2016 Open Champion: Amanda Milliken & Dorey
Meg, Waifer, Hazel, Grace, Ethel, Roz, Purdy, Dorey. Dorey is an eighth generation bitch for me. She is my breed on the dog side as well, lining up Hazel and Craig in a happy way. She was well known to me before she was born. She was not a puppy for long, becoming a real dog well before she was one. She won the US National Nursery Finals a year before her final nursery year. She has continued to run well ever since. 2016 has been good for her. She won the Canadian Championships. She followed with her second consecutive win at Soldier Hollow, Utah.
She is a joy to run. We rarely disagree, but have many conversations. She is a free, inventive outrunner, solving problems as she goes. She takes sheep around the course as though carrying a glass of water. A flamboyant shedder, she is a crime boss at the pen. I love it when she tells me to “steady”. It will be long time before I have a better bitch than she is. I only hope to have a couple as good.
2016 Open Reserve Champion: Amanda Milliken & Howell
A gal who works for me and is very fond of the dogs, asked if Howell was a cross bred from a Husky. I said “no.” He does look a little funny but once you see him work, the view changes. Howell is a son of Barbara Ray’s Stella and my Monty. His detractors may have dismissed his first Meeker win as a one off, but the second year in a row makes his credentials more compelling.
Earlier this year, Howell had been disappointing me with slow responses and frustrating imprecision. Off his game. We often joke among hands that a cross drive panel is missed and Lyme’s is suspected. In Howell’s case, I was training post Kingston, before my western tour, and he nearly overheated during the training session. At seven in the morning, it was not hot. I put him on Doxycyline and he was a new dog within a week.
Howell is heavy hitter, coming onto his sheep all the time, which makes him a little difficult to handle. His outrunning is fabulous, rarely putting a foot wrong, a perfect pear shaped cast—no silly wide stuff. He is happy to explode through for any shed. His pens have been fluid and in command, always covering before I recommend anything. Calm, he has no temper, or tension. Considering he is a dog which did not really suit me initially, I have become an admirer of him. He grew into a serious partner. I must thank his breeder, Barbara Ray, for sending him to me after all.
2016 Pro-Novice Champion: John Palmer & Mara
It was a few years ago now, while sitting on the hill watching the action at the Grass Creek trial, a group of us were discussing dogs. During this conversation mention was made of a possible breeding between Michael Gallagher's Cap and Joe Haynes' Keally. I indicated an interest in the cross and a little while later was contacted saying I had an opportunity to get a little bitch.
Thus, little Mara ended up in our kennel.
Unfortunately, being born in November made it challenging to get her going with winter putting a damper on training.
The winter of 2015/16 was fortunately fairly mild and presented an opportunity to get some of the young dogs going. Mara was and still is an intense little bitch. It was hard getting her to hold back a little especially at the top. As is always the case, it's fun to work with a dog that is willing to try even if it's not exactly what we want. Her intensity leads her to wearing out quickly but with many 'sweaty blankets' she is settling into her job and understanding what needs to be done to move the flock, both large and small.
The 2016 trial season led to quite a bit of progress in her ability. She qualified for and ran in the 2016 Nursery Finals. Unfortunately, it is a team effort and her handler make a silly mistake in Colorado.
Also, with a number of OBCC Novice trials that have a Pro Novice class with a good cross drive, she really settled into the job of driving. Throughout the year, with consistent work in a number of different venues, her skill and confidence continued to improve.
Thank you to the OBCC for the opportunity to earn and receive this award.
We look forward to the challenges of the big field in the 2017 trial session.
2016 Pro-Novice Reserve Champion: Tracy Hinton & Lad
Lad (aka Fluffy) turned 3 years old in July of 2016. He is a handsome, medium build, rough coated dog. Coming into my house of smooths...he was jokingly named "Fluffy". A name that has stuck. He came to me from Vergil Holland. Lad is out of his Brooke dog, sired by Patricia MaCrae's Cap. Vergil had high hopes for him as a nursery dog but unfortunately didn't have the time to train him much as he became ill. He came to me in May of 2015 after Vergil sadly passed.
I wasn't sure what he knew (or didn't know) when I got him. I quickly learnt that it was best to start at the beginning and not make assumptions! He was a challenge in some areas and a dream in others, although I am sure this would cover many dogs. His driving was a particular challenge for me, but we stuck with it and am pleased with the dog he is becoming. He is biddable, has good feel for his sheep, is patient and has very little anxiety. He is a good team mate who is getting more and more confident every day.
I am proud of our accomplishments in 2016; OBCC Pro Novice Reserve Champion and 6th place in Colorado at USBCHA Nursery National Finals. Hopefully Vergil would be proud too!