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Your Border Collie’s Dream Vacation

This sheep dog trial is the stuff herding dogs’ dreams are made of

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This August 5–7th, 80 handlers from all over North America and their Border Collies will flock to Kingston, Ontario for the 29th annual Kingston Sheep Dog Trials Festival. The competition, Canada's biggest sheep dog trial (and the third largest on the eastern seaboard!), takes place on the banks of the St. Lawrence River and involves 680 sheep and four days of qualifying trials, leading to the final 17 competitors.

Here’s how the competition shakes down: each handler and dog goes to the post for their nine minutes of glory. Dogs are sent to the left or right and pick up their four sheep 250 yards away before bringing them to their handler’s feet. The sheep are driven around a course of gates before they are penned and finally brought in to a circular shedding area and divided in two. (These are some smart dogs!) The smoothest, most efficient, most workmanlike run wins. The top dogs moving on from this round will be required to gather two groups of 10 sheep, one to the left and another to the right, before joining the groups and driving them around a course of obstacles. Once back into the shedding ring, the dog and handler will separate the 15 sheep not wearing collars and pen the five wearing collars. The best job wins the trial!

Aside from the main event, daily side attractions abound, including Rideau River Dock Dogs, Kingston Police K-9 demonstrations, Jungle Cat World shows, Sheep Shearing, Canadian Canine Lure Course, a Nutram Doggie Play Zone, craft vendors and market place, and food trucks, because this much family fun works up an appetite! Tickets are just $10 in advance online (kids 12 and under are free!), and there’s a free shuttle bus from various points in Kingston proper as well as free car parking. Find out more at!

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