SHEEP DOGS ON SHOW

I was so attached to the dear, dear Highlands and
missed the fine hills so much. There is a great
peculiarity about the Highlands and Highlanders;
and they are such a chivalrous, fine, active people.
Queen Victoria

When asking tour people their favorite part of the trip, several mentioned the Leault Farm where we watched a sheepherding demonstration. High in the Highlands we stopped late in the threatingly-stormy afternoon.

Leault is part of Dunachton Estate in Kincraig (11,000 acres in size).

Neil Ross, the dog owner/trainer received his first border collie when he was 5 and began competing in sheepdog trials at the age of 8. He won three titles for Scotland at the International trials. (Who knew there were international sheepherding competitions?) He’s won some other titles, too.

I think (not sure) that he now has 38 dogs (and 2,500 sheep). I also know that the reason we all liked the presentation is not only because of Neil’s talent in controlling the dogs, but the abundance of energetic puppies who were already learning sheep-herding – and charming the audience as they tumbled over the rocks. (They practice on ducks. Seriously. They give the ducks “the eye” to make them do what they want.)

The amazing thing is Neil has several dogs out in the field at once, but can control them individually with his shepherd’s whistle. He also shouts commands – “Away to me!” to make the dog run right and “Come bye!” to make the dog run left.

After they did the sheepdog presentation, Neil sheared a sheep (once again I thought of Isaiah 53:7, because just like the sheep I saw earlier this spring at Kline Farm – it did not move during the shearing.)

About halfway through, Neil asked if anyone in the audience wanted to shear the sheep. Some from the other tours went up. I hesitated, but I kept thinking, “Girl, when’s the next time you will have the opportunity to shear a sheep on a Scottish Highland?”  Not an opportunity that comes up everyday, so I did it. Actually, it was sort of interesting. Wool looks rough and tangly, but next to the sheep’s skin, it’s a different texture – straight and easy to cut. Maybe that was simply the way Neil was holding it, but even the fact that you COULD pull it straight and cuttable was fascinating to me.

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