The fields at Sheepy Hollow Farm, in Hop Bottom, PA (yes, that was the name of the farm) became a colony of glampers, with RVs that often reminded me of small apartments in San Francisco, as they were outfitted with so many amenities. The folks who populated these trials set major portions of their lives aside to travel to dog trials all over the country, and not just Sheepy Hollow It was RVs and dogs as far as the eye can see.
"North of Tunkhannock, tucked between the rolling hills of Susquehanna County is the small town of Hop Bottom, PA. It’s the kind of one-stop-sign town that normally doesn’t draw a second look from people passing through. But once a year the community comes alive for a really unique event, the Pennsylvania Stock Dog Trials. Held since 1892 in the same place – Sheepy Hollow farm – this stock dog time trial is one of the oldest such competitions in the county and its the epitome of the bond between canine and man." ~Bill desRosiers
During a typical stock dog trial competition, handlers must control a flock of sheep vicariously through a stock dog, usually a Border Collie. Different vocal calls are used to manipulate the dog and ultimately maneuver the flock of sheep across a long field and around obstacles. The competition is an amazing display of trust and intelligence – displayed by both handler and canine. Scoring is out of one hundred but judges are critical of every move, deducting points for losing control of the dog, the sheep or missing obstacles throughout the course.
In 2013, when I took the photos above, there were almost 300 handlers, and nearly 1000 people visited the site to watch the trials over the course of three days. I remember the food was always great, and there were plenty of fresh baked goods.
Below is a quick clip of what it is like to watch trials, coming from Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. The Sheepy Hollow Trials, no longer exist. I miss them. It was such a great thing to have, literally, in my back yard.
We became dog parents of a Border Collie in May of 2009. Our deaf Border Collie, Piper, joined us as a rescue from Glen Highland Farm, then located in New York, now in Virginia. I wrote about Piper, and the other dogs that live with us, in a previous blog post. If you want to meet Piper again, CLICK HERE.
Border Collies (BCs) have a focus like no other dog we have ever owned. They require a job, lots of exercise, and can be a little OCD at times.
But I credit Piper with my ability to understand the breed and photograph it better, especially when an owner wants natural, working-dog scenarios, and not typically posed or studio photos.
Tinker is a farm dog. He is quite a bit older now (close to 13), but still as focused and ready for action as any young BC. You can see his keen eye and typical BC stare in the photo below. The crouch is instinctual in the breed, as they will move low to the ground for more stealth while working.
Tinker loves to play with sticks and balls, but our Piper does not like to play with toys at all. He prefers to watch our cats and follow them around. As I mentioned, they need a job.
Tinker is a smooth-coated BC. His coat is thick and lovely. In the photo above, I had his owner use a large stick to grab Tinker's attention, and as he waited for the stick to be thrown, he took the crouch position in anticipation of the game. It was an opportune time to snap the photo.
Border Collie eyes are usually small and dark in color. This has to be taken into account when photographing a BC subject.
Border Collies originated in Scotland. The word "collie" means sheepdog. They have strength, stamina, intelligence, and a great work ethic. They also have an impervious coat, which protects them in all sorts of weather.
Border Collies have a lifespan of 10 to 17 years. They can weigh up to 45 pounds and their height is usually somewhere around 22 inches at the shoulder.
They are one of the smartest breeds I have encountered in my years of owning, and now photographing, dogs.
Click Into the Circle
I am part of a weekly blogging group of professional pet photographers located all over the planet. To see what others have blogged about in this week's topic, start here with Dallas dog photographer Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography, as she shares a beautiful location for pet portraits, the Rose Garden of Farmers Branch where she recently met an adorable senior Labrador Retriever named Scooby. Then find the link at the end of each blog to click on to the next photographer.
Happy Father's Day to all the dog and skin-kid Dads out there! Enjoy your weekend!