Stock dogs bring ‘em in


  • Aug. 17, 2011 10:00 a.m.

By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

The Ponoka Ag Society brought the community together again this year with the “Generations in Agriculture” Ponoka County Fair.

Rainbow the Clown wowed children with his most interesting balloon animals — right next to an airbrush artist who would airbrush a rainbow mermaid on your arm if you felt the need. Families could mosey on over to a bouncing apparatus of their choice to give young ones a chance to let off some summer vacation steam while the smell of freshly cooked burgers and fries wafted over from the food concession booth. There was more than enough entertainment for families of all ages.

Inside the Stampede grounds there were several horse and roping events sure excite and intrigue any viewer. In the smaller infield arena, just east of the main events, the stock dog competition was under way. Border collies and their handlers had to shepherd three sheep over a specified course, finally ending with the sheep corralled in an open pen. The handlers used verbal commands and a whistle that made different tones to direct the border collies to complete the task.

There were four entrants in this competition and each of them had their own way to communicate with their sheepdogs. Thad Buckler, Corey Perry, Wendy Schmaltz and Russ Finlay (who was also provided commentary throughout the weekend’s events) have competed with each other before so there was an air of friendly competition.

Schmaltz said she will take one of her border collies, Gin, to the World Sheepdog Trials in Cumbria, England in September. It is a process that includes vaccinations for the dog and travel costs, but according to her, the bragging rights of winning out-weigh the cost. Corey Perry was the eventual winner in the competition.