Monday, September 19, 2016

Post Nationals Rundown

It's been 13 years since we've made a Nationals.  Since they were in our front yard this year, we had to go, of course.  Cricket and Rosie were entered in the stock trials, and Sybil, poor thing, ended up in the Altered Conformation ring.  Rowyn had his Tracking test the previous Friday, and was now entered in Agility.
 
It was nice to see old pals I hadn't seen in over a decade, some even longer than that.  Shocking, tho - people kept coming up to me and saying 'Dusty, it's so great to see you!!' and I'd be like - 'Uh, yeah!  Great to see you too!  Who the heck ARE you?'.  Amazingly, those people got OLDER!  Man, after that first day, I decided to not look in the mirror any time soon!
 
Anyway.  Back to the dogs.  We had a pre trial on Monday, the first trial for both girls.  Cricket, almost 11, scraped by on the rotten sheep for a qualifying score.  Rosie had a bobble at the very end of her run that got a 'Thank you' from the judge, and that's not a good 'Thank you'.  Both girls did an okay job on the ducks, but Dale wasn't aware that if they put the ducks thru a panel backwards, they had to move them all the way back out and then back thru the right direction (daylighting, it's called), so he lost 5 points on the second panel.  But they still got a great score and qualified. Awesome for a 9 month old pup in her very first trial!! Cricket decided to do Course 'A' with the ducks instead of 'B', on her own, and we lost a ton of control points before I got her turned around and going the right way, so we were just a bit shy of a 'Q'.  The cattle were atrocious.  They were tie down roping calves of all kinds of breeds and mixes, everything from 300 pound babies to maybe 600 pounders, and they did not want to group or move off of either dogs or people.  Thus, Rosie's 4th place finish and qualifying score was quite an accomplishment!  Cricket and I did our best, but it wasn't nearly good enough, and in the end, we should have called the run before the judge did, but we didn't.  Thus, we got no score.
 
For the Nationals trials, we got lucky (not).  The Started dogs were running both Thursday and Friday, and Cricket had her cattle run on Thursday, while Rosie had all her runs on Friday and Cricket had her duck and sheep runs on Friday.  By Thursday, the cattle were beyond bad.  As soon as Cricket pushed them out of the pen, the run was, for all intents and purposes, over.  One tiny black baldy went flying around, bucking and kicking for no reason.  I stood in front of him and walked into him and the little bugger stood his ground.  I figured I could take him, as he couldn't have been much over 250 pounds.  He didn't like the other calves, couldn't have cared less about the dog or me, and no matter what, he was doing his own thing.  This time, I was smart enough to call the run before the judge did.  We did get a decent 40 points out of 100 without ever getting thru a single panel.
 
On Friday, both Cricket and Rosie had good duck runs, good enough for both to qualify.  Sadly, due to poor planning on the trial organizer's part, the same judge from Monday's pretrial judged the Nationals trial, so Rosie earned two scores but no title.  Pity, that, as she did such a nice job.  The sheep were just done; Cricket once again did her usual solid, steady job, got a good score and was only 2 points out of 4th, out of 60 dogs.  She ended up 7th AND got her STDs title!  Rosie was coming off a frustrating run on the cattle that Dale wisely called early, and while she got the sheep to the first panel, as they were doing with almost all the Started dogs, they buttonhooked around it and headed for home.  At that point, Rosie was done.  Again, Dale wisely decided to just let her do a nice repen and get the heck out of there.
 
Rowyn wasn't having much better luck over in the agility area.  A great first run ended with an elimination for training in the ring, something neither I nor Shelly realized she'd done with him.  And while the rest of the runs weren't all that bad, they weren't quite good enough to qualify.  Like so many of the dogs, the long week of events, waiting around and being in a strange place among strange people and dogs was taking its toll on Rowyn and Shelly.  But in spite of the lack of success, they still had a great time and learned TONS.
 
All in all, we didn't do too bad.  Well, there was Sybil's last place in all the conformation shows she was in (3) but that was to be expected.  She didn't stand a chance, not with me on the end of the lead, not with strangers wanting to put their hands on her, not with 4 other dogs buffed, puffed and polished to the max in the ring with her.  But everyone just thought she was so cute, with her freckled face, and by the Nationals show, she actually stood so very nicely and let the judge go over her without moving, which was quite the accomplishment from being a pancake dog the first two preshows.  The dogs got to get well socialized (even tho Cricket was taking on all dogs in defense of HER Rosie, who didn't need defending), we got to show off the puppy - working people kept coming up to me and telling me how cute a worker she is, which on the west coast is about as high a compliment as you can ask for - everyone thought Cricket was a couple of years old instead of the almost 11 she is, Shelly remembered the agility courses and in the end, the dogs didn't give a hoot about any silly bits of fabric and scoresheets.  They were doing what they loved, as best as they could, and we are so proud of ALL of them!
 
Texas 2017.  Hmmm.  Wonder how long a drive it is from here?
 
 Cricket on her Nationals qualifying sheep run.  She can take pressure off the stock just by turning her head.  All working pictures by Bonnie Sicard
 Eyeing up that black face ewe.  That sucker gave her trouble the entire course
 Rosie takes the uncooperative sheep up the first leg
Sitting nicely for Dale at the repen
 Rosie (pink), Cricket and Rowyn show off their Nationals swag
 If you thought getting that first shot was hard, you're right.  But surprisingly, it WASN'T the puppy that caused trouble!
 Ro and momma Cricket, leaving Nationals for the final time
The swag table at the stock trial

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nationals Tracking Test

If there was a day and location with the worst possible conditions to track under, it was a better one that last Friday for the Nationals Tracking test.  4 TDX teams, including Team Shelwyn (Shelly and Rowyn), 0 passed.  The TD (lower level) fared almost as bad, with 12 teams and only 2 passes.
 
Ah well.  Agility starts tomorrow, and hopefully things will go better for the team!
 


 Sadly, at this point, the team is well west of the track.  The wind was howling out of the east, blowing the scent almost 50 yards off track
Team Shelwyn!
 

The Stockdog Trial

The cows were all bad;
But that's what we had;
They said that a good dog could work 'em.
The sheep ran amuck;
And sometimes got stuck;
They said that a good dog could work 'em.
The ducks raised a fuss;
If their feathers got mussed;
They said that a good dog could work 'em.
So Cricket and Rosie;
Showed they're not posies;
And just went out there and worked 'em.
 
Meet the good dogs!
 Rosie, 9 months, 4th in Started Cattle and qualified in Started Ducks.  Cricket, almost 11 years, qualified in Started Sheep
On the way home, a very pooped puppy!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Eyes Have It

 Sybil
Rosie

Cricket Gets Her Goat(s)

Long (very long) story short, several weeks ago we ended up with two 9 year old Nubian doe goats, more or less a rescue situation.  Cricket had to teach them to respect the dog, so that we could go in and out of the gate without trying to keep them contained, they adore being with people so strongly.
 
Pony is pretty happy tho.  I think he missed his goat more than we thought
 

The old girl, looking regal in the barn

Nationals Run Up - More Rosie and Cows

The clock is ticking.  Monday the 12th will be our first stock trial with both girls (Rosie and Cricket), in Started.  I think we could win the biggest age difference award - Rosie just turned 9 months and Cricket will be 11 years in December.
 
The pretrial starts bright and early Monday morning, and I think we should be on ducks first, followed by sheep and cattle.  Started runs last, after Advanced and Open.
 
My only goal with Cricket is to not get excused within the first 30 seconds.  Her and I have not made a very good transition from ranch work to trial work.  But Team Dalie should be AWESOME to watch!
 
 Danny.  It's always Danny being difficult


 Now there's a pretty picture of what a great working Aussie looks and moves like!









Shopping with Rosie and Sybil

Petco had their Halloween costumes in already.  Rosie was adorable; Sybil just looked silly in a mullet.  Both were suitably embarrassed that they promised to behave in Wilco, our next stop
 



One of These Doesn't Belong

An odd combination spotted in Philomath
 

I Didn't Do It

To get Rosie a little socializing, we took her a Sybil out for a shopping day at the local Petco and Wilco.  Dale found a fabulous toy for her.  It has about 25 squeakers and apparently 125 pounds of stuffing in the head.  Most of which, within minutes of getting home, was strewn from one end of the house to the other.
 
Sybil looks on, hoping that I don't think SHE did it
 

Nationals Run Up - Duck Duck DUCK!!

Sometimes, a duck's gotta do what a duck's gotta do. 
 
All credit to a pup that could have had Peking Duck for dinner but never laid a single paw or tooth on the fractious fowl
 




Nationals Run Up - Rosie Takes on the Cows

After our trip last week to Battle Ground and Brigand's Hide Out to train with Dave V and the heaviest sheep on the planet, it was time for some cows for the little black pup
 
 Down to three now, but no problem at all for Rosie and Dale





Nationals Run Up - Ro Does a Practice Track

It was a fine day for a practice track.  One of our very generous farmers, Frank, offered up our choice of his big fields to use, and I got to lay my very first TDX track, with Shelly's help, of course.  We laid the track, dropped the three articles, set the flags, then I got to walk it all over again before Team Shelwyn hit it.
 
It was AMAZING.  Ro had no idea where the track was, wasn't cuing off the flags, and found all the articles with absolute perfection.
 
We are off tomorrow, the 9th, to Gervais (about an hour plus north) for the official 2016 ASCA Nationals Tracking Test.
 
I think they'll do just fine!
 
 Ro gets into harness
 At the start.  First article is here
 Track runs out 57 yards fairly straight.  Ro doesn't necessarily follow the track precisely.  The scent will drift, as it was fairly humid and there was a breeze that kept changing directions, making it quite a challenge.  Shelly doesn't give him any direction, just encourages him to keep working when he's hit a snag
 There's the flag for the first turn, to the left.  He will cast around the flag to find the direction change
 Direction change found!  Off we go again
 Shelly's still on the first leg, and Ro is pulling hard to let her know he's got the direction change
 You can see my track ever so faintly to Ro's right.  He's tracking the drift scent, working right alongside it
 He's on track nicely here, intermediate article right in front of him.  He knows it too
 Intermediate article found!
 From the article, straight ahead to the next turn, at the blue flag
 Made the turn at the flag, cast for the track, found it, tracking strong to the next turn
 Casting for the new direction
 Got it.  Now on the very long leg
 Again, you can faintly see my track to the next blue flag just off his right shoulder

 Coming back onto the track
 Dead on track.  Remember, Shelly's not directing him in any way.  He's doing this all with his nose
 Hit the flag for the last leg to the last article
 Made the turn, found the track, and the final article is dead ahead
 He's got it!!

Job well and truly done!!