Mountain Mayhem: National Sheepdog Finals |

Mountain Mayhem: National Sheepdog Finals

May Selby
Mountain Mayhem
1. 2014 Champions Gail (the Border Collie) and Alasdair MacRae (her handler) celebrate their win with his wife Patricia. Kerri Back Photography.

Strang Ranch in Missouri Heights hosted the 2014 National Sheepdog Finals from Sept. 9 through Sunday, joined in part by the Aspen Valley Land Trust, the American Border Collie Association, the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association and the U.S. Border Collie Club. Gunning for a purse worth more than $40,000, the canine competitors were among the top 150 in North America, following a season of qualifiers held in the U.S. and Canada.

In a test of physical and mental strength, discipline and obedience, the dogs faced challenges for their ability to maneuver sheep in a calm, controlled manner. With six scored parts to each course run, the philosophy behind the Sheepdog Nationals is that working dogs need to help a shepherd manage flocks of sheep around the ranch.

It was a long, hard week of competition with the preliminaries staged Sept. 9 to 12, the semifinals on Sept. 13 and Sunday’s finals starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. The handler and sheepdog team of Alasdair MacRae and Gail emerged the winners in the end, earning the respect of all and collecting the 2014 trophy.

The finals generally take three years off before returning to the same setting. Based on the success of this year’s event, however, rumor has it the event may return sooner, in 2016.

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