Herding Gives Family Direction
— Patty Anderson’s life has gone to the dogs.
it’s a life she very much enjoys and also shares with her two
daughters, Tracey McPherson, 39, and Alisa, 11.
two women, some of their 22 working
dogs and a selection of sheep
will participate in the Stock Dog Sheep Herding Time Trials at the
Amana Colonies RV Park. Scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and 9
the trials are part of the
Manifest celebration at the Amana
dog owners can register the
day of the event.
canines in Anderson’s life took on more importance nearly 20 years ago.
Anderson, who works as a technician in the education department at the
Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, needed something to
combat empty nest syndrome.
Her older children
were on their own and her marriage was ending, but
she still had her Chow Chow and poodle. ‘‘I took the Chow Chow to the
vet for something and was told, ‘You need
to get this Chow Chow into some classes,’ ’’ said Anderson, a Fort
Madison native.From obedience classes for the Chow Chow, Anderson
graduated to canine
fly ball, agility and herding.
wanted my dogs to have a championship in everything,’’ she said.
Over the years, Australian Shepherds and Border Collies have replaced
the Chow Chow and poodle. Herding and everything associated with it
have replaced the other canine sports. And Anderson’s menagerie of
animals on her Williamsburg acreage has
grown to a dozen La Mancha goats, 60 or so St. Croix-Katahdin cross
sheep, three calves and assorted Khaki Campbell and Indian Runner cross
ducks. All the critters are used for herding because all react
differently to being herded.
Anderson’s land, called Willow Creek Farm, also is used for herding.
She and her older daughter attend herding clinics and give lessons
there. A recent five-day clinic at Willow Creek included a woman from
Switzerland who had purchased a dog from Anderson, and a man from
Germany, where herding trials are common.
They’ve also held trials at the Australian Shepherd Club of America
course they have, which Anderson said is the only ASCA course in Iowa.
Herding dogs listen for verbal cues and watch for physical hints from
their person. They understand ‘‘way to me,’’ ‘‘come by,’’ ‘‘walk up,’’
‘‘there’’ and ‘‘here,’’ said McPherson, who started herding with a
Anderson, 58, said if she turns her body a certain way, her dogs will
interpret that to mean that’s the direction she wants whatever they are
herding to go.
When their work is done, Anderson and McPherson don’t turn their backs
on their dogs and leave. The dogs all take their turns sharing a rocker
or couch with the women,
but only if they are invited, Anderson said. ‘‘They all have house
time,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘They all learn