Saturday, August 25, 2012

Western Hospitality

After work on Wednesday, another dog trial was about to go down in the annals of history - the Shaunavon Sheepdog Classic/Western Canadian Finals.  After a busy day at work (okay, it may not be busy for some - working 9 to 2 - what a way to make a living - now I have an urge to put a big blond wig on and find Herbert Holmes and sing Islands in the Stream), Chris and I got things ready and set out west (1 1/2 hours) to go to Jamie VanRhyn's - our gracious host for the weekend.  Jamie had agreed to (with a little arm twisting from me) to host the Western Canadian Finals with her trial.  When we arrived to Jamie and her new fiance Harvey's place, they had steak and a bed ready for us.  A quick sleep was had, and the trial was to be on it's way.  We had talked to the border control people and they would allow Joni Swanke to come across the border to be the judge, and I would judge the lower classes - and Earl from Vancouver would allow us to park at the field without paying.  Chris and his sheep setting steed Dexter was to be busy setting all weekend with help from Russell (a volunteer for Jamie) at the set out.  Jamie had volunteers galore - 4-H group to feed us, a great field and good sheep. 
Now granted, it wasn't a huge trial as for numbers of dogs, but the trial was huge in its organization and fundraising.  Perhaps they were fundraising just in case I drank too much Jager and had to visit the local RCMP detachment - luckily Randy Dye did not come and lead me to the dark side and I was well behaved - relatively speaking that is.  For those that missed they trial - they missed a good one.
After running on the first day, in which 1. Gin and Floss ran not spectacular, but fair, 2. Mitch ran fairly fast without a care and 3. I judged pronovice looking for a pear (shaped outrun), there was a potluck at Jamie and Harvey's. The masses came to eat, some masses (Stormy Winters) drank - and we all were merry. Before we hit the hay, we did some dog remedial classes - ie.  you better listen  dog.  The next day there was another round of judging - I had offered to give a point per dollar spent for the pro-novice contestants, but everyone must of spent their dollars at the farmer's market that was there since I didn't get a dime.  There were no slashed tires on Dora, so I assumed that everyone was okay with how I placed the dogs in the pro-novice class.  The highlight was Louanne Twa and Craig winning the day (Craig had broken his leg about one year ago, and after a long recovery, and a green bandage, it looks like things will be fine - perhaps the green bandage came out of the Saskatchewan Roughriders medical kit).
The nursery was run again - trying to find the top five dogs that would run in the nursery finals on the final day.  Mitch ran his final run - he would rest for the rest of the trial since he finished in the bottom five - however, I was still quite happy with him.  Why you may ask?  I find the biggest complement for us is to have an offer to buy a dog.  A few people asked if he was for sale (maybe it was the booze talking, but I have been known to talk to booze so I listened).  Mitch's head wasn't on the chopping block, but if he ever is, I know who to go to.
Now, to get to play the final day in the double lift, it would be either 1. finish in the top three of each day, or 2. finish in the top four accumulative score.  I ran Gin early, and our 81 without a shed would get us third spot for the day (talking about by the skin of the teeth - and if you have skin on your teeth you should really brush). Floss you  Things were going south - the run... the sheep... the dog - and instead of Joni giving me 10 points, we retired - I was tired of that run.  About midway through the day, the hatches had to be batten (what is batten down the hatches anyway) since the weather turned right nasty. The big Pug was our protection as we watched sorry sods run in the rain.  After the runs were all done, I played Dracula (with the help of Bev Sommers) and took some blood for dogs for a CEA clinic (I made sure we had the right type of alcohol for the clinic - 99% proof).  We then had supper put on by the 4-H club and awards were given out.  How many trials can you say where 100% of the entry fees are paid back?  Fundraising was done by Jamie and her gang of merry men - and it had sounded like it was fun raising. The lucky ten dogs were announced for the double lift, and drawing of order of running were done.
An early night was done, plans were discussed how to run the double lift, and we put on our Saskatchewan Fascinators (they say pictures are worth a thousand words - the pictures will be in the next blog).  There was a little excitement as the sheep went on the lam - I guess they had a meeting and they said this trial thing was for the birds and they flew the coop.  They were soon found hiding behind a single tree.
Now this blog has been all done in the past tense - now I must write in the present tense.  It is 2:46 am in the morning and I can't sleep, so I have written this lengthy blog.  The last day of the trial will start in a few hours and Gin and I will be 8th to run.  Will this be the time we peak?  Time will tell, and if we don't peak - who cares!  It has been a great trial, and a great time was had!!

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