"A trainer watches his dog, a handler watches his stock." -P*Trick Shannahan, Sheepcamp – October, 2009

I'm not actually enrolled in sheepcamp, at least not this round. Maybe November, if it doesn't fill.  I stopped by for awhile this morning on my way to GL and a run in the desert with Scout. 

P*Trick was explaining to his group that if you are watching your dog, your reaction time will be always be too late.  You need to be immediately aware of how the stock are reacting to your dog's pressure in order for your commands/corrections to be timely enough.  This is easier if your dog is off the stock. I used to think, well, shit, I can WATCH BOTH because they are SO CLOSE.  Here is where Dianne stares at me as if I am profoundly retarded and yet somehow able to drive myself 40 miles for lessons I clearly cannot absorb.  Who ties my shoes?  Indeed.

Tomorrow Cienna will fly in for the weekend, and tomorrow night we have the Dinner/Donner Party (I can hope).  I hope to apply P*Trick's wisdom to my own brand of stock.  I will be playing the roll of both Dog and Handler.  Can I get Chuck's guests to move about from room to room with only my eye? Can I shed Charlie and Lena from the Doctor so that we don't have to talk about H1N1 all night?  Do these pants make my flanks look square? 

I guess, actually, alcohol will be my handler.  I drink COPIOUSLY with these people. It's a coping mechanism, or a cop-out, I can't remember which.  I love Chuck, and his parents….I like Chuck's wife, his kids….their friends view me as a sort of aggressive stain on the carpet.  I feel that pressure as soon as I get out of my car. 

Fortunately my kids and I will go in with some sort of bet that makes the evening more interesting, more navigable.  Sort of a family bingo card filled with deeds, phrases, or words that we each think we can make someone else do or say in conversation. Cienna will bet at least 3 people will say that Chuck/Chris' kids look like Carlos (not at all), I'll bet Charlie will try to get Carlos to drink, and, despite having been told 3 times on an empty stomach that the tiny white germanic kids who keep messing with his stuff look just like him, Carlos will not drink.  Carlos will bet his Dad will leave to get stoned 30 minutes into the evening.  I'll counter with 20.

I will win.

I'll also probably be the only one who isn't mad at someone else by the end of the night.  That's because I will watch my stock and adjust accordingly. SEE DIANNE?? I AM LEARNING!