A 16-year-old schoolgirl from Limavady was barking mad that she could not make the annual spring sale of working sheepdogs due to her exams.
However, the news that the dog she had trained was valued at over £7,000 softened the blow somewhat for Shannon Conn, who is a pupil at Limavady High School in Co Londonderry.
While she tackled her GCSE examinations, she left her two-year-old red and white sheepdog named Rosie in the capable hands of her father Loughlin at Skipton Auction Mart in Yorkshire last Friday.
Her father – who is a sheep and cattle farmer – put in a sparkling display with the talented youngster on the trials field at the North Yorkshire venue and gained a price of 6,800 guineas (£7,140).
Shannon has had the well-bred Rosie for 12 months and while she has trained the dog herself, her dad Loughlin – who breeds Aberdeen Angus cattle and Suffolk cross sheep – also knows Rosie well, having been placed with her at several nursery trials.
Schoolgirl Shannon is no stranger to the trials field, having competed in the televised ‘One Man and His Dog’ as a 13-year-old in 2015, winning through to the junior handler final. In the same year she became the Irish junior champion and qualified for the International Junior Final in Scotland.
She said she was “over the moon” with her top price coup and planned to invest part of her windfall in buying some well-bred sheepdog pups, working on them and bringing them back to sell at Skipton – now widely regarded as the UK’s leading sheepdog sales venue.
Shannon has set her heart on further cementing her already growing presence and impact in the working sheepdog world.
After her GCSEs, she will go on to take A levels, “then hopefully just dogs”, she said.
Elsewhere, another regular vendor at Skipton who hails from Northern Ireland, former jump jockey Michael McAlister, of Glenariffe in Co Antrim, came in with a brace of dogs that together netted 7,600 guineas.