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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

That "Feeling"

Some dogs are special. You just get "that feeling" when you see them for the first time. The first time I saw Price he was 12 or 13 months old, beautifully flanking around stock, making perfect turns and going really fast. "That feeling" almost knocked me over. I was inexperienced and didn't know how seldom I would have "that feeling" but I instinctively knew that I wanted him. It was after my third attempt to buy him in as many months that I was given the opportunity and I marched straight to the truck and wrote a check on the spot. No small amount either for a pup with no more training than the shush and flank. I spent the next year royally screwing up me and him by getting uncommonly bad advice from an exceptionally poor and lazy so-called sheepdog trainer. Honestly, I couldn't have found anyone worse if I'd set out to do just that. We did manage to get qualified for the 2002 nursery finals in Lebanon, TN though and made the short go. Not too bad for a young dog and poorly schooled novice handler. Speaks to the quality of the dog, believe me. Through Price, I became hooked on the sport. He was just so very much fun to run and still is. After having a fortuitous high-combined Pro-novice win I decided that what I needed was to get out and see the world, the sheepdog trialing world anyway, and I traveled to Chris Jobe's Come Bye trial in Alberta, Canada. That's where I met Julie Matthews and everything began to turn around for us. She showed me a better way, which was a huge improvement over my then current way, which was a losing proposition to say the least. I met Bobby Henderson at that trial as well and paid a lot of money for a lesson. He said "what would you like to work on". I said "I would like to be able to drive a straight line". He asked me to drive my dog from here to there and when I did he said "shorten your there whistle". I said "shorten my there whistle?" He said "yeah". I said "that's it? shorten my there whistle?" He said "yeah". I said "$100 and that's it? Shorten my there whistle?" He said "yeah" and asked me to drive again from here to there, which we did in a straight line for the very first time. We began to have succes and get noticed. Sometimes getting noticed isn't all it's cracked up to be. I found that not everyone was as excited about our success as I was and often felt like I had a giant bull's eye on my back. Funny thing is that, while not everyone was happy for me, every one was happy for Price. He has some hard-core fans. I almost expect them to show up at dog trials where he's entered with 1 blue contact and a painted black widow's peak. "That feeling" will always tell you when you've found something special. I still get it sometimes when I run my dog. I am amazed at his intelligence, the body of knowledge he possesses and his continuing and unwaivering willingness to do whatever I ask. A very wise handler recently told me; "don't make it (trialing) about your ego, make it about the dogs" which is easy when you have a special dog.

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