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Sheep Dog Trials

May 2007: Northwest Champion Sheep Dog Trials at Scio, Oregon

Bringing em in
The Northwest Champion Sheep Dog Trails are part of the Linn County Lamb and Wool fair, held in Scio, Oregon each May. This year over 90 dogs were competing over the course of 3 days. Each run starts with the dog racing hundreds of yards across an open field to get behind a group of 5 sheep.
Running on Instinct
The dog's handler stays back. Once the dog is in position, the handler issues commands to the dog using different pitches and rhythms of a whistle. The dog first has to drive the sheep through a gate in the middle of the field, then back around a post where the handler is standing.
Maybe they don't see me...
After this, the dog drives the sheep back out through two more gates, then back to the handler again, who is repositioned at a holding pen.
Into the pen
The dog has to use a combination of instinct, skill, and perseverance to get the sheep into the holding pen. The handler can issue commands, but can't let go of the rope attached to the pen's gate. After the sheep are penned, they are then re-released, and the dog has to separate one of them from the flock. Each dog starts with something like 110 points, which are taken away by judges for various mistakes. A score of 90 is pretty good.
The sheep of course get no points, and little love or respect... they're just unwilling participants in this age-old game.

Where is it?

The Linn County Lamb and Wool Fair is held in Scio, Oregon each May. The sheep dog trials are held on a farm a few miles out of town.

Before you go...
This is a long event. Each dog has a time limit, and a fair number "time-out". Each dog gets two runs. It takes about 3 days from dawn to dusk to get all the runs in.

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