Working stock dogs take centre stage at CBCA championships
Sheepdog trials date back to the late 1800s and now people in southeast Alberta have the chance to see some of the best working dogs in the business at the 2018 CBCA Canadian Sheepdog championships (Canadian Sheepdog Open Champion and Nursery Champion) taking place at Canine Solutions, south of Dunmore this week.
The annual event, held alternately in western and eastern Canada, showcases the elite border collies registered and competing in The Canadian Border Collie Association (CBCA) stock dog trials.
Ninety-two open dogs and 16 nursery dogs from across North America are competing.
Spectators can watch the border collies as they gather, drive, pen, and shed (separating one particular sheep from the flock).
"They all do the same course, about 475 yards. They go out and gather four sheep and bring them back to the handler. Then, they have to get to the set of gates," said handler Peter Gonnett from Outlook, Sk. "I am absolutely amazed by the distance these dogs can cover."
"Then they drive and cross drive and bring the sheep back to the handler's post. Then, they have to get the sheep re-grouped and put into the ring."
The purpose of the stock dog trials is to showcase the border collies and the handlers who train them.
"It is a real display of proper stockmanship. "It is very important to promote these working dogs," said Gonnett. "It is all about moving the livestock with the least amount of stress and trying to find the best dog to move that livestock. Border collies are naturally bred to do this work. The handler helps to build on what is already there."
Dogs from across North America are competing, but they must be registered with the CBCA.
CBCA is the breed registry in Canada and this event is held every year to promote the border collie registry. They are from all over North America, but they have to be registered with the CBCA. This is the border collie registry trial, a premiere trial. This is the one most strive for," he said.
The sheep, 380 cross bred ewes, are being provided by the Kiwan Sheep operation from Gull Lake, Sk.
Patrick Shannanhan from Caldwell, Idaho is doing the judging.
The event is running daily until Aug. 26 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. A shearing demonstration is being held at 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Herding demonstrations will take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and at noon on Sunday.
The event is taking place at Canine Solutions, 10112 RR 52, south of Medicine Hat in Cypress County.
From Medicine Hat, go east on the Trans Canada Highway to Dunmore, turn right at the Co-op gas station onto Eagle Butte Road, then south for 15 km and turn right onto TWP 102. Take first left onto RR 52. Watch for signs.
No spectator dogs are allowed at the event, so leave pets at home.
Visit www.caninesolutions.ca for further information.