2015 Open Champion: Amanda Miliken & Howell
Photo courtesy Carly Thomson
My year with the dogs has been marked by bitter losses, occasionally offset with sparkling moments of sheep dog beauty. Howell, a dog I had always considered selling, until the Roz died of cancer in May, is a remarkable story of meeting the bar when required. He was a very good young dog, as a nursery dog, but afterwards, he emerged from the winter, empowered to a fault. He developed a potent habit of infuriating the sheep by the time a drive was concluded. Their resentment in the shedding ring was palpable on numerous occasions. I bust my ass training him in the summer. Boot camp. Sometime in August, he responded to an epiphany and started to run like a serious partnering dog. At the same time, his father, Monty developed the retrobulber eye infection. Monty lost his eye to it, but the problem persisted through the fall and during the long road trip out west. I worked very hard on Howell’s international shedding in August, while home, not knowing where Monty’s eye thing was headed. That was lucky. Events made demands of Howell’s running, at levels to which he had never been tested. He met every test favourably.
His outrunning has been outstanding, his way with his sheep, very sure. All the wrestling over direction and pace ended. Nothing rattles him. No temper. He is fluid and on his feet with every difficult penning sheep. He sheds with joy. Barbara Ray is his breeder—her Stella, my Monty.