Last year at this time I was planning for, and writing about the Summer of Suck tour, where Pat and I would enter PN in various trials across the west and spend my suck.  Lavishly shower novice errors onto any and all trial fields within my season's reach. 

I bought a crook that was too short as an accessory. 

My plan was to go to the post enough times to make every mistake I could make until feeling stupid and awkward felt natural.  I thought time at the post would count towards making me a better handler.  The way going to church makes some people feel magically forgiven for killing hookers and dumping them in the desert or being republican.  (JUST KIDDING REPUBLICAN FRIENDS!! Hooker killers have to tithe!)

Pat and I entered Wessels Dirt Blowing, Kelley Creek and Palm Cottage.  And Athena.  We sucked soundly in all venues.  Especially at Kelley Creek where I tried my now patented Penning 3 of 5 sheep.  

In July Pat went away for about 9 months (281 days, but who counts? He's just a dog…) and in October I got Jai from P*trick.  

Dianne likes to say that people come in to your life for a reason. I believe this is true with the military, babies and tapeworms…but not necessarily for me.  DOGS, however…

I couldn't HOPE to run Pat with anything BUT full throttle SUCK last year. He was too fast and I couldn't process fast enough to EVER be EVEN CLOSE to right in my timing.  Sometimes I would just stand at the post and say his name, sadly, madly, disappointedly.  I would watch things unfold as he frantically tried to get through it all. Ten long minutes for both of us…all 7 if you counted the sheep (and I, obviously, didn't). 

I often wished I'd thought to bring a magazine. 

Pat taught me patience.  He taught me to trust my dog, but also to earn the dog's trust.  I wasn't trustworthy; I was wrong more than he was, and I didn't help him.  When things were right, usually in practice, it physically felt right.  He taught me alot that only now, after working with Jai for awhile, are things that I'm beginning to understand.

Jai has had some confidence issues (which is what she says about me on HER BLOG…I'm sure) and tends to be much slower, more hesitant. which has helped with my timing and my aim at obstacles. She seems to abhor the comeby side in general, as well as geometricly interesting fencelines and the idea of ever seeing a sweater in her size again.  (I use this as a tool/threat in training).  I have had to be Jai's cheerleader. (Again…I'm sure she feels the same about me).  It makes me being RIGHT an imperative. 

Jai and Pat have some similarities – both are sensitive and get wide, wider, widest under pressure or harsh command.  Jai has more eye.  Pat has a lot of power.   Jai can be close and not have a huge effect on the stock, Pat has to be way off.  If conditions are less than optimal (almost always) good luck slowing Pat down, and have a nice afternoon getting Jai to take your come-bye if there is a piece of farm equipment on the horizon, a child with a shovel in her memory or a sheep who isn't polite.  The wind is Satan whispering DON'T EVEN LOOK AT MY CARSEAT COVERS, DOG! AVERT YOUR EYES OR I'LL PUT YOU IN AN ITCHY CARDIGAN FOR ALL ETERNITY.

I love both of these dogs and I am really grateful that I have them. (Jai would agree on her blog that I am affectionate and can drive; plus open complicated containers; she also thinks the right one of us is wearing the sweaters). 

I've entered Pat and Jai in the same trials as last year, plus a few.  We'll see what this season brings.