Quill: Injured pup that showed up at 2009 Meeker Classic to compete

Quill, a Border Collie that just showed up at the 2009 Meeker Sheepdog Classic with a mouth full of porcupine quills, above, found a new owner, then a new trainer and is returning this year as a competitor in the Sept. 4-8 event.

Quill, the mystery Border Collie, stands ready to round up some sheep. But, in Meeker in 2009, Elaine Wood, Ellen Nieslanik and others checked with local ranchers to see if anyone recognized the dog or claimed ownership. He had a collar but no tags. Several people came by to see Quill, but unfortunately, no one recognized him or had any idea who he might belong to.
Quill, the mystery Border Collie, stands ready to round up some sheep. But, in Meeker in 2009, Elaine Wood, Ellen Nieslanik and others checked with local ranchers to see if anyone recognized the dog or claimed ownership. He had a collar but no tags. Several people came by to see Quill, but unfortunately, no one recognized him or had any idea who he might belong to.
The roster of dogs at the Meeker Classic Championship Sheepdog Trials boasts a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. They hail from all parts of the world, descend from a long line of proven dogs or just possess an innate instinct to gather and move stock, but each dog will face the same challenge as they walk onto the field at Meeker.
When Angie Coker Sells and her dog, Quill, walk out on the field, it will be a homecoming of sorts. Their story started four years ago during the 2009 Meeker Classic.
A unique set of circumstances and people were set in motion that week of the Meeker Classic. Angie, a Meeker Classic Champion in 1999, was the judge for the 2009 Meeker Classic and Elaine Wood was volunteering at Meeker with the Humane Society Rescue Rig.
Quill, a Border Collie that just showed up at the 2009 Meeker Sheepdog Classic with a mouth full of porcupine quills, above, found a new owner, then a new trainer and is returning this year as a competitor in the Sept. 4-8 event.
Quill, a Border Collie that just showed up at the 2009 Meeker Sheepdog Classic with a mouth full of porcupine quills, above, found a new owner, then a new trainer and is returning this year as a competitor in the Sept. 4-8 event.
As a pup, Quill just appeared at the classic, and his face was covered with porcupine quills. He stayed around and spent the Meeker Classic hanging out at the trial field with Elaine and making friends wherever he went.
Elaine, Ellen Nieslanik and others checked in with local ranchers to see if anyone recognized the dog or claimed ownership. He had a collar but no tags. Several people came by to see Quill, but unfortunately, no one recognized him or had any idea who he might belong to.
By the end of the trial, no one had stepped forward to take responsibility for Quill, and Elaine had become attached to the sweet, gentle pup. She decided to take him home with her to Greeley, Colo.
Over the next several weeks, porcupine quills that had been imbedded under the skin continued to migrate their way out. One came out from behind his eye and several came out the top of his nose. Two additional trips to the veterinarian necessitated sedation to remove a couple hundred more quills.
During all of pain involved, Quill never lost his sweet nature and was Elaine’s constant shadow, quickly becoming a favorite at the veterinarian’s office.
Months later, having recuperated from the porcupine quills, Quill was showing a natural inclination to work sheep. Elaine wanted to see if Quill might have what it takes to become a sheep dog.
Sells had helped train most of Elaine’s Border Collies, so, in 2010, she sent Quill to Angie in Tecumseh, Okla., for training.
Angie and Quill hit it off right away. Angie could see Quill’s natural talent and Quill took to life on the ranch. Being a fast learner and having plenty of grit, Angie also had to keep an eye on Quill, manage his energy and direct his instinct. It wasn’t long before Angie called Elaine asking if she might be interested or willing to let her keep Quill.
He had all the makings of a great ranch dog for what Angie needed; and although she wasn’t trialing at the time, she knew Quill would be a good candidate if she ever did.
It was a hard decision for Elaine, having rescued Quill and rehabilitated him. She also knew that living in town and working sheep on an occasional basis would be a hard transition for Quill to make.
After much thought, she decided on what was best for Quill, knowing he was much better off in a home where he had a real job to do.
Who would have guessed that the young stray Border Collie covered in porcupine quills would make the full circle and come back to compete on the same field where he showed up in such need of help?
Win, lose or draw, Angie and Elaine are thrilled Quill will return this year.
One can watch Quill run on the afternoon of Sept. 5 at the 27th annual Meeker Classic.