Donald McCaig Posted March 9, 2014 Report Share Posted March 9, 2014 Dear Sheepdoggers, We left the farm at 4:30, me driving, Brandon, the kid who works for us sleeping, Fly in her crate in the wayback. 15 hours and 4 gas stops later we pulled into the LaQuinta in Slidell Louisiana, which I'd picked because it was pretty close to Penny Tose's Mardi Gras trial and because Lucinda Williams sings about Slidell. Since the fall, I've been working hard and attentively with Fly. When snow was deep I sent her to find and somehow bring the sheep to feed, without any guidance from me. Between snows, we did difficult "obedience" training: deliberate crossovers and recrossovers, stops when the sheep were escaping, retraining our working relationship. Not inconsequentially, in the house she was feeling safe enough to stay in one room while I was in another. I chose Penny's Trial to test our training and readiness for Ireland and Scotland where we'll travel in May. Ralph Pulfer used to laugh at the oft heard novice complaint: "But she never does that at home." "Oh yes she does," Ralph would say. That first night we found a pretty good restaurant near the motel and Fly got some doggybag before she went out for her night pee. Next morning I brought her crate into the room, told the housekeeper to give us a miss, and Brandon and I drove into New Orleans where, three days before official Mardi Gras there were decorations, a bubble blowing machine producing ephemera, young people with "grenades" (booze containers) in the streets at ten in the morning, a wonderful cathedral, pralines to take home for Anne, an acrobat walking down steep stairs on his hands and gumbo which wasn't as good as what I make at home. Next morning we got to the trial which was done up in Mardi Gras motifs: beads, foolishness and masks:Judge Patrick Shannahan wore a skull mask. It was a big course and a good one. Maltese cross, shed, pen. Easy shed and pen. Very tough maltese. I knew we were in trouble before we went to the post. 1. Fly slept on my bed, pressed against me. She hasn't needed that much reassurance in two years. 2. On her pee walks, she scoured for doggy scents and had only the crudest connection with me. So she went out, didn't take the redirect, crossed, bumped her sheep, didn't hold the pressure, took no commands subtler than a bellow and got stuck at the exhaust. Next day was worse. She was scouring for dog scent beside the judge's truck as we waited our turn, ran out too tight, ignored my redirect but widened on her own; still came in too tight, didn't hold them, recovered slightly at my feet but before the first drive panel Fly locked up - just stood staring as the sheep drifted up the course. At the exhaust Debbie Bailey asked, "Do you want me to get them." "She'll do it" and because it wasn't a sheepdog trial Fly fetched them fine. We departed after our run because a winter storm was coming and the last hours home, the roads wouldn't be plowed.As it was, driving was very unpleasant with heavy rain and fog the last four hours . With his young eyes and reflexes, Brandon took the last shift. We were home a little after midnight and next morning the car was under 4 inches of snow. I'm not certain what to do next - work her away from home, sure. Anything else? I made an appointment for Fly with Patty Summers, the pet communicator. Donald McCaig Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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