Monday, May 23, 2011

Looonnng Weekend

I've survived the Finality Farm trial weekend. This would have been simple if it was just the trial (a wonderful trial by the way). Open was Friday and Saturday. Saturday my van acquired a new dog named Maeve, a young dog that I'm taking as a training and socialization project. Then Saturday evening I traveled from the trial to NJ to drop off a whelping box and some supplies at Vesta's new home in preparation for her upcoming litter. I left NJ around 9:30 PM and drove to a Cabela's somewhere east of Harrisburg, PA. I crashed there around midnight, and back on the road by 6AM to Evan City, PA, near Pittsburg. There I picked up "Ruth", my marvelous new puppy. Then I drove all the way home, getting in around 11PM (puppy stops necessary along the way).

Ruth is quite a brazen little thing though Song quite quickly disabused her of the notion that big dogs are just playthings. Ruth is quite respectful now and learning to check out the big dog's body language before jumping! Whew, she was showing no fear or respect and had actually grabbed food away from the new dog.

The trial itself went well. Levi crossed on his outrun the first day. He was not focused up the field. He's not been a dog to cross, but then he has little experience and the field was not straighforward. Once crossed he came to his sheep in a direction that allowed them to bust for the barn where they wanted to go. I was very pleased with how he handled this, flanking hard to the head of one ewe who was determined to beat him, stopping and turning her, then getting the other two who were looking for a different route to freedom. He had to work back and forth a bit with some strong forward pushing but he got them back where many dogs failed. He ran early enough in the day to get the opportunity to work the sheep while they were still undogged, cantankerous, and trying to beat the dog at every turn and many of the lines. He never let up, never gave ground, jogged right into their faces, and never lost his cool. Saturday he placed 4th in a field of 70 with a nice packet of sheep, but it was the Friday run that I remember with a smile.

Fina ran later on Friday, and placed with a beautiful run despite one high headed ewe that spent the entire run trying to bust away in any direction. Fina was a machine, but was running out of stamina at the shed where she worked very hard to keep that fast and impulsive (and irritating) ewe in the shedding ring. Despite no shed her lovely work on the course got her a 4th. She gave me good work on Saturday, but not good enough to place.

I did not run Song. Her rapid approach was likely to really agitate these sheep and I could only run two dogs.

All and all it was a great weekend. The sheep were a real challenge much of Friday, beating dogs who gave any ground on flanks or hesitated to come forward. By the end of Friday the girls were finally getting somewhat broke, but still full of vitality and uncooperative opinion.