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Whiterose Sheep Dogs
John Atkinson +44 7850 710837 johnatkinson@whiterosesheepdogs.com
About Me
To train a sheep dog to work sheep is the most difficult form of dog obedience there is. To have a dog running free on a group of sheep, also running free, and to guide them as to where you want them to move in a calm and orderly manner is an art that very few people can achieve. Any person who takes up this challenge and becomes successful to whatever degree should be very proud of themselves, for you are a unique minority group. I admire all forms of dog training and the people that participate in them, from basic obedience to working trials (schutzhund) to agility, to gundog work, to fly ball; but nothing comes near to the art of working a good sheep dog on a flock of sheep. For I have participated with success in many other forms of dog training since an early age, due to my love of the dog.  From a young boy of five I would teach my grandmother’s dog Rex many tricks and exercises. We would perform in front of the family at family gatherings when all the children had to put on a show or concert for the adults. I started training sheep dogs forty years ago; we used to call it breaking then. I became tired of trying to control my flock of pure Suffolk sheep with a bag of feed; and as I was mad on dog training anyway, for at the time I was competing in working trials (shutzhund) with a German shepherd; I decided to buy a Border Collie pup from good working stock and train it. I named her Beth and she created my addiction to sheep dog training. I won my first open trial with her in 1982 under John Templeton. A very proud moment for me. But although I enjoy going trialling my real pleasure comes from the training of young dogs. Getting into their heads and watching them progress, and along with my shepherding on the Escrick Park Estate, near York in North Yorkshire, this has been my vocation for many years. Training dogs to a high standard has given me great pleasure in seeing them progress to the pinnacle of competitive trialling. Such as the 1988 Scottish National Champion, Moss 138632, who also won the brace at the International Supreme in the same year,  the 1999  Scottish National Champion, Whiterose Kep 228380, who I also had the honour of breeding, the 2002 International Supreme Champion, Star 211076; and many other open champions both here and abroad that have gone onto great success, and have become a part of my business. For no matter how good the dog or bitch is, I will sell it on, for it is the training that gives me most satisfaction. Dogs can be purchased at various stages of training as well as fully trained trial dogs. Dogs that I think will not make the grade for competitive trialling can usually go as a working farm dog. These are not necessary second grade dogs, but may just lack that bit of extra finesse needed for competition. Dogs that do not make the grade, either because of lack of ability or cannot take the training, I offer for free as pets. Thankfully I don’t get many but poor temperament is creeping in more today than in previous times. I am not a big breeder but occasionally I do have pups from good sound stock for sale. I usually go looking for good young dogs around 6 to 9 months of age. Something that is showing and has a bit about it. There is nothing better than taking a young dog to sheep for the first time and seeing in minutes that it is special. I always look to the heavens and say, “thank you God “. For you know you have the piece of silk to make the silk purse. As they say, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”!! When I breed I do study pedigrees, for there are lines that consistently produce good dogs. However if a poor line is introduced, then the litter is more of a gamble. If I see a good work dog or a dog that is maybe in mediocre hands, rather than the top trials handler, but I believe it has a special quality, I would use such a dog on my bitch. We are all trying to find the perfect dog, but just as in people, no one is perfect. (Not even you!!!) We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But some dogs come very near to it. This is not only because it is a good dog, but also it has had hours of work on it to correct any minor faults. This is usually done by the handlers that are winning; who we call “Top  Handlers”. They have to be admired for they are the people who set the standard for which all other competitors have to aim for if they want to be successful.
Whiterose Sheep Dogs
John Atkinson +44 7850 710837 johnatkinson@whiterosesheepdogs.com
About me