Monday, October 12, 2009

Trials and Catching up

I thought i ought to catch things up here, it's been nearly a month since i did. The last post about the dogs was right after the trial at Don McCaig's. The weekend following the trial we had a group lesson at Julie's, and little did we know but one of the dogs had picked up kennel cough at the trial. About 5 days after the lesson, Meg and Tug (formerly known as ZJ) started coughing, only 2 days before the WFAC trial. That sure threw a monkey wrench into our plans! With some careful planning and good common sense, we managed to get through the trial and to not pass it around to those attending, whew. Speaking of the trial, it really was awesome, and what great friends around here to come together and do such a terrific job. I ran all three Open dogs at the trial and they ran well enough. Bill was the only one to place, coming in 4th the first day. It's hard to run dogs and run the trial, so i was pleased enough with them. And Bill gets his first USBCHA points! Actually, if we need it, that could count as his first Nursery leg too - a top 20% placement in Open counts towards Nursery qualifying.

The day after the trial, the dogs that hadn't been coughing started up. Eventually all 7 managed to have kennel cough, but other than for Meg, it wasn't that bad, just a day or so each. Poor Meg coughed for 8 or 9 days and pretty hard. By the end of the week, everyone but her was done, so i loaded up Bill and Zac, and Joan brought along Brook, and we headed up to the first day of the Montpelier SDT. Zac ran very well but we couldn't get the shed. Had we run later in the day, i might have taken a cheap shed instead of getting stuck trying to do it properly. But we ran early and i didn't know proper sheds were going to be few and far between (not sure i saw more than a couple all day). Bill ran later in the day and got completely flummoxed by the heavy school sheep that just stood there with their heads down in the grain pan. He finally got frustrated and chased one off and grabbed it. I felt bad for him, he's just not seen anything like that before. Zac had similar trouble when he was young and got over it, and i'm sure Bill will too, but i sure hated seeing it. We spent some time working on it during the next week and he seemed to figure it out a bit.

So, on to the Edgeworth SDT this past weekend. I had all 3 dogs entered. I ran Bill first in both rounds and he didn't find his sheep either time. It was just too far out for him and without redirects and with only a beginning of a turnback, i didn't have a good way to help him. At the end of the trial, the Wilsons offered to let us help dogs that hadn't made it to the top, so i walked most of the way up with him and sent him to pick the sheep up. He was gimpy on one of his feet, so i didn't want to overdo it with him, but i wanted to be sure he got to find sheep. I doubt it will make that much difference but by next year, we'll have more tools in our toolbox for getting up there. I regret entering him but i doubt it'll cause any irreparable harm. I won't do it again with a dog that doesn't have the things i need to help him or her get out there.

This year, i finally got to run Zac at Edgeworth! He's been hurt the last 2 fall seasons, so hadn't run out there before. He had trouble getting out there but with some help, did get there at least. In the first round, i sent him right and it took 4 or 5 redirects, but he did get there. He lifted badly to the side but caught the sheep, and we got them online, and the rest of the run was really pretty. Lines were good, turns tight, good flow. The split and pen were extremely nice with Zac doing an exceptional job on the shedding. We ran out of time on the single, with it he would have been well into the placings. Zac's second run was pretty lousy. He didn't want to take the redirects and crossed over. He did take a beautiful turnback to finish on the left side (i'd sent right) nicely. The lift was straight and sweet but the sheep tore down the fetch like bats out of hell. It wasn't like Zac at all, he's a pretty pacey fetcher. I'm not sure if it was him or the sheep or a combination of both but it wasn't good. The first leg of the drive was similar, though at that point i finally had control on Zac so i know it wasn't him. Hearing was bad near the first gate and Zac took a wrong flank, causing the sheep to veer around. I decided to retire and so did one of the sheep - one of the rear ones finally had enough of trying to keep up with the running leaders and laid down. I had Zac catch the runners and settle them near the down one, and she finally popped up okay. Frustrating to say the least!

Jet had her usual good Edgeworth. She always manages to do pretty well there, and finished 2nd in each of the last 2 years, by one point each time. She ran out nicely wide both days to the right. She did pull up well short both times, on pressure (actually short of the balance point but covering it as she walked in). In her first run, she lifted well but the first half of the fetch was off, and then the rest of the fetch and the drive were nice. Her split, pen, single were really sweet. It's so much fun to shed with Jet - she makes holes with me and really partners up for the job, comes in like a bullet and holds like a brick wall. Her second run was the last of the day on saturday and the wind was blowing, making it hard for the dogs to hear. She still ran very well, the only real blip (other than being short up top) a bad miss on the crossdrive gates when she couldn't hear me. She ended up placing both days, the first time for that! She was 5th out of 60 dogs in the first round, and 9th out of 58 in the second. Go Jet! The trial was a lot of fun and i was very pleased with Jet and Zac for 3 of 4 runs. The first go featured a turn around a post about 100 yards from the handlers post to begin the drive, as well as a marked shed. I was very happy with the tight turns my dogs made at that post, and their shedding was gorgeous. I'll be looking forward to the winter trial at Edgeworth.

So next up is the Lexington SDT this coming weekend. Bill is entered in Nursery and Open, and Jet and Zac in Open. I'm not sure Bill will get to do all of that, he's got a sore foot so i'll have to see how he looks. I'll decide on the Open runs after seeing how he does both performance-wise and on his foot in the Nurseries. I want to back off a bit on him and not be pushing him on too quickly. I wasn't too happy to see him having trouble the last two weekends and don't want him having another bad experience, not so soon anyway. He'll be fine but there's no need to rush things with him.

Other than all of the trial stuff, i've been just having a blast with the puppies, Moon and Tug. They're great pups, happy and bright and funny. Tug especially cracks me up - he's a very playful little guy, just like his dad, and into everything. Moon is sweeter and more loving, and a better listener, wanting to do right. As much as i can't wait to see how they turn out as sheepdogs, i wish i could freeze them in place right now and keep them little! Meg has moved on to a new home. I'd decided to maybe keep her around longer but ran into a friend needing another dog, so decided to let Meg go to kind of help her out. But then she found another dog before Meg got over the kennel cough and was ready to go. While all of this was going on, a top handler stepped in and said she was looking and asked if she could see Meg, and bought her on the spot. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of Meg on the national scene in about a year and i'll be crying the blues for selling her! But it's a good thing for Meg and for the rest of the Shoofly dogs too. It's easy to get spread too thin and then everyone gets cheated, and i was sitting here with four dogs at or under 2 years old. Too many.

I think that about catches us up on the dogs. Hopefully i'll have lots of good things to report after the trials the next two weekends!

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