01 October, 2008

Herding Clinic

This weekend was the herding clinic at Fido's Farm with Scott Glen. I have a great deal of respect for Scott. He is an extremely talented and skilled handler and trainer. He reads sheepdogs in a way that is really special and I know my understanding of his knowledge is just rudimentary at best. I'm sure when he is explaining himself to me he must feel like he is talking to a toddler.

Diane loaned me Lucy for the clinic. She was quite worried because she took Lucy to a trial and on her Pro Novice runs she was flat at the top and would not hold the pressure on the drive. I was surprised to hear this because both Diane and I have worked with Lucy to keep her outruns nice and deep and I have especially been working on her holding pressure during driving.

I went for a private lesson on Friday and reported the prior weekend's transgressions to Scott. Lucy did try to come in a bit tight the first time I sent her on an outrun. I called for a lie-down, applied a little pressure and she bent out nicely. For the rest of the weekend her outruns remained clean, wide and deep. She was back to her old self.

During the clinic Scott was teaching me how to get Lucy to understand short vs. long flank whistles on the drive, and to get her to take a steady whistle without stopping completely. By the end of the weekend she was understanding what I was asking a whole lot better.

I'm very sad because Diane has decided to send Lucy to Scott for 6 months of training. I know it is what is best for making Lucy a competitive Open trial dog, but I will miss her a lot, and miss being able to work her every week and see her progress. I will also miss her as my buddy on the sofa while I spend long nights doing email, and seeing her smiling face in my office each day at work. Lucy has been living with me about half the time and I am realizing I gave her a little too much of my heart considering she doesn't actually belong to me.

I went over to Diane's house tonight and had dinner with she and Scott, and got a mini-lesson with 2 of Diane's young dogs she is asking me to start until she is well enough to work them herself. I left Lucy with Diane tonight and Scott will take her away tomorrow. I know he will take care of her, and she will benefit from all of the knowledge and skill he has. I would never be able to put the training on Lucy that Scott will be able to do. However, my heart was breaking as I walked away and Lucy ran to the door, jumping up on the windows and wondering why she couldn't come with me as I left.

I will probably drive Scott crazy asking for updates, but Lucy is really a special part of my life. She is my friend and she will give me her whole heart and best effort every time I ask her to join me on the field. I will miss her very much, but Diane will have a much better trial dog when Lucy comes home next year.

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