I began my previous post with this: I’ve come to the conclusion that trialing Jig is a lot like handling some highly explosive chemical. It’s certainly exciting, as long as you don’t jostle it too much…
I may have been a tad bit sour when I wrote that. After some time to reflect, I’ve come to realize not only is it true, but I wouldn’t have her any other way. I love the excitement that comes from walking that edge. The energy waiting just beneath the surface. Do I love when it explodes in my face? Not so much. But you’ll have that from time to time. All that quivering, eagerness surrounds an intensity and instinct that’s easier to appreciate from the outside because when you’re in the center of it, all you can do is hang on and hope for the best.
The past weekend we had Deb Conroy at the farm for three days of working dogs with a great group of handlers from advanced to beginning. Everyone seemed to learn a lot and went home with plenty to work on.
Some of my personal highlights included:
- Working the lambs. I normally don’t. But who knew they could provide such a great opportunity for a few of the more advanced dogs (Jig included) to accomplish an actual lift. I have to say, these are some of the nicest, most sensible lambs I’ve had. The three dogs that worked them all handled them very well. They actually worked a bit like the sheep at the RRV trial, so Jig and I got to work on her push as well. And it was a blast! They definitely made the dogs think, and that’s always fun to watch.
- Working ducks. Okay, it’s a well-known fact among those who know me that I do not like ducks. Not working them. Not owning them. Not one thing about them. Deb was nice enough to haul some ducks down with her and I was forced into working them. Jig was pushy so we worked on that. Then we worked on our take pen. I expected problems. I hoped for problems because then we could work on fixing them. Jig did the pen picture perfect. Three times in a row, mind. Cain’t fix what ain’t broke.
- However, because of that /\ Deb gained insight into what may be the root of my take pen problems. I’ve tried just about everything to fix it and nothing seems to work. Deb noticed that when I did the duck take pen I never said a word to Jig, just opened the gate and stood back. When I do the sheep take pen I talk. I give a flank, a correction, a back, a down, a navy knot, a granny knot, a wing-ding-a-what-knot. In other words, I never shut up. So I tried it with my mouth firmly closed and saw improvement. Now I’ll need to practice that some more before Nationals.
- Trying to purposely cause a bit of a train wreck so that I could fix it, and having Jig rise to the occasion and handle things like a champ. She also saved my bacon more than once when working on the free-standing pen.
- Having more than one person tell me how far Jig and I have come since last year. I’m not one that needs ego stroking or pats on the back, but sometimes we’re so close it’s hard to see progress is being made. It’s nice to know the hard work is making a difference.
Now I’ve got less than a week to brush up on some things before we pack up and head to Tennessee for the ASCA Nationals. As usual, I’m equal parts excited and terrified. Jig’ll do that to me. She is definitely Longellow’s little girl, minus the curl…
There was a little girl,Who had a little curl,Right in the middle of her forehead.When she was good,She was very good indeed,But when she was bad she was horrid.