This weekend I ran Jai and Jack at Lacamas. I was very happy with both dogs and I think they were not unhappy with me, other than my not letting either of them wallow in the dairy's sewer ponds.
On our first open run, Jai and I lost the sheep off-course. She did a great outrun, lift was rocky – and then she just sort of followed the ewes at a leisurely pace off course. It was like she decided these sheep were not our sheep. These were sheep that needed to be followed and observed. I whistled a fucking hole in both our heads, attempting to speed her up, flank her, get her to stop, look and listen…but no. These were FOLLOWING SHEEP, not TRIAL SHEEP. The judge Thanked me and said that I could go retrieve my dog and sheep from somewhere out of view and point them toward exhaust. We did this and, as we passed the spectator tent, just because Jai hates to disappoint a crowd, she chased down and rolled a single non-compliant ewe. It was 97 degrees and the end of the day. I want to think that everyone got their money's worth.
On the PN Field, Jack crossed coarse on his first run. All the way to the post he told me – SEND ME COMEBY, SEND ME COMEBY – and I ignored him and set him up Away. He crossed and brought me sheep, we struggled a bit and he stopped listening after turning the post. Again, 97 degrees…I retired. I saw no point in overheating sheep and dog, dusting off my full array of foul language or delaying my beer. Not on our first run. We walked.
Jai's second run was really really nice. Nice outrun, nice lift….fetch was a little offline but we got it back and made the fetch panels, nice turn around the post and pretty decent drive to the first panels. We made the panels, though I was a little flustered – and here is where I translated that flustration to Jai via a wrong flank, a late correction and some apologizing or hesitant weirdness. We had a really nice cross drive but were too high to make the second panels. We serpentined toward and away from those panels a few times until I ASSUMED that I'd made an honest attempt at SOMETHING…and went to the pen.
Apparently we didn't cross the plane and so…
It was a good run. Jai was really ON. She was confident and flowing and it just felt good. I was VERY PROUD of her.
Jack's second run was nice also, except the parts that included me. Again he told me all the way to the post – SEND ME COMEBY. He's trot to my left side, I'd put him on my right.
Nearly everyone was sending away. There was a strong draw to the setout and a lot of runs were going south on the fetch because of it. Jack has a fucky leg and I worried that he might not be fast enough.
I sent him Away.
He crossed. Of course he crossed.
He brought me the sheep nicely and around the post in a Not Bad manner. The drive to the first drive panels was decent and I think we made the panels….cross drive was not hideous…
I can't remember if we made the second panels, but we timed out at the pen. I think our score (!!) was 50-something. It was huge to have Jack listen and, though the judge was EXTREMELY FORGIVING..(we could have been thanked enough to warrent a hug or gift receipt) Jack was pretty in control and attentive. He let go of his chronic desire to bring me back the sheep at all costs. He's also very handsome.
Things I thought about and would do different..will do differently:
When Jack gives me a strong indication of which way to send, I will listen to it. He RARELY ever does this in practice and hasn't at a trial before now. He's an Anyway is Okay kind of guy. He also seems to have a lot of feel. He can be trusted or I will trust him on this until I see that I can't or shouldn't.
Jai is really fast and responsive and nearly perfect when she's confident. That second run was all Confident Jai until I screwed us both up getting nervous on the first panel. We recovered but I think I anticipated a problem at the second panel and so didn't set her up right and things went south from there. Also, I used a harsher correction than Jai needs. Soft corrections are what works and keeps her moving and taking the right flanks.
I worked hard all weekend envisioning good runs for both dogs. Expecting good work. I know it sounds hokey. All that Envisioning business almost wants to come with crystals and incense, but what it definitely did do for me was it made me THINK ABOUT THE ENTIRE RUN and not just the PART I LIKE because it usually goes well. Normally I picture the nice outrun, lift and fetch my dog will do and then I decide to end there. Cross the other bridges when we come to them. Sometimes I just flash scenes from Jaws or images of trucks bursting into flames. Monkeys in aprons chasing ducks around a table.
I think forcing myself to picture the entire run with each dog, several times before we actually went to the post was calming for me and so calming for them. I pictured things going well and I pictured the problems I might have and how I'd fix them. (Thanks, Lavon!)
It was hard mental work because I normally prefer to spend the time before a run sweating and chewing something or peeing. It really cut into those activities, but I feel we benefitted in the long run.