In July an opportunity came up to "adopt" a fully trained Border Collie. After talking with Chad about this, I drove to the Kingston area and came home with a 9 1/2 year old female. Her name is Maddie. She has competed in Open (which is the top level). The idea behind this was that I could learn to handle through a course and simply learn about the sport of sheepdog trialling. With Ribbon we were both newbies and it was like trying to learn dressage on a green horse.
Maddie met all of the dogs and although she was a little subdued (which is probably smart walking into a house of 5 dogs) she seemed fine. Less than 18 hours later I had my first lesson with her. One problem I quickly came across was that I don't know how to whistle. So I need to learn how to whistle and also to learn Maddie's whistles (oh boy)! I will admit to being a bit star struck as I watched her do our first outrun together. As the lesson progressed my instructor had to remind me that she needed direction as to where to put the sheep - "Marie your dog is awaiting instruction - the sheep are at the fence" At least she laughed. I had never driven sheep that far, I didn't know there was a fence in that field!!!
As days and weeks passed Maddie settled into the routine of the house and started to initiate play with Apex or Gali. She was enjoying her walks (which were frequent as I wanted to get some weight off of her and build up some more muscle tone). Her personality started to come out more, things such as barking at me on the walks and nipping at my boots if I was not paying any attention to her. She also selected a favourite toy. Oddly, Maddie chose a 2 pound barbell to play with. I don't even know where she got it. But she would roll it around and pick it up and drop it and shake her head back and forth (not very fast mind you) with it in her mouth. Maybe this was her contribution to her fitness routine?
Our lessons went along pretty well from my view, we started to develop some teamwork, she taught me things and she started to listen to my commands (even if they were wrong). I asked Viki if should thought I could enter the fall series of trials, Chad was going with Apex and was chomping at the bit to stand at the post!!
Something I have on my bucket list is "Stand at the post and say Away to me."
I held my breath while Viki thought about this for few seconds and her reply was - "oh sure, but be prepared that it will only last 15 seconds." Meaning that the sheep would bolt for the exhaust and my run would be over. This was a chance I was willing to take!
More about my first sheep dog trial in my next post.