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2019 Top Herding Dogs

Top Herding Dogs – Official Results

  For the first time ever recorded, in 2019 Herding was added to the Top Dog Awards!
Herding tests and trials require dogs to move a group of livestock (ducks, sheep or cattle) through a designated course of gates and pens, guided by the commands of their handlers. Dogs must be forceful enough to gain the respect of the stock and maintain control, yet quiet enough not to panic or scatter the herd.
In its inaugural year, Canada’s first Top Herding Dog was a very special Australian Cattle Dog named Callie. We got to speak to her handler about this history making dog.

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

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

What sparked your interest in herding trials? I was on the original committee that submitted rules and course descriptions to the Canadian Kennel Club so that they could create a herding program. I am still on the Herding Council and am the only one of the original members left on it.
Did Callie show early potential?  Yes, she did. I started taking her out to do chores with me when she was a very young pup. I didn’t ask her to work at that time – just to hang out and be calm around the livestock. But if I needed to move the stock somewhere, she was always there and willing to help.
What do you recall about Callie’s first herding trial?  Her very first herding trial was in California at our American National Specialty. She was only nine months old. She was so excited that she jumped over the stock handler (set out person) and ran through the middle of the sheep creating a big mess! I laughed, and got things under control. The judge qualified her run, although I don’t think I would have!
What makes an Australian Cattle Dog an ideal choice for someone interested in herding? Australian Cattle Dogs are great herding dogs and are one of the herding breeds that continue to have lots of natural instinct. Breeders have done a great job including herding instinct into their breeding programs. I find that many Australian Cattle Dogs use their eyes and their confidence, enabling them to move livestock efficiently.      
What was your favourite competition moment of 2019?  My favourite competition was held at HAWG Farm in Cobble Hill, Vancouver Island, BC. It was my first time competing on geese, and it was so much fun to watch the dogs try to figure out how to work their flock that would not stay together. The dogs had to work hard to get through the course. I was so busy laughing at Callie trying to keep these creatures together that I couldn’t help her much, but she figured it out and we got through the course with a pretty good score and our first Herding Championship point. 
What motivates you?  Ha Ha! Lots of things! I love watching all of the dogs think and figure things out, and herding always gives them that opportunity. I also love it when my dogs do well and knowing that there is a competition that motivates me to practise and create training plans to work through their weaknesses. I also really enjoy working through problems with my herding friends. We talk about ideas, training techniques and challenges. I have some of the best herding comrades ever!
How does it feel to have herding added among the other Top Dog events?  The BEST! I’m so happy that the Canadian Kennel Club has included herding now. I always wondered why it wasn’t included.
Any advice for someone interested in herding? Find a good trainer and sign up for some clinics. Enjoy the journey. The competitions are fun, but the training is the best bonding with your dog that you can imagine! The dogs love the training and they love using their instinct. 
How did you keep Callie sharp and in shape during the pandemic? Callie was my chore dog on my farm, so I had to use her every time we move sheep or cattle around the pastures, which we do even during a pandemic! 
I’m very sad to say that Callie came down with a very aggressive form of cancer as the 2020 herding season was just finishing up. She passed away a few months into 2021 at only eight years of age. I’m so happy that she has been given the honour of being recognized for all that she accomplished in her short life.


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