Hello, my name is Caroline Woolley and thank you for logging onto the All About Sheepdogs website. We feel that as an information source a website offers so much more than Facebook or Twitter.
My Collies, Border Jaanci and Welsh Meg and I hope you find our pages interesting, full of information and a ‘good read’. I love the whole scenario of (wo)man and dog working together in the common aim of perpetuating the ancient art and craft of shepherding. Sadly some collies have had the herding instinct all but bred out of them and as mentioned elsewhere it is not always a good idea to introduce non-working collies to sheep. ‘Opening a can of worms’ is one way to describe the outcome.
Background and experience
From 2002 until 2015 throughout the south west of England – farmers, shepherds, small holders and hobby farmers, were invited to take part in Government Funded sheepdog training classes of which I was privileged to recruit, organise and run. Originally under the British Wool Board banner and from 2007 facilitated by All About Sheepdogs. As there is no more Govt. money available then people looking for training contact me and are directed towards their nearest Trainer – whatever their locality.
During these many years almost 2500 people from the south-west of England have been helped in their quest for a well trained working animal. There are many success stories leading to satisfied customers who now have a well trained work force to hand. The involvement with the International Sheepdog Society has been a bonus. I have been a regular contributor to the Society’s magazine since 2002 and continue to contribute articles about shepherds, trainers, hobby farmers and, particularly, overseas shepherds.
You can become a member of the International Sheepdog Society (www.isds.org.uk) even if you do not have a sheepdog. The International Sheepdog News is published six times a year and full members receive one automatically. For example – In 2014 there was a piece about a New Zealand Sheep Farmer who lived just ‘up the road’ in Dunedin from my son and his family. Then there was the piece about the ‘Puppies That Went to the Falklands’. This was telling the story of 40 Border collie pups that were sent to the Falklands about eighteen months after the Conflict had ended – this was in 1983 – and we managed to find photos of them before they went and a few of their current great-great grandchildren! Other overseas pieces have included shepherding on Tristan da Cuhna (an island in mid south Atlantic) and one concerning the only working Border collie in Colombia, South America.
Jonny Beardsall wrote in the Saturday Telegraph a few years ago, “Caroline, despite her beguiling appearance, is no ethereal white witch. Beneath her silver mane of centre-parted hair, circular framed spectacles and layers of natural fibres is a no-nonsense countrywoman. (!) And for Britains’s growing numbers of hobby sheep-keepers – many of whom have no rustic genes at all – she and her service “All About Sheepdogs” have proved an indispensable resource, particularly in the West country. When a daisy fresh smallholder opts for sheep, a dog surely completes the bucolic image – which is where Caroline comes in.” “If anything, I am a catalyst”, she says. “I can put people in touch with trusted breeders where they can buy a pup for around £250 – although you can pay as more than £9000 for a fully trained trialling dog. After that I talk to the nearest trainer.”
We ran courses in the South West of England for up to fifty people each year. Following an initial assessment to check whether or not the dog is ready for training, five two hour sessions were held on a fortnightly basis with an option for more if required. This would give the absolute basics of shepherding. Practice was required to build on the lessons for lasting effect. The official International Sheepdog Society Training Book – edited by CW – was issued as part of the training course.
This site and the future
It’s our aim to use our knowledge, experience and contacts to create a complete Sheepdog Resource site that enables you to find everything about sheepdogs all in one place. There are many different types of dog used in the UK to work sheep. The most popular is the Border collie, referred to as the “Sheepdog”, but there are also Bearded Collies, Welsh Collies, Kelpies and Huntaways – but for the most part all information given refers to the Border Collie sheepdog.
Why should I have a well trained working sheepdog and be training it myself?
Because you will save time, frustration and have on hand a ‘member of staff’ who can help you take car of your sheep for little outlay – just its keep.
Why not get the dog trained by someone else?
Good idea – if you can afford it. And sometimes this is the better option but you will still need to bond with your dog and to know how to give it the correct commands, so we have included information about Dog and Handler training.
Supposing I want to buy some books and DVD’s about working sheepdogs
Good thinking. There are a lot of titles available – some of the older ones remain the definitive products. Try www.isds.org.uk/shop.
I would like to buy another dog, where do I look?
Contact All About Sheepdogs in the first instance but please do not buy from a newspaper. If buying a puppy, you must always see the parents working. Always use a recommended source. Remember that your dog is an investment.
I have always wanted to ‘have a go’ at Sheepdog Trialling, where do I start?
Look at the International Sheep Dog Society website (www.isds.org.uk) that has lists of all Trials and there is information about the big National and International Trials as well.
In addition for South West look at the following:
What if I need to know where trainers are in other parts of the Country or, in fact, other parts of the World.
Contact All About Sheepdogs
It’s all very well for people who live in the country and can gain access to sheep, what if I have no sheep?
Could be tricky but not impossible – contact All About Sheepdogs. But remember, once you have alerted your urban Border Collie to its herding instincts, you could have a bigger challenge than if you had gone along to Agility classes in the first place. It is cruel to let them start and then stop. Also this can cause sheep worrying.
Jaanci, Meg and I hope you will agree that this site is a “one stop shop” for everyone interested in working sheepdogs and Trialing and that it provides a resources and information for the experienced and novice owner alike.