since i stopped going to flyball, its been important to me to try and find other ways to stay bonded with my dogs and be responsible for their physical and mental well being. ive always preferred working dogs for their intelligence and personality, but its a big responsibility to have them in suburban backyards, and i take that pretty seriously. its not fair to take a dog like possum especially who was born on a farm from working dog lines and not expect her to go crazy if i dont let her work. apart from working keeping her calm, working with her helps build our relationship, and ive missed that part of flyball. you may remember we used to go sheep herding, but its been well over a year since ive been, a number of factors making it difficult including a broken arm, a broken car and a broken bank account!
but we finally managed to get back in the saddle, so to speak, this weekend and took off for a girls own adventure out to manildra. manildra is here:
that is, a long way from where i live! we took off after work friday and got there about 10pm (so a four and a half hour drive across the blue mountains through bathurst and orange, single lane highways in the dead of night with loud music playing. fun!). we stayed at the royal hotel:
there is one of these in every truck stop town in australia, with rooms above for a ridiculously cheap rate. nothing fancy, but clean and comfy. on saturday morning we got up early and headed off to the showground, the sun rise heralding a beautiful day:
at the showground, we mostly just concentrate on yard work because there are no secure fences to do full paddock work with, and the yards have been custom built to work on all the things you need to do for yard dog trialling.
i have done some actual competitive trials with possum in the past and even got a third place once, but i get so nervous and anxious that i stuff things up and its not much fun. im not that interested in trialling or competing for the sake of it, i just want to get to a good place of working calmly with my dog.
we took some major steps in that direction this weekend. the sheep we were working with are borrowed from a local farmer, these were merino wethers:
they seemed quite calm and not feral like some merinos you get on farms. and maybe the time off has been good for possum, because she didnt bark and run crazy and carry on like she used to. she listened to me most of the time, and while we still have some kinks to work out, we did some really nice work and i felt really comfortable out there with her:
even robert, our notoriously hard task master, said that he thought we had got our mojo back.
it was lovely to just hang out with my possum for the weekend. we took a little stroll around manildra on saturday evening, checking out the main street:
and the huge flour mill that is the reason for the towns existence:
everyone gathered for dinner and conversation at the pub saturday night (if you ignore the redneck element a great time was had, including a packet of tim tams for desert in jo’s room). jo and i used to do flyball together, and shes a knitter as well, so it was great to have her to talk to and watch her work her gorgeous little kelpie pup Zing,
who is going to be a champion one day.
sunday morning dawned ominously cloudy
but we tried to still work in the rain, just well rugged up:
this is george. she is also a knitter (do you see a theme here? crazy dog women who knit! Also, Knitters Are Everywhere). but then it turned cold as well, and the rain got a bit heavy and didnt look like clearing anytime soon,
so a final sniff of the paddock and we were done.
we packed up and headed home early, which didnt help with the sunday afternoon crawl of traffic back down the blue mountains. i got home about 7pm, exhausted and sore and wet and dirty but exhilarated and seriously bitten with the herding bug again. i have already sent my money off for the next workshop! and even though this was something that trent and i used to do together, it didnt make me sad at all. well, maybe a little bit in the car by myself (i drove for more than 10 hours!). mostly i was happy to be on my own, and enjoyed the feeling of having this particular dog sport to myself.
and lest you think all i did was run around a paddock after sheep, let me assure you there was plenty of knitting time. because it was hot on saturday i just stuck to socks but managed to turn the heel on the ‘evening stockings’
and then on sunday i worked on the greenfield cardigan and ended up using it for a hand muff, it got almost too cold to knit!
i might need to knit some mitts before i go out there again. the rain front has brought some cold air with it, and its starting to feel like winter is coming. i’m pre-empting it a bit by making a beef bourbignon for dinner tonight.
today, life is good!