Sunday, September 11, 2011

Issue 173 Sheep Dog Championship by Whitney

Every year Soldier Hollow host a sheepdog trial competition. Specially invited world-class sheep dog herders from across the globe attend as they compete against each other to win medals and advance to the National Border Collie Association's World Championship. This year we attended and watched several pairs go at it. Racing against a twenty-four minute timer the handlers remain stationary as he or she directs their canine counterpart with whistles, directing them across the hillside. They must first retrieve two separate herds of sheep, directing them between two posts. Then the full herd is maneuvered across the hill and through two separate gates to finish in a marked circle. Then the handler, using a shepherds crook without actually coming in contact with the sheep, works with the collie to separate out five of the sheep that are wearing red collars. This is much harder than it sounds due to the herding behavior that keep the sheep almost inseparable. Assuming the timer hasn't already expired, the pair then direct the five collared sheep into a small pen on the other side of the hill, while preventing them from rejoining the remaining herd of thirteen standing by. Without the gate touching any of the sheep, the door is closed by the lucky shepard and the crowd cheers. The judges tally their scores while the exhausted and overheated collie plunges into the provided tub of water.
Along with the omnipresent bagpipers, camera crews filming a documentary entitled "Away to me" added to the atmosphere as the giraffe necked camera swiveled around to keep up with the contestants. Other exhibitors including the Salt Lake counties' K9 unit also presented classes and demonstrations. It was a fun-filled day of enjoyment that I would recommend to everyone.

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