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Badlands to host annual Sheepdog trials

The Wisconsin Working Sheep Dog Association will host its 33rd annual Sheepdog Trials over the 2018 Labor Day weekend at the Badlands Sno-Park in Hudson. Photo courtesy of Jader Bug Photography

Submitted by the Wisconsin Working Stock Dog Association

Sheep herding with dogs is an ancient art and the pinnacle of dog intelligence. Come see some of the best shepherds and sheepdogs in the country compete at the Wisconsin Working Stock Dog Association's Sheepdog Trials on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 3, 2018, at the Badlands Sno-Park in Hudson.

The trials will run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday and wrap up 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday in the Double-Lift Final at the Badlands Sno-Park site, 772 Kinney Road. The cost is $8 per person. Children under 10 enter free.

Shepherds from across the USA and Canada will gather to test themselves and their dogs against the terrain and the sheep. Some notable competitors schedule to appear include:

Alasdair MacRae, considered the LeBron James of sheepdog competitions. Originally from Scotland, MacRae won the highest honor in the sport, the International Supreme Championship in the UK, before coming to the USA. Since arriving, he is the 12-time national champion and has won all the "majors" many times over.

He was champion here a few years ago with a spectacular run on the double-gather course on the last day, fetching two groups of ten sheep each 500 and 750 yards away, combining them, and then sorting off five marked sheep inside a marked area—a true test of skill, stamina, and partnership between dog and handler.

Sophie Hemmings of Lake Geneva, Wis. The youngest registered competitor at 16, Hemmings has been working dogs since she was 5 before she moved to America in 2015. She was asked to represent England at the International and asked to appear on the popular BBC TV program "One Man and His Dog."

Other handlers are farmers, architects, scientists and accountants. All share a love of these dogs and the supreme challenge of forging a bond with their animals that allows them to communicate with one another and cooperate to work sheep.

Bring a lawn chair and a picnic and sit on a sun-drenched hillside pasture, or gather under the big tent with a lamb brat or burger and listen to the play-by-play announcer explain what each dog is doing and what the judge is looking for.

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