Monday, August 1, 2011

Better late than, oh, never mind!

Forgive me, but I was in something of a crunch last week, but I did want to play, so here I am arriving late to the party (late to the party is nothing new after all!).

1. Most embarrassing trial moment

Ha! Emabarassing trial moment? NEVER! Seriously though, like with fights and everything else unpleasant and in the past, I tend to put that stuff out of my mind. But there is one recent event that I still dwell on at times (usually when I'm exasperated with the little dear). I've thought about it because it's almost time for the Highland SDT and I actually thought about running Ranger in nursery (um, a 350+-yard outrun).

I can see Laura smirking now. Why? Because she was kind enough to set sheep there for the P/N class last year so I could come off the top and run Ranger. Okay, to cut Ranger some slack, he had just turned a year old, and the outrun was long for an eastern P/N class (it was maybe 200 yards, would you say Laura?).

I still cringe to think about it, and when I tell you the story, you'll understand why.

First some background. I am an open handler. People pay me good money to set sheep at trials because they can count on my and my four-legged co-workers to do a good, consistent job no matter how awful the sheep might be. I am a good trainer. I have been to two finals and qualified for a few more. Not trying to brag, but just to give a little background here.

So I come down the field and Ranger and I walk to the post. Now remember, we've JUST COME FROM THE TOP. You know, WHERE THE ENTIRE FLOCK IS. We were JUST THERE.

Okay, so back to the run. I send Ranger to the right so he can't kick out too far (ha! she of the wide-running dogs--which Ranger most definitely is NOT--is using a time-honored strategy). Of course you know what's coming. If I remember correctly, Ranger barely made it past the fetch panels, maybe half way out, before cutting in. He wasn't even LOOKING for sheep. Oh, no, NOT. LOOKING. AT. ALL.

What was he doing, you ask? Well, he was looking at me. How is this possible? Because when he started to cut in and I tried to stop and redirect, I think he thought that I was telling him it was PLAY time. Yes, my dog was out there bounding around, looking at me instead of looking for sheep, his tail waving happily in the air. His body language was saying "Wheeeee! We're having fun out here in the middle of this big field!"

What's worse is that once I left the post I still couldn't get him to lie down and look back for his sheep. I had to run 2/3 of the way out there, all the while knowing that everyone was watching my moron of a dog leaping and bounding about as if he was having the time of his life.

I did finally get him out and around his sheep, but it pretty much went downhill (can you believe that's even possible?) from there and we exhausted the sheep (of course we couldn't even manage to do that with any sort of finesse).

Thank DOG I didn't have to hang around the handler's tent but instead could slink my way back up to the top, trailing my shame behind me....

Ranger in a slightly more serious trialing moment (because no one captured the ignominy that was Donald's trial, thank goodness):

2. Favorite whistle

I love, love, love my Arnold whistle. Of course Dave Arnold no longer makes whistles and I lost my favorite one of the two I had. (I was walking the dogs, pulled my sweatshirt off over my head, and apparently lost it then. I searched and searched and searched in the area where I pulled off that shirt, but never could find it. One of the saddest days....).

Aside from the cheap plastic whistle I learned to make noise one, the Arnold is what my first trainer used and so it was the first one I tried. It's shaped something like a kidney, but I don't blow it out of my mouth because I hold it with my teeth (which probably isn't a good thing if one is feeling stress while working one's dog--jaw fatigue is sure to follow).

I have tried a couple other whistles and there are some I might even like, but what I'd really like to do is convince someone with an Arnold to sell me their spare(s). I do have a copy in brass, but it's not quite the same. Still, it's better than nothing. And Bordercollics Anonymous doesn't have a photo, so you'll just have to imagine what it might look like. Then again, since no one seems to have them, what's the point of a photo? It's not like you'd be able to go find one after all!

And I'd really love to learn to finger whistle (for those times when I'm not doing anything that would prevent me from wanting my fingers anywhere near my mouth), but I seem to be a hopeless loser when it comes to that skill. Of course maybe if I really put my mind to it instead of just bemoaning the fact that I can't....

So there.


Laura Carson said...

Yep, I'd say it was about 200 yards.

I hate that I am going to miss Ranger's potential run this year. That one last year was pretty memorable. I didn't laugh at the time though. :) He definately had his YAY on.

Laura Carson said...

Ps - thanks for playing. :)