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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Think Tuscany

All photos in this post courtesy of
On the open field

They were at it again, those hard-working ladies of the Hopland Sheepdog Trial. I think it's Marilyn's baby, but Clare is right there beside Amber, Geri, Lana, Gloria and others to create what has become in the last 2 years a personal favorite of mine. It's just so breathtakingly gorgeous...think Tuscany. Did I mention the hospitality? The local 4H club knows what we like and they served it up hot, fresh and home-made all weekend.

What makes or breaks a dog trial? Lots of things, but none more importantly than the sheep. Held on the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Campus, the Targhee cross ewes are homegrown and there's something like 900 hundred available. They are big, healthy, and as even as you can hope to find in size, temperment and action. Of course their behavior changed with the weather and timing, but overall, they stayed true to their raising and flowed nicely in front of quiet dogs with feel, charging away from the rest but rarely just up and spoiling anyone's run. I run defensivly at so many trials. We could truly handle at this one, and it was really fun.

The weather played a role in the outcome and we were delayed hours on Saturday morning by pea-coat-fog that forced the last 8 or so runs into Sunday. When the fog did finally lift, the cold remained and it barely got above 50 all day with the sun rarely peeking through passing gobs of ominous clouds. Sunday was so much better. The fog rose early, allowing bright sunshine for most of the day leaving handlers to enjoy an indescribably idyllic view across oak-dotted hillsides, and late-season vineyards in the last throes of blazing color. Think Tuscany...

Tammy 1, sheep 0

Uncommon for me, I traveled with friends. In other words I didn't drive...much, and it was so very nice. I'm a great passenger! Who knew? Jan and Mandy ran their pro-novice dogs on Friday, and I had Tam to contend with in that mix. The girls ran great, their dogs giving them every opportunity, and my little Tam-O-Canter surprised me with 2 fairly precise runs, 1 successful pen and 2 scores. He's 18 months old, and it was his first-evah trial. I think he's got a bright future, that one.

Mirk was evah-so-smooth in both opens placing 6th on Saturday. I held him back just a little too much on Sunday trying to make every step count. Perfection takes time, and we were about 10 seconds from acheiving a reasonable proximity. In other words we timed out with sheep just moving past the mouth of the pen. *Sigh* So close!

I was running Mandy's Buff in open as well. After my near miss with Mirk on Sunday I determined to bear down with Buff. He has never run as well for me as he did on that day, and we just managed the win with a  big Plus Sign next to our tied score that made us the winner on outwork. Winning is great. I love it. It's fun. Nothing about winning, however, could touch how I felt watching Mandy's reaction when she found out her beloved dog had won. After Buff's grand run, she was levitating, I swear. Hundreds of miles later over dinner at Harris Ranch, we checked Facebook where the final scores were posted, and the win brought tears to her eyes. Man, I really love that stuff.

Buffy the Hopland-ewe-slayer

We stayed in Ukiah at an unusually dog-friendly Super 8 Motel about 12 miles from the Hopland trial site. Wineries and trendy eateries abound, but we neglected them all choosing hard-core dog-trialing by the seat of our pants. I'll be back with my friends. We'll enjoy the scenery, the hospitality, the tremendous sheep, the gorgeous field, the camaraderie and competition. Until then, we'll just have to look forward and think Tuscany.


  1. I am so happy for Mandy and for you. She sounds like she truly loves her dog. So nice to hear about.

  2. Thanks Kathy. I agree that her love for that dog is a wonderful thing. There's lots to love, that's for sure. I'm so blessed to play a part in it.