John and collie sally forth to sheepdog trials success in UK Blackwater farmer John Cremin takes 4th place in International Sheepdog Trials
BLACKWATER farmer John Cremin and his trusted collie Sally are the toast of sheepdog trial circles in the Kingdom this week after they took fourth place in the most prestigious competition in these islands.
And on the way to fourth position, John became the first ever Kerry man to qualify for the contest – the Supreme category of the International Sheep Dog trials.
It was held in Yorkshire at the weekend where 15 of the best from each of the competing countries - Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland – hit the dales with their best friends to round up the sheep.
John told The Kerryman he was delighted with how well he and his beloved collie Sally performed - but it’s still irking him how close they came to pole position.
“It came down to a matter of points from each of the judges so it was pretty close, but we’re thrilled at how well we got on,” John told The Kerryman.
He was joined on the Irish team by Kerry men Tom O’Sullivan (Kilcummin) and Milo O’Brien (Camp) in a great show from the Kingdom.
But it was John and Sally who made the Supreme final up against the cream of the crop of British herders.
“Sally is five years old, one of the youngest dogs to have ever been on the Irish team which she’s been on for the last three years. She’s just got a great temperament and I’ve been working with her since she was about six months old. She wouldn’t be the biggest dog but she’s got a great heart.”
It’s little wonder John speaks of her with such love - they have after all spent endless hours together in the majestic South Kerry mountains tending to their flock.
“It’s there instinctively with collies from birth, the ability to herd sheep so it’s a matter of just honing their skills and training them gradually as they mature. For instance I would have started off using voice commands with Sally; with different sounds for all types of direction. Stop, for instance, can mean different things - stop and keep standing, or stop and lie down. But after awhile when you get a bit more scope into the dog you’d start to substitute the whistle for the voice command to cover longer distances.”
Just as a husky is born to mush, a collie is born to herd. “It makes for a much more tempered and happy collie. And mountain herding makes for more open-minded dogs as they learn to adapt to new situations over a changing terrain,” John explained.
The Blackwater man, whose father and grandfather herded before him, wouldn’t change an often hard lifestyle for the world. “I’d find it hard to work in an office. It’s probably the right place when it’s raining, but I wouldn’t swap the hills, especially on the good days.”
One man and his dog: Blackwater sheep farmer John Cremin who came fourth with collie Sally in one of the world’s most prestigious sheepdog trials at the weekend - the Supreme International Sheepdog Trials in Yorkshire. He is pictured here with another trusted companion, Fly.