2015 Champions

2015 Open Champion: Amanda Miliken & Howell

Photo courtesy Carly Thomson

My year with the dogs has been marked by bitter losses, occasionally offset with sparkling moments of sheep dog beauty.  Howell, a dog I had always considered selling, until the Roz died of cancer in May, is a remarkable story of meeting the bar when required.   He was a very good young dog, as a nursery dog, but afterwards, he emerged from the winter, empowered to a fault.  He developed a potent habit of infuriating the sheep by the time a drive was concluded.  Their resentment in the shedding ring was palpable on numerous occasions.  I bust my ass training him in the summer.  Boot camp.  Sometime in August, he responded to an epiphany and started to run like a serious partnering dog.   At the same time, his father, Monty developed the retrobulber eye infection.  Monty lost his eye to it, but the problem persisted through the fall and during the long road trip out west. I worked very hard on Howell’s international shedding in August, while home, not knowing where Monty’s eye thing was headed.  That was lucky.  Events made demands of Howell’s running, at levels to which he had never been tested.  He met every test favourably. 
 
His outrunning has been outstanding, his way with his sheep, very sure.  All the wrestling over direction and pace ended.  Nothing rattles him.  No temper.  He is fluid and on his feet with every difficult penning sheep. He sheds with joy.  Barbara Ray is his breeder—her Stella, my Monty.


 

2015 Open Reserve Champion: Amanda Miliken & Monty

Photo courtesy Mary Minor

Before the eye problem, which cost him his eye, I would have said Monty was one of my top two dogs and running at the top of his game.  He is a wonderful sheep persuader.  They never say no to him.  His easy style takes away the combat.  A kindly, deadpan “You have to go”.  He will do dirty work if required but work hardly ever gets dirty with him.  He has run with moderate success with the eye handicapping his general health and impairing his work to some extent—the shed particularly.  As he gets more accustomed to it, maybe it will make no difference
 
Eight, this January, Monty is my last dog sired by Stuart Davidson’s great Star.  His has been a successful breed for me.  Roz was same way bred, from my Ethel.


 

2015 Pro-Novice Champion: Amanda Miliken & Puppa

 
 
Photo courtesy Amanda Miliken

At one time I ribbed Joni Tietjen and Haley Hunewill for thrashing around at their training sessions with a stick, flag attached.  Haha.  She who laughs first, laughs last.  Puppa is from Roz, and Haley’s Ross.  Ross was a breed of Joni’s, by her Spot, like Lew, Tommy Wilson’s Sly, Kate Broadbent’s Salt.  Haley’s won the US Nursery Championship at Klamuth in compelling style, nearly ten years ago.  I wanted one.  Puppa was a single pup, treated like a little Saudi prince.  I do not know whether to blame that or not, on his eccentricities.  I have spent more time training him than any dog I have owned.  If I had used one of those flags, it might have been quicker.  He has been hard to handle.  This year, I am relaxing his regimen, hoping that some of his impetuous stuff could be youth.  I like his company and character.  His enthusiasm for all things sheep is exasperating.  My last one from Roz, has made me very patient with him.  A week before the US Nursery Finals, I considered withdrawing him and then he came fifth.

 

2015 Pro-Novice Reserve Champion: Victoria Lamont & Elly

 
 
Photo courtesy Victoria Lamont

Elly is originally from Conquest kennels in the Netherlands, but ended up in Canada via Ireland, where she was trained by Aidan Gallagher. Her sire is Aidan’s Jimmy, and her mother goes back to Bobby Dalziel’s Wisp and Dryden Joe. Elly was just two years old when I got her in April 2015. I feel very lucky to have her—apparently Aiden was willing to part with Elly because, as talented as she is, he is “just not a bitch man.”
 
Although she is tiny (barely 18 inches at the shoulder), Elly is courageous and powerful. She can move pretty much anything, isn’t afraid to take on a bully, and keeps her head under pressure. She is a fantastic outrunner with great feel. She’s also very biddable and genuinely wants to please. When she’s not working, she is happy to snooze on the couch or climb on my lap for a tummy rub.
 
I would like to thank Viki Kidd and Michael Gallagher for bringing me and Elly together, and my fellow competitors for another great season of sheepdog trialing. See you in open!


 

2015 Novice-Novice Champion: Kristin Bryant & Bea

Photo courtesy Kristin Bryant

I’ve had an interest in trying herding ever since I was a kid, but never knew anyone who had herding dogs in my area. A few years ago, my husband and I went to a trial just to watch and we decided to get some sheep for our border collie. Due to an unfortunate accident, we ended up with sheep but no dog. A few months went by and I started looking for another dog. There was a sheep demo near me, so I decided to go and get some info on where to look for a good dog. There were pups at the demo and I just couldn’t resist looking. Bea was there and was so engaging and alert I instantly fell in love. I tried to talk myself out of getting her, but it was already too late.
 
Since this was my first dog, I didn’t even know where to begin training her. I found out the Jeanie Weaver was only an hour and a half away, so I started taking lessons there. After a while, Jeanie started pushing me to enter a trial. Bea was certainly ready and getting better every day, but I felt like I was too far behind her to run her. I finally got up the courage and entered the Summer Novice trial in July. I was so nervous, but everyone there was so kind and supportive and it really helped. Every time we’ve gone to trial, the sheepdog community has been so great and, thanks to everyone’s helpful tips and comments, we surprisingly became Novice/Novice champions for 2015.

Thank you all.

2015 Novice-Novice Reserve Champion: Stacey Rember & Shep

Photo courtesy Stacy Rember

When Shep was born, I carefully wrote 'Pup#3 Tri Male’.
A big, handsome healthy pup but I was planning on keeping a female.... or so I thought!
By the time the pups were 4 weeks old, it was clear to me which one would be staying!
Growing up around the farm Shep learned about sheep in general, didn't cause any trouble and showed a keenness to work. An easy pup.
He has a 'bring it on, no quit' attitude when working/training and is a pleasure to live with.
Thank you to the OBCC, trial hosts, judges and members for a great year.


 

2014 Open Champion: Amanda Milliken & Dorey

 

Photo Submitted by Amanda Milliken

                                                          
Dorey is convergence of my breed on both sides—back to Craig and Hazel on both.  Her sire was Leslie Gamble’s white dog, Bob, now dead.  Her mother was Purdy, from Roz and Kate Broadbent’s Salt, a mismate, also no longer among the land of the living. 

She is no stranger to success.  Her training would have put her in the gifted class, if such a one existed for Border Collies.  She asked for each step and begged for more.  In the first of two years that she was qualified for the US National program she won the US National Nursery. 

Since then she has excelled in trial work with confident free outrunning; precise, responsive work around the course: and sheds that appear impossible, that she will do right now.  Her pen work, under the most difficult circumstances, is breathtaking—patient, forceful, taking her side with glee. 

At Soldier Hollow, Dorey penned on an otherwise penless day.  She sent the pen hungry crowd wild with enthusiasm and they chanted  “Dorey!  Dorey! Dorey!”  Dorey took a victory lap bow, with her eyes triumphantly surveying her fans, before she hurled herself into the water.   She is a wild one.

 

2014 Open Reserve Champion: Amanda Milliken & Monty

 

Photo Submitted by Amanda Milliken



Monty is her [Dorey's] subdued great uncle, sired by Stuart Davidson’s Star (my Star) and from my very dependable Ethel.  This is a breed that I plainly like—Roz is the same way bred, a little older. He shares Dorey’s skill on an outrun but tends to take all his jobs with a softer edge than Dorey does.   

He is a little lighter touch all the way around a course.  Sometimes that works in your favour.  He too exhibits enviable penning skills.  While powerful, he is remarkably patient, occasionally asking “Just say the word and I’ll take a piece of this.”  He can usually do it without. 
 
 People see these dogs doing well in trials, but it is their work at lambing that most distinguished their gifts.  Both will handle any recalcitrant ewe.  No job is too dirty for either of them.

2014 Pro-Novice Champion: Cathie Vodden & Roo

 

Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence


Roo is from Grant Boudreault's EyeSpy kennel up in Valentia. He was the first border collie person I met after moving back from B.C. where I'd started with my first dog many moons ago. Roo and I knocked heads for a long time causeI'm a pretty slow learner – it's only been the last couple of years that we've synched and it feels wonderful. (You know that feeling when a headache finally goes away?!) Winning the P/N Championship has been a nice result for our perseverance, and I credit the many handlers in this area who have been generous with their insights, help and sheep. It takes a village to produce a stockdog and handler. I feel very fortunate to be part of this village

 

2014 Pro-Novice Reserve Champion: Cynthia Palmer & Duke

 

Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence


We got Duke from Vergil and Ann Marie Holland. He had always been an easy dog, sensitive and well bonded to me. He was John's puppy but turns out a little more suited to work with me so just after he was about 18 months old I took over his training.  He has been a pleasure to train, easy to live with and makes me smile! We had a fun year in Pro-novice teaching some trial skills and working on my timing. Time to step up and play in the big league
 

2014 Novice-Novice Champion: Helen Knibb & Sue

 

Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence



And a dog named…
 
First there was crazy Maisie, the excitable cattle dog, whose interest in sheep was questionable, but who got me into this.  One day she’d enough - sat stubbornly in the truck at practice and refused to budge. That was the end of her herding career. Then there was Jack the Gripper, (aka Jack the Ripper), whose over enthusiasm for sheep resulted in some most unhappy outcomes. 

 So after months of leaping over long lines and untangling my ‘knitting’, sprinting after Jack;  an expanding vocabulary;  weeping with  frustration;  harbouring dark thoughts towards, and secret envy of, those with biddable dogs - the  general misery was complete. Even through the lens of a novice handler I knew things weren’t exactly text book. My conclusion, as I seem to recall expressing it to Cynthia Palmer, was that I needed a dog where I could begin to work on ‘me’; where I could experience ‘normal’ herding behaviours; engage in slightly more predictable activity on the trial field – even have ‘fun’. Was there a dog, I begged, that I could ‘borrow’? Enter Sue (aka Surprise – the outcome of a clandestine Preacher- Dixie union). 

At first Sue lived at the Palmers and I had visiting rights – but when she started to recognize the sound of my truck and the barking began - it was time to take her home. I had a dog – named Sue.  She was looking for a person, and I was looking for a project.  Sue was started, but it was a ‘green horse-green rider’ combination and I was along for the ride.
So it began – the first winter when Sue showed me balance and I could read the  patterns in the snow (a good start);  the sprints up the centre field - to extend, improve, finesse the outrun, (“Get closer to your sheep!!!”); the unattainable lie down (“Don’t let her have the sheep!!!”); the two-minute madness of arena trials (“Take time!!”); the terror of the first field trials and the splendor of Sue’s star burst effect at the lift, (“Go, help your dog!!!!”); the endless winding and unwinding at the post, and of dances at the pen (more knitting issues).  It was all rather humbling.   

Later, there was the sense of wonder as Sue began to listen, (to me, not just Cynthia), the first time I could actually see her read and hold pressure (I think I grabbed Helen Dunning’s arm and squeaked in delight), learned off-balance flanks and a solid “look-back”. Astonishment as Sue became more adept at working my own flighty, feisty, semi-feral sheep; her capacity to work blind and work singles; her willingness to move a big flock; her courage and usefulness in the pens. Short on style on the trial field perhaps, but great on tenacity – an economical dog; a saucy dog; a great farm dog - a dog with a big heart.

 We’re on a journey, Sue and I, one that has been supported along the way by many wonderful people, who have been so generous of their time and kind with their words; who have empathized, advised and challenged me.  My sometime project dog is now my partner, a relationship that is tested and renewed every time we go to work sheep.  As they say with young horses – first you go with them, then they go with you - then you go together. I know we’ll be working on the ‘together’ for quite a while …



 

2014 Novice-Novice Reserve Champion: Stacey Rember & Teg

 

Photo Credit by Stacey Rember


The moment I saw the picture of a not so cute 2 day old white-faced pup I knew that she belonged with me. Teg's dam, Nat Labelle's Kate and sire Rob Drummond's Casey are both fairly intense dogs and the apple did not fall far from the tree.

Luckily for me and my complete lack of sheepdog knowledge Teg was and is a quick learner with a strong desire to please me. Although most of the time at warp speed! I was determined to learn and Teg was keen to start fairly young. So with a training book in hand off we went to practise again and again and again. 

Slowly the hours of trial and error, a few tears and walking in from the field feeling discouraged began to pay off. We began to put our practise to work around the farm and tasks which I had needed help with became doable with just myself and Teg. And so our partnership began. I wouldn't be without her.

 

2013 Open Champion: Amanda Milliken & Roz

 

Monty, Roz & Feist - Photo Credit by Amanda Milliken


I have had an awkward few trials where I have been forced to choose between the three dogs I run open.  Roz has not got to run so much this year, since I have been running mainly in the west, where Dory shines.  Roz is Dory's grandmother, so not without influence on my current roster of dogs.  She is a daughter of my Ethel, by Star, Stuart Davidson's 2002 International dog.  Monty is bred the same way, so you see I like what Ethel brought me. She had some breeding interruptions to the year, birthing a single pup by C-section.
 
I have liked her running.  A great outrunner in all circumstances.  A confident dog in trying circumstances, although these were strengths she learned, rather than came by naturally.  She has, true to her breed a very good way with her sheep and like her same way bred, trains easily and works willingly.  A star.

 

2013 Open Reserve Champion: Lorna Savage & Tyler



Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence


Tyler turned 5 on December 23, 2013. His mother was Zoe, who was related to my first two open dogs, Spin and Dot. Tyler’s sire was Mary Thompson’s Hawk, an open dog with many top ten placings, and Championships of his own. Tyler is also half-sister to Kaylee, who is also a current open dog, doing well and was 2010 Canadian Nursery Champion.Tyler is large, he’s a carbon-copy of Zoe in an extra-large size, but he works like a small dog with style. He is calm, confident, and biddable and the sheep seem to like him.
 
Training was a breeze, starting at 10 months he was doing large outruns and driving a nursery course before his first birthday. I like December born pups, they are at a great age to start training in the fall when the weather is still nice, but not too cold or hot.
 
His pro-novice year was short, though he won quite a bit, with his long stride; the courses seemed small for him so he moved into open in 2010 at 18 months. At twenty months of age he placed fifth in the Canadian Border Collie Assoc. Nursery. He also had four qualifying placings in the USBCHA Nurseries, but unfortunately the Finals were in the west that year.
 
Tyler continued to place or win in open most of his second and third year. At three, his greatest achievement was getting into the double lift at the Kingston Sheep Dog Trials (he was seventh overall) and the double lift at the NEBCA Fall Foliage on a very difficult course. His best year so far has been 2013. Placing first and twelve at the Blue Grass Classic to get into the double lift, thirteenth overall, and the double lift at Kingston with a fifth and fourteenth placing, ending up 6th overall. He also had a first place at Leatherstocking SDT and was third overall in total points in the USBCHA.
 
At the National Finals in Virginia he was tenth in both the Preliminaries and the Semi Finals putting him in the double lift. Unfortunately, with the pressure so strong to the exhaust, he refused to let the sheep go and would not take his go back. A disappointment for sure as he had been taking this command so well previously. The pressure just got to the both of us.
 
Tyler is a pleasure to live with and is really a big teddy bear. He likes nothing better, after sheep of course, than to lie at your feet in the evening. His mother passed on this year and Tyler will continue to carry on her bloodlines. We are looking forward to what 2014 will bring us.

 

2013 Pro-Novice Champion: Viki Kidd & Reed

 

Photo Submitted by Vicki Kidd


Reed is a good red dog.  He is from Vergil Holland of Kentucky, got by his dog Scott – a son of Alistair McRae’s USBCHA National Champion Nap and out of Vergil's very good bitch Brooke – a daughter of Eileen Stineman’s very successful sire Don.  

Lucky me, Reed is my 2nd good red dog – it would seem that I have beaten the odds twice now. My very first border collie, Brae, was also a good red dog.  I was besotted with Brae and now find myself smitten once again with Reed.
 
Why am I telling you about Reed’s colour – when of course that shouldn’t matter?  Simple truth is… Reed wouldn’t be mine if he were black & white.  Three of the puppy buyers backed out when Reed and two of his litter mates were not black & white. Vergil and I were chatting on another subject, when he told me the story and offered one of now the ‘left over’ red pups to me.  I didn’t really need a new puppy at that time, but happily accepted the offer. Lucky me.

Reed is a big strapping boy with a sensitive, yet confident nature, to both people and sheep.  This made his training practically a dream, it was so easy.  Utilizing Bobby Dalziel’s method of initial start-up training on a VERY long line (250 yards) to teach driving first and which allows the dog to always come-on to their stock suited Reed down to the ground.  He was thoughtful on the stock from the word go.  This did give me pause initially, that he might not have the gas, but in no time showed that he loves to get in close and even dares the ewes to challenge him, yet remains incredibly biddable.  A bit of smoothing out at the top when he was about 15 months old and he was ready to go. Too bad for whoever said no to this one.  But, oh so lucky me!

I am of course very pleased to have won the 2013 OBCC Pro-Novice Championship – having been the Reserve Champion in past years and look forward to a long career in Open with him.  Lucky me.  

2013 Pro-Novice Reserve Champion: Tracy Hinton & Dax


 

Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence


Dax was my second border collie and first border collie pup.  He is from Joyce Elliot’s Dot bred to Eileen Stineman ’s Don, born March 2011.  A sweet natured boy who fit easily into our home and travel routine.   I remember thinking “this dog is going to be easy to start”. That notion went away when I first put him on sheep and he turned into a speedy and very keen worker!  Never one to back down from a challenge, I went about getting help and advice on how to train my new little “project” and haven’t looked back. 
 
We both have grown over the past couple of years and I look forward to whatever comes our way.

Many thanks to all of the trainers, handlers and friends that have helped and supported us!  

2013 Novice-Novice Champion: Stacey Rember & Moss


 

Photo Submitted by Stacey Rember


I grew up as a horse crazy kid with a Border Collie named Duchess as my sidekick.My next Border Collie was a gift from my husband - we never worked sheep but we did bring in our neighbours’ cows on occasion.

With 2 daughters, a veterinary technician career, training horses and cash crop farming to keep me busy, it wasn't until 2005 that our first sheep arrived. Angus was an old dog by then but he did enjoy staring at them!

Our flock expanded rapidly in the next few years and in 2008 I bought a Border Collie pup......... We now have 6 Border Collies and a 200 ewe flock.
 
I purchased Moss from Thad Buckler in Alberta at the end of November 2012, he had just turned 2 yrs old. Moss was born in Wales and was imported as a pup. His dam is Tina, a littermate to Kevin Evans’ Greg and his sire is Richard Millichap's Dewi Tweed.
 
Moss is an absolute pleasure to live with and he has become a valuable working partner.
This past year participating in the OBCC trials has been a learning experience for me and I would like to thank everyone for your support and encouragement.
 
Looking forward to 2014!!

 

2013 Novice-Novice Reserve Champion: Lynn Johnston & Finn


 

Photo Credit by Michelle Lawrence


Towards the end of 2011, I was seriously considering retiring from working life (which I subsequently did in Dec 2012), so thought what better time to get into sheepdog herding, an interest I have always wanted to explore. As the saying goes, ‘if not now, when?’
 
So that fall Finn (Mary Thompson’s Coal x Rio) came into my life. My first border collie. He was raised in the city, chasing soccer balls and attending urban puppy school where the focus is on rewarding good behaviour. That works to a point, except when a border collie has other ideas. He had my number from the get-go.
 
So at 11 months, Finn, something of a wild man, spent a month with Lorna Savage, getting the basics. He learned quickly and well under Lorna’s tutelage. The problem was starting me.
 
So in the winter of 2013, Finn and I started regular lessons with Mary Thompson. I am still struggling with being the boss, although at two and a half, Finn is settling well and under Mary’s expert guidance is learning what he can expect from me. He loves the work, never forgets anything and is very forgiving of my often incoherent direction.
 
Our first N/N trial was at Hop Bottom, PA in June. I have done a lot of public speaking over the years and am comfortable in front of a crowd, but this was different. I thought I might throw up. We actually got all the way around the course, not pretty, but unbelievably ended up 4th. I still see this run as one of the highlights of the year.
 
So now Finn and I are hooked. The big challenge is getting the whistles strong and consistent – he gets it, once again, I am the liability. But I have come to terms with the fact that I will always be the liability, the joy is in the learning and growing together. It takes an open mind and a lack of ego when you start this as late as I did.
 
I doubt I would have stuck with it if it hadn’t been for Mary Thompson. We spent many a cold windy day in her field with her tolerant Scotties. She knew when to push and when to back off, how to encourage and how to hold the line. It’s a difficult sport to chunk down into bits of learning and it’s tough for expert handlers to know what a novice needs to focus on. There’s no question there were days when I was overwhelmed, but the key is always taking away something new from every session. Thanks Mary, for being my coach and mentor.

2012 Open Champion: Amanda Milliken & Monty

 

Monty, Roz & Feist - Photo Credit by Amanda Milliken


In a year when their great grandmother, Hazel, was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame, it is a particular honour to be running the dogs I have. Both Roz and Monty, my two open runners are the same way bred, from two time Canadian National Champion, Ethel, and sired by the 2002 International winner, Star. 
 

2012 Open Reserve Champion: Amanda Milliken & Roz


Roz is not the grittiest sheepdog, but she makes up for it with cleverness and commitment to getting the job done. Both Roz and Monty rarely let me down in outruns.  Monty is the plainer, easier handling of the two.  There is no job too dirty for him. Both are obedient while they are contributing partners to every move we make. Monty and Roz have the best of their careers ahead of them.

2012 Pro-Novice Champion: Amanda Milliken & Feist


Feist has been precocious from eleven weeks old.  She was very eager to start and I had to wait until she was fast enough to get around the sheep.  She learned left, right and stop, very quickly and I had an unusual problem of challenging her little head and still not take her too quickly.  Run along, and not let her get bored.  To complicate things, I normally have a forced break for weather in the winter.  Last year, that did not happen.  I took her west where she got lots of varied experience in diverse settings and then did well at the US National Nursery Championships, finishing seventh at sixteen months old.  She is my main Nursery dog this year. She is from Roz, so a continuation of long, off the page, bitch line for me.  Her sire is Sally Molloy's Sid, a son of Michael Gallagher's Cap.

2012 Pro-Novice Reserve Champion: Kevan Gretton & Jade

 

Photo Submitted by Kevan Gretton


I purchased Jade from Nancy Obenier at Butternut Trial in 2009. She was bred by Delta Bluez Stock Dogs.   Jade is extremely handy around the farm. Her temperament is very biddable.  Jade is easy on sheep.  We have been learning together as a team.

I'd like to thank all participants and spectators for their support and encouragement to Jade & I.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone on the open trial fields this coming year.


 

2012 Novice-Novice Champion: Victoria Lamont & Dizzy; Novice-Novice Reserve Champion: Victoria Lamont & Pepper

 

Pepper & Dizzy basking in their accomplishments! Photo Credit by Victoria Lamont


Year One was spent playing with my new border collie puppy. Not realizing he would be a sheepdog, I gave him one of those fancy-dancy showdog names, which has morphed into Dizzy. He was mainly an obedience prospect, but what the heck, I thought, I might as well give this herding thing a shot. Ignoring cautions that this sport is highly addictive, I signed up for lessons with Viki Kidd when said puppy hit six months. I would like to say I never looked back, but in fact I looked back a lot, usually right before falling on my ass.
 
Year Two consisted mostly of square dancing with Viki Kidd two Sunday mornings every month. I don’t remember much else. Strangely, this form of square dancing does not involve music, and nobody teaches you the steps ahead of time. And you don’t really dance in the square formation…Oh, and it involves sheep.
 
Year Three: See above. Bought a whistle.
 
Year Four: Entered first trial. Not pretty. Despite clear lack of progress, none of it Dizzy’s fault, I acquired another border collie, Pepper. She was a year old and had some training, and plenty of talent and desire.
 
Achieved sound on whistle. Was allowed by instructor to train without supervision. Surprisingly, there were no casualties, although for the first while just getting the sheep out of the barn was an achievement.
 
Year Five: Entered more trials. Still not pretty. I vaguely remember making it all the way through once with Dizzy. All Pepper wanted to do was eye up the sheep, so off to training she went, returning in six weeks with a shiny new outrun and a lot more, courtesy of Jeannie Weaver. Meanwhile, I learned to whistle more than one note. Not Mozart, but it was a start.
 
Year Six: My break-through year! Bobby Dalziel helped whip Pepper’s outrun into even better shape (pun intended). Viki Kidd did not give up on me despite numerous melt-downs and temper tantrums. At the fall trials, Dizzy and Pepper made it around almost all of their courses and they each had their share of wins. I know novice is a very small first step and I’m no Big Hat, but I have to say it felt great. I am totally psyched for pro-novice. Oh, and I can whistle more than two notes!
 
P.S. A huge thanks to Jeanne, Bobby, and especially Viki for their help. Couldn’t have done it without help from the Big Hats! And thanks to the OBCC community for being so friendly and supportive.