done all of the above and more.
Once I identified that I had lost my focus, the solution was much clearer.  I had to let go of my preconceived ideas and run with a clean slate. My dogs had weaknesses but also had strengths. I had let go of any errors in the runs and focus on the next step. I had to tune out all the negative energy and get into a zone.
Easy to say but hard to do. Winning the lotto would be easier, I felt at this point. But I had to evaluate myself so my dog and I could be a winning team.
In a former life, I used to play Ultimate Frisbee, played at the World level several times, and won a Gold and Bronze medal. What was different? Ultimate is a team sport but no dog or sheep are involved but your mind has to be in the game and you have to be at the peak performance as an athlete. I would go into the game with a a positive attitude and if we had an error, we would shake it off, and play on. You didn’t allow your mental mistakes to lose the game. You had to work as a single flowing unit and if you falter, the flow would be disrupted and you would start to be beat.  Each team had strengths and weaknesses and you adjusted your game to fit the situation. I took my prior knowledge, sat down, and took a long look at my dogs, my handling and myself.
I had let my errors on the field be carried over to the next aspect of work and it clouded my judgment. The top handler’s run in the moment and make the split second adjustments needed to get that edge. A slow command costs you dearly. The decision must be made in a split second. You can not even think about what you could have done, what went wrong, how the other handlers did in that situation, or anything else but what you need to do next. My first step was to remained focused and be in the moment.
But that was not the total solution.  I kept looking deep inside myself to see what else I could do. I had to be quicker on my decisions on the field. I had to make the correct adjustments and not guess my choice. I had to feel what was going to happen and be proactive than reactive. Most of us are reactive and playing catch up on the trial field, You have to look ahead to see what you need to do.
I knew what my weaknesses were and then had to look at my dog’s weaknesses. Sad to say, even thought I think Tess was perfect she was not.  Nan and Roo were not perfect either. Each dog brought their weakness to the field and I had to adjust my handling for each dog. It was my job to capitalize on their strength and help them in their weak area. One way was to see the  prior runs, course and anything else that would help me. Taking note of them, I would devise a plan before I stepped out on the field. I would handle my dog through their weak areas more and let them shine more in their strong areas.  By doing so, the runs were more fluid and my dog  began to trust me more. By  being there in their weak areas, they felt like I was  not letting them hang out to dry, but as a team we made it through the tough part.
One extremely hard area for me to let go, was the errors on the field. I had to release them as soon as they were made. I would make a mental note to address them at home but released the negative thought in my head. My dogs started to feel more at ease and less tense, when the negative energy was gone. I saw them relax and soon it was not a fight. I began to see their point of view; they would feel my anger and tense up and the cycle would get worse as the run went along.  I would tell myself, “oops” and then toss the negative energy  away.
I said  before that I would have a plan. Also I would visualize my run, step by step before I even went out on the field. I would try to sit with my dog and visualize the run with my dog. Each component of the run was perfect in my mental plan and I let no negative energy in the plan. My dogs would relax and look up the field and I would see kindness and willingness in their eyes. Often I would do a little ritual with each dog to get them into the zone.  Tess and I would do a country western dance and then she would go to the post full of herself. We would just have to gaze into each other eyes at the post and we got into the zone.  We could read each other’s minds.
I would relax before my runs and not get tense or stressed.  By getting am mental plan, having a relaxed attitude,  I would feel confident with myself. Soon it began to payback on the trial field. If the sheep were tough for a bunch of dogs in one area, I would have a game plan on how to handle it before I went to the post. It was a proactive plan so I could make that split second decision than be slow and hope I made the right choice. 
Walking to the post with confidence will give you dog confidence. If you slump your shoulders, whistle half heartedly or franticly, then your dog will do actions quickly often not the correct one. Have you ever watched the great athletes; they portray full confidence in their sport. Walk to the post with confidence with the thought that you will win and you win.
When I change with my new attitude, I began to win and was able to qualify my dogs for the finals in a few months. I was unable to run for most of the trial year due to multiple open heart surgeries and only had a few months to qualify. Had I run my dogs with the old style, I would have not done well. By changing myself, I was able to do well. I am still working on myself as it is a dynamic endeavor but I see results now.  To be at the top of your game, you must change yourself first and that is a hard pill to swallow. It’s not a secret but a change of your mindset. Learn a new style that is effective. You will then become a better handler.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Her Greatest Adversary

I wrote this a couple of year ago and it was published in the Working Border Collie Magazine. It is one of my favorite pieces. Tess sat next to me on the couch, put her head in my lap and the words flowed out and this was written. She told me and I just wrote it.
Her Greatest Adversary
by Diane Pagel 2010
Often we look at our dogs and think they are being disobedient or fighting with us on the field. For years, I had thought that myself. I wished that I had opened my eyes a lot earlier to see that was not true.
USBCHA 2001 National Sheepdog Nursery Finals with Scott Glen
Most of you know of my love for Tess and her love for me. She was a blessing sent to us many years ago and she came into our lives and fulfilled it with joy and happiness. She was a very talented sheepdog and went to Scott Glen for training and under his guidance, she placed 6th in 2001 USBCHA Nationals Nursery Finals, got her papers on ROM, placed high in the combined at the Bluegrass, ran in a Double Lift, ran in the Finals and was a consistent placer. With Scott, she shone like a diamond.
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.

I knew she loved me and I loved her but on the field, we would flail. She would bring the sheep on the fetch at warp sheep, settle them at the post, and then struggle on keeping straight lines on the drive. We would do the pen with ease yet sink in the shed. She is an awesome penner, all you had to do was open the pen and she would put them in. I would make a gap as wide as the Grand Canyon in the shedding ring and we still wouldn’t get the shed. I felt like a failure.

For a couple of years, we tried and tried. It seemed like she would buck me on the field. “Why” would be the question I would ask myself after each run “Why, why, why?”  I could not find the answer.
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.
I was her greatest adversary.  She was not the failure but it was I. She still loved me no matter how much I scolded her on the field. She tried to do, as I wanted her to do, even though I was in the wrong. She tried to cover up my mistakes.  She carried me on her broad shoulders, with my mistakes and wrongs and never complained. She lived to do right by me.
I looked at her, the rage left my body, our eyes connected with love and I spoke softly to her. There was the tiniest of gaps and she came through and held the shed. I called to her after the run and she ran up to me, a slight smile on her face and her tail wagging. I embraced my brave little dog and cried into her fur at that exhaust gate.
“Will you forgive me?” I asked her and her reply was to lick the tears from my face.
From that day on, our relationship changed. We became a team. Soon the calls to Scott were about we placed and how proud I was of my Tess.  Scott, who spent countless hours and miles riding on the hood of the truck, following along with Tess teaching her to drive her sheep.  Scott also spent hours with her on the shed so she would be a great shedder as she was not talented in shedding. He put all the pieces of greatness in that little dog so I could shine with her.  And so we did.

Tess was a wonderful driving dog, and we had become great driving team, and at one trial only lost three points on the drive. I would open the pen gate, she would walk them in, and if an ewe tried to break, she would slip sideway like a cutting horse and cut off the avenue for escape. She was not a flashy dog by any means and had medium eye. At times, her drive would seem sometimes boring, with Tess trotting behind the sheep and the sheep just ambling along, but online. My favorite part was the shedding ring. We would do a magical dance in the ring, our eyes would connect, a sly smile would appear on her face and she would come in and do the shed. She didn’t need a wide gap but a nod of my head and me saying “These ones” or “That’ll do” and she would slip in like a hot knife through butter.
We developed a ritual before our runs. We did a country western dance and then walked onto the field. Once as we were dancing to “Big and Rich”, an Open handler came by and made fun of us. As we left the field after our smoking run, he met us at the gate and asked, “What was the name of the song?”
Walking to the post was also one of my favorite parts of our runs. We would stroll up and she would be trembling with excitement We would do our dance and then I would ask her “Do you see your sheep?”, and her soulful eyes would scan the field and when she saw them, she would turn to me and lean forward just a little bit. I would smile at her, send her, and watch the tufts of dirt fly up behind her.
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.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Labor Day Blues

I wrote this a few years ago. This is based on a true experience. One I hope not to experience again!
Labor Day Blues
by Diane Pagel

Everyone has memory loss...yep, the kind that hits you like...”just when is our wedding anniversary” or “oops, I thought your birthday was next weekend! “   I must have been hit hard as my friend Kathy (who shall be named, as she is guilty) called me up about five days before Labor Day a few years back and asked me when I was going to meet her on Labor Day Saturday.

“Huh” was my intelligent reply.

“Diane,” Kathy says patiently, “Remember you said you would do a herding demo with me at the Longview Highland Games? I asked you a few months ago and you said you could and now we are getting the last minute details worked out. What dog or dogs are you bringing? “

“Uhh” was my swift response, “Can you tell me the dates and times?” hoping to buy more time and perhaps remember more about this.

“This Saturday and Sunday” was her reply.

“This weekend?” The words shot out of my mouth, “As in Labor Day weekend?’“

“Yep” Kathy answered back, a bit annoyed at my dim wit.

“Uh, I was going to go camping with Jeff this weekend“.

“Well, you gave me your word and the Highland Games folks have advertised and such and are expecting us. In addition, I thought you would bring Haig and Tess so between the two of us; we had three dogs we could demo.  I think they will have ducks and we are bringing sheep. They will pay us, of course.”

“Ok, I’ll tell Jeff that I forgot and since you asked me before we made the camping plans, I’ll tell him that I can’t go. Although I’m not sure how he’ll take it”, I replied.

So, off I go and tell Jeff, who, as I expected, was not too amused, but since I told him that I had committed months prior and that the Highland Games folks had Kathy, Marlena and I as the featured herding attractions, he decided to go camping without me.  

I called Kathy back and made arrangements to meet her next to the Appleby’s at the mall at eight in the morning.  “We will met at the Appleby’s parking lot, swing over to Marlena’s house, and be on our way.  I’ll pick the sheep up before I go to Marlena’s.”  We also made plans to pick up some sheep that I had just bought on the way home from the trial.  I live about 90 minutes away so I arrived about 15 minutes early and had coffee and waited for Kathy.

Moreover, waited and waited and waited....8:45 rolls around and no Kathy. I paged her as she is a Doctor and has her pager on at all times. I did not get Marlena’s phone number (Note: this would have been a wise move).

I cleaned out my truck, went and got more coffee, meanwhile paging Kathy every 15 minutes. She had my cell phone number and I figured she would call me right back. 10:00 rolled around and no Kathy. I called her house and no answer. I got worried since she was not answering her pager, no answer from home and I did not have Marlena’s number or directions to her house. I figured that I would wait another half hour and then head home as nothing was happening at the Appleby’s parking lot. Maybe because they all went camping?

Finally, at 10:30 a.m., a minivan rolled up and Marlena hopped out. “Follow me” and she roared off and never gave me a chance to ask any questions.

One would think a mother of many children would drive in a safe and slow manner but Marlena was making up time for the 2.5 hr delay. We arrived at her house and I saw Kathy fiddling around in her SUV. Marlena grabbed my arm, hissed in my ear, “Don’t bug Kathy”, and hauled me into the house. I looked at Kathy and she was frowning; frowning as in big time!!

Since I had no choice but to follow Marlena into the house, (her hand had my arm in a death grip) I followed her like a meek mouse.

“Ok, what’s up? I was waiting for 2.5 hrs and no answer from Kathy? I paged and called her and nothing? “

Marlena answered, “Kathy’s dog had problems. “

“Problems? Such as?” I queried.

“Jill expressed her anal glands and Maya had the runs in her SUV.  Therefore, Kathy is cleaning it all up and she is not in a happy mood. Her pager and cell phone were not working so she couldn’t get a hold of you so she sent me to get you. She got a late start this morning, stuck in traffic, had to pick up the trailer and then both dogs unloaded in the rig so she had to smell it until she got here. She is cleaning the rig and washing the dogs. She didn’t know her pager was dead until she just got here. “

 Well this explained the lack of return calls, so we went and transferred items from my truck to the trailer. Meanwhile Kathy was done cleaning her SUV and the dogs were washed. Her mood was not better.

The driveway was steep and curved sharply.  She jockeyed the rig around a bit, and had some difficulty backing it around the corner, and down the driveway, without going over the steep incline, but finally got it appropriately positioned. Now, normal people would take the hints from all the delays and would have gone back home but we press onward

The sheep were down below in the pasture, with absolutely no way to get a vehicle close, and Kathy tried to bring them up the hill and load them into the trailer. Ever try to make a sheep do something it doesn’t want to do? Well, these sheep decided a tour of the local cul-de-sac was much more inviting than the trailer so they ran off in three directions.  Luckily for us, most of the neighbors were gone camping (like I should have been) and we tried to round the sheep up. Sheep in gardens, on back decks, in neighbor’s driveways and on freshly cut lawns, and the sheep all left their calling cards. After 30 minutes or so, we loaded the sheep up with no cursing, as Marlena is sensitive to that.

Finally, we hit the road, people, dogs, sheep and our sanity still (mostly) intact. We had about a 2-hour drive so Marlena called her Highland Games contact to get exact directions and times. No answer. We were not worried and kept going. She called several more times and no answer. We pulled into the town and decided to eat, since our demo was in the afternoon and we had plenty of time. Marlena still tried to call her contact. We ate and it was about 1:00 so we headed towards the Games, thinking our demo is about 2:00 or so. Marlena still tried her contact and finally decided that her contact must be at the fair and not answering her cell phone. We were not worried. Marlena had a general idea of where the Games were being held so we drove around and finally found the grounds. Actually, we got lost for about 30 minutes and since it was a small town, we eventually did find the right place.

It wasn’t packed with people and I said so, “a wee bit thin on attendees”. We found the demo grounds and no one was there. We decided that maybe they moved the demo to another site and we need to drive around to find it.  Marlena FINALLY got in touch with her contact, and she founds out that the date is the weekend AFTER Labor Day. This is after a 2-hour drive to get there!

Kathy and I turned to look at Marlena. She quickly responded that she thought it was this weekend.  Since the weekend was shot anyway, we headed towards home. We still had to pick up my sheep on the way back and the drive to the sheep farm is quite silent. I figured since we were down in the local area to swing by and get some sheep that I had bought a bit ago.

We got to the sheep farm and people spilled out of the house to greet us. I was expecting the two owners but there were about 10 people. They told us they put the sheep into the main stall and we can back the trailer up and load them. I left Kathy to back the trailer up, as I am hopeless in that department. We opened the trailer door and yet once again, the new sheep do not go in.

“Have you ever loaded these sheep before?” I asked the owner.


“OK, I’ll climb in and use Haig to load them. How familiar are they with Border Collies?” I asked as I peeled off my coat so I could slide between the feeder panels.

“Never seen a dog and I brought all of my spinner friends over so they could see a Border Collie work.
Now my brain was clicking, fast, as in very fast. The sheep were in a 6 foot by 30 ft stall and never been loaded or worked by a dog. This was a recipe for disaster. I looked at Kathy and she promptly replied, “Haig is much better than Jill in stall work and I’ll man the trailer gate’“. She bolted at sub-sonic speed.

Great, I thought to myself. I lifted Haig and squeezed him into the stall. I told him to walk up and the sheep all backed up, one slow foot at a time. Meanwhile, I was squeezing my body between the feeder panels so I could help load sheep. One thing one must remember, the size you are in High School is not the size you are when you have more years on you. The panel would let a size 4-jean person slip through, but quickly gripped my size 6 jeans in vise grip. I was stuck and was hanging, feet off the ground and my head and arms about 6 inches from the floor. The other folks were at the other end and on the other side of the trailer (thankfully) and could not see my dilemma. However, it would have been nice to have someone push me through the slots.  I decided it would not be a good idea to back out, as my jeans were caught on a nail and I could only go forward at this point. (Note: If I went back, my jeans would peel off and not only does Marlena not like swearing, I think partial nudity is out too!)

Haig, meanwhile, had enough of trying to move the sheep at a snail’s pace, and when they refused to move, he cranked up his power. Several of the ewes decided to charge him. I was in the line of fire and dangling like a stuck pig, squealing at Haig “Lie down” and cursing loudly under my breath. The sheep retreated and I managed to squeeze through, only to fall first in fresh sheep poop. So, Haig decided that since I was busy cleaning myself, he leaped up to move the ewes and they all knocked me down and I yelled at Haig to down.

Someone called to me “How are you doing? We have the gate open so you can load the sheep anytime now.” I knew for a fact that it wasn’t Kathy as she was wise to the situation, and she didn’t want to trade positions.

Therefore, after a bit, sheep flying, Haig working hard, and I was grabbing onto ewe’s necks, we managed to load the sheep. After Kathy closed the gate, the spinners all clapped. I tried to tactfully wipe off the sheep poop from my chest and act as if it was no big deal. They all asked when we would run at a trial and could they come to watch. Marlena quickly informed them of the demo that we were doing the next weekend. (Note: the next weekend Kathy and Marlena were at the demo as I went on another camping trip with the spouse)

Did I fail to mention when the sheep were not challenging Haig, that they were bouncing off the stall walls like hot popcorn?

We hit the road, thinking we were FINALLY home free. Never assume this. We got to Marlena’s and had to unload Marlena’s sheep that were in front of the trailer (separated from my sheep) and somehow we managed to unload my sheep, unload Marlena’s sheep and put my sheep away. Again, not satisfied with their earlier tour of the neighborhood, Marlena’s sheep went for the tour again. One feisty ewe galloped to the next-door neighbors (who happen to complain about her sheep and dogs), took a tour of their garage, ran across the fresh cut lawn, jumped on the deck and onto the deck furniture and left greeting cards everywhere. I am sure the neighbor was enjoying their vacation somewhere else as if they had decided to stay home; they most certainly would not have enjoyed this. After putting everyone away, Kathy and I headed to my place.

We pulled in at dusk. We unload my new sheep in the upper pasture, let the dogs out of the kennels, and go in the house to relax. We decided to make dinner and all the dogs but Kate and Maya came in. Since they were only about a year old, we let them play with their big ball for a few minutes. About five minutes later, Kathy called and no dogs. She called again and no dogs.  My farm is fenced and somewhat remote and these two dogs are usually quick to respond. We went down and looked for the dogs and they had disappeared. We walked to the pasture and Kate came running up to me, covered in dirt and looking naughty. I looked at Kathy and we raced to the upper pasture. Maya (we assumed) had dug a hole under the gate and her best pal, Kate, and she, went herding. They had only been in there for about 2 minutes.

Bet you did not sheep could swim. One ewe decided to swim back and forth in the pond to evade the dogs. The other ewes were in the corner and had stood off the dogs. We did a quick check on the ewes in the corner and all were safe...just a bit miffed.  The swimming ewe decided she didn’t want our help so swam to the other side. We waited for her to climb out but she figured out safety was in the water and refused to get out. We fashioned a lasso and tried to rope her. (Note. Do not hire us for our roping skills). After multiple failed lasso attempts and trying to grab her and pull her out we sat down and looked at each other. She seemed fine and by now, it was dark. Our one tiny penlight was dying (Jeff took the other flashlights camping) so we decided to go to the store and get a new flashlight so we could try to continue to get the ewe out of the water.

Off we went to QFC, grabbed a big flashlight.  I wrote a check for over $20 so I would have change.  We tried to open the flashlight package. It was sealed in plastic and we struggled and struggled. Finally we asked the guy in line behind us, who opened it and put it together, and tested the flashlight. I think he doesn’t shop there anymore after that night!! We bolted out of the store.  I forgot to get my $20 in change and remembered it the next day.

We raced home and with our new working flashlight, and went to look for the swimming ewe. As we walked into the pasture, we saw her among her pals, soaked but eating grass. We thought all was done when a small bleat stopped us in our tracks. We walked over to the pond and found another sheep in the pond. We had one Doctor and one Engineer and obviously, neither one could count how many sheep were in the pasture. Once again, we tried to get a ewe out of the pond and she swam around the pond to evade us, at least three full lengths, back and forth. We speculated she was the daughter of the big wet ewe. Finally, she swam to the other side, climbed out, and raced to join her pals. Both could give Esther Williams a run for her money….ooops, I mean laps!

Kathy and I were exhausted, went up to the house, and ate dinner. It was late, almost midnight so we figured what else can go wrong?  We both headed off to bed. Kathy was staying in the guest bedroom, which is downstairs. I fell into a sound sleep, dead to the world.

Apparently, very early in the morning, Kathy got up, and went outside in her PJs. These PJs happen to be missing two buttons, one in a certain area.  She claimed she went to investigate a noise. The door shut behind her and locked. Therefore, Kathy was outside, in her revealing PJs and banged on the door to have me open it. You can’t wake the dead so I never heard her. Kathy gave up, removed the guest bedroom screen, and fell back into the house.

Monday, Jeff came home and asked how our weekend was. Kathy and I look at each other and both said, “It was really exciting.” We left it at that.

 I haven’t yet, to this day, told Jeff that weekend was the wrong weekend for herding. I think there are some things you should not tell your spouse in order to have a happy marriage, and this is one of them.

“Ignorance is Bliss“