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 2, 2012

3 Dogs Right, or Snowbirds - 2011

There aren't many sheepdog trials around the country that will allow you to enter 3 dogs. There's a good reason for that. The more dogs entered, the more work to be done. Competition days have to added, more sheep must be brought in, volunteer and paid help is stretched thin, and it's a lot of before daylight until way after dark. And yet, Jennifer and Ron Ewers of Canines and Ewe Border Collies do it year after year...

Star runs out
This year the trial ran over 5 long days and went off like buttah. That's what experience and good help will get-cha. There were 2 opens over 4 days, 2 nursery classes and 2 Pro-novice on Sunday. In total, something in the neighborhood of 250 runs were made possible. That's a lot of set-out, running, judging and exhaust. Speaking of which, I was fairly exhausted and beginning to fray by Friday, and all I had to do was show up and run.

My dogs were brilliant this week, I have to say. Mirk was solid as solid could be, and at his ripe old age of 8 years, I can finally kick back and have fun with him. I count on him now. He will listen, he will stop, he will go, and depending solely on my ability on any given day, he will finish well or win most of the time. 84 dogs in each of 2 open divisions, and he placed in both on efficient work and a calm, capable presence. He has risen through my ranks, and sits solidly atop the pile now. He is my #1 dog.

Star is oh-so-cool at the pen
After a rocky run in the first open, Star rallied on Saturday. He was unsure of the lambs and a bit too cautious at first, but he had things well in hand in the 2nd go. He looked like his old self again. I encouraged him at the top to lift stompy Suffolks set on hay, and quite happy to remain buried there. After that it was simply a matter of maneuvering his very precise power-steering. I'll say it again...he is the most exact dog I've ever run, and he gives me that on my very softest whistles.

In the shed he had to hold 2 lambs that moved apart after I called him through. It gave me pause, which wasn't necessary. He had them cold. This time out, he shined at the pen, giving me his softest steps and slightest leans to smoothly and calmly complete the task. With plenty of time to make the single, it was my poor judgement that caused us to time out there. No fault of the dog. Quite honestly, I fell apart, and I have no idea why.

It wasn't nerves, I was calm. It wasn't the weather, which was glorious. It wasn't the dog that just needed to be summoned. I think Jennifer Ewers had it right when we discussed afterwards; "aw, that just happens sometimes." 13th place is laudable without a single, but, damn it! Another 10 points would have catapulted us easily to the pay window. Jennifer and Ron pay a lot of money to the first 3 places.

Very nice
The latest acquisition to my kennel is Buff, and he's not even mine. Thank heavens for that, because Amanda, the lady who owns him, could not have found a more perfect dog for her and I. Good luck finding a 4 year old dog that will place 8th with me in a huge open, then turn right around in the pro-novice and assist a first-time trialer to an 11th place finish out of 33 dogs! Yeah! Good luck with that! I never noticed it before, but his halo appeared brightly at the end of pro-novice day. What a nice dog! Seriously, I love him. He deserves to sleep on the bed.

He can run out a bit wide, but just a toot turns him in to fly around at the top spot on balance. Yeah, you might lose a point on the outrun, but he's sure to make it up. Like operating a remote-control car, all I did was steer and change speed around the course. We hit every panel, made the shed look choreographed and the pen look big. I'm telling you, he's one helluva dog. We timed out at the single for 8th place, and the 2nd time he's accumulated USBCHA points for me in the slight 6 months I've been running him. Oy! He's a keeper.

Buffy the wonder-dog
Here's some names you want to remember the next time you put on a dog trial; Jennifer's mom and both dads. They just make the day brighter. Tricia Guidry, who will do whatever is needed at just the right moment. Leon Harrison, who rocked as course director. And I've saved the best for last; Dianne Deal, who judged every, single run...over 250 of them covering five grueling 10-hour + days. Sheesh girlfriend, where did you find the fortitude? And, she did it with unfailing good humor, and no lunch break.

Dianne Deal gets the sheepdog Purple Heart
And yet another Snowbirds on the Border Sheepdog Trial is in the books. The competitors this year were an unusually great group for the most part. How nice is that? I saw no chest-thumping, and didn't hear a single Tarzan call. Of course he wouldn't allow Cheetah to come without him, so it was just a really good time.

Ron and Jennifer...Good job!