HCh, HTCh Klaatu Berrada Nicto CGC, HX, HRDII-g, HRDIII-s, HTDIII-s, ATD-s/c, HGH, HRDI-c, PATDs, RT

German Shepherd Dog Klaatu Berrada Nicto began her herding career at 3 months old driving ducks on her own in my back yard. If she got too rough with them, her dam would go over and chastise her, for the ducks were under her protection. Little Klaatu once walked them into a tree, causing the flock of around a dozen to split in two. She sat down and waited patiently until they came together again as one group and then stood up and recommenced driving them.

I tested her on sheep once or twice a month until she finally kicked in at seven months old. I chose a tame Barbie ewe with triplets because their lightness would help stimulate interest and their family unit would flock tightly. The first day, a Thursday, she calmly drove them around the arena while I stood still in the center. She tried a couple of cheap shots which I gave her vocal corrections for. When the ewe stood her down, she gave it a nose grip for which I praised her. On Friday, she started making slow easy circles around the sheep. She alternated including me in the circle but constantly changing its center so that she gradually brought the sheep closer to me. Then, she would exclude me from the circle gradually pushing the sheep away. On Saturday, we went for the first HCT leg. Judge Judith Kelley, not knowing I also had an advanced dog, mistook me for a rank beginner and insisted on pulling me around the ring and actually succeeded in making me look like a rank beginner. We passed. But I was sorry I couldn’t see the look on her face when she judged me working Klaatu’s half-sister Flora in HTDIII later that day. That afternoon, I read the requirements for leg 2. We would need directed movement, stops and recalls. Back with the Barbie, Klaatu was now fetching to me. She would hold the stay before working. But I still needed a stop. I walked the sheep up to the fence. Klaatu felt the pressure of the fence, so she pulled back, turned sideways and averted her gaze. Perfect I thought not just for the HCT, but the response showed a lot of stock reading ability. On Sunday, we easily passed the second leg, with me doing the stop against the fence and giving a "halt" command just for effect even though the dog didn’t yet know it. Thus, she earned her first herding title. There would be 20 herding titles in between before she earned her Herding Trial Championship on June 11, 2000.