I Feel You!


I just came home from a trial called Catbird SDT held in Cheney Washington. It is a trial that Trudy and I look forward to every year. The courses are set up to challenge the handler and dog with terrain and sheep.  

A person always leaves trials going through the things they learned this time, the struggles, the successes, and the head scratchers. I would like to say that all my runs went just how I wanted, if I said it did, well that would not be true. 

I had six runs this weekend. Two of those were nursery runs. I was running a young dog, Turk, at his third trial. The other two trials were on farm sheep that have seen dogs a fair amount. This was going to be his first trial on sheep that might test him. I retired him on his first run because he lifted too hard. His second day he came out a little on the muscle but gave me a good effort. I was really pleased with how hard he tried for me and the distance he was able to work off his sheep. Unfortunatly we gripped off at the turn on the last set of panels.

My other four runs were with Phyllis in Pro/Nov (refered to as Open Ranch in some areas. It is the level just below Open). She was classic Phyllis, quick and flashy, a thrill to run and a joy to watch. She had a fair run and a decent run (placing second).  The other two runs  we gripped off at the pen.

I say “we” because of what was driven home to me at this trial. I have been told, I have told people and I have observed that dogs will feel your emotion and mimic you. That is exactly what happened  to me.

The two runs we did not get scores in came down to the pen. On one of them, because the pen was on a slope, I was having trouble working the gate and getting to where I wanted to be to work the pen without the gate closing and bumping a sheep. The more I tried the more frustrated I got. It did not take long for Phyllis to feel my frustration and mimic it; recieving a thank you from the judge. The second no score run, as we had a sheep that would not settle at the pen. I was keeping everything together and Phyllis was catching the sheep as they tried to leave. As I watched pen points ticking away in my mind my attempt at handling relaxed began to slip away. As the sheep made yet another attempt to get around the pen I rushed my command for a flank. Phyllis in her perfect immitation of me told the sheep how I felt to a chorus of “thank you” from the judge and liedown from me.

I’m pleased with what my dogs gave me. I can not be upset with them. Even when we did’nt do as well as I hoped, they were a perfect reflection of how I felt.  I was nervous on Turks first run, he lifted hard. His second run I was more relaxed, he did well but got excited when I got excited. Phyllis was simple, when I got tense she got tense.

I learn a lot about myself when I work my dogs. When they reflect who we are in themselves we are going to see things we like and things we want to work on.  My lesson for me this week is “Be who I want my dog to be”.

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