Georgene Hager Memorial Fund
From our Fall 2018 Newsletter. See the full newsletter (PDF) here.
If you live in Wyoming, you’ve seen cattle. They dot the landscape and greet you as you drive along the highways. You might say they’re as much a part of Wyoming’s landscape as the pronghorn antelope that roam alongside them.
Cattle and ranching are a way of life for many in Wyoming. So, it’s no surprise that herding cattle is still a part of the Wyoming rancher’s way of life, too. For many, cattle dogs help make life out on the prairies a bit easier.
Ask any rancher with herding dogs and they’ll tell you they are truly a part of the crew – one of the most reliable ranch hands. If you’ve seen them work, you quickly understand their worth.
Watching these dogs is amazing. In fact, cattle dogs are so impressive the National Cattle Dog Association (NCA) exists in part, to showcase their talent.
For Bob Wagner, who has a ranch just four miles south of the Wyoming border and who helped organize the NCA trials in Cheyenne, his path to owning a cattle dog was a bit unusual. And comical.
“My wife, Jan, and I were working cattle, pushing them into the corral, and I was getting impatient,” says Bob. “I told her to ‘walk up, walk up’ which is a dog command.”
Needless to say, Jan soon got Bob a dog. And he’s incredibly thankful she did.
“I’d rolled four wheelers in ravines before we had dogs. I can move a group of cattle so much easier with dogs,” he says.
Showcasing Work, Talent and a Wyoming Tradition
For Bob and many others, the NCA cattle dog trials are twofold: a way to share the talent of the animals while also supporting the ranching culture.
Thanks in part to the generosity of the late Georgene Hager LeBar, a rancher who grew up near Torrington, and later lived on a ranch outside of Douglas, the NCA does just that. Georgene created a fund at the Wyoming Community Foundation to support stock dogs.
Each year the NCA hosts trials across the country, and always in Wyoming. Last year, they held the national finals in Cheyenne. Because of the knockout host Cheyenne was, they hope Cheyenne can continue to be home to the finals.
“Cheyenne is a relatively big city, but very much has a small-town mindset,” says Bob. “The community really swung in behind us.”
The NCA lets folks like and I you see the instinct, talent and obsessive focus these dogs have for work. You also quickly see how important the animals can be to the ranching way of life.
It is “absolutely addictive” Bob says of the trials. Likely, the dogs feel the same way.
Stats and Facts
NCA’s mission is education and to encourage efficient, low-stress and humane cattle handling with well-trained cattle dogs
Each dog must gather six cattle, 200 yards out and herd them through gates. The handler’s whistle signals to the dogs as they maneuver the cattle through the course.
There are 325 members of the NCA, nationally.