The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Importing LAD

It was October when I traveled to Wales and purchased Lad from Richard Millichap. The weather was atrocious over there when I made my travel plans, which wasn't extraordinary for October, so I packed all my warmest clothes, enough for a week, and took off. A friend had taught me the trick of taking a crate over as 1 piece of luggage to save money. They're a bit hard to find in Great Britain and they're expensive when you do find one. With the pound worth slightly less than twice the value of a dollar, a 90 pound crate becomes roughly $180.00. You can check them as luggage, so that's what I did. 1 big suitcase, 1 large dog crate. I was in Scotland and Ireland for a month for the World Trial in 2005 and I saw immediately that there was no way I could ever background a dog the way a hill shepard can. They have the ground, they have vast numbers of sheep and the dogs are used on both all day every day. It's the reason their dogs are the best in the world. We have imported the breeding lines and created our own from them, but the only way to import the experience is to buy an aged, trained dog. I was really excited to get this dog and looking forward to trying my hand at running a dog that had been well trained by someone else. There are a couple of US handlers who have continued success with imported dogs, but I really admire Bev Lambert and what she's accomplished with Pippa, (Imported Scottish Nursery Champion) and Bill, also trained by and imported from Richard Millichap. Her record speaks for itself and she's won just about everything there is to win, and some of them twice. I wanted to give it a try. I got to Heathrow mid-morning and Richard came with a friend to pick me up and take me back to the farm about 3 hours away. He had warned me that he was getting ready for an annual ram sale and would be busy getting things ready. He said that if I was willing to ride along he could keep me entertained and we'd get a bit of dog work in at the same time. We got to the farm in the afternoon and I met the family, which included his mom and dad, Betty and Donald, and his kids, 15 year old Carley and 10 year old Leah. I had met his wife, Lisa, when they were over for Richard to judge a California trial in 2005.

It was easy to settle into the family's huge, 14th century farm house. It reminds me of a castle with its' 4 foot thick walls, high ceilings and massive stone fireplaces. The farm is breathtaking and the house is something out a story book. The house has been divided so that Betty and Donald live on one side with Richard, Lisa and the kids on the other. With Carley and Leah easily moving between the two sides, it seemed more like a village than a house. My room was on the second floor overlooking the back courtyard and at night I could imagine Tinkerbill flying through the mullioned windows. It's that kind of a place.

The next couple of days were a flurry of activity, which, I believe, is standard around there. With 1200 Ewes and 120 mother cows and just Donald and Richard to tend them, there's a bit of work to do. Donald is in his 70s and just as involved as ever. One day when I gave up trying to keep up with Richard, I dropped back to walk with Donald. He said "don't worry, I don't walk too far." He and I and a stove-up little black dog named Bob hobbled along to the house for lunch.

The amount of food that Betty puts out is prodigious. If you walk through her door, you will eat. And you will drink tea. She makes a spectactular little delicacy called a Welsh cake. It's like a sweet bisquit with raisins. They fit in your hand so nicely and before you know it, you've eaten 3. On Sunday she prepares a giant meal and, where every other meal is taken in the breakfast room, the Sunday meal is served at noon in the drawing room.

The Pendaryn Ram Sale occurs every year in October and this year they sold over 600 hd of yearling Welsh Mountain sheep. The Millichaps brought 13 hd and had high hopes for one in particular. Judging from the activity around the Millichaps' pen #22, they were'nt going to be disappionted. A lot of folks had appartently heard about this particular sheep and stoppped by to see him. It was by far the most visited pen in the yard. The sale barn is a small metal building with rows of pens outside and another building nearby where Richard's mom, Betty, and a few others made and sold sandwiches and gallons of tea all day long. As it turned out, the Millichaps had the highest selling ram that day and, at about $7,400, they broke the sale record with him as well. It was a good day and very fun for me to be a small part of it.

Richard and another friend took me back to the airport. I had the measure of the man when I saw how difficult it was for Richard to part with his dog. We were early at cargo and they wouldn't accept Lad for another 1/2 hour or so. Betty had sent me off with Welsh cakes that I knew would never make it on the plane. They look like little bombs. Virgin Atlantic is a very used-friendly airline and a pleasure to deal with. Because we had to wait, they offered us tea, which we drank with the Welsh cakes by the car until cargo was ready for us. After they accepted Lad we made our way to the terminal. Richard jumped out (with the exuberance of his youthful 36 years, he jumps around a lot), grabbed my suitcase and started inside. I could tell it wasn't easy for him sending his good dog off with some crazy American woman and he looked a bit stressed. I said; "Richard, put down the suitcase and give me a hug." To save his time, I just wanted him to drop me at the curb. He did as I asked and, with a lump in his throat, told me to take care of his dog.


  1. Hi,
    I'm Laura, I write from little Italy, is beautiful read of your travel in Wales.. especially now that I'm in search of puppy out of Millichap's Ben!
    Happy hearding and greetings from Italy!

  2. Hi Laura, I hope you find one! I now have two and both are exceptional dogs. Cheers