Well, parts of the Vashon Sheepdog Trial was a bust and other parts were wonderful. Maggi and her gang put on a superb trial, filled with tons of vendors, food, challenging sheep, great judge and tons of fun. I had fun, aside from the times my dogs failed to heed me on the field, then I was wishing I had a large pint of beer and pretending I was in College and doing large gulps. But alas, all I had was Vanilla root Beer which I consoled myself after my battered run with Maid on Saturday.
Karen Snepp has been my sponsor for Nan for the last few years and we really appreciate it. Maid’s sponsor was Punch Drunk Productions. We appreciate you sponsoring us. Lyle Lad was the judge and a superb judge at that. Much thanks to everyone who put on this fantastic trial.
Friday we all headed over to Vashon Island where we got caught up on Island traffic…a few hours later. We did board the ferry and made our way to the filed, just arriving in time to see the last PN run. But all was not lost, as the top 20 got to do round two. Janet and Kathleen made it! After that I finally made it to the house that Lani, Lynda, Francis and I had rented for the weekend. It was a two story house that was only three miles from the field. That was very nice as I would find out later. We went out to dinner at the Hardware Store and Doc Bob joined us. I had the duck pasta with pancetta. I had tons left over and it was very rich.
Saturday rolled in too early and Nan ran in the early slot. She ran fast and hard and was offline on the fetch. We mucked about on the drive, cleverly missing the panels but made up by the shed, pen and single. The shed was two attempts and as I was closing the gate door, one ram lamb leapt out so we had to do it all over again. Nan placed 15th out of 60 or so dogs. Maid plain just forgot to listen until the sheep were past the fetch panel. But we had a nice turns and start of a first leg, with a tidy turn, then the wheels fell off the wagon. She put the sheep down then up the field, then circle then gripped and had a jolly time. I had no idea what went wrong but maybe I have been giving her too much freedom the night before so she got the crate that night. Her attitude had changed dramatically the next day.
We were pretty tired and went to bed early. I was totally exhausted! Maid was my first dog up and she had a much more teaming attitude. The fog settled as she was sent so we could not see her at the top and she came out of the fog, offline but listened and put them back on. Just as they went past the fetch panels, they ran hard and she took it upon herself to head them which cost us dearly. We got it sorted and turned the post. The drive was much nice, again missing the panels but she was listening. Nice shed and pen. The heading on the fetch and bobbing on the drive cost us but she was willing to listen so I was happy. She is a work in progress but I love her dearly.
The rest of the day was dumping rain, cold and windy so I went back to the house to get dry and warm. I had gotten soaked during Maid’s run. Francis was there so we watched some cooking shows. I got some great tips from them! My last run was at the end of the day so I had about 6 hr of waiting. We relaxed and later wandered back to the field. By the time Nan was to run, it was thundering quite heavily. It was pretty constant and loud and Nan was freaking out. I worked on settling her but her eyes were spooked. I took her to the post and as she took off, it began to thunder and the ground shook and she slowed down and was terrified so I encouraged her and she went up the field but you could tell she was doing on her love for me to please me. She had a nice lift, then BOOM THUNDER, and she would flinch but held the line. We did a decent fetch, offline a little here and there and a wide turn as the lambs tried to run over her to get to the exhaust. I went to voice and softly talked to her and she relaxed and put them back on line. The drive was pretty good and we slide psat the panels and wobbled here and there as the thunder rolled and she would stop. But she held firm for me and marched them into the shed ring. The lambs swirled about in the ring like goldfish in display and she came in and held the shed. She marched them to the pen and e worked them in and it was done. The thunder kept going and Leslie was kind enough to do exhaust for me as I took Nan to the truck and held her in my arms until she was calm. Not many dogs around the time she ran got a score so the fact she did complete the course was great. I was happy she trusted me and then she leaned deep into me and I felt her heart join up with mine. We have come so far, this little Nan who had a huge wall around her heart when I first got her to a dog who gave me her heart that day.
Photos by Karen Snepp
After the runs were over, we bolted to the ferry and got home as darkness fell. That night Maid snored by my feet and Nan slept next to me, with her head on my lap. We could have done better point wise but areas of trust, we won.
We have some homework to work on this fall but dog trialing is a work in progress, a partnership that needs fine tuning and letting the heart fall more deeply in love.