We didn't get a score at Palm Cottage. Jai and I TY'd out on both Open runs, but I was happy with her because it's a tough outrun, many dogs struggle to find the sheep and she nailed it. Both days. She did a nice lift and fetch also. Things got squirrelly on the rest of the course and she gripped multiple times until it seemed rude NOT to thank her for it.

Jack lost the sheep on the outrun. I should have made him be wider.

Ms. Milliken was the judge. After a few bottles of beer, glasses of wine, a lick of psychoactive toad (JK! You can't GET those in Western Oregon!) I charmed her with tales of me watching all her runs, over and over, on the youtubes (or equivalent).

"I watch them over and over…I study them…"

Yes. I put the Eep in Creepy!

Who knows why I say the shit I do? It was true; I have watched her taped runs, as many as I could find, over and over. It is helpful to see what handling a dog like Jai correctly looks and sounds like. It must have meant so much more to her to then watch me run my dog the next day like the whistling equivalent of a fly chasing a train.

Lavon video taped my runs and I watched them the other night. My whistles did not seem to have much to do with what Jai was doing on the field most of the time. My whistles sound tentative not decisive. Experimental, even. Like I'm taking a stab at a soundtrack for lethargy. They are not the fast snappy tones that I need to employ, that the Milliken employs.

Though I cringed my way through watching my own videos, I like having my runs recorded as reference. I think it's very helpful. It's not what I remembered, good and bad. Ever.  That has to be a sign of something. What am I seeing when I'm out there? Even I wonder…

So, now I have about 2 weeks before Lacamas. We are next up on the waiting list.  We might get in. I'm hoping. 

I've been thinking a lot about what success at this, or anything, maybe, really entails. Listening to great athletes, top handlers, my son who is striving to obtain a very difficult career goal with an 80% failure rate of applicants….If I had to give one answer it would be Confidence. The ability to visualize and believe until it is a PHYSICAL THING that one can achieve the goal one is striving to achieve.

That sounds like something someone's Aunt Rhonda would say half into her jug, leering at your 19 year old lawn boy. BUT IT'S TRUE. OR I BELIEVE it is. I've heard that it is.

In mountain biking, and I've said this before, but it really resonated with me and it's my blog so fuck off, the key to riding anything could be summed up:

Put Your Eyes Where You Want to Go, NOT Where You Don't Want to Go – Wheels Follow Eyes.

People ride insane trails at breakneck speeds because they have confidence. When I used to crash (alot), it was because I got scared and applied brakes, or was going too slow out of tentiveness or fear.

Fear is not my friend. I think I translate my fear of failing, my hesitation in Jai into my body posture, my tones, my response time. I'm sure of it. It doesn't happen nearly so much in practice, especially if I'm only with close friends. I realize that if one has an inexperienced or less talented dog that all the confidence in the world will not compensate, but I believe that in order to get the best run out of any dog, and myself, I have to go to the post being able to see that run happen and believe that it can, not just telling myself that I do. I have to know what it feels like, even if I haven't yet felt it. Maybe that is slow. Maybe it's made up of many tiny successes.

It's interesting to me that both my dogs….all the dogs I've ran so far, actually, have pretty nice Outruns, decent to really nice Lifts and pretty easy Fetches. I've always been pretty confortable with that part of our run and it's always pretty reliable. It's when my dogs get the sheep to me that things start to unravel.

So, this next week or so I'm concentrating on confidence and speeding up my whistles so that they are proactive and not reactive. I'll probably watch more videos. The Milliken for precision and speed. P*trick for finesse. Ren and Stimpy for fun. Fun is the second most important factor, or maybe it's the co-pilot of the first.