In Vermont, Sheepdogs Compete

Almost any weekend this summer and fall, you'll find a gathering of sheep, dogs and people on some northeastern field. They're here to take a little break, have some fun and test out their border collies' skills. The Quechee Scottish Festival in Vermont has its own sheepdog competition.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

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.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.