Sunday, October 28, 2012

Say Goodnight Gracie......

The 2012 trial season has come to an end for me.  Bitter sweet for sure but a rest might be in good order.  On my long drive home from Fire Ridge last night, rain bucketing down, big red truck hyrdo-planing, forcing me to slow down, creating more time to reminisce.....some sweet memories came back to me of understanding, partnership, and some super fun times with my girls on sheep.  Crazy days of working for the Sheep Boss, learning along side a few new friends from the Shepherd.  Lazy days on secret fields filled with scrumptious sheep, learning together with my dogs...freedom to try and fail, without ridicule, to try again.  Amazing trial days...sitting at the feet of some of the best handlers and some very treasured friends, watching, taking notes, trying to absorb through my eyes and pores.  Hours and hours of editing footage, capturing runs, more learning opportunities.  And then there are my own trial runs, the good bring such amazement; the bad: there for me to learn what I need if I am willing to look. 

I feel a little lost right real goals just yet for 2013.  I think maybe those seeds have been planted but are not yet sprouting.  It feels a bit like January here in my mind.  Though not comfortable, being lost is not where I enjoy finding myself, I'm going to revel in the calm, feel it, soak in it, roll around a little and look forward to coming through on the other side.


Seize the Day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Monday

I'll have a super-sized order of FUN with more Fun on the side, please!  A weekend filled with college football and sheepdoggin'......and a good book-on-dvd to help kill the driving time! 

Now it is Monday, raining and cold with snow in the mountains and more sheepdoggin' awaiting my next weekend.  My time at the Close's with Gyp will give me plenty of mind fodder till she runs on Thursday.  Thinking on things like "stop", what "stop" really looks like, what I want "stop" to really look like and lifting off people. 

Maybe I should get a chocolate lab......

Happy Monday!

Seize the Day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Trailing of the Sheep

After my dogs had finished running on Saturday, I ended up working the exhaust.  I heard whispers in the wheat stubble.....could they be true?  I found one of the trial hosts and, indeed, the next day we would be running on 8 sheep....split in the shed ring taking four to the pen and leaving four.  I started in on my happy dance again, eight sheep.....some the size of ponies!  Maybe those eight sheep could work with me in getting Bella to realise I really do have her best interest in mind as I give commands on the trial field.  As I thought over my run with Bella, and runs from trials past, I remembered this was exactly why I had come to Trailing of the Sheep.  To experiment, try new ideas on for size, stop the insanity of doing what was not working again....I was excited to work eight sheep.

Sunday was cooler.....Bella drew up late morning.  I got a hold of her early on with a dandy stop at the top and a few on the top end of her fetch.  She reacted to the handling with a little bit of "tell me what to do then" and I tried to convey that this was not either 100% her way or a 100% my work was in order. By the third leg of the drive she had settled in and was feeling her sheep ever so nicely, rating herself a bit and allowing me to run her stop-less.  It was so amazing to watch her sort it all out on her run, looking for answers and beginning to work with me.....felt a bit like the makings of my own personal MasterCard commercial "Priceless".

Nell drew up at 2:30, that dreaded time of day where the sheep are wanting a nap and extra hungry.  As her sheep were escorted onto the field, there came the black pony!  The one with the gray birthmark arrow on  her side.....I thought, "bring it on, baby!  Let's see what we are made of, Nellie girl!"  Nell was ever so good....working hard to hit the fetch panel as the black pony-ewe tried everything to not go through and her seven dwarfs were waiting to follow.  The run was not all perfect and pretty, but man oh man, Nell gave me her all.  As a good friend texted me, she is becoming quiet consistent....the journey continues.

Miss Gyp got the opportunity to exhaust sheep a bit.  I was excited but nervous...the four by four split creating an interesting gather for my baby girl but she rose to the occasion and my fellow handler friends never left me hanging.  After about 7 runs, Gyp actually told me she had everything under control and I could go sit in the truck....I found another person to exhaust but was glad to see the confidence in my Gypsy!

The sheep were set by the same men who set for Meeker. They did a fabulous job!
Here Rob Miller's Jen takes her sheep around Rob....the sheep are most definitely the size of ponies!
Rob and Jen get their 4/4 split
Rob was raised right here on this very piece of land.  It was a bitter/sweet trial for him with memories of his father and retiring his good dog Jen.  It was a beautiful final run for her...she has always had a sweet spot in my heart for sure.

The whole trial was just darn right amazing for me.  The sheep gave me a glimpse into myself and my dogs......and together we made improvements thanks to those honest sheep.  The majesty of the land was breathtaking in a rugged way.  I've never seen mountains without evergreen trees, instead covered with sagebrush and giving the impression that winters are bitter cold, wind whipped.....not for the faint of heart. Trailing of the Sheep goes into my book as one of those really fabulous trials.....a not-to-miss trial if one can muster the courage to see what can be done in the high dessert mountains on sheep the size of ponies!

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live A Good Story......

The Blog of Impossible Things has caught my attention...and in a timely manner, thank you very much.  First World Problems provided perfect over thinking fodder for a long drive to Trailing of the Sheep.  I had been looking forward to TOTS for quite some time; when I got the call from Don Helsley that I was in, there was a waiting list, and was I sure I wanted to come.....I think my happy dance and party of "yes, I got in!" said enough. After NOT putting Bella on that special list at the finals that would have had her running......and all the bad things Bella said to me about my lack....I was very excited to get her on fine wool sheep for the second time at a trial, and see how she handled sheep that pushed back a bit.  As I drove, I thought about my "first world problems" know those tiny bitty nonsense things in life that, if allowed, can become bigger and potentially all consuming.  Very much like a hot air balloon, when not inflated fits in a box; yet filled with hot air can block the view of amazing splendor.  They are quite beautiful, yes, and can serve a purpose...yet imagine having hot air balloons, filled and sitting in the back yard day in and day out. Not seeing anything but big multicolored man-made balloons, and all the energy that goes into keeping them filled with hot air.....overwhelming, distracting, fake, bigger than life, and not how I want to live.  As I drove on, I pondered how to put those hot air balloons back into their boxes and possibly consider shipping some of them back to their manufacturing companies.  How does sheepdog training and trialing fit into living a good story without a focus on First World Problems??

A friend of mine told me a story of one of his runs at Trailing of the Sheep.  He had a rogue ewe that ended up running back up into the mountains on one of his runs.....his story was a good one, reminding me that if indeed, I made it to TOTS, my "goals" would need to be realistic and "myself" to not be taken too serious! After my two runs with Nell at the finals, I was looking forward to relaxing, experimenting and taking some self imposed, first world pressure off myself.

The days dawned early, those in charge of the trial "morning people" and just as important, conscientious about getting all 54 dogs their time on the field. It was cool watching the sheep get moved from the overnight pen to the top end, in the dark, only the lights of the four wheelers giving a glimpse of ghost-like sheep moving in and out of the foggy, dust swirl they were creating. The first day, Nell ran early and I loved how we worked together....getting around with a nice shed..but no pen.  The day showed how challenging the sheep were....not a pen was to be had.  A very good friend texted me that he was seeing consistency in Nell....time to get to work on what points I was leaving on the field. 

Bella, Bella...Bella Mia.....let's just say "she brought them"!  She was tense and lit and I walked, much to the surprise of the announcer and the judge and the exhaust.....I was getting around but with no "relationship", it was the tense Bella show.  Bella was on her own I walked.  And I is about "relationship" do I "get" Bella to want to work with me??  She is so different from Nell, not that Nell hasn't had days, months, years of thinking it would be better if I sat in the truck while she ran.  How do I get in Bella's head?  What does Bella need from me?  What I do know is: I would rather not run her than have her run all over the sheep and me...and I believe she does this out of tension and not naughtiness.  In the instant of a lift, she turned nice sheep into wolf-fearing, reactionary sheep...and kept that theme on the first end of the fetch.  Once settled, the tension was dipped into time and again, her dysfunctional habit of dealing with stress. I get it...I live Bella's life...I love chocolate and birthday cake when my sheep of life get out of control......neither of our reactions to stress provide the desired outcome and I think we both feel like crap when it is over!

After watching, then not watching, my first run with Bella from LaCamas, I have been searching my soul as to which first world issues keep me from doing what my dog needs at a trial and staying at the post, filling hot air balloons instead.  Ego?  Pride?  That crazy, bitchy side of myself that wants to "make" my dog?  The balloon fills to capacity when I look at "others" and their journey with their dogs.  The cool, quiet, beautiful people who pip along while their dogs lie down with the enthusiasm that one of mine would eat bacon! And then I open the escape hatch....the hot air rises and the balloon deflates....becoming just the material that can be folded and put back into that box that needs a shipping label to get the hell out of here.  My dogs, my journey..funny how I have just what I need to become;....and maybe just maybe, as I live a good, honest story and keep digging deep with my relationship with Bella, I can find the ability to keep on, find answers in myself and along the way, to be as kind and forgiving of myself as I am of my dog.

Seize the Day!

Friday, October 5, 2012

You're My Best Friend...Part 2

Indeed the 2012 USBCHA Finals were quite the ride.  Nell made it through the first round and finished mid-pack in the semi-final round.  She gave me her all and I must admit..I enjoyed running her.  I most certainly feel blessed to have a few nice dogs and folks that believe and invest in my partnerships. There is so much more that I am experiencing post-finals...maybe the words will come with time but for now I'm just treasuring my two runs for how I remember them.  With finals blogging and live-streaming and a world full of critics...I'm thinking enough "other" has been said. 

The very best part of the finals, for me.....was watching and celebrating my friend's and their success.  It was super cool to have a group of "rookie" friends who made it to the finals for their very first time...hence the "rookie" brand.  I'm proud and amazed at all my friends who conquered their fears and walked to the post to send their dogs....some at the time of day where even the best of hands struggled.  I cheered with pride as a handful of us "rookies" made it to the semi-finals.  Each of us, with our own journeys, our own goals, our own dragons...being counted amongst the top forty teams.  And the rookie who runs his dog as if riding a wave, he dug deep and made it to the last day......they say it's a Cinderella story....somehow that minimizes the work and effort that team has put in. 

I also was witness to the other spectrum of dog know...the runs that don't go as planned and most certainly not as visualized.  And yet, again I am awed and humbled by the grace, dignity and character that my friends exhibited as they walked off the field.  Even those who did well with what they were given, yet it was not enough for the nod to the next level....those disappointed and yet able to celebrate, encourage, and cheer on their friends, were unsung heroes.  I wonder if they know how they touched my life?  They most certainly have left a fingerprint that I hope doesn't wash off.  At the end of the day, may I be as full of strong character.

Keeping it real, there was a lot of "other" stuff going on for me during the week. I don't live in a Willy Wonka world, though I do work at trying to see the good: lifting my eyes to see the beauty on this journey called my life.  Yes, Susan, trialing is about the sheep.  It is about seeing what you can do with the packet of sheep your are dealt.  But life...oh is about becoming and along the way I am ever so thankful for my friends. I want to remember that the trialing is just the thin layer of icing but the cake is really what matters.   Its the substance and foundation and determines the quality of the final dessert presentation.  Dogs, family and True Friends......a good cup of coffee and a bite of chocolate.......Today, I lift my eyes, give thanks and find that my cake of life is good.......

Seize the day!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

You're My Best Friend.....

Ooh you make me live
Whatever this world can give to me

It's you, you're all I see

Ooh you make me live now honey
Ooh you're the best friend that I ever had

I've been with you such a long time

You're my sunshine and I want you to know
That my feelings are true

I really love you

Oh you're my best friend
Seize the Day!!!!