Here's one last round of pictures from Pleasanton. I was having trouble all day with getting the camera to focus, so attempting pictures of the sheepdog trials was a bit of a hit-or-miss. So here are some. . .impressions of the dog trials. Here, the sheep are pretty obvious. The black-and-white splatter in the background is the dog.
Below, the dog is working carefully, trying to coax the four sheep up a ramp.
And here. . .patience is a virtue.
For my money, dog trials are one of the most beautiful events in the world. The herding is mostly done by border collies, who move like sunlight moves in and out of the shadows on a river. They're terribly clever too, and they look like they are enjoying the outfigure-the-sheep bits as much as they are the running. The interaction between the dogs and their handlers is fascinating; it is teamwork, rather than a show of a dog running through a handful of tricks. Though the basic rules of getting a small herd of sheep through an obstacle course are easy to follow, I don't know the finer points of the art--I just love watching those dogs work. You yourself can find out some finer points here. Of the few dogs I watched, most were trained to voice as per the chart in the link, but at least one was trained to a whistle, and that was the most fascinating. It was eerily quiet in the arena; you could just hear the occasional thud of the sheeps' hooves, and floating on top of the silence was the weird, thin warble of the handler's whistle. The dog, in all its grace, was fairly dancing to the sound, turning for one phrase, dropping soundlessly to the ground for another. The whistle might have suggested music, but the careful motion of the dog just plain was music.