Spent a lovely afternoon last weekend at the Vashon Sheepdog Classic Dog Trials on Vashon Island. The event took place from dusk till dawn over a Friday Saturday Sunday in a field owned by Misty Isle Farms, a working cattle ranch on the island. In addition to choosing the top dogs to continue on to the National competition, the weekend also raised fund for Vashon Partners in Education through raffles, sponsorships and other events. There were also craft and food booths, most supporting non-profits.
It should be stated right up front that my familiarity with Sheepdog competitions is pretty much nil. However, I do have a certain amount of enthusiasm for working dogs, as I have I have seen them at work in the countryside around our house in Orthez. The dairy where we buy our yogurt and cheese, located a couple miles outside Orthez in the Bearnaise countryside, is called Lait P’tit Bearnais. It is an independent, organic farm managed by a young couple. He manages the herd of about 40 cows with very little help except that of 2 border collies. To watch dogs like these at work is to begin to understand how much they love the job…I a have seen dogs so happy.
Based on the number of happy dogs at the Vashon Sheepdog Classic, the weekend was a huge sucess. Not only were the competing dogs clearly having a great time, it seemed to me that the many dogs who came with spectators clearly were relishing the change to get out and run around as well.
In advance, I was attracted to the event as an excuse to relax on the grass and have a picnic with friends while watching cute dogs, and the weekend certainly delivered on that level. I thought I had brought a nice picnic lunch (cheese, roasted chicken, salads, charcuterie, pink wine) but several of the people on blankets near us had assembled truly heroic meals.
The actual dog trials were fun as well, if slow paced (while still being about as taxing on my attention as picnicking and napping allowed). Certainly, the coordination between dog and handler was impressive. Here are a couple photos.