Did you note the plural, “winners”? So many great stories came in that we struggled to choose a winner. (Such a difficult chore, poor us!) We ended up awarding the prize to two stories, both very different ones, but equally deserving. These stories are perfect examples of ‘the laugh is on me,” provided lots of new laughs and were beautifully written. Story winners, Amy W and Katie N should contact Katie here at the office at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her what autographed book you’d like us to send. The books come with sincere gratitude for the great laughs, and the obvious love that comes with it.
AMY W’s STORY: Over the years I have inadvertently thrown those Kong-with-a-rope toys into dozens of trees. So the feeling of despair I felt as Axle and I stood staring at his beloved orange Kong suspended far out of reach, its bright yellow rope wrapped around a tree branch wasn’t a new one. That summer alone I had managed to get Kongs stuck in trees in three separate locations simultaneously. “Shoot (only I didn’t say shoot)! Axle, I’m sorry.” Ignoring me, Axle reared up on his hind legs trying to grab his toy. Coming to the realization the Kong was out of reach; he turned squarely toward me and gave me a ‘do something’ look.
I scoured the ground for a weighty stick, and began hurling it in the air at the Kong hoping to knock it loose. Unfortunately, my aim was awful, but you already knew that. On the bright side, Axle happily chased down my errant throws, returning the stick to me for another try. Many attempts later I was out of breath and still Kong-less, so I abandoned this plan for what can only be described as a series of increasingly desperate and bad ideas.
Because of situations just like this, I carried a back-up Kong. And so, without much forethought, I pulled the back-up Kong out of my pocket, aimed for the treed Kong and launched it, hoping to knock the first Kong to the ground. Missed. “Almost Ax. Drop…(nothing). Hey – DROP IT please.” Reluctantly the toy slid out of his mouth and fell to the ground. “Thank you sir.” “Mmmmmmhmpf!” Close, one more time. “Mmmmmmmhmpf!” Again. “Mmmmmmmmhmpf!” Crap! (Only I wasn’t thinking crap) I can’t believe I just did that. And now to Axle’s bewilderment both of his treasured toys were entangled in the tree top. I would NOT have blamed him if he would have bitten me, or taken off his collar and run away in hopes of finding a new home.
In an even more ludicrously rash decision, I decided to unleash my inner cowgirl by attempting to lasso the tree branch. My plan was to lasso the branch with the dog leash and pull it close enough to me to grab the Kongs. So with all my roping training (and by that I mean, I’ve seen it done on TV), I whirled the leash over my head a couple of times and let it go. Here’s a key thing to remember when lassoing: one must keep hold of the other end of the leash. I did not. So there I stood staring up at both Kongs and Axle’s leash tangled in the tree branches, stunned by my own stupidity. ‘I really hope no one comes down this trail; I’m not sure how I’ll be able to explain this.’
At this point the smart thing to do would have been to go home, but I flouted over that choice and opted to climb the tree. (I promise I had not been drinking, but it certainly would have been a better explanation of the circumstances if I had been.) I slipped my foot into a lower branch/trunk junction and grabbed for upper branches with my hands. “Ouch!” Thorns! I was attempting to climb a Honeylocust covered in 2-3 inch thorns. How did I miss all these thorns? Now bleeding in a stigmata-like fashion, I was ready to admit defeat. “I’m sorry Ax, I can’t get them. Let’s go home.”
I trudged down the trail toward the car while Axle fell increasing behind, as he was not willing to leave his toys. “Axle, let’s go home.” As he begrudgingly joined me, I saw a large tree limb on the side of the trail. Grabbing the end, I turned and drug the limb toward the tree holding our things hostage, while Axle practically skipped with joy as we headed back to get his toys. I hoisted the branch up and clumsily whacked at the tree branches. Several smacks later, both Kongs and the leash were on the ground. Axle dashed to gather both toys in his mouth, no doubt wanting to keep them safe from me.
Happily Axle trotted to car with a Kong hanging from either side of his mouth. And, I used the walk back to the car as a time to give thanks for not having to explain to anyone why the leash was stuck in the tree.
Thanks Amy, your story is funny enough, but you are a great writer. I’ve read this story five times now and laugh equally hard every time I read it.
KATIE N’s STORY: The 2013 Collie Club of America nationals show was coming back to the Midwest after five years in other locations that we could not attend. My two collies and I practiced for months and sent off our agility and obedience trial entries with great hopes. Dillon, the 8 year old, was tuned up and ready to go and he showed it with several excellent agility runs.
On the morning of the obedience trials, we arrived fresh and ready for the open obedience challenges. Several excellent obedience competitors were in front of us, with controlled, near perfect work. Now Dillon is a large, sable and white, rough coat and everyone notices him come into the ring. He is happy and upbeat and completed the heeling exercises on cruise control. A nice, polite audience watches us.
My heart is happy as I set him up for drop on recall. The judge instructed me and I walked to the other end of the ring. As I turned to look for the judge’s signal, I could see Dillon rocking forward into his agility take-off crouch, just waiting for the release command. My eyes get big as I realize he thinks it’s agility and he gets to run with mom and this judge doesn’t know how fast he is going to come at me!
And run he does. By the time the judge reacts and signals the drop, Dillon is on his belly sliding into my feet in a perfect drop. There we are, toes to toes with chuckles from the sidelines. The judge rolls his eyes and signals us to finish. Dillon looks up at me with the happiest sappy grin on his face. “This is fun; what’s next?” Then the gate steward hands me the dumbbell.
I give Dillon a strong, solid “stay” and throw. The judge signals the retrieve and I send Dillon, who doesn’t move! Huh? As I am looking down considering to resend him, he suddenly shoots from my side, barking and grabs the dumbbell. He spins in the air on his rear legs and throws back his head to position it deeper in his mouth and it flies out of his mouth, over his head.
He is now racing back and sits perfectly in front of me. Then without missing a beat, he realizes he has no dumbbell to present and jumps up goes back and gets it and returns into a perfect finish. The sidelines and the judge are now laughing out loud at my happy collie and he is spinning around me and taking bows.
We go to the retrieve over high jump and I just close my eyes in embarrassment and throw on the judges command. As I peek out of one eye, Dillon without waiting for my command, clears the jump in two bounds, retrieves the dumbbell, takes a lap around the judge and comes back over the jump. Another perfect sit and finish. Now the sidelines are laughing and cheering for him. He is dancing in joy.
With a red face and in a hot sweat, I place him in front of the broad jump. I’m not sure why I am going on with this event, but dumb momentum carries me forward. I walk to my position, look at the judge, repeating in my head, “don’t look at Dillon and maybe he’ll wait for my command.” No chance. As I stop moving, he is off like a shot, over the broad jump and into a perfect front and finish. Everyone applauds and laughs and he is racing around sure he is the best collie ever.
I look at the judge red-faced and say “I hope we get at least one point for enthusiasm.” That dear wonderful man, takes my arm and whispers: “He’s the most awesome dog I’ve ever seen in the obedience ring.”
Thankfully in four years when Collie Club of America nationals returns to our area, everyone will have forgotten but me. I remember ever agility run, every obedience finish and treasure every minute with this big-hearted happy collie.
Thank you Katie: You perfectly captured the essence of an experience that every single one of us has had with our dog (faces getting hotter and redder by the second), but the sweet ending of this story made my heart all big and my eyes get gooshy. (I hereby pronounce “gooshy” to be a word.)
One quick unrelated note before I write about the farm: I should mention to blog readers that, in celebration of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, we’re offering a 2 day, 40% off sale on Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home. This book tells you everything you need to know about adopting an adolescent or adult dog. If you’re not able to adopt right now, consider donating books to your local shelter or humane society to help increase their successful adoption rate.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Life is pretty much all about getting ready for winter and getting ready for our big trip to England, Wales, and Germany. And cleaning up the mouse droppings in the cabinet, and the unidentified life form in the back of the refrigerator. You know how it goes. . . We spent Sunday afternoon training the farm sitter, a truly lovely guy who Willie and Tootsie already adore. But no sheep work for Willie for almost three weeks. Ouch, and then we come back to deer hunting season, when it’s not particularly wise to be standing on the top of the ridge behind our house. Of course, there might be two feet of snow on the ground when we get back, who knows! It certainly is the end of fall; almost all the color is gone now and it is beginning to look a bit washed out. I don’t mind the dark too much (although it does get claustrophobic in the evenings after a while, and I don’t mind the cold that much, but oh! How I miss the color! I’ll make up for it by eating lots of colorful food and playing with photographs from summer.
Speaking of photographs and color, here is the last smidgeons of color that I could find in the yard this morning, the only Maidenhair fern not affected by the frost and the berries remaining from the Solomen’s Seal highlighted by some hardy salvia blossoms.