You don't get this good without lots of practise
Sometimes we even train our dogs on sheep. Honest. But I couldn't resist this photo, partly because it shows two new dogs that we haven't written about yet.
At the far side of the ring, looking in, stands Tess, who arrived on Sunday. Tess is the offspring of Eli and Jill, and was happily settled in her home in Somerset until the very sad death of her owner. The farm's had to be sold, and there was no-one who could take Tess on permanently, so she's come to us. We stress to buyers, whether of puppies or trained dogs, that we'll always take back any dog who can't be kept for any reason, so we were happy to welcome Tess "home".
I'm sure the last few weeks have been bewildering for Tess, though she's been with people whom she knew well and who clearly loved her, but we're confident that she'll soon settle back into the old routine. She's getting on well with the other dogs, and already taking an interest in the football sessions - albeit from a safe distance.
(I'm beginning to think we should add a chapter to "First Steps" to explain the importance of The Beautiful Game. There are certainly footballs in "Border Collie Sheepdogs - Off Duty", plus a football match, sponsored by Sega and under, I think, Queensbury rules.)
The puppy with the red collar (that Norman and Cotton have been diligently trying to remove) is a little Kennel Club registered bitch, Glenalpine Charybdis (Cabbage). Cabbage is Kennel Club registered, but has strings of ISDS dogs in her pedigree including a dog that Andy and I both admired very much, Aled Owen's original Roy (200199). Cabbage caught my eye while I was looking for a potential step-sister for Pru in the litter announcements. Her father is a Working Trials champion, Our Dug, CDEx - TDEx and her aunt on her dam's side is Katie, who was Canine Freestyle Champion at Crufts this year. The link here is that we bred Dug, and sold him as a puppy to Julie Atkins, whose dedicated and skilled training and handling made Dug into the brilliant dog he's become.
When Dug became a working trials champion the Kennel Club sent us a very elaborate certificate to mark "our" achievement. We just felt we'd had tremendous luck to have Julie turn up here looking for a dog!
We don't have Dug's mother, Jan, any longer, so I jumped at the chance to have one of his puppies. Cabbage is a really bright little girl, who seems to be a thinker and a quick "mapper", able to figure out how to get where she wants to be, and how the various fences, stiles and gates connect to each other. She's not interested in chasing sheep at the moment, but she likes to watch them and she's already finding her place in the pack. She's always in the thick of it, after only a week, and doesn't take any nonsense if a Big Dog tries to pull rank on her.
We're very excited to see how Cabbage progresses. Secretly I'm hoping that one day she'll be good enough to work in a brace with Scylla. I can just hear the commentator at the English National, "And now it's Gill Watson at the post, between Scylla and Charybdis."
I may be getting ahead of myself...