We had a Swiss classic, Rosti, for supper, something to do with the great divide between the Swiss Francais and the Deutch. The Gerbers, were wonderful hosts, with their cute smart kids, Martina and Sylvan. I seem lucky that way. I don’t know why it is.
Very early this morning, Daniella took us halfway to Zurich, and Stephanie picked us up, with Alsidair Lyttle, for the final push to the airport. We had an unremarkable flight to Ireland, but the weather in Ireland is remarkable–the coldest November on record. These last couple of days have set new record lows for the dates at minus seven when we arrived in Dublin and snow everywhere, just like Switzerland. The drive down to Wexford was taxing, since the snow removal is not the most happening and why would it be? They hardly every have snow.
I have booked a hotel at the airport, me and Bev’s new bitch O’Dinn. I am bringing her home to Bev. I love Bev. The forecast is for more snow which will cripple the traffic here and I thought I would give myself the whole day to get to Dublin—my flight leaves at six Wednesday morning.
I am really looking forward to getting home to my beautiful dogs. But I am going to straighten up their pet passports so I can make a break for the UK sometime and go dog running, and maybe even on the continent.
Until yesterday. I have been a tourist. Maree and I took a trip to Berne with Sandra Huebli at the wheel. Maree likes hardware sorts of stores and I was hunting for a music box that played a Debussy tune. Frank was busy doing clinics all day every day. We met him in the evening wherever he was, with highly enjoyable peeks at Swiss living in the Emmanthaler (named for the great cheese). The first night we went to Carol Staehelin’s who had hosted the day’s clinic. There were some enthusiastic dog hands who ate a scrumptious Swiss meal, with potatoes done two ways for the Irish among us. Next day, Sandra drove us to Interlochen, for a real tourist day out, although too much cloud cover obscured the spectacular Alps from view. Sandra’s son is a full-blown chef in a hip village, not too far away and we all enjoyed a Swiss dining experience, Maree learning to make spaetzle.
Next day, Maree and I trained to Lausanne, my old school stomping ground, for Thursday. We bummed around. There wasn’t much to remind of my school days.
Yesterday I clerked for Frank at the trial, which was much more interesting . The hands were mostly from Italy and Switzerland, with a few Germans, Dutch, and Belgians. The scores were low. The course was big and snowy. The sheep were mixed breeds. Most ran out of time on the crossdrive, Only two or three finished. I missed Serge van deer Sweep’s winning run this morning as I was shopping for some new Wellingtons in nearby Lyss. He scored 96.
Everyone is so kind, and last night was no exception. We had another great repast at the home of Ruedi and Elizabeth Siegenthaler. They have inventive solar/wood heat systems that I covet.
A new trial started this afternoon. We have already seem a good run by the new continental champion, Urs imhof and his bitch Ela vom Bettmerhorn, with a 92. A Swiss. The trial continues tomorrow.
Here’s a video illustrating the colorful language of Italian dog handling.
I am in Switzerland.
I overdosed on chocolate from a well-appointed confiserie at the airport. We were picked up at the airport by Danielle Gerber. I am not sure what the country was like through which we drove, since it was cloudy and dark and I fell asleep. It took a couple of hours to get to Heinz and Madeleine Stucki’s House to deliver a Gyp pup from Ireland. They had a beautiful house, timberframe, and fabulous smells coming out of the kitchen. Heinz spoke no English. Danielle is fluent, and Madeline spoke English, and I even tried French, which went surprisingly well. We had a great dinner, scalloped potatoes, cabbage with apples, delicious stew and–this was great–stewed chestnuts. We are headed back to Danielle’s and bed. Danielle has a mate to Bev Lambert’s new Irish bitch. Can’t wait to see her.
Editor’s Note: Bev Lambert has just purchased a new bitch from Ireland on the recommendation of her suicidal friend Amanda. Let it never be said that Amanda doesn’t go out of her way to help her competition beat her!
I would like to send pictures but the only place to unload them has dial up. Maybe they will have high speed in Switzerland and i can download a lot.
Frank took out all the dogs. His daughter Clare ran the beautiful Gyp and made music. Frank has lots of young dogs. I am happy to say that Don went left and right and stopped a few timed at twelve. When I come back, he will be a real dog. Toddy’s Sweep is a justifiably popular sire in this neck of the woods Good way with sheep, great outrunners and very biddable. Tomorrow I am judging a trial at Toddy Lamb’s.
The trial at Toddy’s was run on lambs. They were a little sulky and surprisingly panel shy. The cold rainy weather could not have helped their dampened spirits. The out run was about two hundred yards. The drive was two or three hundred yards. There was a split before the pen. The Irish structure their nurseries in two tiers, “A”and “B” dogs. The “A” dogs are the real juniors and when they place in the top three, must move up to the “B” class, where a shed is required. In addition there is a beginners class, much like our novice class, with one drive panel and back to the pen. Nursery dogs must be three years or younger by January 1st. Some of them were very good and capable of running Open. In fact some of them have run Open, and since they can run agewise in Nursery, they do. Kinda good insofar as they get a bit more experience in the off season, leading up to full on Open trials.
I judged the B class. There were a some great young dogs. Ned O’Keefe ran the winner in my class, Tess. His twelve-year-old son ran the same bitch in the beginner class for a smashing run. He was a spectacular combination of tiny and capable. I have never seen a little kid run like that. He was good. Toddy Lamb won the “A” class with Dusty, a dog he trains for Joe Ryan. I was very taken with bitch named Purdy, of all names, a small spirited black one. She ran well around the course under the direction of Martin Welsh and then they distinguished themselves spotting sheep under the trying circumstances of the beginner class. She drew a smile from more than one spectator. The trials were a lot like ours, with all the usual suspects doing all the same shenanigans only with an Irish sound. I got really cold, despite my best efforts to stay warm and the Rayburn looked very compelling, at the end of the day.
Last night, Maree had a spa night at the health place in Wexford. We
needed it. Today we continued with the purge but between lots, I took out Frank’s young Don and just got him to get behind his sheep a few times and
then put him away. Yesterday we took him to Toddy’s to take advantage
of his round pen, which only confused young Don. Toddy has a gang of
quieter sheep, which made easier for me. I always forget, from one
young dog to the next, how much running around there is at the
beginning–chaos, until you get a bit of order bestowed upon the job.
Maree and I took off in the afternoon for a couple of real errands and
then looked at the dogs at Ned O’Keeffe’s, at New Ross. He had a great
looking bitch just turned two, who already had won an open trial. I
have alerted my friend who is interested and we will see if it comes
together. I really went to look at a young dog, eight months old, but
he was just a bit too young for me. I need something ready to train
and this one was a galavanting young pup. The scenery on the way there was spectacular.
Maree had to get some big cattle sheds ready to house her cows for the winter we dug them out, pressure washed, and white washed the final one.
Yesterday we went to Wexford in the afternoon on routine errands which were interesting because everything in the seaside view was new. I used Frank’s young bitch, Fly for moving sheep. She was great outside of our language barrier: she is on “keep left” and “go right”; I am on “away” and “come bye.” But she was exceptional at moving between the pen wall and the sheep.
Today we loaded the lambs we sorted yesterday for the auction mart at Eniscorthy. Maree’s lambs topped the sale.
I tried a year-old son of Stuart Davidson’s Jim, but I’ll have to take Don to Toddy Lamb’s round pen tomorrow for a few minutes so that he can get the hang of things a little better. Me on one side, him on the other.
I shoveled this morning instead of going to the gym. Maree and I first walked around her sheep, in their various breeding groups. The sun set off the farm’s picturesque contours and even the cattle looked like an illustration from a get-acquainted-with-Ireland book
Maree used Frank’s very capable Gyp for her count gathers. She had an enjoyable way of second-guessing the next job.
When we finished, we went to the Irish sea side–17 miles of beach. They gallop horses there for fitting them up. Toddy Lamb lives only a couple of miles from the Cashens. A concentrated population of world-class dog hands. He ran his current roster of spectacular dogs. All were sired by his Sweep dog, although it was Craig with whom he became the dog rock star, winning the International. His timing, now that is something. It would make him a great trainer, which he is.
He worked on a couple of young ones and then cut loose a great-looking Michael Gallagher Cap pup, only fifteen weeks old, and flanking, albeit on his own, a lot like his sophisticated old man. The dog restoring law and order was the famous red one, Craig, looking good at age ten and half
First Day in Ireland
What great idea to connect in Paris, where I got a supply of favourite lipstick at Yves ST Laurent. Number 41.
Maree and Frank snagged me at Dublin and up north we drove to Ballykelly, where the Irish guys were whooping it up a the Drummond saloon. The dinner was great. the dancing good. Maree did an Irish Country dance. I sat with the southerners who had travelled so far. Art McWhiinney was there asking after his American amigos. Everyone understood why they were there, to fete the magic moment of dogdom that put their countryman, Michael Gallagher and his dog Cap, at the top of the International Supreme.
Today we are looking at youngsters at his place and then back down south.
Michael Gallagher and his dad, Aiden showed us the dogs today. Some where sired by Aiden’s good Bill who placed well at the last World Trial and some were sired by the great Cap. I liked the ones that were not for sale. Then Michael showed us some breathtaking beauty with his fabulous Cap, on fifty Scottish blackface lambs, taking them around the field in the perfect light to showcase his pace, his measured way with his sheep. He kept coming and pulled up handily on command, worthy of all his fame and celebration and then some. Gorgeous. The most remarkable feature of the pair was their mutual respect, Michael happy to let the dog work, Cap delighted to be handled by Michael. What a pair. Michael also ran a Nursery bitch, also a beauty. His smart handling is moving from dog to dog. Easy to admire.
Aiden, Michael and his uncle Shaemus accounted for four of the dogs on the Ireland’s last team. The setting for their training might account for some of their family domination–a beautiful hill above their farm where they graze sheep and run dogs.
That was on the Northern end of Northern Ireland, Ardmoy, near Ballymoney, we then headed south to Cough, where Tommy John Doris, dairy farmer/dog man, showed us some youngsters by Cap. I wanted one but he could not decide to sell. But he was thinking about it. So maybe he will be my dog. Ben Doris–Dory’s new boyfriend Our trip home from there was difficult, in a fog on back roads with frustrating signage. I was so lucky to have the Cashens at the wheel of the car. I would have caved and taken refuge anywhere. Or crashed into an oncoming car, driving on the wrong side of the road. Peckish travellers dined en route.
We stopped at Maree’s aunt Breda’s home in Gorey and then slipped home, at midnight. One end of Ireland to the other is a long ride.