Sunday, August 15, 2010


The trials in Cooperstown were fantastic. I have never seen such a crowd at a sheepdog trial in my life! The Annual Leatherstocking Sheepdog Trial had so many cars in the parking lot you would think it was the little-league playoffs. I'm used to being one of a possible dozen stragglers watching these contests, but I was in the throngs yesterday and rightly so. It was a wonderful event.

There were spinning and weaving demonstrations, food tents, vendors, and shade seating under the tent. I forgot my folding chair (still not in the habit of bringing my chair) and just rolled a sheepskin under my backpack to be a blanket. I sat along the fence with a couple from the south who were here as part of their RV Gypsy Life in the local KOA campground. We talked about the south, what they had seen. They asked me about the trial and I explained the points and dogs. Gibson didn't seem to care much about the event. He liked eating a big marrowbone and digging holes more.

I got a chance to watch my future, charge. The Scottish Blackface ewes I'd be raising were in the trial, right in front of me there were loping across the field with their spring lambs. Have you ever seen a Scottish Blackface lamb? My dear lord...they're like little-chubby-cuddly-monster stuffed animals: hooves and horns and shaggy coats with tiny bleats for mom. My heart melted. Gibson coughed up some dirt clods.

I got to talk to a trainer in Massachusetts I really admire and respect. Her name is Denise, and I have been to her place before for lessons and clinics so I felt okay approaching her. I asked if I could train with her a little in the fall? I already have plans to train with the blackface breeder, but her farm is just as close and offers different land, sheep, and opinions. She said sure and to email her later in the season. Gibson will be seven-months-old in October and ready to try out sheep for the first time by then. We talked briefly about dogs, turkeys, chickens and the trial.

The rest of the time around the trial was observing and watching. I am still amazed these dogs do what they do. To see a black dog turn on a dime 400 yards away from his handler, because of a series of whistles: amazes the hell out of me. When the sun came out we hunkered under the shade tent and I looked at the scores posted on the wall, hand-written on poster boards. One small category caught my eye, the Novice scores. Friday was the beginner trial and about fifteen new sheepdogs did their best. I smiled. Seeing those scores on the board was like wanting to be a pilot at an air show and walking among 747s until you found the glider hanger. This was my level (eventually). I tried to picture my name with Gibson on the wall.

The drive home was long and hilly weaving up into the northern part of the state from south of Albany. Roadtrips like this wear us both out. I was content with the radio and some iced coffee, but Gibson slept the entire time on the sheepskin, breathing slowly like the tired boy he was.


Blogger doglady said...

What a fantastic day you had. I think the lady in the first picture trials all over as I think I've seen her at the Blue Hill Fair over Labor Day.
One of my SAR teammates has BCs and they are hard wired to herd. It drives them crazy to have a half dozen German Shepherds playing and chasing sticks. The BCs want to herd the GSDs into a nice tight group.

August 15, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

what is SAR?

August 15, 2010 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

Search and Rescue. I'm on dogs numbers 4 and 5 since I started in 1984. That's what I'm doing today. I know how you feel about seeing a dog do as it is trained. It still thrills me when my dog returns to me and indicates a find.

August 15, 2010 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

that is awesome!

August 15, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

You'll do it; you and Gibson. You'll be up there too.

August 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Well Jenna, I hadn't planned on it but my teammates set up my annual 40 acre recertification test. We passed.

August 15, 2010 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

DL: congrats!!

August 15, 2010 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger doglady said...


August 15, 2010 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

nice pictures! really feel the country side

August 16, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

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