Alaska Herding

by Carol Delsman, Executive Field Representative

Ann Lampley with "Dusty" on PT Sheep

June 5th and 6th, 2004, were the first dates since 1995 that an AKC herding event was held in Alaska, thanks to the GSD Club of Alaska and all of their great efforts, in conjunction with the Alaska Herding Group Club and all of it's hard-working members. The Alaska Herding Group Club is a newly A-sanctioned Herding Group Breed club working towards full Conformation and Obedience status at the present time, and hoping to pick up the herding sanctioning next. Both clubs worked closely together to make this 2-day event happen, and it was a great success! The sheep were willing and the dogs and handlers were talented. Almost every entrant qualified on BOTH of their runs for their HT and PT titles!

Julia Durych and "Mordica's Wild Card showing how well they have trained

Judge Steve Waltenburg giving Julia some calming words of wisdom

The herding facility set on 120 acres, Sunset Acres Farm in Wasilla, owned by Rick Williams and Suzanne Nevada, has only been clear of a record deep snowfall since the end of April, which basically gave the handlers and their dogs just 6 weeks of practice time in the large arena. Most of the practice sessions in the winter, with temperatures often below zero, were held in a small pen near their house and on walk-abouts down their long driveway and back. For those of you who practice in large arenas most of the year, you can only imagine how hard everyone worked in that short span of time to make their dreams of having a successful herding test come true.

Heidi Vania and "Dot Com" on Ducks

Ember Glo Tervurens pile up the titles.

It was a great weather weekend, fairly sunny and in the mid-70's both days with light winds. The sheep used were very nice Shetland-cross sheep that have seen a variety of upright breeds as well as Border Collies, so were responsive to good handling and correct positioning of the dog. It was nice to see that they were not knee-huggers, nor were they so light that beginning dogs couldn't handle them. Breeds in attendance were Belgian Tervurens, Belgian Sheepdogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Border Collies, Shelties, Australian Shepherds, a Caanan, a Rottweiler and an Australian Cattle Dog. One of the GSD's was a lovely 12-year-old gal who received her HT title also!

The judges also were just great. Many thanks to Judges Steve Waltenburg and Linda Rorem, as well as to Carol Delsman, AKC's Herding Representative on site, for all of their talents that they shared with both clubs. Everyone was eager to learn more about the AKC herding venue, and the judges and rep all spent time with the attendees afterwards giving suggestions and helpful hints which were very appreciated. Being in Alaska has it's disadvantages - traveling to any other AKC herding events requires air transportation for both the handlers and the dogs, as it is nearly impossible to drive to the nearest state some 1400+ miles away to get more trialing or training experiences unless you have a week or two off work. This makes it even more important to the participants that AKC herding trials are now, once again, being offered in Alaska.

The Alaska Herding Group Club was formed to promote the herding breeds specifically, in the conformation and obedience rings, but more importantly, to also promote and preserve the herding instinct and abilities of which the breeds were developed for. Along with the GSD Club of Alaska, it appears that they all have once again gotten off to a great start with the future of more AKC herding events shining on the horizon.

Suzanne Nevada and Betty show quiet, confident work on sheep.

PT Qualifiers

New HT titles!

Workers L to R Stock handlers, Secretary Sue Striebich, and Chair Sharon White