By Mark Laker
I’d planned to continue writing about goal setting and ideas for conducting annual reviews this month. That was until I watched One Man and his Dog on Countryfile recently. I felt moved to write about the incredible people and their dogs at this year’s finals.
Watching dogs work sheep has always fascinated me
I appreciate the hundreds of hours of training and dedication that must go into working a dog at the top level of the sport.
Karen and I went on a trialing taster day many years ago, we enjoyed it. The dogs we had at the time were hilarious. Millie couldn’t see the sheep, she was totally fixated on us, and Deacon my Border Collie, was apparently a natural, not on sheep though, maybe cows, or Buffalo! he was far too strong for sheep – I think the trainer was being polite and meant unruly!
This year’s young handlers put on an amazing show of professionalism and dedication while competing at this high level. Even when things didn’t go to plan, they continued to focus on the objective and worked with their dogs – I was impressed.
And then there was the judge, our very own Ceri
Karen and I were shouting at the TV “Hey, we know Ceri, she’s famous, we know her!”.
For me, this competition demonstrated top human and dog performers working in unknown and testing conditions – including a motley bunch of sheep, and under the pressure of TV and fellow competitors.
After the immediate ‘wow’ I got from watching these dogs and handlers, my brain flicked into sports psychology mode. I started wondering how the competitors prepare for these events, how do they warm-up (all that whistling must play havoc with your lips), do they visualise the outrun, the drive, how they’re going to pen the sheep. And how do they maintain focus when the performers (sheep and dogs) are working so far away. These questions and many others went over in my mind.
Congratulations to this year’s finalists who were all fantastic and a credit to the sport.
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