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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rising from the Ashes

Phoenix Nest
Any one watching my run last weekend with Mirk at the Snowbirds on the Border Sheepdog Trial, may have made the mistake of thinking that I was unhappy with him or disappointed by his performance. I made the decision to call him off just before the cross drive panel after struggling up to that point all the way around. Clearly we weren't going to place or even finish well, so I made that decision to save time for the organizers and to make life a little easier for the Judge, Sarah Boudreau. She had to judge something like 140 runs throughout the trial and there was just no sense making her expend her energies on that one.

Mirk gets his collar tight in unfamiliar places and, with our present economy, I haven't been able to trial much, which is exactly what he needs. It would do him a world of good to go to new places, work all different kinds of stock and simply learn to settle down.

He ran out with intention, which was good to see, but a fence on the left hand side of the field stopped a hundred yards or so in front of the set out. If the dogs followed the line of it and did not kick themselves out where it ended, it put them on a perfect path to cross their outrun in front of the sheep. This is where Mirk was headed, but on my sharp stop and come-bye flank he widened and finished well.

The lay of the land prevented me from seeing his approach, even from on top of a hay bale, but the sheep told me he came on too strong. They were setting on hay and I saw more than a few dogs struggle with the lift or fail to do so altogether, so I have no complaints. Plus he took my stop immediately, the fetch started nicely and I was pleased to see him hold the line by calmly taking my flank whistles without being rash. The trotty lambs buggered off in front of the panel and we just missed it, but it was no fault of the dog.

He started a nice turn around the post, but I mistakenly prevented him from covering out of concern for his intentions there, causing the turn to be wide, which made the first drive leg off line. We made the panel, but it was wobbly and Mirk made sure they didn't get away at the turn by taking a snappy grip. I thought Sarah would have me off there. The cross drive was ugly with the lambs all over the place. I just couldn't find a line and repeatedly flanked my dog back and forth trying to. We were high and then low with Mirk more tense by the minute. It was evident he had enough when one of the lambs made a half-hearted break and he went in fast to give it a a shake. I called him off, gave him a pat and calmly exhausted the sheep.

He'll be fine. In fact I was really pleased with much of the work he did. I loved his enthusiasm on the gather and the fact that he listened so well and took the re-direct cleanly. At the top, which was initially a fairly signifigant stumbling block for us, he listened well again and was clean and willing when he started the fetch. He showed plenty of presence where many lacked it and you simply can't buy or create power for one that has none. You'll never hear me complain about lack of it in Mirk and I'm more confident each time I run him that the rest of it will come.

Like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes, one day soon Mirk will rise up and show himself to be the dog that I've always known him to be.

The gorgeous webshot that I used in this post is called "Phoenix Nest" and was created by Abby Morgan, a digital artist and website designer in Kansas City, Missouri. The photo of Mirk is courtesy of Amanda Milliken.

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