People: It's a Gallagher Thing

Top-ranking sheepdog handler, Michael Gallagher, shares a mutual dedication to the sheepdog world with two family members.

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Sheepdog trialling runs in Michael Gallagher’s blood.

Both Gallagher’s father and uncle were involved with the sport long before he entered the sheepdog world, and it came as no surprise when Gallagher decided to try his hand at a local novice trial in 2003.

In just seven years, Gallagher shot up the ranks, going from beginner to top handler. At the 2010 International Sheepdog Trial in Northern Ireland, held September 16 to 18 in Antrim, Gallagher and his then 6-year-old Border Collie, Cap, secured the home win and earned the title of International Supreme Champion. Gallagher reflects on his sheepdog trialling experiences and discusses what’s in store for the future.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I live with my parents, Aidan and Pauline, and my younger brother, James. We live in a village called Armoy, in the north east of Northern Ireland. Most of my spare time is spent working with dogs and progressing young dogs further [along the sheepdog ranks].

Q: How and why did you get into the sport?
A: I got into dog trialling because of my father. He always had dogs. He and my uncle were both involved in trials, so it kind of runs in the family.
I’ve always enjoyed watching skilled dogs and handlers working together – long before I even thought of starting.

Q: Tell us about Cap.
A: I bought Cap in 2006 because I needed a second dog for trialling. Cap has a very good temperament. He is always willing to please and has a great attitude toward his work. Cap is an extremely well-bred dog. His dam, Fly, is a multiple-time Scottish team member owned by Duncan Campbell. His father’s record is as equally impressive. Owned by Bobby Dalziel, his father, also called Cap, had a sire by the name of Wisp. Wisp won the International Supreme twice, and is also owned by Bobby Dalziel.

Q: How did it feel to be named the International Supreme Champion?
A: I felt extremely honored to be [named] Supreme Champion as it is a title that every sheepdog handler aims for. It was my target when I started trialling. I just didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did.

Q: What are some memorable experiences you’ve gained while working with Cap?
A: We won the qualifying trial at the International and were the International Driving Champions. We also have been on the Irish team three years in a row, which is a great achievement. We were [named] North of Ireland Champion in 2008. We’ve earned many titles together.

Q: Do you have any big aspirations?
A: I would love to win the Irish National at some point in my career. I think it would be nice to captain your country.

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