25 Things I've learned my first year trialing a sheepdog in Open (in no particular order):
1. You lose some... and you lose some.
2. One must pay their dues. Many times. It is fair.
3. It's a long way to go to just trial one dog in Open. Where? Anywhere. Anywhere is a long way to go to run just one dog.
4. Campers are good.
5. I wish I could afford one. But I gotz no money.
6. Tents suck.
7. Tents are better than nothing. They suck less than having nothing to sleep in.
8. Whistles are good. It helps to keep the whistle in your mouth.
9. Handler's dinners ROCK. It's a nice departure from PB&J. See #5
10. If I shuddup I can learn from the real handlers there.
11. Rain, in a tent, sucks. See #4
12. Your first open dog will pull lots of stunts designed for ultimate humiliation.
a. Crossing over at your feet
b. Not finding the sheep
c. Getting stuck on the exhaust
d. Blowing you off all the way down the fetch
e. Refusing flanks... and then missing the panels cuz the handler insisted *cough*
f. Looking goofy (Ok, so the long-legged Noodle cannot help this!)
13. Once you get past the point of major explosive trainwrecks but haven't yet achieved true greatness (for the most part) people don't really pay that much attention to your runs. Whew.
14. The first time you actually place in Open is worthy of a tear or two. So is the first major humiliation.
15. The first real shed at a trial, on the fly, with no points off is a very exciting moment.
16. Don't leave the post until you're called off, but temper that with an eye towards good sportsmanship and leave when you should. Learn the difference.
17. Give yourself a tiny break when you're new.
18. Tiny little personal sized porta-potties to go in tents make the tent experience suck a little less. But see #6.
19. Porta potties that spring a leak in your tent suck.
20. People put a lot of hard work, heart, and soul into putting on a trial. Be Grateful.
21. Watch your sheep.
22. Set your dog up right - and make sure the dog actually SEES the sheep before you send it.
23. Laugh a lot.
24. Trialing with friends is fun. Having no friends to hang with sucks. Get more friends. Be nice.
25. I love my dogs - and what a testament it is that we can do this together.