Blue skies and bright green, expansive fields of grass provided the backdrop for this year’s Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trial.
Held at Camas’ Johnston Dairy, owned by longtime residents Lynn Johnston and dad Leroy, the event that took place Thursday through Sunday marked its ninth year.
Approximately 90 handlers traveling from six states and British Columbia participated, with 170 dogs — mostly border collies — competed in a variety of skill levels and challenges.
Among them was Brill, who belongs to Cindy Baker of Yelm, Wash. It was her second year at the Lacamas Valley Sheepdog Trial — a competition she’s come to anticipate with excitement.
Last year was her first experience at the event. Baker said it is well organized and is held in a great location.
“It was definitely first on my list to come back to this year,” she said. “It is probably the best trial that I go to.”
Baker was involved in sheep dog trials for about a dozen years before taking a break to pursue a career in nursing. She took the sport up again about four years ago. Baker adopted Brill, now age 5, from a border collie rescue organization.
The trial featured handlers working in partnership with their dogs, sometimes at long distances, to move a small flock of sheep across a field, through a series of gates, into a shedding ring and ultimately into a pen. Divisions include open, pro-novice and nursery.
Fifteen dogs made it to the final round on Sunday. First place in the double-lift final was earned by Bill Berhow and his dog, Coal, from Zamora, Calif., followed by Noelle Williams and Lad from Deer Park, Wash., in second place, and Michael Burks and Sport from Garden Grove, Calif., in third place.
Baker said she enjoys the challenge trialing offers to her and the dogs.
“The challenge is to be able to read the situation and help your dog get the sheep through the obstacles in the allotted amount of time,” she stated simply.
Baker said she also takes part in sheepdog trials because of the camaraderie that develops with the other handlers, who often end up traveling around to some of the same events each year.
“It’s dogs, sheep, good eats and friends.”