Fido Friendly - Issue 4, 2007


Dogs Rule. . .and Sheep Should Respect That!

On a recent trip to Ireland, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a sheep herding competition held in a field in a town called Clonbur in County Galway, Ireland. Held in conjunction with a fair and a sheep-sheering contest, the stars of the day were clearly the Border Collies that were entered by their proud owners in a contest that demonstrated the power of dogs over sheep!


I wish you had been there! It was such a great day for the Irish . . .dogs! You could see how proud they were as they followed their owners' signals to move the sheep about the field in proper order. Since you weren't there, I'm hoping I can take you with me now so you'll feel as though you actually were among those enjoying a gorgeous day in Ireland of simple pleasures that included nothing electronic nor battery operated!

Well, here we are, in a field with hundreds of other like-minded people out with family and friends of all ages to watch teams of four sheep at a time enter the field to meet yet another dog out to strut about to move them through their paces. The scene starts with the Border Collie and owner on the far front-right side of the field as the four sheep enter from the far back-left corner, a distance approximately equal to two American football fields, not European football as that would be soccer fields! The owner signals his dog (all the owners participating were men!) to lie down beside him and wait for his signal to begin the job of moving the sheep from one goal post to the next. The dog responds immediately to the signal which is spoken loud enough for observers to hear and one and all rejoice as the dog herds the sheep through a goal post, returns to its owner on signal, and then moves out to drive the sheep through the next designated goal.

There are three goals to deal with before moving the sheep into a large pen where the owner closes the gate in order to finalize that portion of the tasks. After that the sheep are released so that the dog can round them up again and lead them to the opening in the adjacent field where the sheep jump over a post to exit the competition. That ends the competition for that dog and that particular sheep team, and for the man the dog owns.

Part of the charm of watching the dogs at this competition involves the spectators' enthusiasm and appreciation of the dogs' skills. The dogs' movements include creeping and crawling like soldiers moving through mud trenches, sliding along the grassy field, slinking low to the ground, and arabesque-like ballet moves as they lift their back legs off the ground while their front legs are stretched before them. As their handlers instruct them to move forward, lie down, run far out, come back and move the sheep about the field hither and yon, all eyes remain on the dog, who is keenly aware of the power of the moment.

The sheep seem to be enjoying creating reasons for the dog to run about and, for sure, the dog loves the opportunity to be the center of attention. Further than that, it is the rare owner who is disappointed by his dog's performance. Clearly, in the kingdom of sheep, the dog rules!

Every year in early June, the sheep sheering and sheep herding contests are popular attractions at the fair in Clonbur, Ireland. It's not too early to be planning your trip to be there. So consider some places nearby that are worthy of a visit and great places to stay while you are in “the neighborhood:”
Be sure to visit nearby Cong, the place where the classic film, The Quiet Man, with Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne, was filmed. Take ‘The Quiet Man' walking tour with one of the great guides from The Quiet Man Museum in Cong and see if you can get on one of the tours with Gerry Collins who runs the business that his daughter founded! If you don't know the film, be sure to see it before your trip so that you'll recognize all the places pointed out to you along the route from the place where the fight by the river happened, to the bridge location and the church where some of the most important scenes took place. And now you can visit Pat Cohan's Bar, which until July, 2007, was never a bar on the inside but was previously a grocery store and later a craft shop! Now it's reopened with a new owner who has created the bar as it was shown in the film giving those who are devotees of the film one more reason to visit Cong.

You'll need a place to stay nearby so let me offer two unique suggestions. Firstly, for the big splurge, you might want to stay at Ashford Castle. The grounds of the castle, along with the exteriors of the houses in Cong, served as the set for the filming of The Quiet Man and once you've seen the film you'll recognize the driveway road and the spots along the river where the film's action was shot. If you haven't had a chance to see the film before you arrive at Ashford Castle, note that the film is shown continuously on closed circuit TV in the guest rooms! If you're a golfer, you'll find the golf course convenient and challenging on the castle grounds.

Just a few months ago, on a portion of the grounds of Ashford Castle, a modern, trendy, downright sexy hotel has opened that combines 21st century-chic accommodations with stylish public rooms housed in a traditional and historic stone building. The food is excellent, the bars are happening places, the décor is sophisticated, and the accommodations are modern and offer incredible comfort and amenities. You'll find the room rates much more affordable than the castle accommodations and you have access to the castle grounds plus the convenience of being able to have tea, cocktails, or dinner at Ashford without even taking your car out of its parking space if you prefer walking!

If it's more than you can deal with to get Fido ready for a trip to accompany you to Ireland, mark your calendar to visit when the sheep dog competition are in full swing! It will make it so much easier for you to be traveling unaccompanied by your own furry friend!

Taking your dog to Ireland:
If meeting and greeting lovely pups along the route isn't enough to quench your thirst to be with your own furry friend, then the only solution for you is to take Fido along with you. If you go through the six-month process, which includes insertion of an identifying microchip under your dog's skin here at home, you can take Fido right through Immigrations and Customs in Ireland, thus avoiding the six-month quarantine process. For complete information on that process, visit my website at and enter keywords: "Pet Scheme" into the SEARCH box.

Gotta Fly Now! sm
Stephanie Abrams • June 2007

Related Photo Galleries:
More images from the Clonbur Sheep Dog Festival 2007 here.
More images of traveling pets here.
More irish photo galleries available here.

Related Site Links:
Fido Friendly Magazine Homepage
The Traveling Pet Homepage
Additional Fido Friendly Editorial's by Stephanie

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