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Top dogs to be showcased at Clinton Cowdog Challenge

The event is the second in a series culminating in Dogs with Jobs in Barriere

The inaugural Clinton Cowdog Challenge comes to the community on June 15 and 16 at the Clinton Rodeo Grounds.

The event is being organized by a group of like-minded people looking to promote working dogs including Vernon’s Woody Huijbregts, Dogs with Jobs organizers Gord and Brenda Wilson from Barriere and Clinton local Cooper Russell. Russell said Clinton’s event is part of the new BC Cattle Dog Series they’re looking to put on, with a similar challenge taking place in Armstrong last week.

“There’s not a lot of cowdog trials happening in British Columbia. There are quite a few sheepdog trials but very few and far between cowdog trials, just the one in Barriere,” Russell said. “We’re hoping to try to have a three-series deal this summer and get people involved for the finale in Barriere with prizes at all three.”

Russell and his family live in Loon Lake B.C. running a farm-to-table business with Russell cowboying around the region on the side. Over his years working on ranches Russel has always had a dog to help out herding cattle and six years ago he said he “finally got a good one” that’s made his job much easier.

“I always have at least three or four dogs in the box of my truck following me around,” Russel remarked. “The advantage of having a cow dog is it’s like having three well-deserving employees with you who have a lot more stockmanship than a lot of the humans we end up working stock with. They know how to treat an animal and they come with so much instinct it’s beyond the training we can give them.”

His cowdogs have made for the perfect partners in crime, Russell said, adding they help him both around his own farm and gathering cattle for ranchers across the South Cariboo. That’s why he and his dogs are competing in the events, so he can showcase their skills with others. He noted he was fortunate to meet the Wilsons and Huijbregts as they bring the organizational know-how and experience he lacks.

READ MORE: Cariboo Calling: Cattle dogs remain a part of rodeo history

At their competition in Armstrong in April 20 and 21 Russell said they had a good turnout with 45 dogs competing. Competitors came from across B.C. with individuals from Alberta, Saskatchewan and even Washington state making the trip.

That turnout has filled Russell and his fellow organizers with confidence and they’re hoping to repeat this success in Clinton. He’s already seen a lot of positive buzz on social media for the event.

“There’s a lot of people who may not be dog trainers and may not be cowboys but they have a collie around that helps them get the job done and they get to come show them off a little bit,” Russell said. “There’s a lot of ranchers and stockmanship in this area so I think Clinton should be a really good turnout for spectators.”

Registration for the event can be done online by going to the BC Cattle Dog Series on Facebook or by calling 778-208-7513. Each entry will get three rounds to prove themselves by herding three cows through a series of obstacles. Only the top four will move onto the fourth round where they’ll change up the obstacles in the arena and add 10 cows to the arena providing a more “realistic scenario.”

There is no admission for spectators, Russell noted, explaining stock dog events tend to struggle with attendance. He encourages anyone with an interest in rodeo or the cow dogs to come watch on Saturday, June 15 or Sunday, June 16 starting at 9 a.m. both days. Depending on interest Russell anticipates Saturday running until around 7 p.m. and Sunday till 4 p.m.

“I think people are surprised what their dogs are capable of,” Russell remarked.

Patrick Davies

About the Author: Patrick Davies

An avid lover of theatre, media, and the arts in all its forms, I've enjoyed building my professional reputation in 100 Mile House.
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