Shepherds + Their Dogs Competing In The Heart Of New Zealand

Shepherds + Their Dogs Competing In The Heart Of New Zealand

The South Island Dog Trials held in Blenheim, New Zealand, are brought to life through the experiences of Tahi Doonan, a farmer and dog trial enthusiast from Awatere Valley. 

Doonan offers an immersive look into the event, which sees over 240 competitors navigating four challenging courses with their skilled dogs. 

One of the key talking points revolves around the strong community aspect of dog trialling. He highlights the sport's competitive spirit, combined with a sense of camaraderie, as competitors from both the South and North Islands come together. 

"It's really good to see the North Islanders come down," he shares, emphasising the inclusive nature of the trials and the enjoyment derived from the North Islanders’ relatively short journey across the strait. 

The conversation also delves into the nuances of the sport, as Doonan outlines the intricacies of preparing for competition. 

He discusses the balance between having well-trained dogs and the element of luck, noting, "You need some good sheep. You need a bit of luck because sometimes the sheep cannot quite be right, but this week everyone seems to have got a start, so that's what we're hoping for." 

Doonan's description provides a glimpse into the meticulous preparation that goes into dog trialling, showcasing the dedication required to excel. Another intriguing element of the conversation is the exploration of dog trialling as a spectator sport with a rich heritage, as Doonan reminisces about its former presence on television. 

"The dog show... that's the first thing they always say oh, the dog show. So we probably need to try and get it back on TV." 

His fond recollection speaks to the potential for dog trialling to once again capture the hearts of viewers across New Zealand.

Listen to the full chat between Tahi Doonan and Dominic George above.

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