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, April 10, 2009

The weather was perfect

Last weekend I ran my dogs at the Deer Creek Trial in Porterville, CA just about 3.5 hours North, if you're not pulling an RV like I was. The weather and the field were perfect, but the reason it's one of my favorites is because of the camping. A wide, shallow river runs warm and slow along one side of the field. I parked my trailer facing it about 30 feet away and the dogs and I spent all weekend playing in the river. There were even tadpoles, and if you've been reading this blog, you know how I love those little guys. The sheep at this trial are notoriously tough, made even tougher by the fact that the mouth of the exhaust is just about parallel with the post and nearby. They are overnighted and fed in the exhaust, so the fetch, turn around the post, and turn at the cross-drive panel are heavily influenced by the draw and many, many teams lose at those spots. Many dogs lost on the lift as well where these rangy, Western ladies sized them up immediately and discriminated against those showing even the slightest weakness. It was an excellent test of the dogs and easy to identiry the ones you would break bones to own.
For years the trial has been produced by the venerable San Joaquin Valley Border Collie Association. This successful group produces many trials per year and has been at it for a very long time. I appreciate their efforts and what they have done for California sheepdog trialing. Their trials were the first I traveled away from home to attend and I learned a great deal early on from competing at them. The trial this year was the most relaxed and hospitable that I remember it every being and ran smooth as glass all weekend long. Maybe I've just mellowed with age and distance, or maybe the more irascible temperaments stayed home.
In years past it has been quite hot at this trial, but Saturday dawned cold and clear with a steady breeze that cooled us all day. Sunday was warmer and made things a little tougher on the dogs, but not for me. With just under 50 dogs running per day and many of the runs cut short, the trial ended early and I spent Sunday afternoon with my chair and my feet sunk in the sandy river bottom where I drank a cold one and read a good book for hours. With my dogs playing in and out of the river around me, it was the most peaceful afternoon I've spent in a long time.
Neither of my dogs ran particularly well and I came home with a brand new plan for Mirk. He landed on the set out pen on Saturday then lost his sheep at the lift on Sunday after making a brilliant outrun before flattening out completely at the top. Price is compromised by reduced lung capacity from a healed infection, and ran out of gas when the sheep were so difficult the first day. The aged ewes improved by Sunday, but I didn't have the horsepower, power steering or brakes necessary to place better than 9th. The finish was shed, pen, single and, as usual, he was rock stady there. Each day fewer than half the entries received scores. No matter. It is such a beautiful spot that I let it all flow downstream and stayed an extra day to listen to the river. Please click here for all the scores

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