The last weekend of September, Nick & I drove down to Klamath Falls, OR for the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals. Klamath is not too far from the CA border; it took me about 10 hrs from the mainland to get there. The last part of the drive through the Ponderosa pine country was beautiful, but everything was obscured by a haze as southern Oregon is on fire.
We had a great time at Finals! We camped out with Diane Pagel & her husband Getty, and the 87 or so dogs they brought with them. Okay, they only brought four, plus picked up a new puppy there. Diane ran Roo & Nan in the Open Finals, and Tess & Rainey came along for the trip. I of course threatened to steal Nan every time Diane's back was turned, but it turns out I had lots of competition. Evidently, Nan has a serious fan club. Nan did, however, curl up in Nick's box several evenings when things got too rowdy for her, and she tried to jump in my car, too. Rainey, Diane's home-bred 2 yr old, had always been a bit stand-offish with me before, but this time she decided my lap was the place to be. Nick is totally in love with Rainey, so he was happy to share my attention. Nevermind the fact that Nick can rival Tess for working a crowd for food & attention! Then there was Gael, the new pup. SO cute, but she earned the nickname "The Howler Monkey!" Good grief, could that pup howl! Every morning, around 3 am, dogs (and coyotes?) would start howling all over the camp sites, and Gael joined right in.
I got to meet tons of folks whose names I've heard in the trialling world, plus lots of other folks from the Border Collie boards. Every single person I met was friendly, and happy to stop and chat about dogs and sheep and trials. Nick got lots of attention- non-merle blue dogs aren't all that common, and even less so in working circles. I got to meet the folks who bred Nick's sire. The Montgomerys are really nice folks, and they were pleased to hear that one of their pups is working so well. They also gave me some history of Nick's breeding, and told me it was a shame I don't trial.
Diane roped me into helping her blog for the Finals, so I spent a lot of time on the computer. It was great fun describing all the runs, and it was nice to hear from folks who couldn't be there that they appreciated the various blogs being updated. Our posts & many pictures are at Diane's DeltaBluez blog. Pearse Ward was also blogging at ComeBye.net. Diane's & my blogging is a little more, er, frivolous about some things- I couldn't pass up describing Amanda Milliken's hat, and I can never miss an opportunity to poke fun at Derek Fisher- but we did a good job of chronicling the runs (at least I think we did).
We also had a great time in the evenings at Diane & Getty's camper. Getty is a great cook & musician. He made a pot of fantastic jambalaya one night, then he, Pearse, and Amy & Ray Coapman pulled out instruments and played us well into the night. The other wonder was the cowboy hot tub. One of the springs the ranchers use for irrigations pumps out water at 103 F. They had a trough for the dogs to hop in, plus a big one for the people! The people trough was left on to overflow a bit to keep things clean. It was SO nice to rinse off the layers of dust in warm water when it started to cool off at night (it was close to 90 F during the day, but dipped into the low 40's F at night).
So many, many thanks to the folks who put on the Finals, the hosts, the volunteers, the hospitality folks... it was great, and I can't wait to go again. It won't be on this side of the country for another three years or so (Finals are in Virginia in 2010), and who knows, maybe I'll be running a nursery dog by then.