My 'crook' that I bought…from a thrift store …which was really an old man's cane…turns out the two do not share the same requirements… was an indicator of things to come. Too short and almost anything would have worked better.
Prior to my run, Dianne picked it up and said, "What is this?"
"It's not even CLOSE to being the right size."
She's a good 3 or 4 inches shorter than me and …indeed it looked silly when she did the side by side comparison with her crook. Mine had seemed like such a good choice in the thrift store. At least 100 years old, shiny black wood with an interesting slight bend. It seemed dignified. I was unable to peel the also ancient price tag from the curve so it screamed "$16.99" !!! in shaky faded black marker.
It was the prefect size for a 103 year old man to crab walk his way around the Royal Fork buffet, but not so fine for me to walk to the post and use to influence sheep, apparently. A good foot too short, it seems.
Dianne had me use her crook. If inanimate objects could scream…..
Next time I should just take the plunger out of the restroom. I could duct tape the toilet brush to lengthen it. Or I can use a pooper scooper and do some REAL work while I'm out there….
Anyway! The course at Kelley Creek, while beautiful, is challenging in that the grass is high, with tiered topology all the way down to sheep.
For our first Pro-novice run, Pat and I ran 5th, I believe. None of our predecessors found the sheep. All young dogs.
"Pat will always bring you sheep," is something I've heard Dianne say with certainty many many times.
It's true. Pat brings sheep. He brings them FAST, as I've said, but as straight as he can manage, without help, because I mostly just stood there on the stump/post with my whistle slack in my mouth as I watched the horror unfold. I did whistle a down once or twice, but Pat took it as a suggestion and not a good one.
The sheep came, they went, and then they split. First into 2 groups of 3 and 2…then in 3 groups of 2 and 2 and one. Far enough apart that neither Pat nor I were certain what to do. I stood there while Pat wrestled with the problem. He finally managed to get things back to 2 groups and he ran his aged ass off keeping his group of 3 from exhaust. I decided we should just pen the ones we had. I was sort of proud of myself for coming up with a plan at that point, beyond just sweating and waiting for 7 minutes to be over.
I opened the pen and Pat brought me his 3. He did look back to the 2 a few times half-heartedly worried that they weren't a group like they should be. I did the handler equivalent of shrugging,
"We don't need them, " and encouraged him to help me pen the 3.
It was going fine, I thought.
"Thank You!" we were told. It lacked sincerely.
"No more ASCA trials for you!" both P*trick and Dianne told me after I walked off the field.
"YOU GAVE HIM NO INPUT!" Dianne told me, taking her crook back, (but NOT HITTING ME WITH IT.)
It was true. I had been immobilized by fear and indecision, for the most part. I couldn't elucidate why, beyond that Pat ignored my initial whistles, I detest screaming like a shrew in public (I KNOW!!) and …once the sheep split, I wasn't sure how to help PAT be successful without losing them in groups of 2 and 3 to the exhaust.
"I didn't know WHAT TO DO!" I replied.
"NEXT TIME, if you THINK you should say something, SAY IT. IF IT CROSSES YOUR MIND that NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO WHISTLE 'LIE DOWN' or YELL A CORRECTION….DO IT! JUST. DO. IT."
Our next run went better. I whistled, Pat ignored, I yelled, usually twice, Pat downed. We at least moved around the course and made one set of drive panels before timing out at the pen. Our score was 38. I think its the same size as my cane.
P*Trick and Dianne did GREAT all weekend. Dianne won PN with Fame both trials, and P*Trick and Riggs took Open.
Next weekend: Athena. We'll do better. I'm never going to shut up.