Residents from Goulburn and the surrounding regions will soon have the opportunity to watch some of the best sheep dogs in the country in action, when the National Sheep Dog Trial Championships get underway in Canberra next month.
It is the 78th edition of the event, which originally began at Manuka Oval in 1943 to raise money for Legacy during World War II.
The 2021 edition will run from March 9 to 14, and will see dozens of dogs and handlers turn out in an attempt to claim the title of champion.
In a statement released following the launch of the 2021 event, the Championship committee described the event as "a riveting spectator experience with every trial a mini drama arising from dog-sheep-human encounters."
The dogs will start each run with 15 minutes on the board and 100 points assigned to them. In that time period, they are required to guide a group of three sheep through a set of obstacles and finally into a pen at the end.
Points can variously be deducted for a failure to pen the sheep in the allotted time, if the sheep stray too far from the path, or they refuse obstacles.
"Every handler has their own approach - instructions to the dog can be many or few and are delivered using gestures, whistles, shouts or gentle words," the committee said.
The winner of the 2021 National Sheepdog Trial Open Champion division will be awarded with the Duke of Gloucester sash by Australian Governor General, David Hurley.
The sash is named for the first man to present it, Prince Henry Duke of Gloucester, in 1945, during his tenure as Australian Governor General.
This year's event will also recognise the role played in Australia by 'Dogs with Jobs'.
"Australia has around 100,000 livestock herding dogs which is about as many dogs as there are people employed in Canberra's workforce," the committee said.
"The economic contribution of these dogs is immense with the average working dog delivering more than $44,000 worth of work over its career."
However, the scope of the message will not be limited to dogs working in livestock industries. It will also promote the contributions of guide dogs, assistance dogs, police dogs, and biosecurity detector dogs.
The National Sheep Dog Trial Championship will get underway at the Hall Showground on Tuesday, March 9, and run until Sunday, March 14. The winner will be presented with their prize on the final afternoon of the competition.
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