Seventh heaven: Montgomery earns another Stampede stock dog crown
CALGARY – Three generations. Four different canine companions. And now, seventh heaven for Dale Montgomery.
The veteran handler from Maple Creek, Sask., continued his incredible run on Monday night at the Calgary Stampede’s 16th annual World Stock Dog Championship, presented by Sasol Canada. Montgomery and Zip, his seven-year-old border collie, slammed the door on their woolly quarry in one minute, 41 seconds at the Scotiabank Saddledome – giving Montgomery his seventh career Stampede title.
Zip is the daughter of Tex, with whom Montgomery won his 2006 and 2008 Calgary crowns, and the granddaughter of Gyp, Montgomery’s companion for victories in 1999, 2000, and 2003. Ben also joined Montgomery in the Stampede winner’s circle last year.
“Well, the money is a big deal, of course,” laughed Montgomery, who collects another $10,000 at North America’s richest indoor stock dog trial. “But every year, it’s a very tough, high-intensity competition. It sure gets your adrenaline going.”
This year’s World Stock Dog Championship, presented by Sasol Canada, began with 60 handler-and-canine teams on Sunday morning, with two rounds of preliminaries reducing the field to a 12-team final on Monday night. Out on the Saddledome infield, dogs had a maximum of four minutes to guide three sheep around a demanding obstacle course of barrels, through a chute, and into the pen.
Louanne Twa of Okotoks, Alta., had laid down a serious and immediate challenge with Meg, her five-year-old canine. As the second team of 12 to enter the Saddledome arena, the pair had coaxed their ovine adversaries through the chute at the 1:15 mark, and stopped the clock in 1:53.
Montgomery and Zip, though, answered with an interval time of 1:21, and 20 seconds later Montgomery was well on his way to back-to-back Calgary glory, and career Stampede crown No. 7.
“Zip handles stock very well. She has a feel for them,” said Montgomery, who’ll also be taking home a Limited Edition Calgary Stampede Centennial Commemorative Pendleton Wool Blanket for his win. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but she knows how much pressure to put on them, when to push, when to back off. She really feels her stock well.”
Twa, who had made the semifinal round of last fall’s United States Border Collie Handlers Association (USBCHA) national finals at Carbondale, Colo., with Meg, collects $4,000 for her troubles.
“Our time could have stood up, I suppose. But it was pretty stressful just watching the rest of the teams go out there, because a lot of them were capable of beating our time – Dale definitely being one of them,” said Twa, who’s now advanced to the final of the World Stock Dog Championship, presented by Sasol Canada, for four straight years.
Randy Dye of Bowden, Alta., and Sweep finished third in a time of 2:03, while Campbell Forsyth of Eriksdale, Man., and Isla placed fourth in 2:14.
As always, there were a handful of what-if scenarios. Diana Gauthier of Lumby, B.C., the Stampede’s 2007 champion, and her dog Keen Eye Skor had the best chute time (1:10) of the night, but finished seventh overall. Pam Boring of Pink Mountain, B.C., the 2009 titleist, and her companion Ben ran up against a terribly confrontational ewe that would barely give an inch. And 2010 champs Dave Claypool of Cranbrook, B.C., and Glen had all three sheep at the leading edge of the pen at the 1:46 mark, but couldn’t close the deal and eventually took a no-time.
In all, five former Stampede champions competed in Monday’s final.
Thad Buckler of Evansburg, Alta., who finished fifth with Trax in a time of 2:20, won the World Stock Dog Championship’s aggregate award, having entered Monday’s final with the best total time over the two preliminary rounds.
The Stampede’s World Stock Dog Championship is sanctioned by the United States Border Collie Handlers Association and the Alberta Stock Dog Association.
The Stampede will be webcasting all events being held in the Scotiabank Saddledome and the Big Top this year. Visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/saddledome-ustream for live streaming of Saddledome action, and http://ag.calgarystampede.com/big-top-ustream for events under the Big Top.
Groundbreaking will soon begin on one of the most significant infrastructure projects in Stampede history — the Agrium Western Event Centre, which will be the largest facility of its kind in Canada upon completion. For details and artistic renderings of this magnificent 150,000-square-foot agriculture showcase and competition venue, scheduled for completion in 2014, visit http://corporate.calgarystampede.com/about/park-development/agrium-western-event-centre/
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