Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skills and Intelligence of Sheep Dogs to Win Fans across the Globe; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skills and Intelligence of Sheep Dogs to Win Fans across the Globe; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Scott Smith

THE news that the World Sheep Dog Trial, which takes place at Lowther Park in Cumbria next month, is to be broadcast on television is a fantastic boost to all associated with this centuries-old tradition.

The event in Cumbria promises to be a great celebration of the origins and achievements of shepherding and of the working sheep dog which date back as far as Biblical times when Jacob described how the "people of the east tended their flocks of sheep" and St Luke was "abiding in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night" - albeit in those days without dogs.

It was not until the Middle Ages when the Romans came to Britain that sheep numbers increased dramatically as the value of wool was recognised. The status of the shepherd rose considerably and by the 1840s It was not until Ages when the to Britain that the number of shepherds in the country reached its peak.

increased Sheep dogs were than an essential part of herding these flocks and, although their origins are not entirely clear, the name collie may derive from the German Kuli (meaning worker) or the Celtic Coli meaning useful.

It was their instinct of collecting and herding the sheep to their master, together with a high degree of intelligence, which made them adaptable for this purpose. By the 1850s these shepherding dogs were being trained to drive sheep away from their handler as well as separating some from the flock to be taken elsewhere.

In the late 1800s, competitions or trials were arranged between individuals involving four or five dogs to show off the skills which had been acquired. This pastime then became popular very quickly not only in this country but in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe.

However, it was the British working sheep dog which formed the basis of the better dogs. The most successful dog in the 1890s was Old Hemp, bred by Adam Telfer of Cambo, Northumberland, who took part in trials from the age of one and nearly always came first. …

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