Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lie Down! Dammit!

I'm so glad to know that "grammar rules" in herd-dog competitions.  Too many dogs in this world have been grammatically confused all these years after being told to "Lay down."  No wonder they're sometimes disobedient. 

They're probably fully aware that their owner has given them an improper command, and they find it difficult to comply.  But being dogs and aiming to please their best friends, they begrudgingly hit the ground.  

I was glad to see and hear correct grammar in action at yesterday's herding competition at the Bonner County Fair.  I told my friend Robin how happy it makes this English teacher to hear the language used correctly, even if it is with a dog.  

We heard correct grammar a lot as Border Collies and Aussies showed their talents in moving three sheep through obstacles and eventually into a stock trailer.  Well, the sheep didn't all make it to the trailer in every round, but they spent a lot of time making their way around the outdoor arena with a dog owner and dog trying to guide them.

I made one observation yesterday.  The sheep have the better end of the deal.  They just have to do what sheep do:  follow.  

There's a lot of yelling going on with the dogs, however.  

Of course, this may have been because most of the herding we watched involved the novice herders.  And, novice dogs, no matter how smart they are, still need a little guidance on when to chase, when not to nip (that would be never)  and when to hold back so the sheep don't get too nervous.

We heard the correct grammatical term "Lie Down!" dozens of times yesterday.  We never did hear "Dammit" tacked on at the end, but my friend Robin told me that the term does slip into a shepherd's vocabulary at times when the dog fails to perform properly.

We also heard "Lie Down" uttered in numerous tones during our stay at the competition, even to the point of "I SAID 'LIE DOWN!'"  Apparently some of the dogs were hard of hearing, so their owners felt the need for emphatic reminders.  

Well, we had such a good time watching the folks compete with their dogs, that we turned from spectators into participants last night while bringing the horses up from pasture.  Instead of the usual, "Let's go!  Let's go! Let's go!"  Willie and Debbie demonstrated some good grammar on Todd and Brooke.

I'm sure Todd and Brooke wondered, "What the heck?" as they suddenly found themselves in reverse mode.  Just as they left the starting blocks to GO! GO! GO! they were deluged with "LIE DOWN!"  To say they were a bit confused would be an understatement.

All they wanted to do was go down there and get horses, and they probably wondered,  "How can you go get horses if you have to lie down all the time?"

Poor Todd and Brooke.  They had not attended the herding competition, so they had no idea why their parents had suddenly gone ballistic on them, barraging them with this emphatic command.

They did their best, though, but it was still hard for them to concentrate cuz horses were waiting at the gate, and they had important work to do AND Border Collies are not usually known to lie down on the job.

Of course, after Todd and Brooke dealt with all the confusion, I tested Kiwi's remembrances of all those commands from her obedience training. 

Like the star pupil she loves to be, Kiwi put on a clinic for the younger dogs, executing every command with precision and pride.  She aims to please, just like her siblings at yesterday's competition.

I think we all came away, inspired, and, no, we didn't turn our Border Collie crew into champions during last night's crash course along the horse lane, but we may just have to go up there to McNalls and learn a few tips from Robin in hopes of competing at next year's event.  

And, I highly approve of this competition because of the correct grammar.  I also like herding-dog contests, because unlike a lot of other competitions, the dogs do "well" instead of "good."  And,  that is good!

In other news, Bill has just left with the new-old motorhome, bound for Les Schwab to get two new batteries installed.  And, I'm sitting here beside the telephone, just in case he calls.

It's very possible that he might end up alongside the road, having to yell, "LET'S GO! LET'S GO! LET'S GO!"

Could be an interesting Saturday, if you know our motorhome. 

Have a good one. 

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