Thursday, May 30, 2013


My post trip summary has been a hard labor....I actually thought I could blog on the road. Somewhere between Carbondale and Nebraska my filter got clogged and actually broke in Colorado Springs!  Knowing myself as I do, I thought it best to get home, sort, by running all I'd saved, unfiltered, through a dialysis machine and hope to God the new filter would get here in time for the Turner trial.  I sit here now, fingers typing away in the familiar routine of mornings that my dogs wondered where it all had gone for three weeks of trucking it, changed; deeply and profoundly changed. 

I started this journey some eight years ago, with a washed out agility rescue border collie and a burning desire.  As I look back at the years, I see in vivid Technicolor that burning desire was all about the end result conquer, there in my beginning.  I wanted to be great at "herding"!  I wanted answers....cold, hard answers....tell me how to do this herding thing.  Mentors patiently answered my endless machinegun questions while directing me to books such as "The Seven Secrets of Perfect Horsemanship". I'd often leave clinics, lessons and trials frustrated beyond measure....if only they would just give me the answers, if only I had a better dog, if only the sheep were not so dogged (or needed dogged more), or a list of other if onlys that could have been different or better, and my thirst for "getting" intensified as if I lived my life on a salt lick.  I wanted to win! At trials I felt huge dramatic downhill spirals when my dogs did poorly.  When I did win, I always wondered if I had gotten "lucky", all the while the naysayers continued their naying and my conquering thirst continued to be left unquenched.  I make a pretty darn good addict: shelves filled with books on working sheepdogs, a file-cabinet drawer overflowing with DVDs. I wanted answers, I demanded answers.  Sheep?  Who cared about the sheep....they were there for me to get this.  Sure my dogs were my friends but they really needed to step up to the plate and not let me down. 

It is not as if I woke up one day having this great vision, no clouds parted nor did an angel visit me for enlightenment.  I think the seeds were planted by those who invested in me, invested with great patience much as they do in their lives of working sheepdogs.  One day, or a whole lot of days transitioned together, I began to realize this journey....was about me.  It was not about scores, or who I beat, or how I had performed, or how others felt about me and/or my dogs.  This journey might be called by another name, and had become about relationships,  The wins and losses and scores and opinions of others became a little less important than the relationship and improved communication and belief and absolute, balls to the walls giving back that I was experiencing.  As I let go of the notion of "conquer", I found those who shared the idea of "process".  Much like a journey, end result goals are becoming just destinations while the process unfolds as amazing scenery filled with miracles, beauty, blessings along the way.  Process is my actual living.

The list of miracles, beauty and blessings along my way to there and back are endless.  Indeed this list does include some "end goal" achievements with Bella being an amazing teammate with me.  I am proud of her for those scores and placements, however placements are just the chocolate coating to the amazing filling of the trust we have in each other.  When I look up at my ninth place ribbon, I see in my mind all the suppleness, confidnece and ease of a dog working three lambs around a course and a pen she accomplished without me.  I remember her driving 20 sheep around a course in 85 degree weather/100% humidity with not a single stop to graze.  I see her flying around, not a grip to be seen, as she went to get that collared single, turning the lamb while winning the Irish judge as president of the Bella fan club. 

On the other hand, I see a whole lot of beauty in my three weeks with Nell; beauty others might not see with one score out of five runs. Nell who has shown me a little of myself, has kept me humble; knowing I need to look to myself for improvement in our relationship.  The miracles, beauty and blessings of the trip with her came with the hours of exhausting sheep at Table Top and the permission to sort.  Discussions with a friend and mentor on ideas to try out as I process with Nell. The process continues.

The human component brought plenty of blessing as well; new friends made, other relationships strengthened.  There are those who most certainly see life as an end result, their self esteem equaling their performance.  There are others whose lives are really all about themselves surrounded by those who appear to agree. Such is life and there is blessing in knowing that constant remains.  This fact gives the power of choice.  We all know that time is the money of our life: it's a limited resource that  we spend where we choose.  I've recently been reminded, socked in the gut reminded, that life is to be cherished and again, I renew my vow of living it to the fullest. I'm choosing to spending my time money on the process with those who are process motivated as well.  My dogs, family, friends and mentors pour so much into coming along side the process of me becoming.......I can not think of any greater blessing than this gift from true friends: two and four legged.  THAT is what I learned on my three week trek.

Seize the Day!

"Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure." ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Monday, May 6, 2013

Toto, I don't Think We are in Kansas Anymore

The first leg of my journey took me to Idaho...where I picked up a partner in crime.  Somehow I talked her into the trip.....first was the Bluegrass, then Strang ranch for a look at the 2014 Finals site...and then why the heck not Table Top?  I mean we are already that way.  What was two weeks last year turned into three weeks this year made doable with a traveling companion.  I tell people she is my little sister.

First stop was Vernal Utah.....the dogs were tired of driving and so was I.  Just 5 hours shy of Carbondale, Colorado....after seeing all the big game road kill on the side of the road...I was glad we called it a night in the daylight hours!

Here is my morning Welcome Wagon...thank GOD Dot was on a leash or we would have been working deer...or attempting to practice recalls in the wee hours of dawn.  There were a flock of wild turkeys and my sidekick saw a bob cat.  Somehow I think we are not in fact we are at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains!

We stopped in, licking my wounds to the fact that I am 82nd out on the wait list for the Meeker Trial in September.  We found the famous Meeker statue and I petted the dog for good luck....then on to Strang Ranch!

There are two trial fields, both have shed rings.

All this with a view.....

Tomorrow the trial begins.  I'm hoping Bella stays sound and can give it a whirl.  Nell is happy to be here with her runs in Open and Gyp will have her go's in Pro Novice.  Here's to sweet dreams of good dog work! Tomorrow the Strang Ranch games begin!

Seize the Day.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Oh the Places You'll Go

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

I thought a little Dr. Seuss was in order this of my all time favorite books.  Just a few loose ends to tidy up here at home.....the dogs need tick treatment and I need to finish packing my treasures into the trailer.  Then I am off on an adventure......

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way! ~ Dr. Seuss