Life before SDT
It is hard to remember what life was like before the SDT (Sheepdog Training) bug had bitten me.
I think I actually had time to do things like wash the kitchen floor, sit down and read, (I mean books other than sheepdog books), socialise with non sheepdog people, and even enjoy a day’s shopping without having to rush home to feed the pups, run the dogs or whatever.
My non SDT friends rapidly got bored with me. I am sure I could here them whisper as I approached, "here comes Nan, dont mention sheepdogs for goodness sakes".
So I try to remember things I used to talk about before SDT but fail miserably. ‘Nice day, how’s your family" is as far as I get before they usually find someone else to talk to. Oh well!
I think I vaguely remember having a fairly clean house, a weed free garden and lots of food in the fridge and freezer. Of course if I am having a clinic or fun day there is always lots of food prepared, and the house does get cleaned.
When I clean the verandah my daughter now asks, " who's coming to train dogs this time Mum’.
I have dreams of winning lotto so I could hire a housekeeper/cook/gardener, so I can spend the whole day playing with my dogs. One can dream.
I have a whole filing system on Sheepdogs, Registrations, Trialing information, Pedigrees, and lots of training info printed from the internet, which I rarely get time to read as I am usually too busy doing my SDTing.
I used to enjoy attending the Woollerama, spending hours walking around looking at all the new displays, plants, skincare etc.
Now I spend the whole time simply watching the sheepdogs trials and boring my family to tears.
I spoke to an acquaintance (Non SDT) who said they had a bit of a look at the trialing in the morning and when they came back in the afternoon they said (sounding incredulous) it was still going on!
Perhaps they thought it was still the same dog and handler, or we do different things.
My husband has a friend who is a mad hunter. He runs hunting holidays for rich Americans who love to kill big buffalo and take the horns home as a trophy. (How boring)
Anyway he has added the Initials PH after his name. (Professional Hunter).
Should we all be able to put SDT after our name perhaps. Some of us could call themselves PSDT, (professional) myself excluded off course. Hopefully no-one would get the initials mixed up and put STD, heaven forbid, but it would certainly be a conversation starter.
We could have LSTD for learners or perhaps OSTD for older trainers. I would fit that category better but it seems there are plenty of trainers a lot older than me. It seems that it takes so long to be any good at this that you will inevitably be old by then. I think I will need a walking frame by the time I get even a bit proficient. Still that is the challenge to STD; so I keep telling myself.
My husband complains that I never clean the car, I mean why bother. In summer its gets dusty and in winter it gets muddy. As for the inside, well I like to keep lots of dog stuff in it. If I cant borrow his ute I need to put my dogs in the back of the wagon and so need to keep dog leads in there, and water and bowls and old towels and training sticks etc. Now if he would buy me a ute there would be no problem. One can only try. (And nag)
I forget to fill in school forms for my daughter but rarely forget to complete a trial entry, I mean priorities first.
If family want to visit, they had better choose a weekend where there are no trials, training days or general training get-togethers. Otherwise they will have to re-schedule, once again priorities.
Whenever I buy clothes, I ask myself, can it be worn while I am SDTing.
As for holidays, I mean who really needs them anyway. I simply can’t leave all my dogs, who will keep up their training?
I wear my dog whistle like a decoration hoping someone will ask what it is so I can talk about SDTing. If they do ask they usually wish they hadn't, and then they avoid me in future.
I live through fits of depression, as one of my dogs hits a bad patch in their training and things go from bad to worse. ‘I've ruined my dog" I wail to anyone that will listen, ‘I’m a hopeless trainer, I’m going to give up’.
Then things get better, he starts to improve and I am happy again. ‘Well I knew it was just a little hiccup’ I say. ‘I knew I would sort it out in the end’, telling everyone over and over how I did it, as if I am the only one who may have thought of a solution.
I spend more time working on dog kennels than I ever did fixing up the house. Doing extensions, getting fresh straw for them, filling in holes where they have been digging, adding a bit more shadecloth for shade or raising the fences if a dog has suddenly learned how to jump high. And moving dogs around all the time if they don’t seem happy, or are annoying each other. As long as the dogs are happy I am happy.
And then there’s the puppies. It is so easy to collect them. You never know, this could be the champion I am waiting for, so you keep one or two out of every litter, just in case, and the odd one from elsewhere. It is so exciting when they start working until we stuff them up with bad timing, too much pressure or too little, or just by trying to turn them into something they will never be.
Then there is trialing. Oh the humiliation! As a friend said, we could all be sitting on the beach having a nice drink and relaxing, instead of out here on the trial ground suffering through yet another prematurely ended trial, where our dogs have crossed, or put another one over the fence, or worse; refused to listen at all so we have to race down the ground and try and catch them. We like to call it character building, which sounds better than getting humiliated yet again.
But with all the bad times and the lows, there are the highs. When your dogs does a sensational trial or a brilliant piece of work or he has given his all for you on the farm. This is what makes it all worth while.
I don’t think I could go back to a ‘normal’ life again. It just all sounds too boring.