Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #280

December 21, 2013: Winter Solstice, 2013

The winter solstice is (as I see it) the beginning of the New Year, which is the time when there is a turnaround, darkness to light. In my mind, it is the best day of the year. I try to make all solstices memorable. The odd thing is, I have no memories of any of them. This could be because it’s not a day in which I exchange holiday presents with anyone, or go anyplace special. However, I might remember today’s solstice. If not, I’ll have at least made note of it in this dispatch.

The day began with Pete and me taking Signy and Hrimmi for a walk on the trails, in the freshly fallen snow. Rainbow

and Ryder came along. Jenna started out with us, but then she went back home. It was most fun watching Ryder and Hrimmi interact. No surprise, both are quite young, even close in age. Hrimmi is almost a year-and-a-half, and Ryder is almost a year. And being young, they both enjoy running around in the snow. Ryder is now figuring out how to herd. Several times she chased Hrimmi back to where Signy was. And Hrimmi, she doesn’t have the herding gene, but several times she chased Ryder for the fun of it.

We next went to herding class – class #6. By now it was snowing and raining, with more emphasis on the latter. Steger mukluks – they work best in cold, dry weather. As cold as my feet became, it brought me great joy in seeing how well Ryder was doing. She did just fine with Pete – he said that she was a bit nippy at first, but then got over this. I had time to think about what I was going to do prior to going into the pen. I decided to go around the inside of the enclosure, and do two sets of figure-eight. I’d not previously have a plan. Instead, I went into the arena and stumbled around, going here, there, or elsewhere. This tim, I focused on staying out in front of the sheep, which were in front of Ryder. I also had the bop stick. I did make her back off the sheep a few times. Ryder knew what to do. A few times, like when we were near the deeper snow, the sheep halted and would not move. And Ryder stood frozen in time with them. I got Ryder going by getting behind her and shooshing her and the sheep. This worked.

We went around the enclosure twice, and then we put the sheep back in the corner near the outer gate. Ryder then lay down behind them. I didn’t understand that I might also get her to move the sheep back out into the open area. It was just as well. I sensed that it was a good idea to quit while we were ahead.

Next, another student, working with her dog Addy, tried to move the sheep out of the corner. This worked. The dog, now more enthused, moved the doggies out into the enclosure. This was good for me to see – the next time, I’ll draw upon this example in working with Ryder.

Lastly, Pete and I went to a search and rescue solstice get-together out at Meadow Lakes. I do not like large gatherings. But I felt as though I should go to this one because I am serious about working with the K-9 unit people. At first it was awful – my conversation starters just seemed to hang in the air like dead fish. It didn’t help that I have a nasty scratch on my face (sign of an overly enthusiastic greeting from Ryder), or that I badly need a haircut. But finally, enough people warmed up to me so that I felt like I could stay put. The evening culminated with a solstice bonfire. We brought Ryder over to the fire and introduced her to people. Thank dog she’s friendly.

So this was my unforgettable solstice.

Next: 281:12/22/13: Time to Motivate