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2020 Top Herding Dogs

Full Results PDF

Herding tests and trials require dogs to move a group of livestock (ducks, sheep or cattle) through a designated course of gates, and into a pen. Guided by the commands of their handlers, dogs of all breeds can compete, as long as they are forceful enough to maintain control of the stock, yet quiet enough not to panic or scatter the herd. For the second year in a row, Canada’s Top Herding Dog for 2020 was a very talented Australian Cattle Dog named Callie. 

Top Herding Dog – HChA Shadybrook Callie Jr RN CGN SDIS HIC HAS HAD

Call Name: Callie
Australian Cattle Dog
Owner/Handler: Janet Lynn Leach
Breeder: Carol Delsman

I am so honoured and emotional that my sweet Callie was once again the Top Herding Dog in Canada for 2020. Two years in a row is such a great achievement in her memory. She was running at the Advanced level for both of her award years in all classes of livestock. 2020 was a tough year worldwide with activities shutting down because of the horrible corona virus. Many herding trials and dog events were cancelled across Canada, but there were a few events before the onset of COVID-19 in March, and later in the summer after Public Health implemented safe ways to host outdoor events.

During the summer months, Callie and I took a trip across Western Canada competing in what turned out to be her final trials. I won’t call it retirement because if she had remained healthy, I believe she had many years left to do what we loved doing together! She was diagnosed with terminal cancer a month after we returned from that trip. November 18, 2012 – April 5, 2021 (8 years old).
How does it feel to have your dog honoured twice as Canada’s Top Herding Dog? Emotional! Excited, proud, sad (because I miss her), but happy she has been honoured and noticed, and I am speechless! I think I’m more emotional because I found out about both of these awards within less than two months of saying goodbye to her!

What will you remember the most about Callie? Callie was a clown. She loved to do tricks, and she loved learning new tricks. Her favourite was to wipe her feet on a mat. It was an easy trick to teach her, and I learned how to from my friend Karen Brearley. She also liked to burrow under things   beneath the bed, under tables, in a closet and even under a cabin that she couldn’t get back out of! She was definitely a ‘denning dog’.

How did was the 2020 competitive herding season different from those in years before? Two things were quite different in 2020. First, there were fewer trials. Many were cancelled because of COVID. We cancelled our big trials at both facilities here in British Columbia, so most of her competitions were in other provinces at facilities we were not used to. And second, most of Callie’s training had to be done on our own farm. I like to take my competition dogs to as many different herding facilities, but I couldn’t do that in 2020.

Do you have any plans to compete in the future? I hope so. I now have Callie’s son, Downriver Blue Trucker. He is still young and silly, but he’s starting to learn good herding skills and has started to step into his mom’s shoes doing chores around our farm.

What other goals would you like to achieve in herding, dog sports or dogs in general? I would like to continue passing on training techniques to work with all breeds of dogs to as many people who want to learn them. I think it’s important that breeders of Herding breeds aim for good conformation, so dogs are physically able to work, and instinct of what they are bred to do. Herding competitions are one way to keep people interested in herding and help them set goals for training their dogs, which also helps breeders to assess their line’s herding instinct. I think that Callie’s legacy does help to show that. Callie earned an Award of Merit at a national specialty, and these two awards help showcase that she was one heck of a good herding dog, too! I can’t thank Carol Delsman (Callie’s breeder) enough for breeding such a great dog!


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