This morning I called the USBCHA and pulled Tait from the finals. I’m sorry I got a wee bit emotional! I really thought Tait was going to win it all this year, or maybe it was because my buddy is injured that made that call so hard to make. I’m sure everyone else thinks their dog is going to win it also. These aren’t just your good old boy handlers and each believes in their dog’s ability to win. Now it’s up to Kane and I also believe in him. I’m very fortunate to have two high quality partners in this endeavor. Kane has consistently scored high in the trails he has entered. He can handle the pressures much better this year than last. When he was a pup I remember writing to his owner that he would one day be the one of best cattle dogs in America. Now then Diane and I co-own him and I still feel that way. Well I think he is one of the best right now. He has different qualities than Tait. He isn’t as much of a tuff guy and relies on stealth before getting rough. Still he isn’t afraid to get right in their faces to get the results required. He isn’t as headstrong as Tait and listens to his commands better. That’s what made these two dogs a great one two punch for trialing. No matter if the cattle were flighty and running or heavy and mean I had the dog to do the trick. Now little red Tigr, she is a finesse worker. Hopefully these finals cattle will respect that. She will hit a head or jump up and hit a rear. For all around clean work ethics she is about as good as they come. I will be very proud to go to the handlers post with either of these dogs.
Tonight finds me back out at the Tin Star Ranch where the accident happened to Tait. I will be working the same dozen cattle that we were working also. My niece Misty came along with her dog Spike. Spike is the son of Roo a dog co-owned by myself and Diane. Spike is fast like Roo and at times his legs outrun his brains. I don’t think he has ever worked over 3 head of cattle at once before so this will be sort of a test for him. Misty has been very methodical in his training and he is starting to look like he is going to make a really nice dog.
This evening I decided to work Kane first. I must say that working a dozen at a time didn’t faze him at all. He kept them in a tight group and marched them anywhere I desired. I recognized the steer who had hit Tait and it wasn’t showing any malice towards the dogs at all. I’m sure now this was just a fluke accident. It wasn’t even the one that Tait was working, that is what made it so odd. I let Kane work these for at least ten minutes and he made it look like child play. Drove them, fetched them, cross dives, jumped them over poles, held them in a corner, anything I could think of he could do with them.
Tigr was a little more attentive with this amount of cattle. She was working a little wider than needed. I like to let the dog figure things out the best they can so all I did at first was encourage her and walk away. Pretty soon she noticed even with her flanking she was going no where so she finally decided to hit a rear end. I’m sure that by now some of you have noticed I haven’t been saying hit a heel. Tigr has a different approach to moving cattle from behind. She jumps over the kick zone and bites the rear end of the cow she is trying to move. She does this on the fly so she doesn’t fall off in the kick zone either. This is why when working a large group she has misgivings about gripping from behind. No matter where she comes off after the jump there is another cow there and she lands in the kick zone. This is exactly why I brought her to a large group of cattle. I now know how to handle her incase we get more than three, if we happen to
make the final day in the championships. I worked her about 3 times for short sessions. Once she got the cattle moving she wasn’t having any problems she couldn’t handle. By the third session I didn’t even have to encourage her to get that movement started. She built confidence each time I worked her and that’s very encouraging to me.
Spike and Misty really surprised me tonight. Spike was moving the cattle like a dream for her. He has come far in the time Misty has owned him. I never really thought of him as a cattle dog before. I knew he would be able to work well dog broke cattle but tonight’s cattle are far from well dog broke. These cattle won’t move unless a dog demands respect from them. It takes a very brave dog to lift them off the fences or out of the corners. I was very proud of both Spike and Misty because he was giving her his whole heart and she was in control of the situation. I might be changing my mind about him as a cattle dog now. Funny how a little maturity in a dog and handler enhances both of their abilities.