We arrived at the Expo center in Bryan, Texas at noon on Friday. The trip down had been fairly smooth and uneventful. Just the way every trip should be. Jig handled it well. For her. There were only two minor incidences. One involving getting her neck and front leg so entangled in a canvas bag Gail had in the back seat that we were forced to cut the strap to get it off her. And one involving her chewing nearly all the way through her harness. The part on her chest, I may add. Quite a feat if you ask me. Thankfully I had a bicycle harness along to replace it with. Mostly, she spent a lot of the trip doing this:
We did finally hit on something we think may be her issue while traveling: speed. She’s pretty calm and relaxed until around 70 mph. Then she starts to get a bit panicky. Funny that a dog who has no problems with speed on her own four feet, doesn’t seem to care for it in a moving vehicle. She does eventually settle, and even her panicking isn’t as bad as it has been in the past. Hopefully with time and a few thousand miles more, she’ll become a more relaxed traveler.
Friday was a day of getting settled in and acclimated before the pre-trial on Saturday. The arenas are huge, covered, environments unlike anything Jig has trialed in, or even seen.
I have to say, all things considered, for a young dog without a lot of trialing experience, Jig handled this venue well. A bit too well in the sheep arena. Our open run was not pretty. The stock were marvelous. Jig was full of herself. My handling was off. We made the first panel, missed the second, played ring around the rosy at the center as I tried to get her to listen and stop running amuck. I ended up calling our run. Actually, I thought the judge called it, but the HCT on my score sheet told me otherwise. In either case, it needed to be called.
After sheep I received a few words of wisdom which I applied to our duck run. And although Jig was a bit fast on that as well, I handled much better. I put myself in a better position to keep pressure on her when she needed it, and finally got into her head a bit. Unfortunately, that run was doomed. First we had a duck lie down and play possum. (Yes, they do that.) We took the pressure off, hoping it would get back up and join the others, when it didn’t I decided to work just the four. No sooner did we get rolling again, when a spectator and her dog crowded the fence on the cross-drive. I didn’t see her because I was concentrating on getting the ducks out of the corner. The judge stopped our run, got the woman to move, and offered me a re-run, which I gladly took. No possum duck that time, and we qualified with a respectable 78 to finish Jig’s Started Duck title.
We finished our day with cattle. Far and away Jig’s very favorite, though we have only worked them a handful of times. Cattle was course A, which means a take pen, one of our worst things at the moment. I’m not sure if Jig was intimidated by the size of the arena, if the three-day 1200 mile car trip had finally caught up to her, or if the fact that the pen was one she could easily get into by slipping under the fence had anything to do with it–perhaps a combination of all three-but she had the quietest, nicest pen she’s ever done. Went under, around to the back, pushed the cattle out, then laid down while I closed the gate. Though we didn’t qualify on our run (we made it to the first panel, lost them to the back fence, then re-penned) she did some very nice work. I take my blue ribbons where I can get them, and she gave me quite a few. The biggest was the fact that I could actually keep her off the heads and get her to stay behind. She took a flank to stop them coming off the side, then kicked back when I asked her to instead of heading in for a rodeo. We had one steer, however, that insisted on turning back and, of course, Jig insisted on stopping him. I tried to get things rolling again once we got everyone back together, but by then we were running tight on time, and I wanted to finish on a good note.
We have the next several days off, so we’ll be watching finals and cheering on Deb & Ruby, relaxing, visiting, and just hanging out until our Nationals runs later this week. I’ll try and snap some more pictures to share. Until then, remember…