Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Day to Rest

We had a bit of time to rest before the long trip home.

West coast of Scotland, somewhere north of Ullapool. I had travelled every direction but west so I did that today. This west country was stark and lovely. The hills were covered with moss and ferns and heather, life that survives the cold winds. Somewhat north of these hills there was a rolling flat, sea green with a purple froth of heather. The strong wind made even these close to the ground plants sway in waves.

Moneypenny (my GPS) told me to "follow the road for 25 miles". The road was one lane. It is late summer yet in that landscape you felt winter winds at your back. I made good time, drawn to the tamer lands to the east.

Visit Scotland if you get a chance. It is a beautiful country, vistas changing in feel yet always lovely. Each turn invites you to stop and learn the story of the land.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The End

It is over. I have enjoyed myself and learned a lot and given a respectable showing. A day here to get organized and maybe do some hiking then we start the long trip home.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Expatriate

Today I was a Norwegian. I found myself surrounded on three sides by Norwegians in the stands watching the semi finals. There were no competitors left standing from the USA or Canada and the Norwegians had four competitors in the semis. Their enthusiasm was infectious so I decided to root for the Norwegians. They even provided me a Norwegian flag. If you want to have fun, spend time with the Norwegians. Apparently there are a lot of sheep in Norway. Also wolves, lynx, wolverines and bears.

Photo by Ester Nordby

It was not all play today. I studied how handlers managed the sorting on the marked sheds. I have some work to do. New skills for me and my dogs to learn and improving communications. I also saw at least one top handler unable to sort a collared single to either end to take. That makes me feel a bit better.

It was cold and damp sitting in the stands. The running was long and I was cold and hungry. Okay I am always hungry. I was extremely hungry today. I decided to leave before the last four runners. A Scot on the row above told me I would miss the winning run. Sure that he knew one of the upcoming teams was particularly skilled I turned to ask him which. His grin and laugh gave him away.


This afternoon we left the trial and drove a few miles to Nigg for a walk on the beach. Song has spent a lot of time in a crate and needed some freedom both physically and mentally. She is a very curious dog and loves to explore new places.

Nigg Beach

Nigg Beach

We got back in time to see a lovely run by Gene Sheninger and Sweet, just a point from qualifying for the semis.

I did some late shopping, meat for Song and a nice Scottish steak for me. I cooked it up and settled for the first delicious bite when I noticed a bat flying around the kitchen with me. They are protected in Scotland, a high fine for injuring or killing one. Though there is no rabies here as a member of our local board of health I am aware of a rabid bat in my home town that bit someone. This little guy made me uneasy. I was able to get him out to the sun porch by flapping a towel (as he swooped towards me). I opened the door to the outside so hopefully he has found his way out by morning.

Semi finals tomorrow. Sadly there will be no handlers from USA or Canada. I will watch and learn.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


There is a risky joy in anticipation. We await great events in our lives, savoring the possibilities, seasoned with optimism and imagination. Reality is hard pressed to compare.

Today began with the chance at the semi finals and then the finals. Dreams of seamless runs. I sent Song and her outrun was closer than usual, lacking the expected flare out near the top. My sheep had decided to quit the setout area at all costs and Song was trying to get there to catch them. Two sheep were bolting for the side of the field. She caught those, brought them to the ones bolting straight down, and somehow made the fetch panels. I was of no help as she decided to forego my advice until she had the situation under control. I attempted to regain radio contact after the fetch panels when I heard a voice right behind me "Don't panic. You are getting a rerun." I waited a run to allow Song to catch her breath and allow my dreams to come out from hiding.

Second time her outrun was flawless, leaving my side to angle out and up, adjusting out further as she watched her sheep at the top. Her lift was clean and accurate. The top of the fetch I felt like I was hanging on by my fingertips. She still had the bit in her teeth. We got things settled for a solid drive, good split, very good pen, then could not get the single. We had almost two minutes but I could not sort a collared ewe into position on either end.

Now I adjust to reality as my new starting point, planning to improve my skills, improve my execution of the job. In no time I will add the spice of optimism to the main dish of practice and preparation and hard work. I will again savor the risky joy of anticipation.

Song was the first pup born in the first litter I bred. Born, raised and trained in my house. I am proud of her.