*More of me not working sheep, though i suspect that will change very soon.*

This past weekend, i met up with friends on Whidbey Island and got to watch the Widbey Island Fall Classic at Susan Crocker’s home near Langley.

You have to know is that Whidbey is beautiful.  The town of Langley reminds me of a Duvall in a lot of ways.  Small and postcardish, with season decorations on homes and businesses.  There are very few corporate attachments.  As you travel north out of Langley, leave the ferry and drive up hill, there is a mix of what one might think are parks and farms. In reality, parks are really few and far between, but the houseing lots in the rural areas are quite large and people have chosen two general directions: Farm/Ranchette or The Lest Developed Lot.  The Crocker farm is no different; a lovely mix of trees and wide pasture.  If you look carefully down the valley, i suspect you could see the sound on a clear day.  Eagles, which are both a blessing and a curse, swooped around and at one point appeared to be aiding a handler, as they came down from a tall tree and moved on the Away side of the sheep.

My Dad called Washington ‘God’s Country’.  He used to tell me that you can leave, but you’ll always either come back or wish you had.  My Dad was also a big football fan. He tried very had to teach me the value of the LongGame when i was much to young to really get it.  Patience and strategy is a new thing for me.  LongGame is the idea of making sacrifices for the long term goal. Doing something that endures, which usually takes an inordinate amount of time, in lieu of short term advances.

One of my friends that trialed got about a third of the way through his run and it really started to go south fast.  This happens to every handler at some point and i think every handler just makes a choice at the moment.  Is what I am about to do going to teach my dog a bad habit?  Or have I inadvertently already done that and so moving forward isn’t going to do any more damage? OR is this an opportunity to work on a problem we’ve had?

The essence of LongGame in dog trialing.  Where are you? Where is your dog? Are you doing poorly because some days go that way? Will walking off right now save retraining headache later? Every situation is different.  But at every turn there is that internal conversation that is almost akin to the dog-training Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm.

Big thinking with the Farm Dog trial coming up.  At what point am i willing to walk?

I got to thinking a lot about Dad when i was at Whidbey.  He would have liked it there. I took some time and walked Molly around downtown Langley before breakfast. She discovered that there are white rocks that make noise and thus are NOT ok.  Barnacles, when they are still live make a hissing sound when they close up against predators.  Poor Molly had never found a talking rock.

Molly did a lot of hiking and I took her down to the beach and she ran around. This is the beach at South Whidbey Island State Park.



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