Well the last few days have had their ups an downs.  Actually it was mostly ups until today, so I’ll start with the downs.  The first one happened after our morning hike.  I had taken the dogs to the conservation area and was delighted to find it abandoned.  I shouldn’t be surprised given the swarms of insatiable deer fly clouding around you the entire time you hike!  I really need to buy more bug spray the next time I’m at an outdoor store.

We went for a great, 1.5 hour hike.  I had kept the dogs home all weekend because of how busy everything was (Canada Day +  July 4th weekend), so they were more than keen to burn off some steam.  They ran their hearts out and jumped in and out of every available puddle, swamp, stream and river.  By the time we got back to the car they were exhausted.  And very smelly.

Once home, I spent a few minutes and hosed off each dog.  Ross even got a soap bath on his stomach and under arms.  He’s allergic to the water around here so I need to make sure he’s clean, otherwise he gets very itchy.  I think he reacts to the high algae in the ground water, which is the result of all the nitrogen run-off from the farms.  The conservation area is in a river valley surrounded by corn fields, so the water is likely very toxic.  I hate it, but what can I do?  There’s no where else to let them run.

Once they were all clean, I popped them into the large electro-netted fenced area beside my house and went inside.  As I was opening the front door, I found a note.  Curious, I opened it.  It was the note I have been waiting for for the past year: from Animal Control.  Lovely.  This happened to me at my last house as well, except it only took them a few weeks to find me.  This time I managed to stay under the radar for a whole year, but now I have to register my dogs.  The cost? $183.  You can imagine how happy this made me!  Especially when I knew that the only reason this happened was that one of my neighbours must have ratted on me.  And they likely did this because the landlord hasn’t cut the grass on the back side of the property (a steep hill and not my responsibility to cut), and they are trying to get revenge.  I wonder if they know that they are hurting me, the person who has cleaned up the other half of the property, planted flowers and otherwise made the place look a whole heck of a lot better than when I moved in.  I wish I knew who it was so I could point out to them what their petty little scheme is doing.  Passive aggressive jerks!

But I knew I was taking a risk when I fenced the side of the house off as people could see that I had dogs.  In the back yard, off the kitchen, no one can see them.  Damn it.  Well, I’ll know better next time.  Hopefully there won’t be a next time though…

To make matters worse, about an hour later I received an email from the manager of the sheepdog trial I was planning on competing in in two weeks.  She said that there had been too many entries so they had to do a draw to see who got in.  And I didn’t get in.

This is just as well as I have a lot of work to do, and the trial entry fee will go towards paying my stupid dog license fee.  Plus it means not having to travel next weekend, which is not bad.  I’m still getting over all the traveling I did over the last two months!

This may sound silly, but since I’m missing this trial it means I don’t have a shot at winning the provincial championship.  As a result, I no longer feel compelled to try and make every trial.  Not that there are very many trials at the novice level.  In fact so far there are only four listed so far.  The one I am not in, one more over the August long weekend, and a couple in the fall.  Considering how much I’ll be working this fall, I may not make any trial this year now.  I was going to go to the August one but they only have one run for the novice classes.  This means driving 6 hours for one run.  There are another 5 days of Open level trials that I would like to watch, but they start two days later.  This would mean being away for a whole week, and I simply can’t do that.  I might just drive up to watch the final tow days of the open trial.  Then again, maybe I’ll skip it all together and just go to watch the Nationals at the end of August and call it a trial season.  Next year I may need to just move Hannah to open so that I can have a chance to compete.  There’s very little going on for novices within 5-6 hours of where I live.  *sigh*

Now that I’ve wallowed in self-pity, time for the ups of the week: training has been going much better!  The dogs have been working very, very well (another reason I’m disappointed about the trial) and I’ve made good progress with each.  This is true for agility as well as herding.  In agility, I have been training any evening I didn’t work stock (except tonight), which means my dogs are actually moving forward.  Who’d of thought?!  Kess is coming along really nicely, and Mira is making progress as well.  On stock, all three dogs are moving ahead quickly.  This week Kess even did some very nice driving without my assistance, taking flanks both ways and driving the sheep in a big rectangle with me staying in one place.  Pretty good for a dog not yet two and handled by a novice handler!  She is definitely talented!

Mira has made some progress as well, although I still have to check any expectations at the gate when we walk out on the field.  I think I may start using her for some of the farm chores, like rounding up the flock and putting them away so we can use the back field to train in.  Perhaps doing some real work will help build her confidence.  We’ll see.

Hannah is doing much better as well.  She did some spectacular driving the other day, and is even taking her new whistles pretty well.  Although still not consistently, and not quickly enough.  Again maybe it’s just as well we aren’t competing.  I’d have to holler her around the course, which would no doubt elicit snickers and frowns.  Not that I should care, but I’m afraid part of me does.

I’m not sure why the dogs are suddenly doing better, but I expect it has something to do with my attitude shift.  I’ve been in a better head space this week (other than today, thanks to the animal control incident) and feeling more calm about things.

Oh, one more downer from the past week: fireworks!  A few just exploded reminding me of the last four days and nights of cowering dogs.  With the exception of Mira, my dogs don’t react in thunderstorms.  But they were all getting pretty jumpy after four days of explosions, running either to me or to their crates.  Kess is the worst, which is worrisome in such a young dog.  I gave her a dose of Phosphorus last night (a homeopathic remedy that is indicated for thunderphobia) but I’m not sure it helped much.  She might need a stronger potency.  It’s a remedy that might be a good fit for her in general so I need to research it a little and see if it matches her other general symptoms and personality.

The fireworks will now continue, at least on weekends, for the rest of the summer.  This is one big drawback to where I live: in a cottage beach resort where rich city people have their weekend homes, and less-rich city people have their tralers.  I live where everyone wants to be in the summer, which means I want to leave!  I really hope that by next year I have lined up a permanent job and am able to move to a house with property – and no uppity neighbours – and be away from fireworks and partying city-dwellers.  The exceptionally early summer weather has started all of this in June this year, when it didn’t get going in earnest last summer until august.  The noise all night long has been getting to me, with people yelling and singing and letting their dogs bark and even fight, even at 4am.  It’s too hot to close windows so I’m sleeping with ear plugs.  That does the trick, but I’ll be glad for Labour Day, at least on that front!