the shepherds of the dogs put on a show in the valley of Ossau

Like the other 11 participants in the amateur herding dog competition on Sunday July 24, he had more or less 20 minutes to prove himself. He had to guide a small flock of sheep through several doors, lead them down a corridor…

Like the other 11 participants in the amateur herding dog competition on Sunday July 24, he had more or less 20 minutes to prove himself. He must guide a small flock of sheep through several gates, lead them through a narrow corridor and lead them to the difficult final hurdle. It involves herding the animals in a van, which is a great source of entertainment for the public when the sheep are mischievous, and they often are.

Two-year-old Rita, the border collie, is full of energy on the course, perhaps too much so. He should not bite the herd and have penalty points for his unfriendly behavior towards his cows.

The equivalent of ten men

He probably won’t win the first prize, which consists of croquettes and other tempting prizes. But Rita is just starting to learn her job as a babysitter and this bright Sunday marks her first participation in a competition. Therefore, no one blames him … even though he scares a sheep by trying to return him to his fellow creatures, and the runaway takes refuge in a nearby herd of cows.


Who has the most fun between the public and the little dog Rita? It’s hard to say. The female especially likes to graze quietly…

David the Deodic

Laughter and squeals erupted, the audience enjoying the little dog’s enthusiasm. Without scandal, the cows accept their new recruit without flinching and return to their cud as the competition continues. One of the volunteers recalled on the microphone: “Be indulgent to those who are not very successful, because they have already done a good job. Without the guard dogs, we would have to hire ten people to do what they do there”.

And the performance is commendable. The shepherds give their orders in English, French or even just by whistling. “It’s very unusual when the shepherd guides the dog only with his voice,” testified Gaspard, ten years old, who was sitting in the straw bucket with his younger brother. The two boys from Pas-de-Calais were on holiday with their grandparents in Coarraze. They were happy with the sight they saw for the first time.

dogs and shepherds

After a good half hour, Rita finished the course. “It’s hot, laughs Stéphanie Guide, spraying her dog, but I’m still happy”. The cowgirl-like shepherd raised sheep and goats in the Gers. “There, I imposed on him, he did the work of a five-year-old dog. And then there are also mistakes in guidance,” admitted the shepherd. As she also gradually recovered from the stress of the exercise, she showed her pride in participating as a woman.

Stéphanie Guide kisses her young dog at the end of the course to reward him for the assigned work.  Their partnership is essential for their daily work.


Stéphanie Guide kisses her young dog at the end of the course to reward him for the assigned work. Their partnership is essential for their daily work.

David LeDeodic

Border collies are dogs brought to France in 1975 by Scottish people. “The men are too busy with the work of the unions, so the women train the dogs and contribute to the release of the shepherds,” he said.

Veterinarian Émilie Boyer examined the dogs early this morning before the start of the competition. Now he made sure Rita brought her temperature down. “He’s got a heatstroke, it happens,” he assured as the dog panted heavily and floated its tongue hanging out in a basin of water. “They are very sporty dogs, their heart is equivalent to a person jogging in the mountains”, explained the veterinarian.

“5 euros for everything, it’s really cheap”

In addition to the dog course, children can enjoy an archery stand, horse drawn carriage and inflatable games, while parents listen to Béarn songs in the heart of the small market where about thirty producers in the region settled to sell their products. .

“5 euros for everything so cheap,” happy Xavier and Catherine from Momas. It took three days and more than 70 volunteers to welcome twelve competitors, who came from Béarn but also from Gers, Médoc and Ariège. “The organization is amazing,” testified the couple.

By noon, more than 1,700 people had come to watch the competition. Last year there were about 2,600, a number Patrick would like to see surpassed for the third edition.

The sheep were loaned to the shepherds of Béarnais, who hunted them in the mountain pastures.  Especially stubborn, they are often reluctant to move on, surely regretting their greener pastures.


The sheep were loaned to the shepherds of Béarnais, who hunted them in the mountain pastures. Especially stubborn, they are often reluctant to move on, surely regretting their greener pastures.

David LeDeodic

The collusion between Red and his mistress is essential to the successful operation of the mountains.  Border Collie breed dogs are naturally good at guarding.


The collusion between Red and his mistress is essential to the successful operation of the mountains. Border Collie breed dogs are naturally good at guarding.

David LeDeodic

The last stage of the course will be difficult for the participants.  They had to put the sheep in the transport van and then take them out.


The last stage of the course will be difficult for the participants. They had to put the sheep in the transport van and then take them out.

David LeDeodic

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