John and col­lie sally forth to sheep­dog tri­als suc­cess in UK Black­wa­ter farmer John Cremin takes 4th place in In­ter­na­tional Sheep­dog Tri­als

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By DÓNAL NOLAN

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.”

Photo by Va­lerie O’Sul­li­van

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...

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