Saturday, July 3, 2010

Andy and Suki

Last week I received a call from a local sheepdog enthusiast named Andy. He has land and some sheep in nearby Custer and wanted to connect to other local sheepherding enthusiasts.

Yesterday I drove out to meet him and see his place. He has a very sweet, 1 ½ year old, smooth-coated border collie named Suki that he bought 6 months ago from a breeder in Portland. Her line traces to dogs from Patrick Shannahan, who is a very well-known handler and trainer.

Andy has a beautiful set-up. The back porch of his rambler looks out over the sheep pens. Beyond the pens, a river traces its way along the edge of the property, marked by cattails, willows, and thick shrubs. Beyond it are more pastures and farm buildings.

We sat for awhile on the porch, with Suki splitting time between us, seeking attention wherever she could, while Rodeo spent most of the time lying at my feet. Andy moved to the area a year ago from Arizona, where he had a 1,400 acre ranch and the nearest town was 30 miles away.

Andy’s very relaxed and friendly, and obviously extremely knowledgeable. He’s also begun working with Brian, so it will be fun to compare notes and do some training together. His sheep are katahdins and they’re extremely light, meaning that they turn and move away from a dog pretty much as soon as they see it. In time, with more training, they’ll become ‘dog broke’ and less flighty. 

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