I volunteered yesterday at the Canadian Border Collie Association's National Herding Championships. It was very cool. Like, amazing. The stamina, and training on the dogs was astounding. I've seen smaller trials, and I've been lucky enough to see some very cool dogs working day to day stuff. But the Double Lift was out of this world.
So first the dog had to run up a hill until it was a tiny speck you couldn't even see and bring back a set of 10ish sheep. And then once the dog had brought those down had to go up in the opposite direction until it was an even tinier speck and bring back a second set. The second part was tricky as the dog then had to get the sheep (around 20ish) around a course and through three gates. The hardest part was the shedding. Out of the 20 or so sheep were five marked with orange tape. Those are the only sheep that could be penned.
Sound exhausting? Yeah. Each dog had 25 minutes, and not one dog managed to get the sheep penned. Some came close, but none finished the whole course. There were some pretty amazing dogs and handlers. The patience the handlers have is truly amazing. The winner of the event stood for about 10 minutes when the sheep were all gathered to let them settle, and then calmly had the dog shed the non marked sheep. There were others who had the group split only to have the marked sheep bugger off back to the herd. Stupid Sheep.
They had demonstrations in a small round pen so that the public would understand what was happening, and they had Goose/Duck herding demos too.
I also got to see one of my favorite Border Collies again- who I haven't seen in about 6 years or so. Mike belongs to a gal who used to play agility once in a while.
She was wild and crazy in her younger days, and is still super spunky at 13 years old! She does not look, or act her age. Being a farm dog agrees with her apparently!
This is Scott Glen and Drift. They did a pretty good job I thought, although we came in half way through. He had only one non marked sheep left when his time was up.
This was my favorite Border Collie of the day.
Salty is from Nova Scotia and was super cool. He was the demo dog, and general helper. I didn't get any great pics of him- the freckling on his face is just so cool. They were using a young dog to demo in the round pen and the sheep kept trampling the poor thing so they put Salty in to show them who's the boss. He did a good job of it and the sheep didn't give the young dogs any problems after that.
This is Zero. He was born with no tail and did a great job with the Geese.
He moved V-E-R-Y slow and low to the ground...he had the geese doing all sorts of patterns. It was pretty neat to see the control.
It was a pretty great way to spend the day, and I must admit I am beginning to be a tad obsessed with Border Collies. I've been stalking Border Collies online for the past year or so, mostly for my friend Sarah. And I pretty much spent the day gawking at all the dogs, and trying to figure out who was who....