Thursday, August 4, 2011

Del'Mar Scot: "I did it my way"

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Del'Mar Scot (aka Scott, aka Scottapotamous, aka Scott-bot, aka Goober, aka Boofles, aka Old Blue Eyes) turned 12 this June 6th, 2011.

Scott has had a rich sheepdog and cowdog career, starting his life with Chris and Terry Hanson of British Columbia, Canada. Chris trained Scott to work cattle and became his main working dog on the the Coldstream Cattle Ranch -  In addition to daily life as a ranch dog, Scott was also trained up on sheep and trialed in cattledog and sheepdog trials in and around the B.C., Alberta and Washington State areas.

Around age 4, Scott and Chris were competing in a trial in Mount Vernon, WA where Scott caught the attention of Diane Pagel of Washington State.  According to Diane, she offered to buy Scott off Chris then and there - she liked what she saw in this black and white, blue-eyed dog with funny little rosebud ears. Apparently, Chris told Diane that Scott wasn't for sale as he was his main cowdog up north. Diane was disappointed but kept Scott in her mind for the next couple years. And to boot, I believe Scott did very well at this trial too before heading back home with Chris.

A couple years later, at age 6, Chris felt it might be a good time to 'retire' Scott from cattle ranch work as working on the ranch can wear a dog out physically. As the story goes, he contacted Diane to see if she was still interested in Scotty. She jumped at the chance to finally get this dog. Diane drove the 8 hours north to pick up Scott and he came home to her sheep farm in Washington State.

Diane trialed with Scott in both sheepdog and cowdog trials. Scott excelled at arena-type trials as well as large ISDS-style field trials. Diane ran Scott in USBCHA Open sheepdog trials the most and he was one of her two Open dogs at the time.  He was also one of her best 'lesson' dogs, helping students she taught at her farm learn what proper stock work with a dog was to look like.

I first saw Scott at an ASCA trial in Arlington, WA in Spring 2008. I only had one herding dog of my own at the time, my Tasmanian Smithfield Sheepdog Mattie, and I was getting interested in sheepdogs and training dogs for stockwork. I went to the trial to help Diane out and just watch the sheep, duck and cow runs. I also volunteered to help with the duck-setting. As I walked from my car to Diane's truck, I noticed that tethered to her truck was this amazing looking dog - he looked just like a panda bear. Bright blue eyes, wagging tail and an overall "please love me" expression on his face.

I hadn't ever met Scott before but I made the connection right away that this was one of the dogs Diane was running that day. At that particular trial, Scott didn't do so great - his eye got stuck on the ducks and the cows were not working for any dog at all. In fact, people remarked about the cows that "if Scott can't move those cows, they ain't gonna move for anything." At this time, Scotty was about 8 years old.

I continued my lessons with Mattie and as one might expect, a novice handler with a novice dog can lead to some confusion, so Diane would offer me up her Tess to take out and work so I could see what herding should really look like. One day, Tess was up at the house so I asked Diane if I could take Scott out to work. She said "sure." I remember my first time in the pasture with Scott. He was doing everything I asked of him, but doing it his way. Of course, I was too novice to see that he was essentially self-herding and taking some shortcuts, but for the most part, he seemed to enjoy himself and so did I.  I specifically remember him being hard to call-off the field - he LOVES to continue to drive or fetch the sheep, he just doesn't want to stop working! 

While Diane was recovering from her heart surgery, I would go to her farm and help with chores and in exchange she let me work Mattie in the round pen and Scott in the larger fields. One day, Diane said she looked out her window and saw me driving sheep with Scott all around her lower pasture.  Now, I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. Diane came out to say she saw me driving and that it looked good and then gave me a quick lesson on driving with Scott. And, so began my introduction into sheepdog training and trialing preparation with Scott.

To prepare me for running Scott in local trials, Diane taught me about his quirks (how to work around his sticky eye, his tendency to grip for fun, etc.) and also taught me about how to run a ranch course. I practiced figure-8's around cones and practiced outruns and fetches and post turns in addition to using him to help with chores like holding sheep for worming/hoof trimming, moving a flock from one pasture to another, sorting and random lamb-work.  Scott and I were clicking more and more.  Scotty turned 9 and it was that October I took Scott into my first trial. Technically, it was a "fun trial" sponsored by the Washington Association of Stockdog Handlers. Diane was still recovering from surgery so she couldn't make it to watch/support me. So, I took my husband for moral support and asked Judy Norris to stand at the post with me to help me. I was running in the Ranch class. Scott ran all over me at that trial!  Here is a short video of our fast fetch and post turn (notice he actually did take a lie down on that fast fetch though!)... 

Lessons were learned that day with how to run Scott, sort of. It actually took me about 8 more trials to figure out that I needed to manage my dog a bit better on the field. I would have to say Scotty was have a super time though!

In December, Diane offered to fully retire Scott to me. I had to promise her that if it didn't work out that he would go back to her and I had to also promise to keep him conditioned by exercising him at least 1-2 miles a day. At the time, I didn't have a fenced yard but I was already walking Mattie 2 miles a day so the exercise thing wasn't a big issue. I also wasn't supposed to spoil him too much as that would all be reflected in his work on the trial field. I have to say, it is really, really difficult to NOT spoil a dog like Scott.

Scott integrated well into my pack, which at the time consisted of Mattie the Smithfield, Lucky the Maltese/Shih Tzu, and George and Gigi, the best cats ever. I found that Scott loves all kinds of people - kids, older folks, teenagers. He never met an enemy and wooed everyone with his beautiful blue eyes.  In 2009, I entered Scott into a local Pet Beauty Pageant at the North Bend, WA "Festival at Mt. Si" celebration. Suprisingly, Scotty won 1st place!  Here is the trophy he won... (I think his winning may have had something to do with him schmoozing the teen-girl judges prior to going 'on stage.')

Some of my favorite trial pictures of Scott are as follows.

  Photographed by Carolynn Harwell

Photographed by Diane Pagel

Photograph by Bonnie Block - Scott was running in Open with Diane when this shot was taken

Photograph by Diane Pagel

Running Scott in all these trials over the past 30 months or so got me hooked on sheepdogs and Border Collies too. I like the spirit of sheepdog trialing and so I mentioned to Diane I was wanting a puppy to train up to fill Scott's shoes, knowing that Scotty would be retiring from the trial scene in the next year or so.  Last summer, I got DeltaBluez Jude, who happens to be a nephew of Scott! And, even funnier, Jude has two blue eyes too.

This past winter, I asked Diane about her interest in going up to Calgary, Canada to trial in the arena trial they have at the Calgary Stampede.  I was thinking that by the time the Stampede came around, Scott would have just turned 12 and that would be a great age to formally retire him from trialing. And, what better trial to retire him from than the world renound World Stockdog Championship at the Calgary Stampede!

The Stampede is nothing new to Scotty as Chris, his first owner, ran him there in the past. However, this would have been my first time up there.  The trial there consists of 60 dogs entered. Cash awards for 1st and 2nd place in the Finals are rewarded ($10,000 and $4,000, respectively). The trial has been known to fill up within minutes from when the entries open up, so Diane and I devised a strategy to help ensure our entries made it in on time. Our strategy worked and both Diane and I were entered.

Over the couple of months between entries opening and the Stampede, I worked Scott a lot in arena-type settings on sheep that were similar to what we saw on YouTube videos of past Stampede-runs. 

Diane did a stellar job of documenting our trip up to Calgary - read about it on her blog here:

It was unfortunate that due to a family circumstance, Chris Hansen wasn't able to make it to the Stampede this year to run his dog(s) and see Scott's last trial. However, Chris said he did manage to watch Scott run online via CBC streaming video of the event!

Janet Walker from Texas videotaped my runs at the Stampede. Our first attempt on Sunday evening looked great from a spectator perspective; however, I had made a big handler boo-boo by not doing our 3rd obstacle correctly. Thus, I only received points up to that point of the course.  Funny thing is, I did this same type of thing at another time/points trial 2 years ago so you'd think I would have learned my lesson. Regardless, running my lovely dog at the Calgary Stampede and being 6.5 months pregnant to boot was quite exciting for me, so I wasn't thinking straight obviously!

Our second run on Monday was great. Although we were unsuccessful in penning our sheep, my dog did everything I asked of him well and I kept my cool too and managed to run the course correctly! We timed out at the pen but had those ewes lined up correctly - I just needed another 20 seconds or so to put them in that pen!

I'm really happy that I was able to take Scott up north to this trial to make it his last as he had a blast hanging with Diane, Diane's dog Roo, and me. He LOVES to be with his person at all times and I know that something is wrong if he isn't constantly tripping me up!  Diane even let Scott up on the bed in the hotel room! And to think, this is the same person who told me "don't spoil him!"  I guess when you're retired, you can get spoiled all you want.

I see a bit of Scott in my Jude, which I love. That Imp. Jim (Scott's sire) and Bobby Dalziel's Wisp (Scott's grand-sire) gene runs strong in that line and I already see it with Jude's sweet dispositon off-stock but power and determination on-stock. The big white head markings are also a clue!  Although I never got to see Scott as a pup or be privvy to his early training sessions, I think to myself that what I see in Jude now during training is what Scott must have been like.  I hope that Jude, as he gets older and settles down a bit, will be just like his Uncle Scott.

Now that he's retired, Scott spends his days in the house, assisting me with everything. He goes to Diane's farm once or twice a week and enjoys working her ducks and gathering and sorting sheep for lessons with her students. He is also Jude's mentor and guidance counselor both off and on stock (Scott has never been a big lover of puppies, especially young male pups, but he's doing well with Jude now).  Scott may be running in a Ranch trial this Fall with a novice handler who has never trialed before, which takes me back to 3 years ago when it was me taking this dog to the post for my first trial. I'll still take Scott to the trials I run in with Jude or Diane's Sava for helping with sheep setting and other tasks, as well as just moral support when I'm running the youngsters. I think Scott is really enjoying his retirement!


  1. Such a great dog, glad you shared his story with us.


  2. What a special journey you two have had together.

  3. Hi my name is Juan living in Indiana and I would like to know where I can find tasmanian smithfield dogs? I love them...where did you get yours? hope you can help me, I am looking for a dog for the family.

  4. Such a fantastic blog and a great story. Thanks. Kate