The Elusive One

By Viki Kidd

*Photo credit to Viki Kidd

Emmy. Reese. Pride. Nina. Lynn. Gill. Rime.
These are the names of well-bred pups, over the past years, that had me dreaming of being ‘THE ONE’.  ‘THE ONE’ that will not only be my next Open dog; but ‘THE ONE’ who would be my partner that I can go to the post with knowledge that we, as a team, can place or even possibly win, in an Open dog trial.

However,  ‘THE ONE’ is an elusive beast.

When I was asked to write about my latest up and coming pup(s), I thought hmmm…. who should I talk about. At the time I had three, now I have 4 and by the end of the year I’ll have 5 youngsters under 14 months of age. Yes, five. I have gone a bit crazy this past year! I kept 2 littermates from last Fall’s litter - Miller and Retta; made an impulse buy in the summer - Lainey; and then surprisingly, got a pup when I was 5th on a list for females – not usually good odds. Little Amy from Tennessee. Number 5 will be a pup from this year’s litter - as yet unnamed.


We have all heard or know that picking a sheepdog puppy is basically a crap shoot. There is not a ‘puppy testing’ for herding instinct or talent in an 8-week-old pup. You definitely should choose from registered parents who are both working or trialing dogs and that you like/appreciate their working style. While this will not guarantee results, it will substantially increase the odds of getting a good one.
The definition of good is different for everyone and certainly changes as your development as a handler progresses. I have been fortunate to have some really good Open level trial dogs both in the past: Brae,
Cash, Merle, Macy, Reed and presently: Jones, Cass and the newest member of the team, Townes. Their intuitiveness, inherent skills, talent, way with sheep, method and desire to partner with me is the high bar for which I now judge pups who may earn a place in my kennel.

A pup whose talent and skill levels off at or around the Pro-Novice or Ranch Level will be happier, and indeed cherished, in a home of a beginner handler. Reese is now teaching her newbie owner/hander the basics of sheepdog training and to be trial competitor in Novice-Novice and beyond. New people to our sport are never a bad thing. A dog trained to Pro-Novice or Ranch will be able to do any and everything a farmer could possibly need. Nina is considered a gift from the Sheep Gods in her new home. Her new owner said she didn’t know how she did it without a dog before! Gill is in charge of his own small flock of 20 ewes that he moves from one pasture to another daily followed by hanging on the front porch minding his small part of the world. Lynn has her own flock of over 100 ewes and occasionally competes in small local trials in Pro-Novice. Successful placements such as these for dogs who didn’t quite make the grade for my own requirements gives me such gratification and pride in their training.

Emmy, Rime and Pride didn’t really want to be sheepdogs. The sheep were not enough of a reward for them for the disciplines of trial training. There was talent and some skill evident in each of them, but not enough to teach a new handler or be able to do daily jobs for a farmer. Where they are excelling with all the smarts, loving natures, and enthusiasm of Border Collies are as treasured family companions. Their owners love that their dogs came fully house, car, crate, leash and recall trained!

As sheepdog trial competitors and enthusiasts, we should always be thinking of, or training up our next partner, as our dogs have comparatively short careers - only about 8 years, if they stay healthy and sound. Also, it is more enjoyable to go to a trial and compete with more than one dog. Two dogs in Open and at least one in the Nursery classes. So, in order to avoid the inevitable dog drought, we need to keep searching for the next good one.

As for my four (five) youngsters, check in with me in 18 months or so and I’ll let know if I found “THE ONE”.

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