Top dogs vie for national honour

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Australia's top sheep dogs are battling it out this week to win the Supreme Australian Sheep Dog Championships at Dowerin.

The championships are held annually with each state hosting the event once every seven years.

This year, 48 handlers will work over 200 novice, improver and open Kelpies and Border Collies through a course with up to 900 sheep used throughout the seven-day event.

WA Working Sheep Dog Association president Andrew Gorton said the Supreme title was awarded to the dog with the most points after the week of competition.

"We are also running the interstate challenge where the top two representatives from each state compete for one of four positions to represent Australia against New Zealand," Mr Gorton said.

WA's two representatives are Ray Sutherland, from Booralaming with Swagman Cindy, and Ken Atherton, from West Wagin with Ramulam Gus.

The finals for both events will be held on Sunday.

Among those competing for the first time are Kojonup farmer Richard McGuire and his partner Sam Weaver, who works as a doctor in Katanning.

With friendly rivalry on the field, Richard is taking four novice dogs and open hopeful, Tess while Sam is taking two novice dogs and improver dog, Queenie.

"Our dogs are farm dogs first so they have to be a good farm dog before they are a good trial dog and we are lucky they do both," Richard said.

For Sam, it's a good chance to have a weekend away with the dogs and practise the skills used on the farm.

Sam and Queenie have been invited to compete in the Champion of Champions event next month in South Australia.

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