ShowSight Presents The Miniature American Shepherd

YOU DO WHA-A-AT?

by MARLA VANWILLIGAN

M y husband, Larry and I get the reaction of “You Do What?” from people who ask us what we are doing in our retirement. “We do competitive herding. You know, dogs moving sheep.” Little did we know the world we were get- ting into! Six and a half years ago, while doing disc dog with our dogs, we discov- ered Herding Instinct Testing at a Wags for Wishes event in Arizona. Our Minia- ture American Shepherds, Jack and Mat- tie, passed their herding instinct test that day which brought the end of disc dog activities and the beginning of our sheep herding adventures. It opened a whole new world to us. We traveled around the United States meeting wonderful people on our travels. Not only competing in AKC herd- ing events, we also have competed in the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) and Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) herding events. After reaching the intermediate level in AKC and AHBA and started sheep in ASCA, Jack retired from herding. I don’t think Jack really liked herding, but with his love for me, he worked hard to please us. We always thought that if we could find some way to hang Frisbees on the sheep that he would love it! Mattie went on to achieve an Advanced title on Course A sheep in AKC, Inter- mediate B course and Started Ducks. In AHBA, she has obtained intermediate titles in Herding Trial Dog and Herding Ranch Dog. In ASCA, she has Started Sheep and Ducks. We are working toward our herding championship in AKC. Mattie has earned two legs in AKC started cattle. Th e little blue dog doesn’t have a whole lot of power against those cows because of her smaller size, but she found her bark to help move them. One day we will get that last leg and our title! We are looking forward to obtaining that last leg and our Championship Title.

Mattie has even competed in the Novice level at some United States Border Collie Handler Association trials. We don’t always do well, but every journey to the post is an adventure and learning experience. Mattie and I found our trainer, Terry Parish to be an invaluable source for train- ing and education. It’s people like her who

help us along the way. She is a very suc- cessful Border Collie handler and breeder. She trains all breeds and has helped many obtain their Championships on their dogs. Another invaluable support in this journey is my husband, Larry. He lets me train his dog Mattie that, at times, is the other woman in our marriage!

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2015 • 279

Powered by