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Cattle dog trials kick off at the Permian Basin Fair & Expo

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - They say a dog is a man’s best friend. Well, at the Permian Basin Fair & Expo, it’s a man’s best teammate too.

More than 50 dogs and trainers are competing in the cattle dog trials, a competition where the duos need to work together to herd cattle through an obstacle course as quick as they can within seven minutes.

Just like the dirt under their boots, once those competitors step into the arena, they can’t seem to shake it.

“It gets in your blood like everything else,” Barney Fowler said. “It’s competition. You just wake up at night thinking what can I do to get that dog to do what I need it to you.”

It’s not hard to see why.

Before each round, both the handler and the dog brewing with anticipation until showtime.

To corral the cattle quickly, the dogs need to be trained so that whistles and short commands signal exactly what they need to do. Unlike a horse, the two need to understand and trust each other at a distance.

“You’re sitting on a horse so you can make it so what you want it to do,” Brandon Pugh explained. “But a dog he’s sometimes you send that dog 200, 300 yards out and all he can hear is a whistle. It changed the game.”

Pugh and his dog Bruiser have been training for months from his ranch. He got into cattle trials earlier this year, and he’s already in love.

“It’s everything from the satisfaction to coming out here and your dog performing and just doing everything you ask,” he said. “Or it can be the most frustrating thing and you go back because your dog didn’t listen.”

Whether they’ve been doing this for years or if they’re a first timer like Pugh, there’s a fire burning under each of those hats focused on only one thing.

“Winning,” Pugh said with a laugh. “That’s why you’re here. You don’t want to come to donate.”

They’ve put in the time to train, now all that’s left to do is march into the arena fueled with nothing but confidence. Although there just might some nerves in there too.

The cattle trials at the Permian Basin Fair & Expo will continue on Thursday.

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