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Sheep dog nationals coming to Klamath Falls

Submitted photos A border collie goes to work rounding up sheep. The National Sheepdog Finals will take place at Kerr Ranch south of Klamath Falls Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.

July 30, 2006 By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor

The best of the best are returning to the Klamath Basin.

For five days, Sept. 26 through Oct. 1, North America's best border collies and their handlers will compete at the National Sheepdog Finals at the Kerr Ranch south of Klamath Falls.

Border collies are regarded as the world's smartest dogs. Testing indicates the high-energy, agile dogs have the problem-solving abilities of 12-year-old humans. The 150 dogs participating in the nationals will have proven those abilities by qualifying at trials in the United States and Canada.

Pups get a chance too

Along with the nationals will be the Nursery Championships for the best 3-year-old and younger dogs.

“We're doing it again,” said Geri Byrne, a member of the Klamath Basin Stockdog Association that is hosting the nationals. Byrne, owner of Border Collies in Action in Newell, was the coordinator for nationals held in the Klamath Basin in 1997 and 2001.

Unlike past years, Byrne will do more than organize. She and her 9-year-old border collie, Ted, will be among the competitors. Byrne said about 15 dogs and handlers from the Klamath Basin will compete.

Evening show debuts

New, too, will be an evening show featuring cowboy humorist Baxter Black, an author, National Public Radio commentator and columnist for many newspapers, including the Herald and News. Black will be available to autograph books Saturday afternoon, Sept. 30, and give a 7 p.m. performance. Tickets are $18 in advance or $20 at the performance.

“It'll be fun to have Baxter Black. That will make it special,” Byrne said, noting early ticket sales have been brisk.

In past years, the nationals have lasted eight days but this year's are being shortened to five. Because of the alignment of fields at the Kerr Ranch, which is located near the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, events will be held simultaneously on two fields.

The team of judges includes Ray Edwards from England, Warren Mick from New York, and Aled Owen from Wales. The event is sponsored by the U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association and American Border Collie Association.

Competition will begin Tuesday, Sept. 26, with preliminary rounds leading to the Sept. 30 semifinals with the top 40 dogs and the Oct. 1 double lift championship featuring the finest 17 dogs.

Daily admission fees will be charged with daily family passes and five-day passes also offered.

The events

Byrne said the activities will include agility trials, barrel racing, drug dog demonstration, a “sheep to shawl” demonstration and falconry exhibit, along with food and other vendors.

The primary emphasis, she says, will be on the dogs.

“Nowhere else in North America will you have an opportunity to watch the best sheepdogs in the world compete for the title of National Sheepdog Champion,” Byrne said. “Setting their ‘eyes' on the sheep, these master herders demonstrate the traits that have resulted from over 200 years of careful selection for the skills that make the border collie unique among the herding breeds: intelligence, style and heart.”

For more information call Byrne at (530) 664-5871, toll-free (800) 833-0332 or visit the Web site at www.sheepdogfinals.com.

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