SHELTIES AND THE HIGHLAND GAMES
The Three Rivers Shetland Sheepdog Club of Greater Pittsburgh and the Ligonier Highland Games have a long and continued relationship. This year 2012, will be our 23rd Scottish Dog Exhibit and the 54th Highland Games.
The Highland Games have been coming to Idlewild Park, east of Pittsburgh, for a number of decades now. Many of us, especially those of Scottish descent, have attended the Games for years - and watched them grow annually. They started with traditional bagpipe band competitions, and every year it seems something was added: Highland dancing, clan gatherings, military re-enactments, Scottish athletic events, harpists, vocalists, livestock, and the ever present vendors.
Some time ago one of our Club members was asked by the Highland Games Committee if it would be possible to do a Scottish Dog Exhibit and the rest is history. There are fourteen AKC breeds recognized as being of Scottish origin. The purpose of the Exhibit was to bring these breeds together so the public could get acquainted with them. Like the Games, we've grown every year also - from the small outdoor lot of our original site to our current wonderful three pavilion site. And we've added each year to our activities just like the Games - the breeds; demonstrations in Obedience, Agility, Freestyle Dancing; info on Rescue, training facilities, puppy care, and the Coalition for Safe Children; and for the last couple years our popular Costume Contest.
To pull this off requires a lot of behind the scenes work that actually starts with the review done right after the Games each year in preparation for the next year.
This requires bringing in handlers with their dogs from a tri-state area. The committee has a lot of meetings, spends the entire day before and after setting up and tearing down, and coaxes other clubs to help (and they do so cheerfully - WCOTC, the Scottie Club, the Collie Rescue and more), and rents the truck for the equipment. The Sheltie Club feeds the entire contingent !
This event certainly fulfills our AKC mandate to do a public education event yearly but it does so much more. It gets people looking for training clubs, gets kids and puppies together, helps support our Rescue program. But it's also a lot of fun and those of us who participate have made a lot of close friends over the years and we'll keep coming back to get together ! The Sheltie Club will continue to organize the event.
So follow your Shelties' bushy tails, listen for the skirl of the pipes, and "chi mi aig na cluichean sibh" next year !