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Tug and Towle take world stock dog championship

Posted on October 7, 2014 by Shaunavon Standard

Sometimes a hobby is just a way to fill some empty time in a person’s life. Sometimes a hobby causes a major change in someone’s life. You could put Terry Towle of Shaunavon in the second category.

In 1996, Terry was the fire chief for the City of Courtenay, BC. “I had a border collie and I watched a demonstration (of stock dogs) on July 1. It got me hooked.”

Soon Terry and his pooch were both involved in learning the ins and outs of stock dog trials competition.

“The stock dog world got me so passionate about livestock and working dogs that I wanted my own acreage,” said Terry, who retired as the City of  Courtnay’s fire chief in 2007.

After his retirement, Terry and his wife Kathy moved off Vancouver Island and bought a quarter-section near Shaunavon.

The lifestyle change didn’t stop there.

“Originally, I had ten sheep for training dogs,” said Terry. “Now I have 75-80 breeding ewes and a couple of rams. The lamb crop this year numbered about 150 or so.”

Terry also manages to somehow find time to work as the service manager at Silver Sage Chev in Shaunavon.

The World Stock Dog Championship at Stampede, the richest such competition in the world, is called an indoor trial, because it is held under a roof.

Each dog is required to collect three sheep, guide them around a demanding obstacle course, through a chute and into a pen. It is a timed event, each dog and handler team can take no more than four minutes. If a sheep proves difficult, the dog and handler have to manage it – but the dog is not allowed to bite.

The sheep in this year’s competition were all difficult, according to Pam Barker of the sheep committee.

“The sheep were challenging,” she said. “They were very curious about the dogs and very defensive.”

With all that, Barker noted, “They were equally difficult for everyone.”

This year’s World Stock Dog Championship field was 52 dogs and the trials were held in the Agrium Western Event Centre. The first and second rounds were on Friday, July 4th and Saturday, July 5th. The final 12 competed on Sunday, July 6th.

Each dog and handler team received a point for each sheep that is guided around each obstacle. Tug and Terry got their assigned wooly trio all the way around the course and through the chute, but couldn’t get them into the pen. Since nobody else got even that close, Tug and Terry were the winning combination.

“Tug has been here three years and he’s at the top of his game,” Terry said. “He’s working every day and he did everything I wanted him to do – read the stock right and did what we had to do. I’ve been coming to Stampede every year for nine years and this is the first time I’ve been in as a finalist. Winning this has always been a goal of mine, ever since I started.”

Not only did Terry take home the winner’s cheque for $10,000, but he also won the Sponsor’s Choice Award – a handy trailer contributed by Greg Thomson of Bar T5 Agra Services Inc.

The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west. The Calgary Stampede contributes to the quality of life in Calgary and southern Alberta through our world-renowned 10-day Stampede, year-round facilities, western events and several youth and agriculture programs. Exemplifying the theme We’re Greatest Together; we are a volunteer-supported, not-for-profit community organization that preserves and promotes western heritage and values. All revenue is reinvested into Calgary Stampede programs and facilities.

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