We have been aiming to begin introducing our Farm Friends you will meet in the Adventures of Boo. Things have been a little hectic lately to say the least!
We have a lot of friends at the Farm. It was difficult to decide who to introduce first. I told Mom it only makes sense that it be our first friend at the Farm, Miss Barb.
Miss Barb is one of my favorite people in the whole world – I wriggle extra hard when I see her! She is worriesome a lot over things and people because she is kind. She is also very funny! Mom says there are four people in the world who, if she could have, she would have picked to be her Mom. Miss Barb is one of them.
Our first day at the Farm it was very busy and back then it was also really the day for the “advanced” handlers and dogs though Mondays were the only day we could come so Mr. Mike told us it was okay.
We were so nervous and I was still very crazy so we sat by ourselves away from everyone. I was different then than I am now and Mom was always worried about how disruptive I was and how it affected other people and dogs. Though she knew I wanted so badly to live in the big, wide world out there. Our immediate connection five months earlier was the catalyst to push her out of her comfort zone to help me ground and figure me out.
Miss Barb saw us outliers and introduced herself and met me (I promptly chewed on her hand and pulled on her shirt!) and with her was Riley. Riley was my very first dog friend and I loved him so much. Before Liam, it was Riley who would keep me calm and let me lie next to him. Riley never cared that I was different. He let me suck on his lip, scratch his chin or hold his face with my front paws while I lay upside down between his front legs and be myself. He would share his calm energy with me and help me focus on him and not be distracted.
Mom and Dad used to call Riley the “Surfer Herder” because he was one mellow dude. He had this calm outrun where he would disappear – Mr. Mike and Miss Barb called it “going on tour” – and saunter back behind the sheep, never really wearing – just giving an “eye” Liam-esque style to keep the sheep in line and moving – never too excited, just calm, cool, collected Riley. Riley and Mr. Mike achieved a lot in trialing together – they were very close.
Dad loved how Riley would run past Mom to greet him first when we would get to the Farm that first summer when the crowds on Mondays thinned out and ever after. “It’s a dude thing,” Dad would smile as he ruffled Riley’s fur. Riley would look up at my Dad and return his smile. He was a one-in-a-million. Riley left too soon, devastating Miss Barb and leaving a huge hole in the heart of the Farm.
Before Riley left, he welcomed a sister, Meg – or – Little Meg, Mighty Meg or Nut Meg or Meggies is what Mom calls her. Mom loves Meg and the relationship that has blossomed between Miss Barb and Meg. Miss Barb was worried about bonding with Meg when Riley left – Meg was still a kid then – they eventually found they needed one another. Meg is sweet and she loves her sheepies, though she loves her Mom more.
Meggies is a powerhouse and was born with an incredible herding brain. She also took over for Liam in helping Mom learn herding because Meg always knows what to do. And she shows Mom when Mom is wrong.
Because Miss Barb always regretted not working Riley herself, she decided to learn with Meg. They are a great team. One of Mom’s favorite things is watching them work together. Sometimes I see Mom’s eyes get watery when she watches them – there’s something in the A Course that makes Mom sneeze, though I know this is different.
Miss Barb is the main reason that Mom kept coming to the Farm. Didn’t matter how many times me or the sheep knocked Mom down or how frustrated Mom was, or how wild I was in the round pen (or – anywhere – for that matter) at the end of the day Miss Barb always told Mom how great we did and that she admired Mom for trying to learn with me. She never ignored us, was never critical of what we were trying to achieve or gave us “the look” indicating we “didn’t belong” there as Mom worked me through being around other dogs, being calm watching other dogs work the sheep and trying to learn to work the sheep.
Mom and me never became great on the sheep together – we had our glimmers here and there – though Miss Barb wouldn’t let us give up. Miss Barb still encourages us, every time, almost eight years later and is a huge part of who and where we are today. Miss Barb always – ALWAYS – believed in us – she especially always believed in me.
Thank you, Miss Barb.
We love you.