With a series of barks, bleats and whistles, things are about to get wild and woolly at Alex Fraser Park.
The small livestock ring at the Agri Centre area will soon be home to the year’s first events by the Cariboo Stock Dogs group. On May 11-12 the club offers a clinic to teach you and the stock dog in your life how to put those herding instincts to use.
Then, on May 13-14, a competition will be held: the Wild & Woolly Stock Dog Arena Trials.
The Cariboo Stock Dogs (CSD) event is the brainchild of Crystal Smith, along with herding friends Natasha Reichlin and Deborah Armstrong.
“We are stock dog owners whose goal is to utilize these talented dogs by offering training, resources and trialing for those who want to go to the next level,” they said in a joint statement. “Most of us have a history in agriculture and would like to see these amazing dogs used more on farms and ranches. There are many people who don’t have access to stock. We are working to set up a place to meet, learn and train.”
The clinic is an introduction to the sport, for dog, handler, or both. The instructor is Lee Lumb, two-time member of Team Canada and a finalist at both the Canadian and U.S. championships. All spots are taken for the hands- and paws-on lessons in the ring, but there are auditing positions available for $75 per day. Activities start at 8:30 a.m. both days.
“You can learn an incredible amount by sitting and listening to each session. The big difference is you can not bring your dog in the arena with the clinician. Questions are permitted by auditors and will be fielded by one of the organizers. The clinician takes each person and dog individually and wears a microphone so that those in the audience auditing can learn from each dog’s session.”
The Wild & Woolly Stock Dog Arena Trials, a sanctioned event by the BC Stock Dog Association, starts each day at 9 a.m. and runs into the late afternoon.
CSD already has plans for a second clinic Sept. 21-22 with guest instructor Jen L’Arrivee, and another two-day stock dog trials event on Sept. 23-24.
Registration is open on the CSD website: www.cariboostockdogs.ca where you can also find a reading list of suggested instruction books, podcasts, and links to more information about the agri-art of stock dog herding.
The group is an affiliated member of the Alex Fraser Park operations group.
“Many of us are farmers and ranchers or have been involved in agriculture in one manner or the other,” said the trio. “Years ago, the Cariboo had an active stock dog group. It is our hope to rekindle that interest. Stock dogs are fantastic pets. Most have natural stock sense and ability. It is our goal to help those who want to learn, train and practice with their dog. As many people don’t have access to stock or training, one of our goals is to bring this opportunity to the community.”
For anyone who misses this nearest set of activities, or wants to join the club for regular stock dog resources, reach out by email at email@example.com.