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Diva the sheepdog at the English National Sheepdog Trials 2023

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Presenter Kate Fairweather dropped in on this year's National Sheepdog Trials 2023, which took place in August.

With 150 dogs competing over three days for the privilege of representing England at the next stage, it's a jaw-dropping display of human/canine teamwork, precision herding and communication. While they respond to whistled commands, these dogs must work independently of their handlers, often out of sight.  

Shepherd Cathy Cassie introduces Diva, who works a large Cumbrian flock of “heavy” sheep - an expression that, in the sheepdog world, is code for uncooperative and even aggressive… Cathy explains how the training required to compete in trails gives Diva an edge in her day job. 

Trainer and past winner Stuart Walton explains the site layout and why sheepdogs need courage as well as intelligence.  Junior Vice President Richard Smith explains the context of competitive trailing.

Recorded on location amid the wind whistling on a rather bleak hillside in Yorkshire, it’s fascinating to hear about the astonishing level of precision demanded to compete at national level. 

More information from the International Sheepdog Society.

Connected Epsiodes: 

Do you work your dog or dogs? 

Please get in touch wtih Kate at if you'd be interested in talking about your working dog.  More photos etc at

Find more dogs with interesting jobs. 

© & ℗ Kate Fairweather, 2023

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