Letter from Exis to Rocky
                                                                                                                                            Early spring of my fourth year

Dear Son,

I heard from Storey that you have been in training.  I'm very proud of you and I write to encourage you in your efforts.  The rewards of continued learning last a lot longer than the taste of that tiny bit of rollover treat.

Besides, the training lets you really understand what your humans need from you and someday it might even save your life,  or theirs!  Let me tell you a story about your grandfather Tyke.  One day he was out training in the woods and mesa scrub with Storey and Misty.  He was a search and rescue dog you know, as was his grandfather before him, but that's another story.  Anyway, Misty decided to go for a walk with him and actually put him on leash (he was always a little offended at walking on a leash but in this case he said he was glad it was on because he wasn't sure Misty would have understood him otherwise).  They strolled down a dirt road and just as they got crosswind of the railroad tracks Tyke got a sniff of a pesky old shaky-tail.  You probably haven't seen a shaky-tail but they're long crawly things that eat mice and when they bite you their teeth hold poison (isn't that weird?) that makes you very sick.  Storey had trained Tyke to warn her when he smelled one; after all, our sense of smell is about a million times better than those smoosh-faced humans.  When Tyke got a whiff he leaned hard against Misty's legs pushing her away from the stench.  That gave Misty enough information to stop in her tracks (luckily, not DEAD in her tracks).  Then Tyke pulled on his leash heading back up the road.  Misty later told Storey she thought to herself, "I don't know where you're going, but I'm going with you."  Isn't she a smart kid?  If I'm not mistaken, Misty was toting Storey's pup Robby along on her back, so Tyke really saved two people that day.  So you see the kind of assistance you can offer to our humans if you learn your lessons well.

In your last letter you asked if I've been to any shows lately.  Well, let me tell you about my latest shows!  Storey has been working very hard to get and keep me in good condition for the show ring ever since I came to visit from my other home.  Sometimes I think she's just starving me because she can, and she's not very good at starving herself.  But, I do look pretty buff right now, good weight and my beautiful coat has filled in everywhere.  I really like those fish oil pills she feeds me. As you know son, there are two registries for we Aussies.  I started my show ring career in the ASCA ring with Philis; Storey shows me in the AKC ring but then she started thinking that we could get better, more intense practice sessions if we used the ASCA shows as training sessions for the AKC ring.  We went to one ASCA show in February.  The judge was the same man who gave my sister, China, a four point major and Best of Breed win, so Storey was sure he would like me.  She was right!  Well, I didn't win Best of Breed, but I did win Best of Winners for four points.  Then there was another ASCA show two weeks ago.  Storey always goes to this big place where they train people on Saturdays so she couldn't go with me (she always comes back from that place smelling kind of strange and talking about organic compounds).  She gave me a bath on Friday afternoon.  At first I didn't really like walking up the tiny ramp she built into the tub, but I got used to it.  The hot water feels good and she really massages in the shampoo and conditioners and then there's the blow dryer afterwards, so it's all worth walking up the ramp for.  Anyway, after my bath we got in the car and I though we were going straight to the show!  But Storey took me to her friend Kim's house.  I like Kim and all her dogs but Kim also raises birds.  The squawk a lot and you can't kill them because Kim gets real mad, so instead, your ears hurt.  Then Storey left me there!  I was a little surprised and I think she should have given me a little more warning.  Besides, Kim and her mate smoke, so my coat,  which was still a little damp,  got all stinky.  Storey did think to bring along my food bowl and my usual meager portion of rations.  I think, given that she was leaving me in the hands of strangers, she could have at least let me eat my stress away,  not even a cow hoof was in my crate.  Leave it to Storey to scrub everything down before a show.  It looks nice but it takes away that homey feeling.

The next day Kim and her mom, Gloria, took me to the show.  Kim didn't trim me or anything but I won my class anyway.  Kim and my sister, Shabang, won the blue bitch class and all three of us were going to be in the winner's class together.  I was very excited and thought it would be a lot of fun to show with my sister. Then I heard Gloria and Kim talking about the winner's class.  Seems each human can have only one dog in the class and Kim was taking Shabang in.  I was being dumped!  Kim gave me to this COMPLETE stranger standing next to the ring.  She didn't introduce us or anything  just handed her my leash like I was some kind of point-filler bitch.  At first I was a little resentful of being given to an amateur but the little girl turned out to be a natural handler and she fed me lots (good thing Storey wasn't there).  So I did my best for her and the judge gave me the points!  This ASCA stuff was getting easy.  Kim and Gloria dropped me off at home.  Storey was very happy to see me.  I was happy to see her too.

The next day we went back to the show.  This time Storey brought my brother, Gunny, along.  We like showing with Storey so much that it was really easy for both of us to win.  I only need one more point to finish my ASCA championship.  There are two more shows this weekend and I know Storey is going to take both Gunny and me.  I'll write again after all the spring AKC shows.  You be a good boy now Rocky, and do what all dogs are suppose to do.  Be loyal, friendly to kids, protect your home from strangers, and for goodness sake, respect your uncle Spy!


P.s. I no longer feel exiled!  -- Get it?