Tuesday, September 20, 2016


A story of one little dog
With one big spirit

     There was a big plan for this little pup way before she was ever conceived. Her Mom was one of the best female sheepdogs on the North American continent. Dorey was living in the Northeast of Canada on a quaint charming farm, and competing and winning open field trials across the continent, including the Canadian National Championship, USBCHA Nursery championship, Soldier Hollow Classic Championship, to name a few.  Zolas' father Cap was an Irish chap who was winning across the pond. He was reigning Supreme International Champion. It wasn't quite moving heaven and earth for the idea to be consummate, but close.

     Long at last the litter was delivered. A shining star stood out to stay on the farm and hopefully continue the legacy of her Dam. There was Zola. Intrepid by nature. Fearless. Bold. Inquisitive. Pacing along with the pack. A tiny shadow absorbing every experience. Part of bringing along great thinkers are to let them figure things out. Action and consequence. 

     Sadly the day came when her boldness tipped her scales into the danger zone. She didn't realize the danger of the big tractor until it was too late. The big tires caught her hind end. Zola was saved by her local veterinarian.  But the news was bleak as far as her pelvis and femur were concerned, shattered.  Stoic by nature, the tough little girl underwent repeated orthopedic surgeries. Transferred from one specialist to another to give her back her best potential for a sheepdog.  Things weren't going well. Zola might lose her leg.

      Winter was starting to roll in on the great North. Physical therapy and rehabilitation would be stifled by the ice and snow.  Zola hopped a plane to the west coast of the US. It was a dire act. But there was still a thread of hope.

      It was a blustery early January morning that we picked up Zola from the Reno airport.  After the trauma and drama, I expected a scared shivery pathetic pup coming out of the crate. That was sure not the case.  Zola is an illustration of bravery. The little bundle of black and white stepped out with the biggest smile on her face and a tail that wagged the world around her. "Hi my name is Zola!!!"  She was self confident and proud.  My heart, however, plummeted to the depths of the Comstock Lode mine shafts when I took in her shriveled contracted atrophied hind leg. Zola could not even put weight on the foot because the toes were contracted closed.

     I truly believe that Zola is a triumph of spirit.  That little package of positive bounding energy, was always the little  engine that could.  Sandra and I set forth a very intensive physical therapy regime.  We decided to moved away from surgical interventions unless we hit a brick wall.  Her pelvis was
fairly well healed - a bit narrow and elongated. But pelvis bones sturdy and non-painful.  In the storm
of surguries and advanced procedures, she had to sacrifice her hip joint. Zola would have to heal and create one on her own if she was to salvage her leg.

     It took Zola no time to learn swimming, harness walks, and rigorous range of motion excercises.  In fact she demanded it! I know we pressed her to the edge. I realize that some of the PT was uncomforable and sometimes would make her sore.  Never a whine. Never a flinch. Never a bad day! Sandra did most of the physical work. I modified and upgraded the routines, when the time was right. Zola was happy to do it! 

     We flinched as we sometimes would wonder what her future would be.  We never spoke about it. As soon as the Canadian orthopedic surgeon performed her femoral-head/neck osteotomy it was obvious that she would not be the Dorey-Cap heir apparent.  Zola had a bigger message to deliver to
those lives she touched.

     After about eight months of finding  her way. Sharing her story with everyone who crossed her path. Zola in the face of greatest adversity, would not consider quitting. Those around her watched that shriveled up contracted chicken leg grow and become stronger and stronger. Physically unable to weight bear to nearly fully weight bearing.  Smile always big, now seemed even brighter. It was time to go home.  Amanda was headed to the USBCHA national finals in Alturas, California and she would hitch a ride home.

     No one ever discussed a limitation for Zola. Truthfully the sky was her limit. As she arrived home in Kingston, ON, she took her place aside the other nursery dogs in her training. To me it seemed surreal, but to little Zola with the big smile it was no big deal.  Amanda titrate her training magnificently. In a minute or two she was running in nursery trials.  The videos were heart warming and truly amazing.  The brilliant little Zola was truly as gifted as she was destined to be. Zola knew the job and had a very nice way with the sheep.

     I am writing this blog on the way home from the 2016 USBCHA National Sheepdog trial in Carbondale, Colorado.  I have to readily admit, even though Feist and I made the Semi-Finals, my highlight is what I witnessed over on the nursery field.  Zola boldly walking to the post along side of Amanda.  It wasn't the winning run according to the judge. But boy it was the winning run in my book. Zola got around.  She lifted the heavy tough range ewes and march d them around the course.  She was kind to them and they trusted her.  She laid her heart on the line and fulfilled her destiny as a great sheepdog. Zola drove those big girls to the pen, just like she knew Amanda wanted her to do.  Zola did it using all four legs.


The spirit of the imp
Bubbling over with happiness
Seeing only the possibilities
Herculean fiber
The focus of a magnifying glass on a sunny day
Cleverness of the muse
Armor of the dragon
Undaunted courage
A sweet lesson for those
Who might listen