Wendy and Quirt have a good thing going.
Wendy is Wendy Auzqui, a Wyoming cowgirl through and through. Quirt is a 5-year-old border collie that last year won the World Stock Dog Championships staged at the Calgary stampede in Canada.
The pair working together is like watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their prime. Both will be featured on the Wyoming PBS program “Wyoming Chronicle” this weekend.
Ranch Life Pivot
The win last summer was Auzqui’s second as a dog owner.
Since 2014, she has turned her attention full-time to training stock dogs, mostly border collies, her favorite breed.
Before that, Auzqui grew up in the ranch life and tried her hand at being a jockey, barrel racer, team roper, colt starter, rodeo athlete … basically anything involving animals.
Her bond with animals comes from her father. Auzqui idolized him as a kid, watching and learning how he handled horses, livestock. He had an easy way of reading the animals and seemed to know instinctively when to apply pressure, when to release and reward.
“My life was fast moving and I felt most at home when in the presence of animals,” Auzqui says. “Mainly horses and dogs. But all animals have a way of speaking to me, and for the most part, I listen.”
Her latest devotion is border collies – basically, hummingbirds with paws and enough instinct and intellect to make training or owning one a challenge.
The high-drive herding breed needs a job to thrive, and Auzqui has made hers shaping these tireless ranch missiles into treasured working companions.
“I am so impressed with their brilliance and work ethic,” she told Tiffany Schwenke in her “Wyoming Cowgirl” series for Cavvy Savvy. She added that border collies “have taught me the power of energy, how to use and control my energy which, in turn, controls their energy.
“All life responds to our energy and pressure. When we are aware of this, life gets simple.”
Auzqui spends most of her time on her ranch near Clearmont, east of Sheridan, with husband John, a dozen or so dogs and horses, and hundreds of sheep and cattle.
She offers clinics, lessons and training, in addition to breeding and selling working stock dogs through her business Creekside Stockdogs.
Who’s Training Who?
Auzqui is a bit high energy herself. She’s the first to admit that.
Dogs, and all animals found on a ranch, have taught her a quiet patience.
Horses will do that. Try loading a trailer-shy horse with 10 minutes left to get to a rodeo. It will take half an hour, minimum. Leave a leisurely 90 minutes for the task and that headstrong barrel racer will walk right in the first time.
Border collies are wound tight by nature. Successful trainers channel that energy into desired behavior like penning three obstinate Scottish black-faced sheep with nary a spoken word; rather than, say, pulling the stuffing out of your priceless antique sofa.
Border collie owners have a few advantages over owners of other dog breeds.
Like most herding dogs, the border collie lives to please. It works with one eye on its stock and the other fixed on its handler, eager for instruction.
And for all its drive, the BC can be chill.
The calm way they work sheep (compared to more aggressive herding breeds like the Australian cattle dog) is often evidenced in “the eye” they are noted for. At times, border collies appear to almost convince their flocks to make the correct decision.
Listen closely, you might hear the occasional “come by” or “away to me” but, for the most part, this breed has been designed and refined for centuries to work alone with little instruction.
Auzqui connects naturally with the breed, using age-old training principles to get the most out of her dogs. That bond is so intricately woven into every animal it shows in the field and at competitive sheepdog trials.
Wendy And Her Wonder Dogs
Auzqui and her then 5-year-old border collie Frank took top honors at the World Stock Dog Championships in Calgary in 2019.
When she left Wyoming to compete in the 2022 event last summer, she had five dogs she considered ready for the big time.
Frank, of course, had to make the trip. He had proven himself once before.
Of the remaining four, Quirt was the last one she thought capable of pulling off a win under the bright lights, though Wendy adored her since the day she arrived at her ranch for training.
Quirt is actually co-owned, 50/50, with Buzz Sharon of Texas. Sharon sent the pup to Creekside Stockdogs for training, and it wasn’t long before Auzqui phoned back and told him, “I’m keeping this dog.”
Auzqui says that Quirt reminds her of herself.
“Quirt wants to do things fast, she wants to be right, she doesn’t want to be in trouble, and she handles her sheep perfectly,” she told the Buffalo Bulletin last summer.
Maybe husband John saw a bit of Wendy in the promising pup. He urged his wife to take Quirt as backup to Frank, and the rest is history.
Quirt barely squeaked by the preliminary rounds to reach the finals.
But once there, she was a rockstar.
Quirt handled her sheep in a 2minute, 6-second run to secure the title and a check for $10,000. Frank finished fifth.
Wyoming PBS Special
“Wyoming Chronicle” host Steve Peck spent time with Auzqui and Quirt after their win in Calgary last summer.
The Wyoming PBS special will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The show repeats at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and again at noon Sunday.
“Wyoming Chronicle” also can be viewed online.