Laura at Crooks and Crazies had a post on Thursday asking readers to respond to these questions:
#1. What is your most embarrassing trial moment to date?
#2. What do you prefer to whistle with and why?
I'm a little slow, what with my fingers taking a second job to help pay for my Greatness and all. I certainly enjoyed reading other people's responses, although some of my all-time favorite Trial of Shame descriptions have come from people offline, in person and…usually drunkish. It's why I believe we need a forum for this at some trial where handlers will be drinking and their inhabitions lowered to my level.
1) There have been SO MANY. I've written about most of them here. I think it's funny that these moments usually take time for me to realize how embarrassing they truly were. Like trying to pen 3 of the 5 sheep at Kelley Creek last year. At the time that seemed reasonable. The only other trials that I'd been exposed to – ASCA trials – let you get points for whatever sheep make it through or into an obstacle. Or I'm high on screen cleaner. Whatever. I believed it at the time. AND, for the record: Thank You needs to be replaced with a gong.
I think my lowest stockdog moment really came before I got my first Border Collie. (AT LEAST SO FAR!)
A year and a half or so prior to meeting Dianne and Patrick, I started with my aussie, Zeke. I had delusions, of course, of greatness. Despite the fact that any vague relation to "reading" and "livestock" in my life thus far had mostly been limited to washing instructions and menus, and we'd had a handful of lessons where Zeke chased sheep in a small corral and barked while a nice man compared what we were aiming for with dancing, something I'll never do unless it's a symptom; I imagined that somehow I would step into the trial arena and Zeke would lay down a miracle of a run. He would just KNOW THIS SHIT. He was truly the best dog anyone had ever seen! OMG! What ARE HIS LINES?
Zeke is and was a neurotic, lovable boy who enjoys poop and me and barking and running. Sheep were really just in the way. So, at our Greatness Trial I stood in horror while Zeke ran around cruising the spectators for someone he knew. Then he ate some poop. And finally someone shot off a fire cracker and he went into complete frenzy trying to escape the arena. The sheep, meanwhile, stood in a tidy little clump looking curious. I stood near them holding my leash wondering if this was really supposed to last 5 minutes. The firecracker decided things.
The judge insisted that I try to "engage my dog with the livestock" while I was running around trying to catch and leash Zeke.
"Uh…I think I need to just …get him and leave," I said, "Because firecrackers are a game ending event."
"Why don't you try to get him back on the livestock?"
Zeke was trying to crawl under the fence. The sheep followed me around at a fairly close distance. We could have done the course alone, but now Zeke was yowling to get out. I didn't want to be rude – the judge was obviously more experienced and was offering a suggestion, but Zeke had no interest and I was really horribly embarrassed by the whole thing.
His breeder, a colorful woman with an outspoken nature, offered this when I finally got Zeke and exited stage left,
"You should have put him on ducks. His mother loved to herd ducks…"
I guess what made that so embarrassing or hard for me was that Zeke really had little or no interest. We were just spectacles out there. Both of us. It was never going to get any better. Not in training, not on the trial field.
#2 – What whistle do I prefer and why? At this point in time, something more realistic than my fingers. I switch between my corian and my silver whistle that Amy Raymond made for me and I LOVE. I have a brass whistle that I use, too, but it sounds like I'm dying …or on the verge of dancing.
And I'm not.