Sheepdog courtesy Tony RichardDoreen Wallace wrote in English Lakeland, “The sheep-dog of the fells is a wonder.” And rightly so. The dogs are highly valued by their owners as essential co-workers. The generally smallish collies are bred to their task, and through the generations their genes carry many of the messages they need to know.

Further training by their owners completes their schooling. A dog must understand his master's motions, calls, and whistles and respond instantly and appropriately. Both skill and concentration are needed for success.

Sheepdogs in truck courtesy Graeme DougalA sheepdog's judgment and intelligence are impeccable. They possess the ability to coax sheep down from craggy ledges without alarming them. They must gather up sheep scattered over miles of fells, herd them to their destination, and stand guard over them.

Sheepdog trials are held throughout Cumbria, mostly in August. The Patterdale Dog Day has taken place since the 1890s. Rydal, Brampton, and Applethwaite are some of the other trial sites. Check the Tourist Information Centres for further trials and information.

Sheepdog and sheep courtesy Graeme DougalPhotos courtesy of Graeme Dougal and Tony Richard

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