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.
2015 Open Reserve Champion: Amanda Miliken & Monty
Photo courtesy Mary Minor
Before the eye problem, which cost him his eye, I would have said Monty was one of my top two dogs and running at the top of his game. He is a wonderful sheep persuader. They never say no to him. His easy style takes away the combat. A kindly, deadpan “You have to go”. He will do dirty work if required but work hardly ever gets dirty with him. He has run with moderate success with the eye handicapping his general health and impairing his work to some extent—the shed particularly. As he gets more accustomed to it, maybe it will make no difference
Eight, this January, Monty is my last dog sired by Stuart Davidson’s great Star. His has been a successful breed for me. Roz was same way bred, from my Ethel.
2015 Pro-Novice Champion: Amanda Miliken & Puppa
Photo courtesy Amanda Miliken
At one time I ribbed Joni Tietjen and Haley Hunewill for thrashing around at their training sessions with a stick, flag attached. Haha. She who laughs first, laughs last. Puppa is from Roz, and Haley’s Ross. Ross was a breed of Joni’s, by her Spot, like Lew, Tommy Wilson’s Sly, Kate Broadbent’s Salt. Haley’s won the US Nursery Championship at Klamuth in compelling style, nearly ten years ago. I wanted one. Puppa was a single pup, treated like a little Saudi prince. I do not know whether to blame that or not, on his eccentricities. I have spent more time training him than any dog I have owned. If I had used one of those flags, it might have been quicker. He has been hard to handle. This year, I am relaxing his regimen, hoping that some of his impetuous stuff could be youth. I like his company and character. His enthusiasm for all things sheep is exasperating. My last one from Roz, has made me very patient with him. A week before the US Nursery Finals, I considered withdrawing him and then he came fifth.