Gordon Hebenstreit loves watching good stock dogs work. He also enjoys working with his own border collies, but he's happy leaving them at home and just being a spectator at the annual Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials.
Actually he's grown into much more than a spectator -- he and his wife Cheryl now assist founder Richard Bailey with the competition.
"Richard Bailey is still the man in charge," Hebenstreit said. "It's his and always will be his trial. He just needs and wants more assistance."
So the Hebenstreits stepped up to help organize the event, which will be held over the Mother's Day weekend. To make the event a continued success, he's looking for volunteers -- people who are available to help set up, run the event and clean up after.
"There's not a lot of preparatory work," he said. "We just need people willing to put forth an effort focused on that one weekend."
That one weekend would not be possible without Larry Allen, who provides the sheep, and the Hotchkiss family, which graciously allows the use of their fields one block south of downtown Hotchkiss. "Both families are involved in the success of this trial," Hebenstreit said. "Without them, we couldn't have a trial."
Allen provides close to 200 sheep. The event website notes that while the dogs are trained, the sheep are not!
Les Mergelman, the event announcer, keeps the competition running smoothly and answers questions about working stock dogs.
Judging is on a point system. This year's judge, Bill Orr of Warrenton, Va., is a longtime competitor and the 2012 Hotchkiss open champion.
On the Hotchkiss Dog Trials website, Orr says, "I believe in the ISDS stated 'Objectives for a Trial.' A fair and impartial judge is essential. The dogs and handlers deserve that."
He also notes that Hotchkiss is the best "little" trial in the west. "The town, the hosts, the scenery and especially the sheep are fantastic," he says.
Learn more about the 15th annual Hotchkiss Sheep Camp Stock Dog Trials at www.hotchkissdogtrials.com. To volunteer, call Bailey at 970-216-5771 or Hebenstreit at 970-589-2139.