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Vashon Goes To The Dogs

Photo by Bonnie Block

For many of us, Vashon Island represents a place where real life can be lived without the abandonment of dreams.

Vashon Sheepdog Classic is a harmonious confluence of the dreams of Islanders and their friends.

Through the sparkling cobwebs and morning mists of a Vashon Autumn, islanders will see the course taking shape upon the graceful rolling hills of Misty Isle Farms.

Pens will be erected; panels will be placed. Bleachers will arrive, big white tents will unfurl …

And then come the sheep. Hundreds of lambs will travel to Vashon from Reed Anderson’s Ranch in Brownsville, OR. These wily young market lambs will flow out of the semi-truck and over the lush grounds of the trial field, ready to feast upon the grass and to give the dogs some trouble, if they can.

This trial was a dream realized by a group of Vashon Island sheepdog handlers over ten years ago. We had all envisioned a rural life; we all shared our lives very deeply with animals - especially, with border collie dogs. Through much work, dedication and fun, our visions became our real lives. With tremendous support from our community, notably the generous hospitality of the Sestrap family of Wax Orchards and then from the late Tom Stewart and his family and organization at Misty Isle Farms, we were able to launch the first Vashon Island Sheepdog Trial in 2000.

As it does in dreams and in real life, time passed, and changes happened. Most of the first guard of the Vashon Island trial people moved away from this beloved island, though many of us are still involved with the dogs and the sport of trialling.

And, then there was Maggi McClure, a member of the sheepdog community and regular competitor at the early Vashon Trial. The original trial had faded away and Maggi, after moving back to the Vashon Goes To The Dogs by Laura Vishoot island--having left in 1984, dreamed of bringing the trial back to the island. Together with a small group of island sheepdog enthusiasts they decided to work together to rekindle the event and invite the public to join them.

With the help of many island businesses and community volunteers they responded to her dream to revive the sheepdog trial, even bigger and more fabulous than before, and a wonderful opportunity for raising funds for island youth.

The community has embraced the trial and extended heartfelt hospitality to the competing canine and human visitors who converge here to participate. The Vashon Sheepdog Classic gives back to its community by providing a fertile fundraising opportunity for Partners in Education, a local nonprofit dedicated to the enhancement of public education on the Island. It also provides a platform for local artists and artisans to show and teach about their own avocations. Needless to mention, the trial is a wonderful social gathering of animals and people who love and care about them; of local people and travelers, all in celebration of the partnership possible between dogs and people. On September 13th the caravan of handlers will start to arrive on Vashon. You’ll see the temporary trailer town take shape in the Misty Isle field. Vendors and exhibitors will begin to stock their booths with their wares. An abundance of local foods will be available.

We are hoping to see all of you there, and we’re very happy that our Vashon dreams are so gracefully overlapping with yours!

If you go:

There will be a load/unload area at the gate and parking is along the road. Dress for the weather, bring some binoculars, and a picnic or enjoys the offerings at the event: La Biondo Pizza Wagon, Zamora’s Mexican, a Mini-Minglement, and The Pink Tractor. The event starts at 8 am each day and will go until 5:00pm. It takes a full day for one Vashon Goes To The Dogs by Laura Vishoot class so there will be non-stop entertainment. Tickets at the gate or