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By Helene Stearns

It was a beautifully crisp, sunny early December afternoon with temperatures in the single digits and lots of snow covering the ground. Twelve dogs and their humans were out for a Fun Farm Olympics Day in Bangor, PA. Our host, Carolyn Wilki, had a delightful gourmet buffet inside her warm farmhouse kitchen, which was a haven from the harsh elements.

We arrived with our freshly stripped-out red Cairn (Kelly) wearing a red sweater. The snow was high, so we carried Kelly over to where the fun competition was to take place. Someone asked, "Oh, what kind of dog is that?" Then snickered when we told them. Undaunted, we joined the others. A nice assortment of herding dogs all standing very quietly with their humans listening to the instructions for the competition.

It wasn't long before Kelly (typically Cairn) spotted the nice-sized herd of sheep. Never seeing sheep before, he couldn't believe his eyes. This was just too good to be true. "Let me at 'em!" his barks demanded. With all his barks and whines amidst the tranquility, we decided it was best to put him in the car until his turn came.

The Test-Move the sheep and feed them---consisted of two parts: The dogs and the humans, which is timed as a whole. Each dog (on a leash) had to herd ten sheep from a holding pen down a 200-foot-plus lane, divide the sheep 5-each in two feeding pens. Then the humans had to close each gate, run out around the pens to a large bucket of feed and put two scoops of feed in a trough for each of the two pens of sheep. It was decided I would open the holding pen gate and go ahead of the sheep. My husband (Karl) would hold the leash with Kelly on the other end to herd the sheep through the gate and down the lane.

Now starts the fun. I opened the gate, the clock was started and down the snowy lane I ran as fast as I could. "Get out of our way or you'll get run over!" my husband cried as he, Kelly, and the sheep pressed forward like a stampede. It suited me just fine to oblige, as the thundering hooves of these very large sheep were about to trample on me as they tried desperately to get away from this very strange little red dog staring them down and nipping at their heels. They all shot past me, and I followed them. Just like that, Kelly got 5 into one pen and 5 into another. Before we could get the gate closed on the second pen, though, one sheep (a ram with big horns) bolted out and put his head down. Kelly didn't miss a beat, and got right behind him, to nip at his heels. Back to the pen he went with no protest.

At this point, we were laughing so hard we forgot about the human part of the test. With the clock still ticking away we were reminded that was only half the test, we still had to feed the sheep. Unfortunately, this cost us much precious time. So without further ado, and still laughing, Karl ran to the lane gate to get behind the feeding pens to feed the sheep. One pen of sheep was hungry and ate fast. The second pen took their leisure. Not until all the feed disappeared, was the timing stopped.

After all the dogs were run, the results were announced in front of a toasty warm fireplace inside the farmhouse. Out of 12 dogs, most of whom have herded before, our little Kelly came in 5th, was nicely commended and received a little sheep trophy. The 2nd through 4th places were only fractions of seconds less than Kelly. If we had done our job, Kelly's timing would have been greatly reduced. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and have great memories of a fun day with our Cairn Terrier.

P.S. No one's snickering now.


Disclaimer: Reader may download one copy for personal use, but any further dissemination of the article needs to be with express permission of the author, Helene Stearns 

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