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, September 3, 2010

SoHo Saga Day 1

SoHo started like SoHo always starts, with the first set of sheep coming out, going back, and being put away. Just like so many of the hands on the first day, the set-out crew usually needs a mulligan. I didn't keep track of all the scores and they're posted on the website anyway, so just go here to see who scored what. I'll just give you a few details.

The handler's meeting at 7am

We are running on April lambs they tell us, but these are big healthy youngsters who consistently took every advantage today. They ran when they wanted, stomped when they felt like it, won more than one standoff, were very much unafraid, and only sometimes settled if they liked a particular dog. Didn't happen very often and usually on the first leg of the drive if a dog managed to hang in there outsmart them survive the fetch. Early  on a few sets penned like 4H sheep, but they became testier as the day wore on.

Mirk and I were in 5th place with a 59 for a few minutes after our early run

My dog wasn't bad, but he was not near good enough. We ran 14th, and Mirk required a re-direct that propelled him nicely to the top, and he made a good lift. The sheep leaned left, and instead of covering, he followed, which caused them to squirt like a tube of toothpaste that's been hit with a sledge hammer, and all of a sudden we had sheep flying left to right instead of up to down. Not good. We made the fetch panel, and I want to tell you that it is a very long way from the far right-hand side of the field back to do that. We made a nice job of the turn and drive away panel. There is a Bermuda Triangle just in front of the cross-drive panel where sheep and dog disappear completely. After shifting position I caught a sheep tail which told me mine were headed uphill. I flanked Mirk away, and the sheep went through the panel, don't ask me why, though, I have no idea. I jokingly blamed it on the electronic scoreboard which buzzes and rattles while dog and sheep traverse part of the crossdrive directly beneath it, but I could not compel Mirk to give the sheep sufficient personal space in the shed ring, and we shed running sheep on the butts as a result. Not good. Plus it took us so long that we timed out at the pen for a solidly mediocre run. It was a decent run, but no where near a good run, and nowhere even close to good enough here. That's why they give you two runs.

Suzi Applegate, Tommy Wilson and Wilda Bahr on the VIP deck. Yes, there's a VIP deck.

I didn't watch a lot of runs. Of the ones I watched, South African, Faansie Basson had the best and he finished 3rd qualifying his first dog for the final on Monday. The group I was sitting with during his run all agreed that we should call INS and have his travel restricted to the US from now on because we are tired of him consistently making us look bad. The names you are used to seeing at the top of the leader board were conspicuously absent today, but of course they do get another go. Amanda, Bev, Scott, Haley, and such all fell victim to the sheep, and Berhow ran good dog Pete who is 10 and was beaten by time, weather and altitude. Not only do they all have a 2nd dog, however, but they all get another go with the ones they ran today, and you can bet they're plotting plan B even as I write. There were some good runs that just weren't good enough. Among those, I saw Wilda Bahr run well with Liz, Ellen Skilling have a good go with Emer, and Ron Burkey run smooth with Hank. I would probably count Mirk on the edge of that group anyway, but we will have to overcome our shortcomings to persevere here.

Allen Mills together with his Price daughter, Sis on the left, and her proud papa.

I was asked to do a dog-training demonstration for spectators each day of the trial, and I did one this afternoon at 4 O'clock. Star got the call and I used him to demonstrate how we teach dogs to flank, gather, drive and shed to a crowd of 25 or so enthusiastic on lookers. Star was very good on trial promoter, Mark Petersen's farm flock, but he worked pretty hard in the heat of the day, and of course he's certainly not used to the altitude. Right now he is sacked out hard in the dog condo. Travel, socialization and all kinds of work is just what he needs to help him mature, and I was pretty proud of little Starman today.

Annual welcome pizza party at day's end

The thing about SoHo is that the trial is so nice, the scenery so beautiful, the competition and camaderie so invigorating, and the hosts so gracious and accomodating, that even when you have a bad day, most can still manage a great time. As for me, I'm just so happy to be here that my dissappointment was easily and instantly overcome by all of the above. I too am plotting plan B, and have a couple adjustments to make on my next run. In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying the breath of fresh air, and seeing friends that I have missed in some cases for the more than 3 years.

Much congrats to Jean Gellings, today's winner, who not only is a really nice lady, but runs a very good bitch named Star. Out of her husband's bitch, Jan, by Bobby Henderson's famous Bill the pair were unbeatable today against stiff competition under demanding conditions. We're used to seeing her husband, Dennis in the money, but she proved today that he's not the only Gellings to watch out for. Well done.

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