It’s been over a year since my last blog post. Most everything just goes on Facebook these days, so I have left quite a void here. But it’s time to do a 2013 Summary. It was a very full & busy year! It actually all started over Christmas 2012, when I drove up to Maine to breed Dandy to a lovely working bitch named Flo owned by Lynn Deschambeault. I have gotten several dogs from Lynn: Robin, Toss, Tripper and my dear Token who was Dandy’s dad. So this breeding was to bring me full circle, back to where it all started for me.
I drove up to New Hampshire on December 22 with Dandy & Tempo, and drove home on Christmas Day after 3 successful breedings. This was the first litter for both the mom & dad, and with Flo being a smooth black & white, and Dandy a rough merle, we didn’t know what we’d get. And so the waiting game began, just hoping for a healthy litter with at least 2 males.
So welcome 2013!
The first major event of the year was my retirement! After working for the County for nearly 37 years, and reaching my 55th birthday, I took the plunge and retired, while continuing to work 2-3 days a week (at the same job) as I still need to supplement the income from my pension. There are things I want to do that just can’t be done with 4 weeks of vacation time…one year later, I have no regrets, I have been able to have such great adventures that I could not have done without retiring.
While waiting for puppies, we went to two USDAA agility trials in January & February. On February 17 at Keystone’s trial in Barto, PA, Dandy finished his LAA-Bronze award (Lifetime Achievement Award, 150 Q’s in Masters/Tournaments). This was a big milestone, I’m very proud of Dandy.
On February 22, Flo delivered a huge healthy litter of 11 puppies! I was praying for at least 2 males, and we got 5, all smooth black and white. There were 6 females, all smooth with 3 being black/white and 3 blue merles. This was a very exciting day as finally my Dandy puppy was born, and one of his brothers would be going to Australia to live with my dear friend Natalie Kirkwood, who ran Dandy in 2012 at the World Agility Championship in Texas.
I made two trips to Maine in March to visit the puppies at 3 weeks and 5 weeks of age. I had my eye on two in particular since day 1. At 5 weeks, I was able to make my decision which pup to take…his puppy name was “Lad” and he was the last one born (like Dandy & Tempo), and he was sporting one black front leg like Dandy. But besides those things, he just seemed to be “the one”. The other pup I really liked was named “Cap”, and he is the one that would be going to Australia as Natalie and I both favored these same two puppies. When the pups were 7 weeks old, I took one more drive to Maine to pick up our two boy puppies as well as two merle females who would be living in Pennsylvania.
After the two girls went to their new homes, it was time to settle in briefly with the two boys. Natalie had already named her puppy “2B” with a registered name of Merlynn Ment2B. My pup did not get his name for at least another week, but I finally settled on “Dezi”, derived from “destiny”, with a registered name of MerlynNow&4Evr.
Just a couple days later, we were on the road again, this time for 3 days as I headed for Fort Worth, TX, to meet Natalie for the IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas. I loaded Tempo & Dandy and the 2 puppies into my Honda Element and off we went, leaving on Wednesday morning and arriving on Friday afternoon. Two 8 week old puppies in a hotel is a challenge for sure!
Natalie and Dandy were reunited to again compete for Team Australia, who sent 3 handlers to the US to compete with borrowed dogs. Tempo got to play this time around also as he partnered with Simone Holt. The competition was a rush, the puppies were a blast, and it was a fantastic trip.
Tempo & Simone http://vimeo.com/85409097
Icing on the cake was a Bronze Medal in Biathlon for Nat & Dandy!
And it was super cool that Nat got to spend a couple of weeks with her new puppy!
Nat & her husband David kindly drove back to Pennsylvania to caravan with me and once we hit the Harrisburg area, we parted ways as they went on to visit with friends Heather & Jeremy for a couple of days with 2B in tow.
That weekend, we met up again at a USDAA competition in Barto, PA, and Nat ran a few runs with both Dandy & Tempo. The highlight of the weekend was Master Pairs, where I ran Dandy and Nat ran Tempo, and we qualified!
And a reunion with littermates of Dandy, Tempo & Dezi----
On May 5, Nat & David headed back to Australia, leaving 2B with me so he could complete the quarantine requirements to be exported to Oz. Tough day for Natalie, saying goodbye to her new puppy that she just met. I could write a book about the months that followed, raising two puppies together and working out everything to make sure 2B’s transition to Australia would be successful. Microchip, rabies vaccine, rabies titer, government endorsements and then the 180 day countdown began. In the months ahead, I would be socializing and training both puppies while working very hard NOT to get too attached to 2B. Dezi & 2B attended Puppy Kindergarten class and I had my friend Valerie handle 2B for me. It was great to see both pups able to focus with that level of distraction. Their littersister Vilya, with Barb Miller, was also in this class. I had some more help when 2B spent the month of July with Heather and Jeremy, lovingly referred to as Beardie Boot Camp! 2B not only learned about living with Beardies but he continued to get exposed to new people and new situations. The new environment was good for him, and the break was good for me and Dezi as it gave me a chance to spend one-on-one time with him. When August arrived, Dezi and I attended Puppy Agility Camp along with Heather and 2B. At the end of Camp, 2B was returned to me. More vet visits and more life lessons to come.
In June I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional where Dandy ran clean in two rounds of Grand Prix, earning a Bye into Semi-Finals at Nationals. So the trip to Tennessee in October was put on our calendar.
In June I made another huge decision and investment: I bought a small RV. This was a dream of mine for many years and with the retirement it seemed like the right time to just do it! I bought a 2009 Winnebago View, 24’ on a diesel Sprinter chassis. Just the right size for me and my dogs, and manageable for me to drive. The dogs LOVE having their own “home” on the road, such a pleasure to not have to stay in motels, and staying on site at select agility trials is a real luxury.
My first trip in the RV was in mid-July when I went to Rhode Island for the New England Regional (USDAA). Everything went fine and I found I can sleep really well in it, much better than motels. Dogs also rested well. While in RI, I met Donalee for a little family reunion as she has Tempo’s littermate Maze and Dezi’s littermate Moss.
2B had lots of swimming lessons at the lake. He presented me with a challenge as he is the first Border Collie I’ve had who did not just dive in and figure it out. He was cautious of the water itself, then worried as the ground kept dropping away. I went in with him to try to trigger his paddling mechanism. I deposited him off the side of the dock. I threw food and toys that floated to entice him. It was a slow process, and I was not about to send him off to Australia not knowing how to swim! So I broke down and bought him a life jacket. I went in the water with him, deep enough for him to paddle and he suddenly found his sea legs, the jacket gave him that boost of security. He had one session with the life jacket and after that, he was swimming naked and joining the other three in the lake with confidence.
In August I had a bit of a health scare with Dandy as he started drinking and urinating excessively. We saw the vet and had blood tests, urine tests and an ultrasound. The only thing found was a prostate infection for which he was given antibiotics. After a couple days, he seemed normal again. He had lost a couple of pounds, so I tweaked his diet and he put some weight on so all was back on track.
We took another RV trip in August to an agility trial in western Pennsylvania. And another reunion of Shebaa dogs as we met up with Dandy’s two littermates Seeker & Jazz!
September brought sadness as we lost Tripper on the 9th. He was 14 years old, he was losing his sight and hearing, and was experiencing degenerative nerve issues making it difficult for him to walk and control his functions. He had a number of masses throughout his body as well, so the time had come. He had been living with my mom for the past 6 years, enjoying the quiet companionship. He is greatly missed by both of us.
In early October, my mom and I took a little RV trip with my 4 dogs to Virginia to watch some of the USBCHA Finals. Lynn & Flo were running in Nursery, so we got to see them as well as a number of Open runs. We drove down on Tuesday and stayed overnight, and back home the next day after watching Flo in action.
USDAA World Cynosport (Nationals) was held in Tennessee in October. Nat wanted to come for a visit with 2B so we worked it out for her to come during Cynosport. I would run Dandy (I had to handle him in GP to use my Bye), and she would run Tempo. For the team event, we partnered with Tempo’s littermate Quid and Barb Miller. Our team name was a tribute to Token (dad to all 3 dogs, whose registered name is Merlynn Eclipse) with the Australian connection: Eclipse Down Under
Barb Miller had fantastic shirts made up for us to wear.
I left home on October 20 and arrived in Murfreesboro for Cynosport on October 21. Nat flew into Nashville and met Heather there; they stayed at a hotel with 2B while I stayed on site in my RV. It was really great for Nat to have this quality time with 2B.
Nat did get to run Dandy also at Cynosport, in the Biathlon event. They had 2 clean runs with NO practice since May!
Tempo in Team Gamblers, Dandy in Master Challenge Jumpers http://youtu.be/575AGBP0EjE
Dandy in Master Challenge Standard http://youtu.be/UG2xmVgTRlM
After Nationals, Nat & 2B joined me in the RV as Heather flew home to Pennsylvania. We drove up to Virginia to the Misty Mountain Campgrounds where we spent two wonderful days at a training camp with Mary Ellen Barry & Jen Pinder. Nat worked with Dandy and I worked Tempo. It was a great learning experience. We then drove back to PA, where Nat got to spend a few more days with 2B. We visited the lake for one last swim before winter arrived, took the dogs for a herding lesson and enjoyed a drive to see the autumn leaves.
On November 3, Natalie flew back home, this time a bit easier to leave as 2B would be in Australia in just a couple of weeks.
With the final paperwork all in order, and travel arrangements made, it was time for 2B to leave me on November 11. My friend Valerie drove us to Newark airport where I met with the pet transport people. I said Goodbye to 2B as he settled into his airline crate. This was a tough day. While I was ecstatic that he was finally going to be with Nat, where he belongs, it was hard for me to see him leave. As much as I never thought of him as “my dog” and reminded myself of that every day, I will always love him and miss him.
2B’s journey first took him to LAX where he had a layover and the paperwork endorsed by the government official. And then he jetted off on the big trek across the Pacific Ocean, from LA to Sydney. There he would spend 30 days in quarantine, though he was allowed visits from Nat and other friends. When he was finally released to Nat, it was a monumental day!
2B is now happy as ever in his new home. He not only swims in a pool but also in the sea, with waves and all. It was a massive journey for all of us…it took a village to make sure 2B was prepared for all that was coming his way…but the end result was worth it all. I am so very honored that Dandy’s son is adored by Nat & David, and I am super proud of the little man who has handled his adventure so beautifully.
And as much as I miss 2B, it’s really good that I now have just ONE puppy. And Dezi is a great pup, he is super sweet and he really likes his sheep!
While 2013 was dominated by the raising of two puppies, Dandy and Tempo had their share of notable moments as well.
In addition to the LAA-Bronze, Dandy earned his Jumpers Champion-Silver title, and in AKC, he finished his MX, MXJ and XF.
Tempo earned his Standard Agility Master, Tournament Master and Tournament Master-Bronze, and his Jumpers Master. In AKC, he earned his AX, AXJ and NF.
As 2013 drew to a close, many more adventures were being planned for 2014!