Spotlight on…Stock Dogs!

Shepard and dog herding sheep into a pen

By: Reginald Tiangha

It’s “woof, woof” meets “baa, baa” as stock dog meets sheep stock in a battle of wills during The World Stock Dog Championship. Another FREE event that takes place in the Saddledome, if you’re a dog lover, then this is the event for you. If you’re a cat lover (or just hate dogs), you can always cheer on the sheep. If you’re an animal lover in general, I guarantee that you’ll enjoy this event. I am neither (I think) and I still find this event fun to watch.

The Stock Dog competition is similar to Team Penning where a flock of three sheep need to be herded into a pen. The difference is that a) they have to be herded through an obstacle course first, and b) it isn’t up to a horse and rider to do the herding, it’s up to a single border collie who is reliant on orders from a shepherd who is forced to watch from a distance away and communicate via whistles and other verbal commands.

Border collie trying to will a flock of sheep into going where it wants them to

This is another of my favourite events during Stampede as it’s very easy to follow, appeals to all ages, and it’s fun to watch when both dog and sheep (and sometimes shepherd) have attitudes.

Mishaps can happen all the time, as sometimes the sheep won’t do anything the dog wants them to, and so you get to watch as the little dog circles around trying to get them to move where it needs them to be.  If you’re really lucky, you get to witness a staring contest between the dog and sheep as egos clash.

Sometimes, it’s fun to watch the dog as it ignores its master and tries to showboat for the audience (these dogs are very intelligent), but it’s the most fun when a dog and handler manage to successfully wrangle the sheep into the pen as everyone in the competition is vying for over $25,000 in prize money.

Scheduling information via the on-line Stampede Planner can be found here, but it’s important to note that this event only occurs on the first Sunday and Monday so if you want to catch it, you’ll have to visit on those days. That said, I highly recommend checking it out and making it a part of your Stampede experience.

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