It’s been a dreadful winter, and it’s not over yet. We’ve had a lot of snow in April and it’s been really cold, record cold last night, into the high teens. Our 9 ewes finished lambing in late March, 20 lambs, among them one set of quads.
Sweep came into heat in February – as it turned out, I’m very happy she waited until then as the weather has been so bad. She was bred to a lovely young dog and is expecting her pups around May 2nd. Because of this no traveling to trials this spring.
The last trial of the season for us was the Happy Hollows trial outside Appleton City, MO. It capped a fairly succcessful trial season for Toss, so successful that we’re hoping to be qualified for the National Finals. Sweep also did well in the second trial and picked up her second open placement which was good enough for a go in the double lift. Toss also got into the double lift but neither dog managed to find their first packet of sheep. It was an interesting course, run through a fence, which was the cause of Toss’ problem. Sweep found the opening in the fence, but then spotted sheep in a far away field and that’s where she went.
Soot and Sweep ran in their very first open trials at the Happy Hollows spring trial in April. Both of them struggled a bit at that very first trial, but they both found their sheep and Soot got to the pen and Sweep to the shed before timing out. We didn’t do any trials until fall after that.
The WWSDA Labor Day trial was held in Hudson, WI. Toss got into the double lift at that trial, but we couldn’t manage to find our second group of sheep so had to retire. Soot had a melt down and couldn’t find her sheep in either of the two trials. Sweep ran well, but was DQ’d for gripping in both of her runs. Toss placed in both runs, I was very pleased with that since the conditions and sheep were very difficult.
The Crook & Whistle trial in Jefferson, WI, followed and Toss again ran really well and placed in both trials. Sweep did good too and picked up her first open placement, an 8th out of 42 dogs. Soot and I had one really good run, but missed the fetch gates which took us out of the placements.
In October, we were back again in Jefferson, WI, this time for the AKC Border collie national specialty herding trials. Soot and Sweep did well and it was a nice warm up for the Ettrick Kennels Open in Butler, MO, a fabulous trial on a great field with tricky sheep. The hardest part of that trial is getting the sheep into the pen, a feat neither Toss nor Soot managed, but Sweep got the pen in her first go. Yay. After Ettrick, it was on to the Happy Hollows trial mentioned above.
July 21, 2012
What a strange year this has been, weather wise. We had a very mild winter with very little snow, for MN, then a very wet spring and early summer and now we’re melting in extreme heat and high humidity and NO rain. Working dogs is tough in these conditions, and it’s even tougher to do lessons, at least for me, since I care about the relative comfort and safety of our sheep.
On the trialing front, not much to talk about. We’ve only done one trial this year, and that was the Happy Hollows trial in Russellville, MO, at Laurie Nichol’s place. It was fabulous. Great place and sheep. (Rumor has it that they will do another trial the first weekend in November with a double lift on the last day.) It was Soot and Sweep’s debut in open. Sweep did ok, had no trouble getting to her sheep and did a reasonable job with the rest of the courses. Soot had difficulty getting out to her sheep, but we did manage to get them to the pen, at least in the first run. On her second run we DQd, oh well. Toss managed a 3rd in the first go and a RET in the second. That’s dog trialing.
We went to Sweden in June for 11 days, it was fabulous. Haven’t been home since 2005, so it was high time. We spent time in Stockholm, Kristinehamn and Borlänge and we also managed to find a sheep dog trial before we came back home to MN. It was a pretty small course and they used a freestanding Y-type chute instead of a pen, the reason given was that the sheep were hard to shed so they figured it would save time with a chute rather than a pen. As it turned out, the sheep shed easily so they all had plenty of time. After hanging around and watching and talking with some of the handlers and listening to their comments to each other, one thing’s for sure, sheep dog handlers are the same everywhere.