Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lacamas & Dogwoods

On the weekend of the 10th and 11th I was down in Camas, Washington (near Portland) for the 2009 Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trial. This is one of the largest, most "proper" trials on the West Coast. This is the kind of trial that if you don't get your entry fee postmarked on the morning that entries open up, then you don't get in kind of trial.

I ran Scott in the ProNovice classes on Friday and Saturday. The sheep were TOUGH! 5 lambs that had only been worked by a dog once before on a different field. On Friday, Jerill's aunt and uncle showed up to cheer me on as they live close by to Camas. The were able to take some pictures of the Friday carnage before my camera's batteries went dead. That was fine though because Friday's run did not last long. I sent Scott on the away side to cover the heavy draw the sheep were feeling to the setting pen. I won't make excuses for me or my dog but we were not alone in how our run went that day. Scott lifted the sheep tight and flat and as I tried to swing him to the comeby side to cover that horrible draw back to the pen, the sheep just kept running faster. Then, 3 sheep stopped and two kept running. Then one of the three started running in the opposite direction. Basically, I had pushed too hard on the sheep with my dog - Scott is a strong dog and sheep are scared of him so having him up close trying to "cover" the setting side was making the sheep more panicked. Learned my lesson! I was able to get four sheep back together by using a look-back command to bring the two to the other two and then when trying to bring those four back to the one that took off by itself, the dog and the 4 sheep went behind a hill and things stopped - no dog and no sheep appeared. I did some blind flanks to the away side to try to get Scott to move them into sight but I was "thanked" by the judge. Like I said, this trial was a big deal, no nonsense trial and the judge doesn't want to waste time on a run that could potentially hurt the sheep - the judge needs to know what's going on, even behind hills!

Scott too close to the lambs. They took off back to the set. Scott just couldn't swing around them in time to turn them...

Here's where the sheep split into sheep-buckets. What a mess!! Scott managed to slow them down but because he was close, some panicked more than others. Panic = Sheep Splitting

On Saturday, Scott and I had an improved game plan of how to tackle the course. Because so many handlers lost their sheep to the set out, like I did, the course directors moved the sheep 25 yards up from the set out area. This helped. While our lift and fetch on Saturday was a little bumpy (lost quite a few points due to reflanking and Scotty being tight and a bit fast) we did make our fetch panels! I turned the post quite wide though and had a little bumpy/wavy first leg of the drive. I think 4 of the 5 lambs made it through my first panel, but unfortunately, I pushed Scott too quick on the turn and pushed 2 or 3 lambs back out the panels, which is a big NO NO! Lost more points doing that. The lambs got back together though and I started a the crossdrive. This crossdrive, typically one of the most difficult tasks for a dog in a trial, went beautifully. Scotty is an excellent driver and I was sure to keep him off the tails the sheep. We made our panels! And then to the pen... it was a little wavy-gravy getting to the pen and the sheep missed the ideal point-of-entry into the pen, so I had to spend a little more time getting Scott to get them back to the ideal sweet-spot. The sheep, because they didn't know people weren't receptive to "sheep sheep" calls, so thanks to a tip from Diane the day before, I didn't crowd the sheep at all. After getting the dog and the sheep and myself in the right spot, the sheep pretty much went into the pen with no issue and I got the gate closed in time. We ended up scoring somehere mid-pack of the teams that received scores. Not too shabby!

Today Jerill and I ate at the Mt Si Bar and Grill for breakfast, then went to the Mt Si Nursery to get some plants for autumn and to fill in the spaces of the plants the elk have eaten as well as those plants that didn't survive the 113 degree temperatures we had earlier this month.

The nursery was having a big sale on trees, so I bought myself the cutest dogwood tree! I love those and I have the perfect spot in our triangle garden for it - protected from elk.

Along our driveway I try to keep it pretty; there is just something nice about driving into home with nice flowers and shrubs alongside the drive. I found some small perennial ground cover plants that are supposed to bloom in November - January and then some other plants that are supposed to bloom in early spring. And, they're elk-resistant. I also replaced the dying annuals on our front door step with some fresh autumn annuals - pansies and marigolds. My freesia from May is still going strong and my Begonia is as vibrant as ever! I also decided the dogs needed something to chew on today, so I put each dog in their own little safe area (Scott in his big crate, Mattie in the kitchen, and Lucky in the family room, and each received their favorite bone or chewy. Scott prefers bully sticks (of course), Lucky likes cow hooves and Mattie LOVES these beef shanks.

My new dogwood. I can't wait to get this into the ground!

New plants along our driveway

The front door. Begonia on the right, Freesia on the left. Winter pansies and a new orange marigold for Autumn.

Mattie and her big bone. The placemat she's eating on was won in a raffle at a flyball tournament, before we even had Mattie. There is a little sheep on the corner of the mat; it was destined to be Mattie's!

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