Trial season was rolling on along, with the dogs and i camped in Orange, VA the night before the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival SDT, on October 5th, when we got some terrible news. Our good friend Dan King had suddenly passed away at his home. The news spread like absolute wildfire as those far and wide who knew and loved Dan reached out to others who felt the same. The feelings of loss and devastation were palpable in this little corner of the sheepdog world. I know that i personally still feel like i've been kicked in the gut when i think about it. Dan was a good man in so many ways and the world is a poorer place without him in it.
It was decided to continue on with the Montpelier trial though we were all still numb and in shock. In a tribute to Dan's spirit, everyone banded together and put on a fine trial for the public. There was a very moving tribute when it came time for Dan to go to the post, with one of his lovely handmade crooks placed on the post while Don McCaig narrated a perfect run by Dan and his faithful dog Fann. It was lovely.
The trial itself went very well. The sheep were cooperative and the large crowd at the festival very appreciative of the quality work by the dogs. People come year after year to this event, and know us and the dogs, and understand the course and what makes a good run. The Open class was fairly small at about 27 dogs. My guys did pretty well, with Bill finishing 2nd the first day and 4th the second day, and Zac ending up 2nd the second day. Barbara Ray won the first round, Sally Glei the second. Really though, the weekend was more about being together with others who were feeling as hurt as we each were in our loss.
The service for Dan was held the Tuesday following, and was one of the more moving experiences i've ever had. The service was just perfect, held at the amazing haven Dan and Sylvia created in the VA mountains, and attended by a huge crowd of friends and family. Godspeed Dan. Your time here was too short but your effects on people in this world live on.
(Photo by Michelle Dobbs)