Fly and I ran in the Green Lane Park Scottish/Irish Festival Sheepdog Trial over the weekend.
It was an interesting experience. The weather was beautiful, and most of my favorite people were there, so I had a great time. I am not used to having that many spectators at a sheepdog trial. Something like 50,000 people attend the festival every year, which includes arts and crafts, bagpipe bands, dancing and other traditional performance arts, Highland Games, and the Society for Creative Anachronisms. The novice classes went early in the morning, so I didn't have much of an audience, but by the time Open was running, the bleachers were full and all sorts of folks were sitting on the hillside to watch.
The field was very small (Open outrun approx 200 yards, max), but with really heavy pressures that made it challenging. The second day, the pen was replaced by a freestanding chute that got narrower for the advanced classes, and had another L leg added onto it, with a gap between the legs that sheep could escape through for Open. In Open it was narrow enough so the sheep had to go through single file, but for my class (Pro-Novice) it was fairly wide, maybe five feet. Watching the Open dogs and handlers get the sheep through that tiny, dog-leg chute was really fascinating and it took very precise work.We did OK, except that all of my commands were late. The first day we were first in our class and I was truly asleep at the wheel, so we finished with a very low score and were 13th out of 24 dogs, and would have "placed" (13th doesn't count as a "place") lower except that a lot of other dogs retired or ran out of time. The second day we did better and came in ninth, yielding a ribbon in a shade I can only describe as "greige." Fly has gotten very sticky lately, so both of our runs were just barely under time; this is a problem we need to work on.

We would have placed higher if I hadn't "un-chuted" the sheep by giving a lie down command too late, causing Fly to push the sheep back out of the chute they were almost committed to walking through. Instead they went, "Oh, never mind," and walked out of the mouth of the chute and we ran out of time while trying to put them through again.Solo was remarkably relaxed and happy, given the size of the spectator crowd. I am often nervous at sheepdog trials with spectators (which is a rare occurrence) because spectators are so often Red Dog Gropers. Imagine a family complete with excited little kids, all pointing and staring and exclaiming, "I didn't know they came in THAT color!" and then running up to pet your dog without asking for permission. We did get a lot of pointing and staring, but no one approached.

The crowd was quite well-behaved overall, and didn't mess too much with the competing dogs, but to be on the safe side I kept both dogs in Gentle Leaders to discourage gropers, who often mistake them for muzzles. I think the spectators left with a pretty good education about Border Collies, what with the trial to watch and some good announcing from the trial hosts. We had flyers to hand out with Border Collie information if anyone asked, to educate people about why they aren't really the All-American Family Pet.

The most surreal part of the weekend came when one of the other competitors and I were asked to be in the parade for the opening ceremonies of the festival. I borrowed a friend's old retired dog, since parades are Solo's idea of hell, and I didn't want to leave him crated alone without Fly. So I took sweet old Cleo, who loves to be the center of attention, and we marched behind the giant beefy Highland Games guys who wore muscle shirts with their kilts, and wrestling shoes. There was a lot of bagpiping. It is probably the last time I will ever be asked to march in a Scottish/Irish parade, so I made the most of it.

The park the festival was held at is very large, with lots of bridle trails, cycle trails, hiking, and big open fields. I took the dogs to a high field on Sunday, and they chased each other until they flopped into the grass with tongues a mile long. When the sun started going down, I finally got to see Mars when a friend pointed it out to me. It's not easy to see celestial bodies in the city and I'd given up on getting a good look at it.
It was a great weekend. But, if I never hear bagpipes again in my life, that would be fine.

Melanie Lee Chang > Form ever follows function. Departments of Anthropology and Biology >
University of Pennsylvania > Louis Sullivan (Email Removed) >
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@netnews.upenn.edu:
Like Chad, I have to thank you for your weekend updates, It is really an eye-opener on the world of doggie activities.
It was a great weekend. But, if I never hear bagpipes again in my life, that would be fine.

You don't like the pipes?? There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a pipe and drum band playing Amazing Grace. The sound is so haunting it sends shivers down my spine and tears to my eyes. But that may come oput as a result of being a military brat.

**
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You don't like the pipes?? There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a pipe and drum band playing Amazing ... my spine and tears to my eyes. But that may come oput as a result of being a military brat.

I dunno Marcel I sort of feel the same way. And I love going to St Patty's day parades and hooplas and hearing the pipes as well.
Gwen
@netnews.upenn.edu: Like Chad, I have to thank you for your weekend updates, It is really an eye-opener on the world of doggie activities.

It was a great weekend. But, if I never hear bagpipes again in my life, that would be fine.

You don't like the pipes?? There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a pipe and drum band playing Amazing ... my spine and tears to my eyes. But that may come oput as a result of being a military brat.

My DH loves bagpipes too, particularly playing Amazing Grace. Must be the Irish Catholic in him.
Mustang Sally
My DH loves bagpipes too, particularly playing Amazing Grace. Must be the Irish Catholic in him.
I used to love bagpipes. Try listening to them play "Amazing Grace" for two days straight though.

Melanie Lee Chang > Form ever follows function. Departments of Anthropology and Biology >
University of Pennsylvania > Louis Sullivan (Email Removed) >
It was a great weekend. But, if I never hear bagpipes again in my life, that would be fine.

You don't like the pipes?? There is nothing sweeter than the sound of a pipe and drum band playing Amazing ... my spine and tears to my eyes. But that may come oput as a result of being a military brat.

I dunno Chad, I really enjoy bagpipes also. I have four or five bagpipe CDs that I listen to every now and then. Not as exciting as Led Zeppelin, but I like'em.
Paul
You don't like the pipes?? There is nothing sweeter than ... come oput as a result of being a military brat.

I dunno Chad, I really enjoy bagpipes also. I have four or five bagpipe CDs that I listen to every now and then. Not as exciting as Led Zeppelin, but I like'em.

I was not the one that made the above comment. It was Melanie. Me, I like bagpipes just fine, and made no comment about it either way before. I am Presbyterian, you know, and it kinda comes with the territory.

Chad

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'What a maroon!' Bugs Bunny
: My DH loves bagpipes too, particularly playing Amazing Grace. Must be : the Irish Catholic in him. I used to love bagpipes. Try listening to them play "Amazing Grace" for two days straight though.

I don't think I could. Maybe DH could, but we have different tastes in music.
Mustang Sally
I used to love bagpipes. Try listening to them play "Amazing Grace" for two days straight though.

i might be a little sick of Amazing Grace after two days, but i don't think i could ever get tired of listening to bagpipes.

shelly (perfectly foul wench) and elliott and harriet http://home.bluemarble.net/~scouvrette
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