Saying Goodbye

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Sooner or later, it seems like a lot of life turns out to be about goodbyes.

It's very late. I don't want to go to bed. Tonight I'm saying goodbye to Ripley.

All of us who share our lives closely with dogs have experienced this. We all know that they will be leaving us far, far before we are ready to let them go. The longer they are with us, the more we must realize that they won't be staying much longer ... and the bigger the empty space they'll leave behind becomes.

Ripley. Just a year ago, she and I were on a wonderful roll on the trial fields. With her I first experienced that harmonious groove where, for some moments, it felt as if she, the sheep and I were all happily following the same upbeat script. That's rare, for me anyway. She is the dog who led me to understand exactly what it is that I am striving for during all the hours of working together with a dog, and especially when I walk with my dog by my side to the post. She helped me start to become a real handler.

Ripley loved to trial, and she was not interested in training. To be honest, she preferred not to do chores. She was, in fact, a "sport dog." The concept has been soundly disparaged among many in our little community of sheepdog folks, but evidently Ripley wasn't aware of this. She wanted to go, in the truck, to a sheepdog trial. When she got there, she'd look for the post and if I let her, she'd bound right up to it, adrenaline sparking. That was her thing. She had game.

She still does want to go in the truck, but today she's not able to get herself into it. She's been so sorry to be left behind.

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Brynn

Brynn-palm cottage farmBrynn is the other member of my Open team. Brynn came to me last year thanks to our dear and so sadly departed friend, Al Zuppan. I had sold Brynn to him as a baby puppy. She was one of a very successful cross; out of my old Jill and by Don Helsley's famous Cap.

Brynn came to me extremely trained, but quite green to trialing. She and I bonded immediately, but emulating Al's whistles has proved to be an ongoing challenge for me. Al did not use a mechanical whistle ... he did not use his fingers either. He just used his mouth. That is not a sound that is easy to duplicate. Anyway, Brynn is willing to overlook my faux pas in the whistling department and she is an incomparable team player.

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Tucker

Tucker-palm cottage farmTucker just turned four years old, and he's been running in Open for one year. Though he still has a bit to learn, he is a very talented and enjoyable dog to run and to share life with.

Out of Bill Cease's really grand bitch, Millie, and by Bill Orr's well known and accomplished Boone, Tucker shares many qualities of both his parents.

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