I have learned two things in this sport: you need a good dog and you need help.
I bought Gale from Norm. It was before we were married. I had mentioned I was interested in her. You can't just mention you're interested in a dog to Norm. He requires action. He sold her to someone else. Fortunately, that man brought her back, and I was joined with my little love of my life. It was a tough beginning, she loved Norm, and didn't want to be with me. We used to joke that she was hoping someone would poision me, so she could return to her man. I didn't blame her. I was told that it would take a year to bond with her, and almost to the day, it took a year. Now we are solid. She is in my heart and I am in hers. I love her so much, it is annoying to innocent bystanders. Gale is smart, biddable and has a wonderful way with sheep. That takes care of the good dog part.
Now for the help. Poor Norman, he has been locked in a vehicle for hours with me while I have tried to whistle. When I met him, I didn't understand what a proper outrun really looked like, let alone how to achieve one. I consistently stood in the mouth of the pen, trying desperately to get the sheep in. I thought there should be a different set of commands for the drive. Half flanks, why would I ever need that? He has been patient with me, explaining and re-explaining, showing and showing and showing again. Yes, I have done my part and worked hard, but hard work is not enough. If you think it is, watch a fly in the window buzzing its little heart out. All it needed was a little help to find the door. And that is what Norman has done for me, given me help to find the open door.
Last weekend at Big Willow, I won the double lift, with a lot of help from my friends....
Thank you, Jeannie Helsley for the pictures.