Gael looking at the sheep. Some day, girl, some day.Nearly a year ago, I was 2,250 miles from home, at the U.S. National Sheepdog Finals in California, and reflecting on the year behind and the year ahead.
My run had gone poorly, but I had no regrets about going. The coming year was going to be a rebuilding year.
Jack, the dog that ran in the Finals, was retiring. Emma, my other Open dog, needed more training to be competitive. I hoped to get Niki, my 4-year-old, progressing and completing courses; and Gael, my 1-year-old, was just starting her sheepdog journey. Maybe, by the fall of 2019, she'd be ready to start trialing in the nursery classes.
In sheepdog trialing and in life, things don't always go as planned.
Which explains why I've taken up jogging.
Gael, sweet Gael, broke her femur and tore her ACL during play time. (She plays hard).
She had surgery to repair the femur in late November. In mid-February, she had TPLO surgery to repair the knee.
By March, when she was supposed to start walking on the leg, she'd become quite adept at running on three legs, and the muscle mass in that leg was gone.
Border collies are clever and practical. Why use that leg when it was easier and faster to run on three?
And so the walking began.
At first, it was slower than an amble. I'd stop when she picked up and held her bad leg, and only go forward when she used it.
Eventually we picked up the pace, from 1 mph, to 2 mph, to 3 mph. But she only used that leg when on leash.
In June, when the summer temperatures were really heating up and the humidity was rising, we went to a canine physical therapist.
"You need to start jogging with her," she said. Just jog for 30 seconds and walk for a minute.
And so I did. I started slow and slowed more when she picked up and held that leg or tried to lope.
Border collies are clever and practical.
Gael was tired of being crated and walking slowly. She wanted to go.
She started putting that leg down and trotting. And, she's trotting faster and faster.
The heat hasn't subsided, and neither has the humidity. But I'm keeping up.
Maybe, just maybe, she'll return to working sheep by late fall.
Gael and Bubba on the evening dog walk.