2011 National Cattledog Finals crowns champions
“Three yearling calves stand grazing upon a green, grassy hillside several hundred yards in the distance,” described Jeff Mundorf, cattledog handler, finalist and committee chairperson for the 2011 U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA) National Cattledog Finals. “A black-and-white dog is flying as true as an arrow in a wide arc to a point just opposite the group of cattle. Soft whistles instruct the dog forward in control of the cattle that are now under his charge, moving forward down the green hill directed by the presence and power of their new master. The test of wills between dog and cattle is occasionally punctuated by an attempted escape by the cattle, but a quick nip, or a fast flank, re-establishes the dominance of the canine guide. Directed by an expert livestock handler, the intense border collie expertly stalks and guides the black calves over the green hills through multiple gates set on a course nearly half a mile in length.”
This eloquent description was brought to life May 26-29, 2011 in Redding, IA, for the annual National Cattledog Finals event. Eighty-two dogs and 50 handlers competed in the competition, with 14 nursery dogs and 21 open dogs qualifying for the finals round. RFD-TV was on-hand for the Finals to capture event highlights. An hour-long segment will air on the station Sept. 5, 6 and 10, 2011.
The day of finals started out with a hail storm, but once the weather passed, the trials began. One-by-one, handlers guided their border collies with a series of verbal or whistle commands, while the dog moved the cattle through a series of simulated gates, pens and finally, a trailer. The facility set-up for the event was sponsored by the Dave Smerchek family, with Under The Hat Family Company, which includes Titan Trailers, Titan West and Logan Coach. The Titan West O.K. Corral was the final obstacle in the last trial runs, with dogs having to guide four steers into a trailer on one end of the course and sort a final two steers into a load-out chute on the opposite end.
With rain, hail, mud, high heat and humidity, there were many variables for a handler and dog to contend with. One missed whistle command or slip in the wet grass cost many competitors the championship.
In the Nursery division, which features young dogs under the age of four, champions were selected from the 14 finalists. Greg Sharp, with Corner Solutions, Inc., announced the winners.
“Congratulations to Jerry Davis, and his dog ‘Juanita’ for taking the top honors in the 2011 National Cattledog Finals Nursery division,” said Sharp at the awards presentation. Davis is from Murray, IA. “We are proud to award Davis with the Jim Chant Memorial trophy, and it’s an honor to be a part of an event that celebrates good animal handling techniques, the wonderful border collie breed and the cattle and sheep ranchers who handle these dogs in practical applications across the country.”
The Jim Chant Memorial trophy was created in honor of finals committee chairman Jim Chant who shockingly passed away just two months before the event. Earning second place honors was Anna Guthrie with “Raskle”; third place went to Murray Kettler with “Scott”; and fourth place was Lyle East with “Sis.”
Awarding the coveted 2011 National Cattledog Finals Open Division Championship trophy was Smerchek, accompanied by Titan West employee Todd Perkins.
“On behalf of the Under The Hat Family Company, I’m proud to award Jimmy Walker and his dog ‘Mitch’ as the grand champion,” Dave Smerchek said. Walker is from Hillsboro, TX “It’s been a privilege to be a part of these cattledog trials, and we hope the O.K. Corral will be a new addition to your cattle operations. This event is all about the handlers, the dogs and the cattle and how they work together in harmony.”
Second place honors went to Bill Reed and “Lad.” Third place was awarded to Dwight Parker with “Craig.” Fourth place ribbons were earned by Pete Carmichal with “Liz.”
“Cattledog handling isn’t just a sport for most of us, its an important part of our cattle operations,” said Juan Reyes, finalist, committee member, past champion in the nursery and open divisions and Wyoming cattle rancher. “For our ranch, one cattledog replaces the need for three or four hired men, and unlike an employee, the dog doesn’t need vacation days or Friday nights on the town. No matter the hour, no matter the weather, I can count on my border collies. This is a practical application in the cattle business.”
editor’s note: for more information on border collies, cattledog handling and how to become a member of the usbcha, link to http://www.nationalcattledogfinals.net.
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