Actually, it's a dog eat dog world - where are these carnivorous beasts anyways? The whirlwind trip back to Alberta was a mini-tornado - but no hail damage was done. When I left McCord, I limped my way up to Wetaskawin to partake (or perhaps it was party) in the celebration of a wedding of an old workmate at the Wetaskawin Animal clinic. Limping you ask - well you see I had attempted to kick something in the grass the night before and I did not see the metal stake present - the result was swelling around my knee - guess my ankle was tougher than the knee. Ever try to put on socks with a sore knee? How about underwear? A very tough decision had to be made, and I decided that it would be a sockless day - but I did get my underwear on. On my way to Alberta, I had limped into a walk-in clinic in Swift Current since I did not think it was a large emergency- but of the 6 doctors on the list, not one was in. Out golfing I suppose. In the end I got myself a tensor bandage and travelled my way up to the wedding. Theresa Knox and Steve Reminsky made a beautiful couple, and I would like to thank the new Mr. and Mrs. Knox for the fun time I had. Thankfully, there were not many photos taken - due to a witness protection program than I am hoping to get into. I witnessed the demise of too many bottles of wine. No red solo cup for me - this was a classy affair. They say friends don't let friends drive drunk - but why do they let them get drunk in the first place? In my defence is was all self medication.
The next day, the Shantz's made a lovely breakfast before I had to hightail it out to Trochu for the first dog trial I was to attend. A nice leisurely morning was had, and because it started at 1 pm, I had lots of time to get there. Or so I thought. A text message asking me where I was at 10:30 jolted me in to the realization that my eyeglasses have to be checked - since the competition started at 11am. Old Dora squealed her wheels to get there in time - thankfully they allowed me to run even though I was late (and the gods were watching out for me since there were no police on the road - they probably had gone to the wedding as well and they were sleeping it off).
It was not to be our day, the three amigos (Gin, Floss and Mitch) and I did not do anything amazing - we left that up to the likes of Jill Brodie and Ryder....
....Corey Perry and Ben....
....and Jimmy Walker and Soot.
I do believe Jimmy took some Canadian money home at par from the Trochu Arena Trial - don't forget to claim that when you go back home to Texas!
That night, I slept over at Jill Brodie's before I headed off to the Wildrose Classic in Bowden. I saw that Jill doesn't train her dogs much - as evidence by the cobweb on her stocksticks.
The next stop would be at the Olds Arena Trial. Once again, the sheep had the way with the dogs - only 1 person was able to get a pen for the go rounds. I did happen to get chute times, and would have been in the finals, but due to time constraints, not as many could go to the finals as was advertised, and I along with a few others were given the bubble award. In the end, the amazing Randy Dye and Tuck took home the prize.
I guess my dogs didn't look too bad, the shortest dog deal in history was done - someone wanted to buy Mitch from me, and before I knew it I had two dogs and some sheep for him. However, he being one of the last Fly progeny, and because I like him so much, the deal was to go south. Perhaps one year he will give his half brother Tuck a run for his money. I have some training to do on him before that happens.
A next day was a day of rest, and I made a quick trip into Calgary to get a cowboy hat that I had won last year at the Stampede with Gin - I wondered what the Stampede would bring us this year - time would tell.
The next day, the Wildrose Classic started, and as always, the trial was well organized and well run. We even had entertainment from the hosts - Randy Dye and Don Grant in the form of pole dancing.
Being the safety guru as Randy is, the course was made with safety as the number one component.
The paparazzi was out in full force.
The weather was great, except for a short thunderstorm - seeing that Chris's life insurance was paid up, we allowed him to keep setting during the storm.
I found out that Floss doesn't mind thunder - it is either that or she has bad hearing and can't hear it.
I was pretty happy with Floss, this being her first year out in the open course. She made the large outrun without crossing over, and we finished the course - I did find that I will have to check my eyes soon. Drive panels....what drive panels?
Mitch showed me humility - and I showed him I could race up the field with a bum knee when he wouldn't listen to me. I also found that Gin couldn't hear - no, that is wouldn't hear. When a dog doesn't want to listen to you, it doesn't bode well for stellar runs. So stellar runs were not to be had by my crew that week. However, a stellar time was had.
I helped to end the trial by judging novice and intermediate the last day - I didn't see any flat tires so I assumed I did not hurt too many feelings.
Now, it was time for the greatest show on earth - the Calgary Stampede. With the increase in entry fees for the World Stockdog Championships, the handlers were shown nothing but the best.
The best morning gathering.
Lots of coffee.
And for some, added pleasure to your coffee. International delight for sure.
The next two days would be full of running dogs and calling the Saddledome home. I ran in the first part, and did get a pen with both Gin and Floss - a load off of my mind that is for sure.
Our first day of running is always on the day of these majestic beasts.
We were happy that there was plenty of beer available as well.
The dog is of course needed to guard the Budweiser.
On the Saturday night, the handler's supper was had - this is where I found that the ASDA president could eat his weight in beef.
By the end of the day, 25 out of 60 dogs had pens - it was to be sure that two pens were needed to get into the finals. It wouldn't be an easy feat, and some whispering had to be done, but I was able to get two pens with Floss and Gin.
Whew, after pixie dust was thrown, and a horseshoe placed well, I got both of the girls in the finals!
While we waited for the finals, we watched other competitions, one being the Cowboy Up Challenge. It was an obstacle event whereby anything could be asked of you - carrying eggs in a basket...
walking on planks.....
I am sure Chris could have taken his horse Dexter in to try. But alas, he is afraid of fiddles. Chris is that is, not Dexter.
We also watched team penning.
The winning team had a person on the team who supplied the cattle -I thought I heard him calling the cattle by name.
Finally our day in the sun would be had. We were all introduced to the crowd in the order of our runs - slowest accumulated time to fastest - I was to run with Floss third, and Gin second last.
Every year, a trailer is given out to a handler for sponsor's choice award. this year, Princess Louanne Twa received it. This was not to be the only price she got this year.
I guess I forgot to fill up my pixie dust container - having two dogs in the final does not guarantee you anything. My penning quota was full, and I was unable to pen the sheep in the final.
But there were masters among us who could pen.
In the end, Dale Montgomery and Zip was Champion, and Louanne Twa and Meg was Reserve Champion. I hear there was a celebration of sorts.
So with the fireworks, that would conclude the 2012 Alberta trip. Back home to McCord I would go, with a list of things to do, since in a few weeks the Hilltop Trial will be going on. On my way home, another thing was added to the list - that is to fix Dora's back window. A rock flew up and hit the back window, shattering it. A trip to the autobody and a day of cleaning dust is now on the growing list of things to do. Oh, and did I mention the trap line I have inside of Dora? To date, twelve mice have been caught. Thank you Ken-L Ration for your amazing bait.
And God, did you really have to sacrifice one of my best ram lambs with the electronet? Really now.