Kent Kuykendall's Bill

Kent Kuykendall's Bill

How many years had you been in heepdogs when you got Bill? Did you train him, or was he already trained? From whom did you purchase him?

A lifetime. As a boy my Dad had Border Collies so I grew up around them. I trained my first dog at 13 and trialed her a couple of times, the most famous trial being at Walnut Hall in KY. Then Novice handlers had to run a full course just like the open handlers and I won the Novice award with Pepper that first dog I trained. I trained him. Gwen and I bred and raised Bill.

What were Bill's greatest strengths? What were his chief weaknesses?

Bill was a dog that could run and win on the little courses and yet be very effective on the bigger double lift fields and in the international shed. He was a great shedding dog, he had cool power and he did what it took to get the job done. He was a pleasure to load with as he always knew where to be. His cross drive and he might have been a little too careful in some circumstances although when at the pen I thought he needed to walk up he knew that too much pressure would make the sheep bolt to one side or the other and most of the time he was right. A lot of the times (I learned from Bill) it was faster to go slow.

How long did it take you and Bill to succeed as a team in sheepdog trials?

He was winning his first year of Nursery competition. We always had a connection and only became a stronger team as the years went on. It was like we knew what the other was thinking and what the next step was before it actually happened.

Was there any one moment that caused you to realize that he was a very special dog?

As a pup when he looked up at me, it was almost like there was a connection from that time on.

What were the greatest challenges that you and Bill faced together?

The year of the Purina Race in 1995, it was a long hard year for both of us. Bill got sick with a throat infection one weekend and still gave me everything he had and won the overall for that trial. Towards the end of Bill's career, his last season was a struggle. Giving it up together. He still wanted to go but really couldn't and I still wanted and needed him. I often miss him in the shedding ring.

How successful was Bill as a sire? How many litters did he have? To whom was he bred? In general, what qualities did he tend to pass on to his offspring?

He has been a good sire. Bill's pups have been a pleasure to work with in so many different areas. I ran a son of his Tug in the Nursery Finals in Oklahoma and should have kept that dog. Colin Cleer's Gail was the dam to Tug. Bill's pups have his temperament and so they are versatile. They have gone on to provide us with a variety of saleable dogs in many different areas. A daughter of his Laz was 10th in the Nursery Finals in 2002 and I will probably keep running her until my daughter takes her back as she is hers. Two sons of his qualified and ran in the 2003 Nursery Finals. The mother to all of those is Kate a bitch that we own with Earl and Betty Warrick.

What was the most exciting/gratifying trial in which you and Bill participated?

The 99 Finals where Bill drew a sheep that faced up to him twice, once when we turned and started on the drive and then again after the shed going to the pen. She butted at Bill and he gently pinched her on the nose. We went on to be Reserve Champion.

Is there anything else about Bill that you'd like to add?

Bill no doubt taught me more than I taught him. I had always had a different type of dog, a harder, faster more independent kind. Bill was a partner on the trial field and I'd have to say brought me to the top. My training methods now are a result of the kind of dog Bill was and what he taught me.

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