Finn’s Big Adventure
The ASCA National Specialty can be overwhelming for first-timers. Especially first-timers who apparently haven’t been off the farm a whole lot except to visit other farms. And though Finn weathered the traveling just fine, his first couple days at the Brazos County Expo grounds had him just a wee bit anxious. He’d never seen bleachers, large covered arenas, lots of people and dogs he didn’t know milling about (Are they staring at me? I think they’re staring at me. I don’t like it.), or any of the other strangeness he was subjected to. Thankfully he had his good buddy Ziva along to help bolster his confidence.
We spent quite a bit of our free time just strolling around, letting Finn get used to the sites and sounds. Some of which took quite a bit of patience, more than a few treats, and a healthy dose of confidence. His first couple of ventures into the stands had him on his belly, eyes wide, ears at attention. Slowly but surely he got braver and finally dared to go up a few steps — couldn’t have Ziva showing him up, after all.
And by the end of the week, Finn conquered the small set of bleachers behind our camping spot, even choosing the hard way down.
For the most part, Nationals was all about time and miles for Finn. The pre-trial and national’s trial were only his second time trialing (third if you count the farm trial) and his first time trialing away from home. I really wasn’t sure how he would do and so had no expectations. For myself, I was looking to stay calm and relaxed which I (mostly) managed to do. Cattle was the big unknown given the pounding he took at the Corona Classic. We had one run in the pre-trial on cattle, and one in the national’s trial. I wasn’t looking to qualify, just provide Finn with a good experience. We actually scored better than I anticipated, and though we didn’t get the green, he showed me that with some more time and training, he’s going to be handling cattle just fine.
As for sheep, I was fairly confident we’d do well until I saw them. They were leaderless range lambs who needed some push — if you know Linus, picture 5 of him but worse and not as willing to fetch as he is. They were, without a doubt, out of Finn’s pay grade but he had a nice take pen (something we’ve been struggling with) and he attempted to figure them out. Unfortunately, he was also not taking his down and we couldn’t get anything moving so we re-penned before either of us became overly frustrated which would have likely ended with a Thank You.
Surprisingly (to me, at least), we did best on ducks, of all things, even placing in the top ten out of a large started class, only a few points out of first. (Thanks to Tija for filming.) There was some piddle-farting around at the beginning of the run due to an apparently wonderful smell by the repen, and a bit of a miss getting them smoothly to the first panel, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad a run.
Yep, that’s Skronk being loaded onto a flatbed.
Good friends are priceless and I’m forever thankful they went above and beyond to help us out. I’m happy to say Skronk is home safe and sound (after a long day and a lot of miles Tuesday) with a new water pump and serpentine belt.
One thing that became clear over the course of the national’s week, especially after watching videos of my runs, was just how immature Finn still is but I have no regrets taking him to Nationals. It’s all about time and miles right now. He’s a young dog, just at the beginning of his trialing career. I was thrilled with how he did, and how his confidence in that large, strange venue grew every day. As usual, we’ve a lot of work to do, and I’ll need to make a point of getting him out and about some more — places other than the farms of friends. I’m really looking forward to our partnership getting stronger as Finn matures and begins to come into his own. It’s looking like it’s going to be a fun journey.