Dog School Weekend

These last few weeks have been head down and bottom up with me writing very, very hard. There have been early mornings and long days at the computer with lots of cups of Earl Grey provided by H, while late afternoons are filled with “kid runs” to dancing, swimming, netball and myriad of other pressing motherly and farming chores. And cooking. Yes, there is always baking to be done!

I took some time on a recent weekend though, to attend a working dog school with my beautiful kelpie girl, Ange. The kids went off with their Grandfather to sand walls of the “new” local community hall (thrilled they were ... not), and H was away working, so I packed up my Dad’s beautiful new Ranger ute and disappeared into the nether regions of Wandin Yallock. (The ute had Bluetooth – OMG Podcasts! Aren’t they just the best?!)

On Saturday it was a 3.45am start to get to Wandin by 8am (Richard Fidler speaking with Kate Grenville and then Kate Forsyth got me there), the school commenced and practically didn’t stop until on dark at 6pm.

Subsequently, after a week of 5am starts on top of this one, I was a walking semi-comatose wreck at dinner that night and my swag & stretcher set up under a tarp lashed to the bull-bar of the ute, looked like a plush, feather bed at the Rialto by the time I climbed into it at 11pm. Even Ange was gazing at her hessian potato bag rug with longing and glee. (She looked after my fluffy, warm slippers. Even if you’re swagging it, a girl needs her slippers.)

Sunday saw us back out in the paddock, learning lots of things about herding sheep and cattle to the best advantage using our incredibly talented working dogs. By the time afternoon came, Ange was moving those sheep like a completely different canine, and instead of sitting on the tails of the stock (ie. “Up their clackers”), she was working out wider and shepherding with the best of them. I now have to try and get her to do this all the time, which is my challenge for the next few months. (That and buying new slippers ... :( )

What Ange was SUPPOSED to be doing...



Unfortunately, due to lack of sleep and an information overload from the superb teaching going on, when we came to the late afternoon exercise of herding three ducks, my brain had already packed up and gone home, and Ange didn’t even see the ducks preferring to focus on the milling sheep half a paddock over. Not even with me & our tutor - he and his dogs are Australian Yard Dog Champions - running around flapping our arms, pretending the ducks and us were having the best time of our lives, would she take her focus off those white, woolly interesting things half a mile away. Sigh. Ange is a single focus chick sometimes. Time to call it a day.

The long trek home ensured lots of thinking and revamping of both dog work and my current novel. How both of those things connect, I have no idea. My brain is as much of a mystery to me as it is to you but it’s incredible how when I’m stuck on a particularly tricky plot issue in my books (which I was on Friday); if I go and do something completely unrelated and my brain gets taken to the left or right, all the ducks start to line up (pardon the pun & thank goodness I’m not Ange, otherwise the sum total of my books would be NONE).

It’s crazy. It’s weird. I’m the first to admit it.

But that’s how I write and get the books done.


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