This is my story (mini-novel) of my Dunnigan Hills Melt Down
The open course
There were 3 sets of drive panels (no shed). One off to the left that you can't see. You can see the other two. Way in the distance are the fetch panels (down in the hollow). The rye grass was deep to say the least. Actually, even though it was blowing, the dogs could hear fairly well. Down in the gully coming up to the last cross drive panel there was a bit of a dead zone. I'm sorry to say I didn't get that far. :0( My girls have trialed at Dunnigan on the "other hill" several years ago, but they went down and UP the hill to fetch their sheep. Both did really well and had little trouble with their outruns. So, I expected them to have little trouble this year on the new course. Not so.
People watching. Way to the right, handler at the post.
My dogs didn't do well. Some days are diamonds and others are______. Wayne reminded me that I did very little training all winter long with Kilt having pups and with my father passing. He was right. I just expected my girls to go the distance. Way wrong there Corrigan. You get what you train. We have done NO distance training all winter. Both Kilt in open and Yoko in pro-novice had difficulty finding there sheep. If you only do 200 yard outruns, that's where your dog will automatically turn in. They have this rote memory. To do LONG outruns you must consistently train long outruns. Maybe not Kilt, but most definitely Yoko sighted her sheep from the post. But, when they went to turn in where they thought they were, all they saw was rye grass. Neither take a redirect on the fly (something I need to learn to train). I'm not that advanced yet. So, when I stopped them when I saw them turning in early, they stopped and looked at me. It's hard to redirect when they are looking at you. I tried look backs to no avail. Finally with Kilt, a loud verbal GET OUT did the trick. They could be down in the hollow 100 feet in front of the sheep and with the water and reeds so high, they still couldn't see them. Sigh......
This is what Champ thought of the whole trial. Happy to come up and sit with the handlers and chew on his bully stick while visiting. B-O-R-E-D
Day one, I really enjoyed the "pastoral" setting of Dunnigan Hills. The set outs were nice and many dogs performed lovely runs. I sat and watched some 8 hours before running next to last. I was wind and sun fried to say the least. Thankfully, most of the handlers were gone and couldn't see Kilt crossing over hill to hill to look for her sheep. I called her in without ever finding her sheep. The afternoon lighting was such that you could not even see the fetch panels. In the morning the fetch panels were very visible. I knew she would find her sheep running 13th the next day versus 64th on day one. I was right. She did find them on day two without crossing over, but she was pushing them like a freight train on her drive and I retired her. Geez...she is 7 yrs. old and knows better.
I left the trial field around 1:30 on day two, because I didn't want to BAKE all day AGAIN. There is NO shade, nary a tree in these fields. You have to walk at least 1/4 mile up hill to the post from where you park. It's a killer walk through the deep rye grass.
The highlight of my trip. Gloria and her dogs spent Sunday night at the motel with me. Monday morning, Champ was so bored he TP'ed the hallway. Gloria turned around and there he was...caught in the act. That is her pretty Gale hiding behind her saying, "I had nothing to do with this!."
And, CONGRATULATIONS to Gloria and Nick for winning both the Pro-Novice classes. You guys ROCK!
The 2nd night at the hotel, I noticed Kilt started showing signs of distress.....an allergy. She was gulping and gagging. We already know she is allergic to some grasses. I went out and bought her some Benadryl. Yoko has never shown any allergies, but on day 3 when she was to run she was a WRECK...gagging, sneezing, gulping, and diarrhea from the stress of not knowing what was happening. Mind you, I was dying of a sinus headache. So I'm saying, "one Benadryl for you and one for me." Wonderful, eh?
Kilt and son
Day three when Yoko runs it got into the 90's. Oh yeah. :0( I'm worrying about the dogs. I have the pup in his crate with very little shade and air movement where we had to park. I would walk the 1/2 mile round trip trek to bring the pup up with the handlers and then back down to change the position of the truck and shade cloths to keep the dogs from melting. Kilt is now in a full blown allergic attack looking to me for help. She threw up on my purse in the truck and crapped all over the back of the truck. She would NEVER do that unless she was completely wigged out. I try to rearrange everyone before I run Yoko the 2nd time. oh yeah...the first run, she found her sheep without crossing over but with about 3 minutes of me assisting her with whistles to get her to them. She brought them through the fetch panels around the post and through the first drive panels and timed out. So, I'm thinking she will do better on her 2nd run.
I never need a crate for Yoko. She always makes her own!
WRONG. I go to the truck to get her and she is having an attack, gagging, gulping, and looking to me for help. This is the first time I have seen Yoko allergic to any grasses. I make my way up the hill for the umpteenth time sweating like a pig. I get there with 2 dogs ahead of me. Yoko is retching. I tell the next handler, I'm just going to send her and bring the sheep to the post and retire..."Be ready." I'm at the post while she is gagging and I hear Champ howling in his crate across the valley. One hot puppy. This makes for no concentration at all. I send Yoko, she crosses over, picks them up and brings them to the post and I retire her. I'm severely stressed now since ALL of my dogs are stressed and sweat is dripping off of me.
I get back down to the truck. I now have a blanket full of crap next to the truck. I pick it up and put it in a trash bag. I tie the pup to the bumper. Somehow, I have misplaced my f'ing keys. My headache is so bad I feel it thumping in my temples. I start unpacking the truck to look for my keys. Though, Champ kept my spirits up or at least put a smile on my face. While I'm looking for my keys he is going through everything I unpacked from the truck. He is throwing frisbees, holy rollers, etc. all around the back of the truck where he is tied. Then, Wayne calls, and reminds me that I haven't worked my dogs since my Pop passed. That was just about the breaking point. I started thinking about my father and tears started to fall. I reached for the car door and a wasp stung me in the hand. Talk about adding insult to injury!
Right at that moment, Suzy Applegate was driving out and said, "Hey, that Champ sure is cute. He looks like a pretty blend of Hap and Kilt." With that, I tried to mutter a few words and broke down crying. OMY Mini meltdown. (I later wrote her and apologized) I found my keys (in the ignition, mind you). Remember I had to keep walking down and back up the hill to change the position of my truck to try keep the dogs from frying and one of those times I didn't put them where I always usually put them. Ugh.
All the dogs had diarrhea for the trip back home. Everyone had a Pepto Bismol. Champ kept chewing his bully sticks while the girls had the hershey squirts at the rest stops. I had to take my gallon jugs of water and wash Yoko's long pants before allowing her back in the truck. All I could smell was CRAP and Bully dicks. I was literally sick to my stomach by the time I arrived back home.
I'm home now. Life is okay. I talked to my brother about Pop while driving home. He says he still has his good days and bad days, too. The construction of the bathrooms is SLOWLY evolving. I have work manana. Geez, I can't wait to get up at 4:30 AM and shower in the trailer. NOT!