The ASCA trial was this weekend.   Fun times; Good people, nice
weather, though a little hot, and an excellent learning experience for
me.  Here are my highlights:

First, Lindy and Rave: Great team. 
I really love seeing Lindy work her sweet little red dog.  There were
dogs/handlers who scored well at this trial, but I didn't see any who
worked nearly as nicely together as these two. Jaenne and Mo did
consistently really well also.

Jen and I worked best on Friday, 
our first run, which is probably about the 5th or 6th time I've ever
worked Jen so she wasn't yet jaded in her expectations of me as a
handler.  Plus I've been feeding her chicken and providing access to
exotic poop for the last two weeks, so she was willing to give me the
benefit of the doubt.   We completed the course in plenty of time, made
the obstacles, and got a good score.  Saturday's trials were similar in
that we made the obstacles, got qualifying scores to move up a level. 
I knew it wasn't pretty, timing a little off, commands often
wrong….but we're learning how to work as a team.  It was all within
our reach.

By Sunday, when Patrick and Dianne were scheduled to
come out and watch,  I think Jen and I both had delusions of grandeur, hers
well deserved and fed by all the fresh meat and praise she was ingesting,  mine fueled by some weird jagged optimism gene that
pierces straight through the heart of reason just enough to often make
me seem completely delusional.  Sometimes I'll wear low rider pants,
for instance, or try to sing.

This time, in my mind I could see
Patrick and Dianne in the stands,  watching Jen and I flawlessly move
the sheep around the rodeo arena, through the obstacles, into the
pen….Patrick would say, "I've never seen anyone employ a slapping of
thigh technique quite so well…Jen's curls look amazing…what is she
rolling in these days? I'm choking up…"

Dianne would follow
with, "You know, I never thought I'd say this, but in certain
situations that flailing really works! And, by God, the wrong command
never sounded so right! I might just try an "Away" next time I mean
'Come By' …I've been such a plebian…"
Both would stand and ovate. Is that a word? It should be. It would have been.

But
no.  Instead, 9:30 minutes of our 10:00 minute run was spent with Jen
swirling the sheep around me like hair around a clogged drain.  I would move
slightly, slap my thigh, say her name, issue a command, she'd take it,
trying to get around me. Sheep trotting the 3 or 4 feet necessary to be
back at my feet.  I knew I was in the way, my brain couldn't engage
enough to fix it and Jen was quietly standing there staring at the
sheep and wishing, no doubt, that I would burst into flames so that she
could have the sheep stomp the fire out on the way to the pen and at
least realize part of her fantasy.

We got through ONE obstacle. Two if you count that my pants fit and I didn't try to yodel.

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