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Everything posted by priscilla

  1. Must say that Julie's method produced a head-slap for me. Of course! I think I could work that way fairly well (though the jury is out on the nimbleness of my brain). I like the steering-wheel tip; the one with hands clenched appropriately; and, the idea of practice with online videos. I tried this live recently at Donald McCaig's trial. Also: Robin, I'm off to buy a watch ASAP! I also thought of the ring in which we're training. It has two gates, one on the side, at about 4 o'clock, one at 12 o'clock. We always enter the 4 o'clock gate: Gate 1. So, Gate 1 to Gate 2 is "Away," while Gate 2 to 1 is "Come Bye." We've spent a lot of time in that ring, so every part of it etched into my brain. I'd remember it. Thanks to each of you!
  2. Thanks for the tip on the gloves. Believe I'll use a magic marker instead. ;-)
  3. Thanks, y'all. I have used the very A/anti, C/clockwise trick. I still get confused. Maybe it's just a matter of practice and perspective, but I invariably lose orientation when she crosses the "midnight" position and starts in my direction.
  4. My 2-year-old Rose is progressing well in training. Her handler, on the other hand, well, needs help. I'm utterly dyslexic on my "Away" and "Come by" commands. I'm fine when she's at my feet, but once she's moving well, I lose orientation. Any hints/clues/shortcuts or mnemonic devices? Help!
  5. Hey, y'all, Thank you for the excellent advice. Julie: I heard you loud and clear. Without realizing it, I'd been letting her go, then diving in myself, expecting disaster. When I went back, I let her go and simply backed away. She still dove, but not right away and hardly with the enthusiasm of before. She then drove well, and I moved a little more helpfully in the ring. Lynn, et al: The link to Patrick's post was incredibly helpful. I watched a part of his first video last night, and it was wonderful reinforcement. I found a subtle but real shift in my own approach as I realized I need to work on transferring our partnership from outside to inside the ring. I've allowed that to evaporate as I entered the ring, replacing it with pressure and anxiety. Lookback: Thank you for solid, solid advice that is easy for this novice to understand. I will try my best, as American youngsters say, to chill. We go back to work in the morning. I'll let you all know what happens.
  6. Thank you, Julie. And yes, I do get the idea. Maybe a mirror is the best tool for me to get.
  7. What tools do you use to slow a young dog in the ring? I've seen rattle paddles, shopping bags tied to herding sticks and a soda bottle with rocks. I need to find something instant and loud enough to break my young dog before she starts a dive. I can see it coming, but I'm too slow to catch up to her and my bag-on-a-stick (comes free with screaming handler) is about as effective as a marshmallow. The ring I'm using is fairly large — about 100 feet in diameter — but it's what I've got and, otherwise, it's perfect.
  8. Home again, home again! Below, Fly returns to the farm; Jake meets the guard dogs.
  9. Woo ... wasn't the god's name. Sorry, but it's been too many years since that gray day I switchbacked up the hill to the god's temple near the Severn bole. As I recall, "Woo" had once been a standard issue Greco-Roman God — Jupiter? Apollo? — who'd fallen into Druid purposes after the last Roman legions quit Britain. Sis and I are in a Holiday Inn at the Glasgow airport, Fly is left behind with Ian McMillan. Sis and I are flying home, Sis to Seattle, me to Charlottesville. I'll pick up Fly and Jake at Dulles, Friday about 2. Anne wrecked her car yesterday. The airbags didn't deploy and she wasn't hurt, but at our age, "bounce-back" is a low bounce. I really dislike leaving Fly and Jake, but Ian'll take good care of them and see them off. Best I can do. I believe Fly knows she'll come home. My Dublin Dramatics cost me interviews with the Scottish handlers who knew Fly. James Magee gave me the name of the Irish trainer who reared her up, but I didn't have time to call him. When I'm home, I'll take a deep breath and rethink Fly's Book, of which these journal entries will be part. Perhaps I can arrange phone interviews. I don't really want to come here soon again and Fly cannot. I'd hoped to run Fly in the Yorkshire trials but that failure doesn't bother me. Despite extraordinary travel stress, Fly's stock work has been fine. When I get home, I'll let Patty Summers ask Fly what she thought of our trip. In Fly's remaining years, she'll be my farm dog and run as an ordinary open dog, sometimes better sometimes worse, but no longer my "project." Fly's out of rehab. The dog that lay under Richard Branson's train seat nibbling prawn sandwiches is a good and happy dog. This will be the final entry in this e-journal. Thanks, Priscilla, for making it possible and thanks to you who followed it. I will post pics of Fly and Jake when they arrive in Virginia. "Woo's" temple was on a private estate, closed to the public and rarely visited following some crude archeology in the 1930s. Scholar Karen Armstrong wrote that Holy places like Mecca, Jerusalem and our little church in Williamsville, Virginia, are vital, fought over and cherished because in Holy places, the veil between everydayness and the otherworld is unusually thin. On that silent British hillside I climbed into worshipper's air. From prehistory, the Severn had been a major trade route, and supplicants traveled here from Britain and Normandy. After they proceeded to the temple, they'd ritually bathe in heated Roman baths. Later, Woo's priest's escorted them to the small circular temple. It’s on the same design as Jefferson's rotunda but intimately scaled; no bigger than the sanctuary of the Williamsville Presbyterian Church. It was easy to see why visitors weren't allowed at this ruin. Museum quality Roman tiles and terra cotta were flung, scattered and heaped among the walls. Once their offerings were dropped into a shallow well (which is how we know who the worshippers were) the supplicants removed to small huts and were introduced to the healing dogs who would attend them for their stay. Most supplicants were women with child bearing difficulties — miscarriages, infertility and the like. The Irish docs at Buckingham Hospital pumped me full of antibiotics, water and heart pills. I don't know I would have died without their intervention but I might have and, at best, would have been sick still. But all I wanted, from the moment I could walk the length of the AC Cleary ward was to reclaim Fly. I wasn't worried about Fly's well being. If you can't leave a dog in a police dog kennel, where can you leave her? But I missed Fly and I needed her. In our six-man ward, three were there when I came and still there two days later when I left. One was trying to decide to go into a nursing home; one's wound dressing needed to be checked; and one, "The Lord Mayor," had become a "patient" and for him, the real, rich, complex, dangerous world existed as a dream, refreshed by kin who visited between 4 and 6 daily. AC Cleary was his here, now and tomorrow. The only minister(?) who visited us was a Catholic laywoman who slipped among us silently uncovering her chalice of thin, translucent communion wafers. She didn't offer communion, talk or prayers, just the shyly revealed wafers. Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe she was nuts. It would have been easy to stay in the ward another day/week/? until my blood oxygen scores were higher and just one more pill regimen had been tested. I signed out against the docs' advice because I had a powerful, atavistic knowledge that if I stayed there I would die. Yes, I'd needed the knowledge and appurtenances of modern medicine to live. Now I needed my dog to heal. Below: Ian and Donald; Donald and Fly at Glasgow Central; Fly — Left behind
  10. My apologies, y'all. This entry should've come before the one I posted this morning. Got my wires crossed. ------- How much room does one dog need? After we abandoned the purloined trolley, we had three minutes to buy our rail tickets and board. "First class," I said. "Oh, that's going to cost you a packet." Didn't care. We were to change trains at the first stop and, when I came back from taking Fly to the weeds, a bright red Virgin train was boarding. We jumped aboard too. Unhappy conductor but, there it was: that TICKET, and dogs were allowed, right? Good coffee, good wifi, Sis came up from the peasant section and Fly lay under the seat, which was somewhat less space than she usually occupied. An hour or so along, at Crewe, we changed again and sped north. I had the number for Hertz Glasgow. Surely, they'd have a car — but although my phone was working reliably (first time on the trip) they weren't picking up. We needed a car to drive to Newton Stewart and Ian McMillan, and then take Jake to Manchester and Donald to Brighton, the ferry, the next rental car, CDG, Detroit and 9 hours home. FIRE THAT TRAVEL AGENT!!! So. Finally got through to Glasgow car rent. No cars. No cars tomorrow. NO CARS. So I called Ian McMillan. He'd pick us up at Stranraer station,10 p.m. tomorrow. Richard Branson feeds pretty good. Fly particularly liked the prawns in green mayo sauce. The attendant brought her water. Sis made online reservations for Glasgow Holiday Inn and we cabbed over in the rain. While Sis checked us in, I dodged traffic into a dirty alley where sorry weeds flourished by the rubbish bins. When we came back, a large bald middle-aged Scot put his big face to Fly's, kissed her head and rumpled her ears. "Oh, aren't you a beauty!" Indeed. Her tail was straight out behind her like a pointing dog. Glasgow Central railroad station is — I think — bigger than Grand Central. Certainly, there's more shops. Next morning (new trolley) we and Fly ate baps (Ham rolls?) while we waited for our train. Fly was horrified at PIGEONS INDOORS and would have scattered them had I loosed her. Hiked to the train. To avoid another dramatic turn, I could handle my small carry-on and Fly. Poor Sis managed two bags and the Monstrous Crate. So, change trains at Ayr which, alas, had one of those stairways over the tracks, but fortunately had a helpful stranger who lugged the MC while we managed the rest. We were utterly dependent on the kindness of strangers, which didn't feel so awful as I might have thought. Got to Stranraer. Ian McMillan arrived (more about him later). We dropped Sis at a very nice hotel, then went back to his place to see the dog I'd mostly bought sight unseen and, for the first time since Roscommon, Fly was free to run about and explore. The dog who was never on lead at home had been, except for nighttime, leashed or crated or kenneled since long ago Roscommon. After Ian ran Jake, I asked if Fly could have a go on his spotted mules (Blue-faced Leister x Scottish Blackface). Fly ran out beautifully, took her downs, crossdrove them back and forth a couple hundred yards out. She was a little hard to call off, but when she returned she was happy and her whisker was jaunty.
  11. Jake Several years ago, I was at a cold, wet Scottish nursery finals. I'd noticed the fellow in the wheelchair, but other than wondering why he was subjecting himself to this, paid no attention. Until he rolled onto the course, front wheels bouncing on the rough ground with a dog at his side. Dog did nice outwork, and Ian rolled to the pen, opened the gate. Dog penned sheep. Ian let them out. Rolled into shedding ring. Dog shed sheep and took them off. Afterwards I said, "That was amazing. Who trains your dogs?" "Oh," he replied. "I train me own." Some years later I found myself short of breath in the shedding ring and bethought myself of Mr. McMillan. I'd heard he sometimes sold a dog. So I called friends for a phone number. Yes, he had a young dog: Jake. He might be willing to sell him after the nurseries. Okay. But Jake didn't do well at the nurseries. That didn't matter to me — many fine open dogs weren't mature enough for the nurseries. "You might still be interested, then." "Yes." "Should I get his shots — rabies . . .?" "Shouldn't be necessary. We'll get him a health certificate and he should be good to fly." Wrong. Turns out he did need a health certificate, which meant I had to arrange Skymaster pet shippers to send him air cargo from Manchester airport. One less dog to worry about on the way home. That was before I got sick and found one dog all I wanted to worry about anyway. But I still needed to see Jake. I'd pretty well decided to add Fly to the Skymaster's list, fly home without her, and pick her up at Dulles. Sis was going home and the prospect of schlepping the MC across the channel again was unappealing. Since I had no rental and would travel by train, changing stations from London Euston to Victoria was er . . .I didn't think I could make it. I hated shipping Fly home but if Ian would keep her and ship her with Jake, I'd only have myself to get home. NO MORE MONSTROUS CRATE!!!! Yes, Ian would keep Fly until Skymaster's picked them both up. I've never known anyone in a wheelchair and never imagined how a sheep farm could be worked by a man in one. It struck me how many actions he must plan and habituate you and I never think of. To go to the grocery he must get into the car, disassemble the chair, drive to shop, reassemble chair and get in it, buy his milk and reverse all these operations to get it home and into his refrigerator. Lambing? I didn't ask how he could pull a lamb from a wheelchair. His training field was a lush 10-acre pasture a couple hundred yards below his steading. I drove down in his car while he and Jake came along in his ATV. I worked Fly just a little. The field was soft and wet, and pulling a lamb would be nothing to dragging a "Dramatic" Yank to the car. Jake. Oh yes, Jake. Two years old in January and running like he was about 18 months. "Goofy" was the word that came to mind. "Immature" followed on its heels. Yes, he had his commands — mostly. The sheep didn't have any relationship with Jake, nor did Jake with them. I was not inclined to be picky. I'd already paid Jake's plane fare. But, my heart sank. I don't have too many years left in this sport (or on this planet) and had hoped Fly was my last difficult dog. Don't mistake me. It was more interesting DQing with Fly than placing with a consistent dog. But I really, really didn't want to go through it again. So. Okay. Went back to the hotel shared a sandwich with Fly, had a liedown and Ian drove Fly and me to the vet for her airworthiness certificate. I asked him if I could see Jake one more time — does he shed? "Oh aye. He doesn't like to shed around the bike (ATV). I had to move it around too much for him whilst training." So okay. I drive down to the field. Raining pretty good. In the rain-streaked mirror I see a dim shape, a man in a wheelchair with a dog at his side. He rolls carefully into the wet, clumpy field, and I realize he must have some procedure for getting back into the chair if it upsets. Has to happen now and again. He sends Jake, and it’s a different dog. Precise where he was loosey goosey, committed where he wasn't. Nice outwork — for a 2 year old — brilliant, and inbye, he sheds and holds sheep, turning them when they wanted to return. So, I bought a dog. Like Fly, a goodun. Now. How to get home.
  12. The Purloined Trolley After my dramatics at the Dublin airport, Aer Lingus wanted nothing more to do with me. The only other way to get a dog to the UK was via ferry to Holyhead, which is in North Wales. When my Toggle Mobile multi-country cell phone was working, which it occasionally did, we understood that Ms. Hertz didn't have any Holyhead cars but, who knew? So I booked us. When we got to the terminal on a drizzly morning, we had to assemble the monster-crate and insert Fly. A helpful person brought us a trolley to get us to the foot passenger bus. When there, at the foot of the wide door, we slid MC aboard and our gear and, in a moment of inspiration, loaded the trolley too. The bus roared and bumped over docks until it stopped at a broad metal gangplank, where we reassembled our STUFF. A crew member grabbed the trolley handle and propelled it, Fly, and EC through narrow aisles of SUV mirrors to a spot under the stairs where a half dozen other dogs awaited their owners. Crewman shrugged and left trolley with dogs. We climbed two decks into a passenger lounge with its breakfast cafe, gaming machines and bureau d'change. Coffee, breakfast biscuit and the ship started with a rush through the wet. Sat, ate, talked. Sis is now, semi-officially, the "Sherpa.” An unusual sound: dogs barking; my ringtone and it was Ian Macmillan to whom I explained we'd rent a car in Holyhead and come on or somewhere along the line. "Ok" Ship docked, cars and lorries off, foot passengers to bus, we go to the dog area and, why not? Load the trolley. Various crewmen help us over the metal seams to the bus, where we load trolley, then unload at the customs. There, a bright bird of a woman inspects our pet passport — "Oh those French, they're thorough all right" — and we're rolling on British soil. No rent-a-cars. None up the line. So I buy us two 1st class tickets three minutes before departure for Glasgow. Fly's tucked under my feet, and her crate's blocking the entryway, and we're away for Glasgow, six hours north. I wonder how they thought an Irish trolley immigrated. Green card? Photos below: View from the ward — a Dublin Dawn; and Touring unknown Dublin
  13. Photos from Donald McCaig. Donald and Sis Fly with her breeder, James Magee The French veterinarian who gave Fly her passport to the British Isles Fly at Roscommon The trial at Roscommon Donald, Fly and STUFF.
  14. Seeing unseen Dublin Sis says I was only out for 30 seconds or so. When I came to, I was on my back. A kind soul had slipped something under my head, and Fly was pressed against my side every inch of her, from nose to tailtip. I thought: "What a Christmas card photo!" Fly was Nurse Fly, not Fly the Defender, but nobody wanted to guess wrong. The clutter of multicolored shoes and civilian pant legs became uniform blue and thick black shoes with thick black soles. They brought a wheelchair, and I couldn't help thinking that I might not be lying here if they'd brought one earlier. Fly wouldn't avoid the wheelchair and I would be propelled over her, so Sis took her leash. Directly, two fellows who looked like Vlad Putin with human souls loaded me aboard an ambulance, while Fly was taken to the airport police dog kennel. Sickness is the geezer’s default topic, but you have to be Russian (Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilyich; Solzhenitsyn: The Cancer Ward) to write well about it, and I can't spell in the Cyrillic alphabet. Pneumonia brought me down. I'd been afraid of getting it and had it all along. Kind of like that Dürer print of "Death and the Maiden" thing. After two days of advanced mortality lessons in an Irish hospital ward, Sis and I rearranged scheds and I drove to the airport, where one of those Putin fellas brought Fly. She was glad to see me but not desperate. They'd made sense to her. Whisker: 90 degrees. I asked how much I owed him. Nothing. I asked if he had a favorite dog charity. Donate to your own dog charity. (pause) "I'm a dog man too."
  15. Enormous changes at the last minute If you, like me, have half-forgotten how to drive on the left, Ireland is a good refresher. During the years when they were "the Celtic Tiger,” darling of conservative economists, hedge funds and other financial plungers, they built roads as good as any in France or the USA. I had no problem yesterday driving three hours to Rostover and the next morning, after finishing Mrs. Magee's excellent tea, we drove four hours south and inland to the hotel Con McGarry had recommended. It was from the "Tiger" days — a traditional village pub-hotel gussied up with thumbs in its braces. They took dogs, they had wifi, green all around, cafe pub on premises. They'd earned their thumbs. I went to bed for a couple of hours before dinner, which was medium bad, but Fly thought it beat dog food all hollow. It threatened heavy rain in the a.m., and I told Sis, "No, I won't go out and get pneumonia. I'm not going to give my life for a sheepdog trial." Next morning was overcast but dry and, when I asked for directions, the hotel owner knew, but couldn't explain. To her relief and ours, Lorraine appeared. She was going, and we could follow her. Lorraine had two 18-month-old dogs and planned to camp, train and trial in Ireland and the UK. She didn't expect much from one of her dogs who hadn't yet learned to drive. "Um." In the face of new passion, old wisdom is sometimes best silent. She'd just retired from social work, moved from Germany to France, bought her dream farm and the two sheepdogs who were part of that dream. She'd hosted a Con McGarry clinic. Last night, at the barbecue Con said they'd start late, maybe 9 or 10, so we had plenty of time for coffee. We got to the trial field about 8:30, and when Fly jumped out, she was looking for sheep. She would have gone after them had I not kept her in the car. Medium whisker. Patty Summers had given Fly two explicit messages: one, that sheep dog trials were okay, and she could do her best. At Roscommon, her birth turf, with memories and distance whirling around her, Fly was a sheepdog come to run a trial. One question —the biggest — answered. I wasn't sure I could last a run, even with double spritzes of Albuterol, but if Fly was willing, I wouldn't let her down. Con McGarry is a VBH (Very Big Hat). I haven't Internet as I write, but didn't he win a World? The Texel Suffolks were his sheep. Watch him. Very wide outrun right, got behind them, and they came off straight but very slow on the fetch, and later the drive. Usually, you don't want the sheep facing the dog, but FacinRUs. Con held them on line and through the fetch panels, tight turn, and more facing sheep through the drive. Don't know what I would have done as judge. On line, but you can't like it. He briefly lost control on the crossdrive and had a severe bolt. Con made the split himself and took them fairly easily into the pen. I, of course, learned little from this. When I went out with Fly, she was right and I sent her. Nice practical outrun. Behind them and perfect lift. At which point they bolted toward me. Downing the dog wouldn't stop them, which was just as well, because Fly wasn't going to let them get away. She did take her flanks, had a good line and we just missed the fetch panels. Too wide a turn and they were running again on the drive. Fly refused a flank and I retired her. She was fine. I don't know if I could have done sheepward-facing-dog as well as Con McGarry, but his was clearly strategy du jour. As we left, I thanked him. "Sorry 'bout that," he said. "Must be a sheepdog trial." We drove into the Dublin suburbs where our Uppercross Hotel was nicer than it had looked on the Web, but rambled on forever and Carol lashed my carryon atop her wheeled suitcase. I spent the next hour trying, without success, to arrange a wheelchair at the airport tomorrow. Carol thought we should stay and order room service. Dublin mussels don't hold a candle to Gloucester mussels in a light wine sauce, but Dublin bitter is very good. Tomorrow, Sis would leave this hotel for a more walk-aroundable one. I asked her if she'd come to the airport and help Fly and me onto the plane. Getting to the airport was easy. Finding the rent-a-car lot, no problem. Now: get STUFF (huge broken-down crate and luggage) plus Fly from dead car to rental shuttle. Managed. Return keys. Now: get STUFF, Fly and us onto the bus. Driver helps. Tip him when we arrive. Now: get STUFF, Fly and us to check-in desk, put crate together and Sis and I can go our separate ways. Shuttle driver appears with luggage cart and we get it loaded. In the terminal some officious complains, "that's only half a dog crate" and I explain I will recreate the crate. We are directed to the line accommodating "specials.” When we stop rolling, I put my hand on the cart handle because I'm feeling a little wobbly. And drop like a stone. Photos below: Fly at Roscommon, the trial at Roscommon, and Donald and Fly with STUFF.
  16. The whisker The only immediate effects of Fly's session with animal communicator Patty Summers was calmer in the house, her best self at the Shannahan clinic and one whisker on the left side of her muzzle that shot up like a musketeer’s. I haven't space here to go into all that whiskery but generally, they are sense organs, and hers became an antenna for the music of the spheres. Fly's no harder to read —grossly — than other dogs. Until now, what's going on in her soul has been opaque. Will she do this thing or submit to her fear? I've been using the predictive whisker: droop: kaput; level: okay; above level: she was RIGHT! On this unexpectedly difficult trip, she's had very little, short poop and pee walks, nothing familiar, kennels and crates. She was on best behavior when walking the two-foot, painted strip from the ferry kennels to the elevator while cars exited, rushing past among metal crashes and distant shouts. We were later than planned again, and I wanted to reach Rostrevor before dark because I didn't know how to turn the headlights on. My Tom-Tom app got us close, and the B&B's directions and a stop to ask, "Just before the Ross monument." We were greeted by the lady with some crackers and cheese and a note with phone numbers for Fly's breeder. My room had French doors, and Fly went out into the gloaming. Deep Irish countryside. Very quiet. She rolled in the grass and ate some. When she came up, her whisker was at half mast. So okay. Tomorrow she meets James Magee, who bred her. He was a voluble, pleasant Irishman whose wife exchanged kid and grandkid pics with Sis. "I don't know how you do it," she said. "I'd be afraid to travel alone." Fly accepted his pets like any dog-savvy stranger while he told of her sire and dam. He didn't keep her long. "He'd given me two puppies, so I gave him two, and Fly was one. Can she have a piece of bread with butter on it?" Photo below: Fly with James Magee, her breeder.
  17. Chapter 3 Sis She'd enjoyed Paris but was surprised how much she missed Steve. He'd been a cruise ship security officer, and Carol had flown to meet him in Petersburg ... Barcelona ... those places. She loved to travel, and when I went out to be with her after he passed, Anne suggested I invite her to join me on whatever part of this trip she wanted. On opposite sides of the country, we trust each other for the big things family matters can be.Trust. She showed me a photo of the bathtub she got stuck in in Paris. Our rooms faced each other. She got the side over the drinkers at the Kebab shop, and I got the seagulls. I seated and coughed and worried the hell out of Fly, and the next morning, Sis persuaded me to try the continental breakfast. I'd planned to get the pet passport yesterday. When I phoned the vet I’d called from the States, I got a rapidamente torrent of recorded French. I took my phone to the concierge, who listened and said, "They are closed for the holiday." She added, “They have an emergency number. " "Oh, please dial.” Lots of French back and forth. "They will see you at ten." We entered a plain building after the vet and a couple carrying a small white dog. We waited while a couple of painfully fit French fireman brought a small cat that really, really lost that fight, and the first couple left with tears but no small white dog. It never gets easier. Directly, the vet summoned us into his office to examine our papers. If they failed his inspection we'd have to leave Fly in a boarding kennel until I returned to France. "Bon." He handed them back. "Pet passport?" Puzzlement. Sis speaks a little French and, after much back and forth, he called Irish ferries. Many “d'accords” later, he got up, disappeared into the back office, and came back with a folder that looked remarkably like, yes, a passport. After he filled it out (he seemed scrupulous enough) and stamped here and there, he returned it with a smile. I asked how much we owed him. "Oh, non, non. Bon voyage." Carol explored Cherbourg, and I slept until it was time to gas up and return the rental; key drop at the ferry terminal. The Oscar Wilde was a glittery, many-decked shopping-mall party boat with a dozen bars and restaurants and three movie theaters on the top deck. Sis liked it and wandered around and investigated. Fly was fed, watered and settled in the kennel on the car deck. I slept. Dogs could be visited at specific times, and I went to the reception lounge at seven with a plastic cup of dog food. The room was maybe 20 feet long with enough room in front of the kennels to get the doors open. The exercise area had the slotted floor the cars would cross leaving the vessel. Fly was happy to be out and delighted the crew woman when she peed on command. A ghost-yard of cars. Fly on her gangplank. The hollow thrum of the ship's engines. Slept some more, brought Fly water, Sis explored, and I had about half a big platter of pasta carbonara while Sis told me stories about the cruise ships. "I like to sail," she said with a definitive nod. Foot passengers were last off when we docked at 3:30, and foot passengers with dog (us) were the very last to enter the long, long walkway to the terminal. Sis had engaged a crewman to roll the Varikennel and luggage, and pretty soon it was clear somebody was going to have to roll me. He dashed off for a wheelchair. The woman at the Budget Rental office says, "I was just leaving." Crusty, with 34 years at her job. "Do you have something to cover the seat? Oh, I've seen some come in ..." Before we left, she offered us a blanket coverlet. When Sis asked her to bring the car closer to the terminal, she said, "How the hell is he going to drive if he can't walk?” She brought it closer. Photo below: The vet who helped with Fly's travel credentials.
  18. Chapter 2 of The Journey Anne had been sick for 10 days before I left, but I'd ducked it. Three hours from Detroit, I told Brandon, "You'll have to take us in." Racking cough, no breath, weakness. Fortunately Ken Mikolowski had some chicken soup, and I was able to eat that. In the middle of the night, Fly started her "I have to POOP" moves, and I made it downstairs. I don't suppose Ken's neighbors even saw granddad in underwear on the porch. Fly was much relieved. I had to pause three times to catch my breath going up those stairs. When I sat still, except for the coughing, it was alright. Ken and I spoke about poets dying young, and some who doddered on. His wife, Ann, died a few years ago, and he showed me the work she was doing in the last months of her life. Ken's transported all the famous poets. He got Brandon to the train and me to the airport. Detroit airport is new and designed to move people. Stopping often to catch my breath, it took me an hour to get to the gate. I was in Frequent Flyer Business Class and told the steward he could skip the champagne; let me know when Fly was boarded. He did. I went to sleep and stayed there. The new flat beds aren't really very good, but they are way better than coach. As we descended into Paris, I pictured myself walking two miles through CDG's corridors to collect Fly, then load her, my suitcase and carry-on onto the cart, then another mile to Europcar. I told the steward to call ahead for a wheelchair. That part of it was better than it sounds. One of my minders confided her aspiration to become a stewardess, when she turned 21. "You okay, sir? You okay?" Sorry, no pic. Get to car. Load up, let Fly out for a pee. Into the car and away to Cherbourg (wherever that was). I am too accustomed to my techno-marvels and, when the GPS didn't work and my phone didn't work, I stopped in a French truck stop for a map. "Map, monsieur?" The chipper "no anglais" lady at the register wrote directions on a scrap of paper and had me repeat them after her. They ended at Rouen. "Rouen? Oui"? "No. Cherbourg." "Non, Rouen!" I wasn't getting anywhere with her and remembered that Rouen was toward the coast. Figured I'd ask somebody there. I circumnavigated Paris on the inner beltway —Chicago traffic with motorcyclists zipping between lanes like angry wasps — until I spotted a sign for Rouen. In for a nickel. In that city I learned the lady was right: keep on going three more hours. I bought a couple of Red Bulls. As I entered Cherbourg, my phone came alive, and I called the hotel for directions. Parked the car, and me and Fly walked a long block to the hotel. I had the desk call Sis and put Fly into my room while I visited in hers. Would I like wine? A snack? No. I was 8 hours late, and Sis was worried but didn't want to ask Anne and frighten her. When I got back to the room, Fly had pooped on the floor. Sixteen hours in her crate and another 10 on the road. Fortunately, it was a hard poop and easy to collect and flush away.
  19. Hello, y'all, As many of you know, Donald McCaig and his dog, Fly, are traveling across the pond to Ireland and Scotland (with a few stops in-between). He's asked me to forward his updates and photos to the board, so here you go. Enjoy. Priscilla Melchior ----------- Dear Friends, Some of you have met my 8-year-old working sheepdog, Fly; others know her from my complaints. Fly is the most baffling, galling dog I’ve had in too many years training and trialing sheepdogs. She is also — unpredictably and in her own sweet time —the most brilliant. She took no prizes as a house dog either. When she came, she whirled through our farmhouse like a dervish when she wasn't doing ALERT! ALERT! Border Collie on combat patrol! From five to six every evening, Fly'd get "the zoomies," that predictable explosion of puppy energy one doesn’t expect from a 5-year-old open trial dog. She scratched her belly bloody from allergies, her coat was dead and, as it happened, Fly had breast cancer and needed to be spayed. Luckily, Fly always pooped and peed in the same corner of our living room, so mornings I had only one place to look. She bit people. She bit Anne, she bit me, occasionally she bit a stranger. Which would have been less annoying if she'd worked sheep. At one time she had. She'd won open sheepdog trials. That was then. Fly'd put all sheepy nonsense behind her. I’d walk her out to the grazing flock and we'd walk home: sheep undisturbed. One afternoon I drove into a field where 300 ewes were grazing, opened the door and Fly jumped out. She spotted the . . . Sheep? SHEEP!!! Fly hid under the truck until the nasty things went away. Every evening I had to lure or trick her from her sanctuary for the night pee — not that it made any difference: Yep, same spot. Good morning Fly. She chose sanctuaries where she could greet dangers with her teeth and wasn’t particular about which sanctuary — any crate or enclosed space would do. Sometimes she jumped into other peoples' campers, bared her teeth and wouldn’t let the owners in. I bought one of those catch poles animal control officers use and didn't leave home without it. Some might ask, "Why?" Indeed, some did. I liked her. Fly liked me. My inner Don Quixote was suited up. I am sentimental about beauty. I can't read the first paragraphs of "A River Runs through it" or sing "Amazing Grace" without weeping. In a Broadway theater, when house lights came up after Act One of "Amadeus," the stranger sitting beside me took a look and didn’t come back for Act 2, because who knew what this sobbing nutcase might do next? From time to time, Fly was beautiful. Fly has, as Beverly Lambert says, "A touch of greatness about her." A Buddhist teacher told me that dogs are reincarnated monks; monks who forgot to pray. I'm not sure what sin I committed in a previous life to become obsessed with sheepdogs in this. Did I sell Madame LaFarge her yarn? Much as I like to appear the all-wise, all-experienced trainer of difficult sheepdogs, the truth is that Fly was what she was, and I am too. In our aesthetic, ethical quest Fly and I both had to change. To some extent we have. Fly doesn’t bite people anymore (though I wouldn’t turn her loose in a kiddy playground) and she only pees on the floor when she’s distressed. Despite our countless wrecks, there’ve been moments when Fly and I were like John and June Carter Cash singing “Jackson”. Fly is 8 years old, and I'm 73. But I wondered if, just maybe, taking Fly home where she was born, meeting her breeder, her trainers and her shepherd, might unwind Fly and help me better understand the workings of Fly's curious mind. Patty Sumner, the animal communicator, assured Fly that trials wouldn’t hurt her and that after the UK, she’d be coming home. I took her to the groomer for her first time. Though she came out looking like a puffball, Fly was pleased: it made her feel “girly”. I’m told Ireland and Scotland are beautiful in the spring. I’m using Flyer miles, so six months ago I began making reservations, which was the earliest I could reserve passage for myself and a 45-pound Border Collie to Rome (oops), Dublin (oops), from Atlanta, Dulles, Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh??) and presently Detroit to Paris. (If you don't ask, I won't moan.) With Health Certificates properly filled out and Aphis certified and that last minute tick and tape shot duly administered and attested, Fly, I and Brandon (my co-driver) set off for 10 hours to Detroit from Virginia. Ken and Ann Mikolowski were my first publishers. Their elegant letter press published Alan Ginsberg, Ted Berrigan, Gary Snyder — the best ‘60s poets as well as less best, like moi. Ann passed several years ago, and I hadn't seen Ken in years so why not overnight, catch up, send Brandon home by train and fly to Paris with Fly? Provided this old brain has got the paperwork right and doesn't forget tickets/reservations/luggage/dog . . . Airline willing, Fly and I will land in Paris meet my sister in Cherbourg. take the overnight ferry to Ireland, drive to Northern Ireland to meet Fly’s breeder, and, day after. we’ll trial at the Roscommon lamb festival. Sis’ll stay in Dublin while Fly and I fly to Glasgow — another rent-a-car — to interview the Scots who trained and worked her. To Newton Stewart where Ian McMillan has (we both hope) a dog for me. Months ago, Ian asked “Will he need a rabies shot,” and I said no. Wrong! As I learned the morning I was to leave. I made frantic calls to a dog shipper. I think I can drop the dog in Manchester on the 11th and between dog shipping, I hope to run Fly at a two-day trial in York, then to Brighton, ferry to France, Paris, Detroit, and home. (Next day to Philadelphia to pick up McMillan’s dog.) UK car rentals won't rent to anyone over 75, so likely this is my last trip. There's a better than even chance Fly and I will baffle British handlers — "What did the daft Yank think he was doing running tha useless beast?"— but maybe Fly'll run well on the sheep she grew up on. I will learn a few things about a sheepdog's soul and enjoy what we decaying geezers call fun. I'll send reports as I am able. Donald McCaig Fly is prepared for takeoff by airline workers.
  20. ... and that's my approach. I am queen and I will not put up with any disorder during mealtime. I'm starting, however, to feel a lot less willing to stick my hand in there and snatch Rose back. We had another go-around tonight, and I simply imposed my will on Rose, called the fleeing Bella back to her bowl and resumed the routine. I'm thinking, though, that this is just the beginning — but I didn't put up with it with my sons, and I won't put up with my four-legged children misbehaving either!
  21. Thanks, Kathy. Bella and Gabe had not ever been crated when they came to me five and eight years ago, and I have not trained them to a crate. Rose has been crated from the beginning. Makes things a bit more complicated. I could crate Rose before beginning the mealtime ritual, feed the other two and then feed her in the crate.
  22. My 8-month-old female, Rose, is starting to pick on Bella, the less dominant of my two BC rescues. This is most evident when I set down their bowls at feeding time. They eat in very separate locations, 10-15 feet apart. I had been feeding them in order: Gabe, the dog Alpha, then Bella, then Rose. Each has to sit before I put down the food and wait for my release before eating. A few days ago, Rose began diving in at Bella as I moved to her area to feed, and tussles ensued. Last night and this morning, Bella has distanced herself from her feeding area when her time comes. I understand the changing dynamic; it's a dog's life. How should I handle it now? Should I go on and feed Rose next, further cementing the emergence of their new world order? Should I impose my will as the true Alpha, feeding Bella when I darn well please? Am I over-thinking this? Ordinarily, I let the dogs sort stuff out unless it looks like one will get injured, but I see more of this testing coming from Rose. Do you have any general advice on what course of action I should or should not take?
  23. These are wonderful, y'all! Thought of another just this morning: Accept the fact that you're going to be nose-poked with regularity, though most often when you're utterly absorbed in a book or a ball game on TV.
  24. Recently, I have been thinking of writing a blog entry on all the adjustments I make simply because I live with border collies. I have three: two pets and a puppy I hope to trial one day. Among those "Rules for Living with Border Collies," (tongue firmly in cheek) are: 1. Your border collie is like a toddler. If it disappears into another room and falls silent, you should investigate. Now. 2. The vacuum cleaner is a mortal enemy. 3. Banish all thoughts of climbing stairs or walking a straight path indoors. You will be bumped or blocked repeatedly. Please share your rules. I want to use them — credit where credit is due — in my blog. And remember: it's all in fun.
  25. Terrecar: In answer to your question, yes. I hope to train and trial Rose, but I don't plan to breed her. The advice of others convinced me to wait until after her first season of heat and, perhaps, until after she's a year old. The question is whether I will survive to that point!
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