IMG_0572I love my dog. She loves me. Its pretty clear to me that she has more than an average affection to me. Its part of our bond, our chemistry. Its part of our, do I dare say, “magic”?  If I had to put together a list of the things that I love about any particular dog, or a list of things that I really need to be successful with them (and I’m defining “success” in a pretty broad way from working to trialling to coexisting with them) I’d have to say that there’s that one thing that isn’t really definable, except to say that they have a sparkle to them. To me, its what sets a dog apart from being a “good” dog, and a “winner” to being a “good dog and a winner”.

I’ve run dogs in the past that some might call winners, and I’ve run dogs that were good dogs but didn’t win much, like my first dog Jim. He was tough as nails, gorgeous, useful on any level… except he was a pretty bad trial dog. IMG_0616

And I’ve been privileged to run dogs that were good dogs along with being winners, thank you Heidi. She could do most any job and then head to the trial with no fine tuning and come out on top. She had the sparkle, that extra something that made us work together in a way that meant she was one of the few dogs that I felt confident that I could be competitive wherever I went. I’m not trying to brag necessarily, but that should’t suggest that I’m not. I’m proud of what we did together and I’m even prouder of her for everything that she gave me and taught me. Thank you Heidi. img_8866-2

These dogs have shaped me and helped get me where I am now. I still have a long ways to go but I can’t help myself, at a time like now, from looking back at my past and think about this journey with them and be grateful. Its pretty cool.

The one thing that all of these dogs have in common was their desire to be everything I wanted them to be. We weren’t always successful. I mean if you had seen me running in my first trial with Jim you’d have probably guessed I’d be out of it by the end of the weekend. If I remember right he went out, cut in on his outrun, chased the sheep down the field (WILD western range ewes) and ran them through the cattle panels into the small crowd… yeah it wasn’t my shining moment. But I will say that he was trying. OR at least thats how I prefer to remember it. And then there were those moments that will forever be etched in the stone of my memory as that life changing time that will never be forgotten. Meeker in 2006 is one of those times. It was one of Heidi’s last trials and she, without a doubt, showed the masses why I loved her so much. I wont go into detail here and now. BUT! If you’d like me to write about that story then please leave comments, tweet me (@derekjohnfisher) leave comments on the Facebook posts or find a way to contact me. Its a story I’m proud of but I feel like I tell it a lot.

The point to all of this is that each step of the way is as valuable as the rest. We come out on top one moment and we are at the bottom of the heap the next. But what is valuable isn’t your placing. Its what you do with it. If I had let my first moment in sheepdog trials stifle my ambition then I never would have known the joy of getting a standing ovation at Meeker. And if I had never gotten past that moment then I’d be that bitter old man trying desperately to hold onto my one shining moment, instead of going out and working to create more.

This is a journey that I am pretty happy to be on with some pretty incredible partners. I’ve been blessed in that way. They weren’t always good dogs and they weren’t always winners but they were always valuable teachers to me. I’m having a really fun time reflecting on that right now.

If you’d like to contribute to my goals of getting to the Netherlands in a couple weeks to compete at the World Sheepdog Trials then click this link GET DEREK TO THE NETHERLANDS

Thank you all for reading my ramblings. Much love to you all!


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