Wednesday, November 4, I had set my alarm to go off at 6AM, but when it went off, I rolled over for another 45 minutes. I had figured that it would take me 2 hours to get ready and Doug wanted me going to the dog yard at 8AM. I would live to regret rolling over. It was 8:40 before I set out for the dog yard. By that time, Doug had already gotten the dog food out of the container and was heading back to the house on the 4-wheeler. Every minute after 8:15, I had anticipated his return and dreaded his disapproval. When he walked into the house I was fully dressed and ready to get to work. I was also 40 minutes late. He looked at me and said, “Jim, you’re slipping back into your old ways. Imagine leaving your checkpoint 40 minutes late. Mark Nordman will wonder what I was teaching you. The old women in the villages will laugh at you. You cannot be late.” It was the piercing look in his eyes more than the tone of his voice, that got to me. I COULD NOT BE LATE AGAIN!
After I watered the dogs, I took a break to eat an apple. The entire time I was standing there, Sultan was barking. About halfway through the apple, I realized that Sultan was barking at me, as if to say, “Get to work. Stop wasting time.” Sultan was a lead dog and Doug liked him because he would bark at the other dogs if they were going too slow. He was Doug’s alter ego.
That afternoon I passed my second hurdle. Melanie would not be home until late and Doug had to take a horse into town. He would be gone all day. He gave me a lead line with a snap on it and told me to start training the yearlings, calling them by name and getting them to come on command. I was alone at the ranch, with the dogs. I was the dog handler again today.