I have been very busy, and am sorry for not writing for quite a while.  Lots has happened, so let me give you a summary...

In August, the three girls and I and my store went to the La Camas Valley STD up in Washington.  Super beautiful area, and my first trial outside CA.  The outrun for Open was 525 yards.  

Kate was up first.  I gave her emphasis on the Come Bye word, to encourage her to go big.  Well, that was a huge mistake!

She went so big, she went out over the ridge and saw ProNovice over to the left.  She was determined that the ProNovice sheep needed to be joined together with the Open sheep before the fetch.  I tried and tried to get her just to take the Open sheep, but to no avail.  I had to call her off.  RT.

Tam's run was not going to be allowed to be a repeat of Kate's.  I usually let my dogs choose which way they would like to do their outrun, but because of failing at Kate's run, I decided that Tam should run right.  I sent her, and she had a beautiful run started.  At about 400 yds, she started to turn in.  I successfully redirected her and she came in nice and deep.  Fairly nice lift and we missed the fetch panels.  Nice turn, and though the sheep were very hard to handle, she made both drive panels.  

I hesitated on the first opening at the shed, but we were able to get the second one.  And she got the pen.  Nice job, we completed the course.

Next up was Chris.  Since Nursery was real cheap, I decided to enter her just so she could experience a different course and different sheep.  My trainer told me NOT to get mad at her when she crossed over, since I had not stretched her out yet. Just to make the whole experience for her as enjoyable as possible.

Well, she crossed over as predicted.  The sheep had been pretty dogged around and were tired of the whole "being worked" thing.  Most of the runs in the ProNovice/Nursery field had been going pretty badly.  I had sent her Away, to block the draw back to the set out.  Since Christian crossed over, she came up to the sheep on the Come bye side, and easily pushed them right back to the set out where they wanted to go!

There was no ability to recover this with an inexperienced dog, so I ended up retiring her.

Her next run was a little better.  I again sent her Away for the same reason.  She again crossed over, but this time she was able to keep going, and actually got a proper lift and started to fetch.  About a third of the way with the fetch, the sheep were giving her trouble.  One was determined that she was going to separate from the others.  Chris kept putting them back together.  Until finally, this ewe just laid down.  I have seen this often at trials, but never experienced it myself, and neither had Chris.  She went over to her and sniffed her, looking like what's wrong?

Shortly after that, I had to retire her, as that ewe didn't want to get up and the other three didn't want to go back to get her.

Kate's second run had a strategy.  Simply go to the post, tell her to look, and when I think that she is seeing them, send her Come bye (with NO emphasis).  My trainer and I talked about sending her Away, but she decided that risked her crossing over, since that side for her was straight and shallow.

I did as instructed and Kate ended up repeating the run before.  Yikes!  While I was trying to get her to see and only take the Open sheep, I even went so far as to give her an AWAY whistle, to see if I could get her to cross over!!!   No way.  I had to eventually retire  her.  When she came back to me, her eyes were huge and she had a bewildered look on her face.  Like she was saying "Why did you call me off?  I always get my sheep!"

I felt bad for her as it was over for her and sheep for the rest of the weekend.

Tam's second run was something else.  I sent her right, and that Away, in my opinion, was picture perfect!  She landed deep, and had a nice lift, and a nice fetch, right through the center of the fetch panels.  The sheep were calm and made a gorgeous turn at the post.  From there on the run went down hill.  

Everything was super choppy.  I couldn't get the sheep go move in the direction that I wanted.  Missed the first set of panels, and noticed that Tam was not taking my verbal commands.  I rely on them when I can't remember my whistles.  Darn her!  Because of that, I missed the second set of panels also!

With this run, we were to pen before the shed.  I set up for the pen, and had a problem sheep.  She kept trying to dart off.  Regrouped them in the mouth, then that sheep REALLY took off this time.  By the time Tam caught up with it, it was almost to the exhaust pen.  She jumped in the air at its face to turn it.  That move for both Kate and Tam is usually a death sentence for my runs.  Whether they grip or not, unless the judge can see REAL good, they will usually call a grip.  This has happened to two of Kate's runs, that I can remember, where she did not grip, but got called out because of it.

So we gripped out!  DQ  I looked at my scores later, and if Tam and I could have held on a little longer, she would have made it into the finals.  Her score was that good in the beginning of that second run and right there with the others on her first run.  Oh well, I am really looking forward to this trial next year!

The store did pretty well there and was welcomed by herders who had never heard of it.  One of the reasons for going.  We met some great people and even a few friends.  But going alone sucks.  I was lonely.
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