Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Post, OMG!

So this past weekend, i decided at the last minute to see if i could get the dogs in to the Breezy Hill trial for one day, since it's only a 90 minute drive up there. Calling at 9:00 on friday night to see if you can run the sunday of a saturday/sunday trial is pretty last minute! If it had been me putting on the trial, i'd probably have spit into the phone, knowing how crazy the evening before a trial can be. But Debbie Johnson was very gracious and we did end up driving up for the sunday classes.

It was a little misty to start the day, a big improvement over the downpours they'd endured on saturday. We got there in time to watch the Pro Novice class. It's held in an arena sized area and a real challenge for the dogs, but i got to see some good work. Some was a bit rough but there were some nice dogs running and handlers that are working hard. It's been a few years since i'd been to this trial and i'd say the quality of the PN class has improved since then. Ranch was held on the Open field and there were only 3 dogs running. It was a tough job for the dogs, with the sheep being very wily about getting back to the setout pen.

After a nice hotdog and hamburger cookout lunch (and some yummy cake, mmmmm....), the Open began. It was a small class, 15 dogs i believe. Zeke was first up and very kindly didn't make the sheep work very hard. I wanted to practice some right hand outruns with the dogs, so had decided all 3 would go right. There's a ditch on that side of the field that runs down to the setout spot, and the dogs need to go over it to be right. Zeke decided to trail along it, and i was a little late stopping and redirecting him (redirect which he didn't take, grrr), so he blew right into the sheep from the side, they split and two ran back to the setout pen. Ooops. Sheep 1, Shoofly team 0. I ran Zac next and he managed to cross the ditch but was still tighter than i liked. The sheep fought him pretty good about coming off the top, trying to fake him out and split, but he kept them all together and coming the right way. We hit all the gates and penned, but i couldn't for the life of me figure out how to split the 4 sheep for the shed. They wanted to be behind me so much that i had a hard time even getting them to settle between me and Zac. So i'll call that one a draw. Sheep 2, Shoofly team 1. Bill ran last and i finally wised up to the fact that the sheep were much happier about dogs coming in from the left, so i let him go that way instead of sticking to my training plan of going right. He handled them nicely enough around the course, though i blinked at the fetch gate and let them slip around. I figured we'd have another terrible time with the shed since Bill isn't the most enthusiastic shedder on doggy sheep, and we had at least one of the same sheep i'd had with Zac. But somehow we got them split pretty nicely, yay! One for the team. So for the day, i score it Sheep 2, Shoofly team 2. Bill ended up in 3rd place, Zac in 6th, Zeke in the dog house.

All in all, it was a really nice day of trialing, with some super folks to hang out and visit with. The atmosphere was great, very supportive of all the new folks. I heard zero bitching about anything! Yeah, the sheep were doggy and wily, but they were the same for everyone and you know they'll be that way going in. It was a relaxing day and i enjoyed it immensely. And i didn't know it at the time, but apparently this was the 20th year of Roy and Debbie hosting trials at their place. That's quite the accomplishment and i for one appreciate it, even if i don't make it up there that often. Thanks, y'all!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We're Still Here!

Spot at Kingston, Photo by Kristi Oikawa

Bill at Kingston, photo by Laurie Schultz
Boy, if anyone ever wonders about that "time flies" expression, just try keeping up a blog. I can't believe it's been over 4 months since i posted something. I guess things just got busy with puppies and trials and travels and such.

When last we met (always wanted to use that phrase), the Bill X Rhyme puppies were 4 weeks old and occupying every free moment. THAT would explain why the blog went belly up. I enjoyed every single moment with those little beasties and wish i could have frozen them in time around the 4-5 week old stage. Gosh they were fun. I had a terrible time letting any of them go, but go they did, and all to wonderful homes. I still have Devin and Spot and they're doing great. They're long legged 5 month olds with sweet, loving personalities. They've both been on sheep a couple of times and show promise. Time will tell. I had intended to only keep one pup and may still let Devin go but haven't decided on that. Spot is my guy and reminds me a lot of Bill as a pup. Both pups are very athletic and social, and make me laugh a lot.

Bill at Kingston, Photo by Kristi Oikawa
The big dogs are doing fine. Zac and Bill had kind of a lazy spring/summer work-wise. Zeke got a bit of work and training as i was focusing more on him. He's matured a lot this summer, both physically and in his work. I ended up leaving Joe with my friend Vergil Holland for a couple months of training. I always train my own dogs but it seemed like a good thing to do this time around for various reasons. I got him back a few days ago and i'd say the decision was a good one. I don't think i'll run him until next spring but we should have some fun together this coming fall and winter. I'm hoping he'll be a good one for the Nursery Finals next year in VA. I may still end up selling him on since i already have 3 Open dogs but i'm not in any hurry to make that decision.

Zeke at Kingston, Photo by Kristi Oikawa
We've done very little trialing this year so far, though that's about to change in a big way. We didn't trial at all from last November to this June, quite a long break. But in June, we loaded up the camper and went to the Slash J and The Big One, both in Bowman, ND. After such a long break, the dogs ran pretty well. Bill was 3rd the first day at Slash J and Zac won the second day. Both qualified for the double lift Finals and Bill ended up reserve Champion. At the Big One, Bill was 5th one day and Zac was 5th the other. At the beginning of August, we went up to Kingston, Ontario for the 80 Acres and Grass Creek trials. The dogs ran really well at these trials but unfortunately my steering was out of alignment or something. I think we ran 13 times and i only managed a clean run once! Bill placed at the first trial at 80 Acres, and Zeke was 2nd in the Nursery there. In the Canadian National Nursery at Grass Creek, Zeke laid down a scorcher of a run in the second round (won the round) to go with a fair one in his first go, and ended up 4th overall. I was really thrilled with his work on the Canada trip, it was very consistent and sharp.

So that's where things are for the Shoofly gang right now. The summer was more about doing some work around home, putting up new fence and gardening and growing puppies and such. But fall is racing up on us now and things are going to get busy. Next weekend we head up to PA for a new trial, and the following weekend i'm doing a clinic in VA. There are trials almost every weekend from now until mid-November. It's a fun and busy time!
Fun time at the Kingston Brew Pub, photo by Carol Guy, cleverly disguised as Wendy Schmaltz