In the Herding World there are trials that have the creme de la creme of dogs and handlers show up. Here in Alberta, one of those trials is the World Stock Dog Championship held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede. Tessa and I took the leap from our small fry world into the land of the big fish. We went to the Stampede to compete.
This trial is an arena trial which means all the herding is done inside an indoor arena. There is some debate as to what is more difficult - the arena or field trial - I've concluded in order to do either well you and your dog have to have a certain skill level. With Tessa being a better arena dog I thought we'd be able to compete, hold our own and not completely look like fools. And I was right!
I know I had a blast and I think Tessa did too. For me, the whole purpose of competing at this trial was to gain experience. Which I did. Tessa did too. I loved being surrounded by people from all over. There were dogs from as far away as Texas, Minnesota, Ontario. I loved meeting and talking with some of the characters who were competing. Seeing the variety of dogs. It was especially neat to strut (Yes I did!) through the grounds with the fancy badge stating you were an exhibitor.
One of the best things that came from the whole experience was meeting a handler named Vickie Close. You see, not only is she a handler but she's a photographer and artist as well. Today, on our way home Tessa and I met up with Vickie (who's from Idaho) at another handler's farm and Tessa has some professional pictures taken. (Tessa is notoriously difficult to photograph.) I can't wait to see how they turn out!
What a great experience! I can't wait for next year!
In the pictures: Top: Tessa and I waiting to go. Bottom: Tessa moving the sheep around the post and to the chute.