Friday, May 22, 2009

Home, Sweet Home!
It was a beautiful trip. We arrived home today, and we can't thank you all enough for such amazing hospitality. It was fun, down to the last mile. Speaking of miles, Norm drove around 6,000 of them, and is ready for a little nap. The dogs are happy to be home. Our cat, Scooter, was pleased to see, at least some of us. The trees are sweet with blossoms, there is still a lot of spring left here. I thought we may have missed it.
We can't wait to work our dogs and get to the next trial.............

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Bluegrass Classic
The Bluegrass is officially finished, and the winner is Alasdair MacRae and Star. Someone had insight when they named that little dog, now didn't they?
We had a great time at the Bluegrass..... Except for that little problem of not winning. Norman seems to have accepted the fact that he did not win, but I am still in shock and disbelief that I did not win, or at least place in the top two. I was fine being second, but 6oth that's ridiculous! They say to achieve you must believe, to which I ask, then what? There I was, soaking my little dog in the tub, saying "I believed, I believed"..............
The first day top handlers were dropping like flies, people that have "Been There, Won That" were really struggling. Fifty five percent of the runs retired or disqualified. Norman ran his Gwen early the first day, and it was difficult at best. The sheep were a quadrillion yards away (unofficially) and they were three wild, little things that would run in at least two directions. There was no helping your dog at the top. Other than a "steady," your dog was on his own. Norm learned that the hard way. When he quit whistling, Gwen brought them, and he got around and got a score. I ran later in the day, when it was nice and hot. I watched dog after dog lose their sheep, and have to retire. I looked at my little Gale and she was licking her lips. She could see the sheep, the set before hers, jump back into the set-out pen. She looked worried. I was worried, she had never run out that far. I gave her a hug, and out on the field we went. She made it out and brought me sheep, I got around and got a shed, with no time to spare. She was tired, she had to fight the entire time. I was thrilled with her both days.
Norm got around with Lass the second run, and it seems fitting that she would be on the front page of the paper. Unless you live with Lass, you can't really know her. She is like a beautiful, witty, independent, little actress, that you can't help but love. The title of the paper should have been, "Testing Norm, Instinct and Skill." She would push hard for the panels and then lay down as if to say, "I know, I know, I got it!" We had to laugh at her, she is supposed to be getting more biddable at 10.
Gwen had a really nice second run. She had a beautiful outrun and lift. She looked good. More like the dog we see at home. It put Norm on the board and he ended up 12th.
My pirate was a little super star, we had a nice run in the ranch. My goal was to keep her calm and steady, have nice lines and make all the panels, and we achieved that. I had the pen gate open when I timed out and I didn't get my drive points, but it was worth it. We were working together, she is becoming my partner. I gave Norman a big hug for my new little dog......
I learned so much at the Bluegrass about sheep, and dogs, and handling, and whistling, but I guess the thing that became the most clear to me is this: the real trial is won, not on the field, but rather under the tent, when true champions like Tommy Wilson and others, willingly share their knowledge, act with integrity, have good things to say about people and their dogs, and win and lose graciously.............

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

But wait there's more!
Off to Quakertown PA, to Leslie Whitney's place for the clinic and lessons.
Another beautiful town with amazing architecture. Leslie's farm is charming with an old barn and a big welcoming house. She has great sheep, something for every level. We enjoyed working her Scottys.
Her husband Kevin is the master of the barbecue and we were treated to a tasty rib dinner. One of our highlights was meeting Fran Sharon and Nancy Obenier. We have spoken on the phone often, as they have both purchased dogs from Norm. They are a great pair, keeping things light and fun. The clinic went really well, I learn so much watching Norm teach other people. I am starting to predict what he will do with a dog, but he continues to amaze me when he teaches the people. He reads them well, and is careful not to overwhelm them.

Borders on Paradise
On Monday we headed for Turbotville, PA, to Dave Fettermin's trial. We were early, and it was a well-needed break as Norman started feeling really ill. It was kind of a mystery as to what the problem might be. He was feeling very weak and dizzy. Finally a toothache uncovered the cause. His tooth, that was recently worked on, had abscessed. His dentist called in a prescription and in a few days he was on the mend just in time for the trial.
Turbotville is home to many Mennonite and Amish families. It is a sight to see their hard working, fit horses trotting down the road pulling their carriages. Next door to Dave's is a very fancy, stone home with a beautiful barn and 2 fat horses. They would whinny at the trotters as they came speeding by. I wondered, who really had the good life? I couldn't help but ponder how soft and lazy my modern conveniences have made me.........
It was nice to see all our new and old friends arrive at the trial on Thursday and Friday.
It was a good turn out. There were 64 dogs. The field is set up on a hill, with a hard pull to the right. The first round we ended up in the middle of the pack. The second round, Gwen and Gale did much better. Gwen had a nice run going, but she had wild sheep, and when they came out of the pen to head for the shedding ring they bolted to the exhaust, an automatic DQ. Lass is showing her age. Gale had nice sheep. I was able to get around and ended up 5th with an 84. It was Jake and Lucy's 1st trial and we were pleased with them. Jake was steady and wanted to hold a line. Lucy was wild and had a hard time finding the line. It is neat to watch them grow up.
My Pirate, Hanna is little. I think she had the same problem as Lass, who is also low to the ground, I don't think she could hear me. She took the sheep on the cross drive and headed out with them in the exact same spot as Lass. She really didn't seem naughty, just overwhelmed. One thing for sure, she gets wound up at trials. Her little eyes get huge and worried. Hopefully we will work through it.
If you get a chance to meet Dave Fettermin, make the effort. He is a wonderful man and he and his wife Debbie put on a beautiful trial.
We're off to the Blue Grass. We will be there today around 2 p.m.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Catching up
What a busy few weeks we have had. Sorry for the delay in writing. We have met so many terrific people, and have seen so many wonderful things, where do you begin?
Old Chatham ended well. 73 dogs ran in round 2. Warren Mick pulled the older ewes out, leaving just lambs. The handlers and dogs were able to be more precise, giving Norman more to judge. Many retired or were D.Q. the day before. Beverly Lambert laid a beautiful run down and won the second day. I ended up somewhere around 20th. My out work was better than the day before, but I wasn't able to get a shed.
Off to Rob Drummond's house for 2 days of lessons.
Rob and Betsy Drummond are well known for their two businesses. Rob makes the Blaster Whistle (the best whistle on the market) and Betsy owns Bordercollics Anonymous. Their house is in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, and was built in the late 1700s, early 1800s. Rumor has it that our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, and then went to Rob and Betsy's house and hung out. I can't confirm that, but I can tell you it is old and fabulous. It still has the original door latches. We quickly abandoned the dogs and trailer and moved into their wonderful guest bedroom. It is a rugged land with weathered, wonderful, buildings. This is an image I made of Norm's Gwen. She is in a small building that was used to make "home remedies."
Lessons started for Norm at 8:30 a.m. The weather was red hot, in the 90s. The lessons went great, despite the heat. Betsy had cool drinks and refreshments to keep everyone going.
It was great to see Norm's old Cubb and Casey. Rob now runs them. We also finally met Natalie La'belle. We became fast friends on the phone when we sold her Kate.
Onward to Carol Campion's
Carol has a beautiful farm with the prettiest sheep I think I have seen. She has a big field to work in, with a river that runs in the front and a very old graveyard up on the hill. We could live there quite easily. Lessons began in the afternoon, more great people, nice dogs and fabulous meals. Larry, Carol's husband, is a great cook. We enjoyed a beautiful salmon dinner and easy dog talk.
Health issues started to creep up as Norman's Gwen ended up with an abscess on her teat. Fortunately one of Norman's lessons was a vet, and she was kind enough to write us a
prescription for an antibiotic.
Bev Lambert surprised me with a visit. She was on her way to work dogs with Sue Schoen and they invited me along. Bev gave me a history lesson on the way down to the field. There is so much history here, and she is a brilliant woman with a wealth of information.
It was a nice sized field and I was able to practice my first double lift. I dropped my first set of sheep off and gave Gale a look back. She turned around, and then I gave her a come-bye, and away she went, four hundred yards, picked the second group up, and brought them to my feet, in a perfectly straight line...I fainted.
Meanwhile back at the farm, a new set of lambs were born and Norm has been busy training people and dogs.
The next morning, we worked our own dogs at Carol and Larry's. It was wild, as their sheep are light and unforgiving. It was hard for our young dogs to know where to be. It will take them time to get the knack. Carol ran her Flossie for us and it was a treat, she is a nice little dog.