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.

Agility Weekend

Well last weekend was our Extreme Agility Team trial. I always enjoy our trials - it is almost like working at home because I know everyone who is there, and feel at home helping out in the rings and at the scoretable.

I've been really pleased with how my dogs have been working in practice lately, and am pleased to say the results showed at the trial.

Zora - 13 runs, 10 qualifying. (Average rate of qualifying for NADAC is about 15% so that was an AWESOME weekend)
I was very proud of Zora because she qualified in a very difficult Chances run on Saturday night. The run required a long send to a tunnel, with the tunnel exit facing 3 jumps fanned out. The dog had to come out of the tunnel over the center jump, U turn over the closest jump back into the tunnel, then go all the way to the far jump. After that was 2 more jumps about 35' away followed by a tunnel/dogwalk discrimination. Zora gave it her heart and ran beautifully. Only 4 dogs out of the entire Elite class qualified on that course, and I was very proud of Zora to earn that round.

Magick - 10 runs, 7 qualifying. Magick and I have been chasing the last few points for her NATCH all summer. Fortunately she earned 2 more jumpers legs this weekend (only 2 were offered and she earned both!) so now we have only 2 rounds of jumpers left to complete her NADAC Agility Trial Championship. She will be my first NATCH dog. While I understand plenty of other people earn NATCHs right and left, it is a big accomplishment for me and my Magick dog. She has had to have 2 major knee surgeries in her life, and because of my teaching schedule I only trial her 5 or 6 times per year.

Paddy - 4 runs, 2 qualifying. Paddy earned her Elite Tunnelers title as well. Running Paddy is sheer joy, and every time I take her to the start line I thank her for being my soulmate. I don't care how she does, I just want us to have fun together.

This same weekend 3 of my students were competing at the NADAC Championships in Gillette, Wyoming. I am extremely proud of them, as each placed in the top 8 in several events and earned lots of qualifying rounds. They represented themselves and their training wonderfully, and my heart swells with pride for each of my students.

So, that was another weekend gone. It was well-spent.