Wow!!! After a rather disappointing day for us and our dogs, Sarah and Indie came through to save the day! Indie has been with us off and on for basic and advanced training the past two winters. Between visits, Sarah has worked hard to maintain the training…I mean really hard…compulsively hard…obsessively hard…nauseatingly hard…get it?
In addition, she has visited four times to get a regular helping of abuse for everything she is/has/will do wrong. We want to be sure we get the proper corrections in on her as well as Indie!
This past weekend, she and Rich met us in Pennsylvania to train for a day, pick Indie up from winter training and Sarah entered the Puppy Stake at the Susquehanna Field Trial. With nerves of steel, she was determined to finish…a goal we all thought was reasonable. Boy, were we fooled. She walked out there as confident as she could play it off and with her heart pounding louder than Indie hitting the ground, she cast Indie off to begin.
Indie took off on the downwind side, made a beautiful upwind cast, checked in with Sarah and moved to the upwind side of the course. She raised her head and blew into a bird…a dead pheasant from the Open All-Age Stake! She promptly returned the bird to Sarah’s hand and unfortunately, after a beautiful job, it did not count because the Puppy Stake was run on Chukar Partridge!
Sarah cast Indie off again and they moved down the field with Indie running big on the downwind side, checking with Sarah and completing the upwind side of the course. Her head goes up again and up goes a chukar. Indie hups but the bird is missed. A slight bump as she thought she might retrieve the bird anyway but Sarah managed to control her (it is a team sport) and continued up the field.
A few more casts and Indie blows up another chukar. A quick hup and the bird is shot close…Indie is on edge…we are on edge…Sarah is calm and will not be deterred. Like an experienced trainer, she holds her puppy extra long, even with the Judge tapping her twice to send for the retrieve. Sarah calmly calls Indie to retrieve the bird and she is back with it quick. Sarah, the trainer that 15 seconds ago was acting experienced well beyond her first time, makes a rookie mistake and lunges to take the bird…Indie avoids her and the experienced trainer comes back, regroups and calmly takes the bird from Indie!
It is over. She finished! She walks back with a smile and glow that is finally released after 15 minutes of tension and brain strain to stay on task. As we watch the other puppies run, we look back and Sarah is back at the starting area sitting on the ground with her dog. They both seem so happy…more so to be back together than to have simply finished the puppy stake. That image should be bottled. It is what this is supposed to be all about.
We head back to headquarters for the placements and Sarah and Indie get a red ribbon for 2nd Place! I do not want to be anti-climatic, it is a wonderful accomplishment and I hope Sarah is done thanking me. However, the image of her with her dog, a private moment of the two of them alone and behind the attention of the event, that is the image I will remember and cherish; a lady that loves her dog, works hard to have it well trained and maintain a standard, sitting on the ground expressing her happiness that her dog was going home!
Congratulations Sarah and thank you for allowing me to be a part of you and your dog’s experience.