The 22nd Annual Rural Hill Sheepdog Trials and Dog Festival meant a weekend of fun for dog lovers. Owners were encouraged to bring their furry friends to mingle, watch others compete and catch up on the latest gear for sports that include them both.
Nov. 12, during the National Border Collie Sheepherding Championships — where a border collie and its handler work together to herd sheep to predetermined locations for points — Asheville resident Hillary Livaccari sat on a fence rail with her male border collie named Neon,2, on her lap.
The pair sat transfixed, intently watching the handler and dog on the field working together. Listening to the whistles and calls, Livaccari could be seen talking in Neon’s ear. “We came last year and I hope we’ll compete in the trials next year,” said Livaccari.
Watching the pair working the sheep on the field she said, “We have a lot of work to do.”
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For others who were not ready to compete, the festival held other attractions to share with their pets. Many of the children who hugged the edge of the pool for The Ultimate Air Dogs competition ran back as the dogs jumped into the water, splashing water into the crowd.
Winston-Salem resident Stephanie Getter brought Levi — her male, 18-month-old, border collie mix — to compete that Saturday. Levi’s record is 25 feet 2 inches. During the first competition of the day, Levi snatched his throw toy in mid-air as he made a 21-foot, 2-inch jump, eliciting applause from the audience.
When the competitions would take a break, visitors were encourage to let their dogs try the pool, with the competitors offering tips and tricks.
For the dogs who did not like water, there were demonstrations on Freestyle Frisbee by Katie Baker and agility trials by the Greater Charlotte Shetland Sheepdog Club. After each demonstration, visitors were encouraged to bring their pets up and try the sport.
After a Frisbee demonstration with his 5-year-old Australian shepherd Rusty, Travis Doerzaph was explaining to Charlotte resident Amy Hoy how to train her dog. “First you take the Frisbee on the ground in front of the dog and move it back and forth rapidly,” he said. The movement will pique the dog’s interest, Doerzaph said.
As he lifted Rusty off the ground and onto his back, Rusty maintained his grip on the Frisbee in his hand. Doerzaph said it becomes the dog’s favorite toy, “It is hard to get him to let go,” he said.
Turning away, he hugged Rusty, who was still on his shoulder, and the two headed to the next demonstration.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about the festival: http://www.ruralhill.net/SheepdogTrials.asp
For info on historic Rural Hill: http://www.ruralhillfarm.org