In Vermont, Sheepdogs Compete
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Now, to Vermont and a gathering involving sheep, Border Collies, and people. Reporter Kinna Ohman stopped by a sheepdog competition at a Scottish festival in Quechee, Vermont.
KINNA OHMAN: It's eight o'clock in the morning on a misty Vermont field. There's a group of people standing with fleece jackets and farm boots. They're listening to the last minute instructions for today's sheepdog competition.
Unidentified Man: Basically the same old chore. Wild, small (unintelligible), you know. (Unintelligible) wild, small, little sheep.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Unidentified Man: It's not so small.
OHMAN: The sun breaks through by mid morning, and the competition's in full swing. Spectators line up along the fences. They watch as a handler sends her Border Collie up a hill to collect three sheep. The handler uses whistles to tell her dog where to bring the sheep next.
(Soundbite of whistle)
OHMAN: The top Border Collies will be able to guide most sheep through four obstacles, into a small pen. No one has had a perfect score yet. Glen looks at the competition from under a camper. He's a tri-colored Border Collie with a bit of gray on his muzzle. Warren Mick (ph) walks over and unclips Glen's line.
Mr. WARREN MICK (Sheepdog Trainer): Come with me. Come with me. Come here.
OHMAN: They've been competing together for eight years. They could do well today. But the sheep are touchy, and Glen likes speed. Warren is a little concerned.
Mr. MICK: He's still a type that, you know, he always pushes the envelope a little bit, so if he's real obedient out there, we should do well.
Unidentified Woman: Next up, Warren Mick and Glen from Altamont, New York.
OHMAN: Warren and Glen stepped on to the trial field. Warren nods at Glen, and the Border Collie darts away to gather the sheep.
Unidentified Woman: The sheep are a little - moving a little quickly. And again, moving a little bit fast, this particular group of sheep. They're a little bit harder to steer.
OHMAN: Glen and the sheep are a bit out of control. Then Glen finally takes one of Warren's stop whistles. He freezes in that distinctive Border Collie stance, with his hips up, shoulders down, and eyes focused on the sheep.
Unidentified Woman: Warren is taking a little bit of time here to slow everything down, have everybody catch their breath, have the sheep settle.
OHMAN: The late recovery isn't enough. Warren and Glen lose too many points to do well.
Mr. MICK: He wasn't really settled down very much. He was pretty wired out there. Not good, but you have these days. You have good days, and you have not good days.
OHMAN: But Glen seems to think differently. He jumps into a kiddie pool and splashes about.
(Soundbite of water splashing)
OHMAN: For the Border Collie, any day with sheep is a good day. For NPR News, I'm Kinna Ohman.
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