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.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where is everybody?

With Europeans, Alberto Stern & Patrick Palmeri at Meeker in 2007

Has anybody else noticed that something is missing at the Meeker Sheepdog Championship this year? I'm home watching on my computer, and first noticed it when some of the preliminary scores that quailfied for the semi-finals seemed awfully low to me, even by Meeker standards. Admittedly, this is one of the toughest trials in North American, and not because of the course or field, but because of the sheep, and low scores are certainly not uncommon, but something just seemed off.

I remember one year during the handler's meeting when our judge, Scotland's former Int'l Supreme Champ, Bobby Henderson, was talking about his view of the drive. Former Meeker champion, Melinda Hanley, rose her dainty little hand and made a very salient point. She explained that in her preliminary run up to the finals and her win, she had only a handful of drive points remaining at the end of it. She was asking that Bobby take the notorious sheep into consideration while judging, and
Bobby definitely did. There were more than a few who questioned his leniency, particularly on grips, but it was Meeker after all.

After giving it some thought, I started ticking off many top hands and former Meeker finals qualifiers, champions and reserve champions who didn't make the trip. Where are Jack and Kathy Knox? Haley Howard? Lyle Lad? Elizabeth Baker? Jeanne Weaver? Hub and Allison Holmes? Bruce and Linda Fogt? Dale Montgomery? Tony Stewart? Barbara Ray? Are they all bitten by our shared financial tragedy, or did they get wait-listed, or wait-listed again? Is trialing now just for those who can afford the gas money and lucky enough to get in? Is the year-end points race simply a trailer race like some say it is? I've always argued against that, but am re-thinking my position at this point.

I don't have the answer, and I don't know why the good folks I've mentioned didn't make it. Today I'm looking at the semi-final scores and it appears that the cream will rise to the top in any case with the likes of Amanda, Bev, Bud, etc. posting strong scores and more good hands like Scott, Emil and Tommy yet to run. With so many toughs missing from the preliminary line up, and with many top hands rebuilding their bench with young dogs, it seems like there was a golden opportunity at Meeker this year.

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