Have you ever been amazed at your dog’s basic instilled instincts? Are you looking for fun activities for your dog to release excess energy, socialize, and try their paw at whole new experience?
Then a must-do is a visit to Ewe-topia, located in Roy (Piece County). Ewe-topia offers an opportunity for you and your dog to experience a lesson in herding sheep! In addition to the basic herding lessons, they offer agility classes, competitive herding lessons, and a myriad of other opportunities to have fun with your canine friend.
Dogs are matched with appropriate livestock. Whether you have a small Pomeranian or a large Great Dane, all breeds are welcome to give herding a try. If you own a hyper-crazed Australian Cattle Dog or even a goofy German Shepherd like mine, this 10-acre farm is a dream come true.
The farm has been owned by husband & wife, Joe Kapelos and Linda Leeman, since 1992. Joe and Linda have accomplished many achievements over their 30+ years of running Ewe-topia. Both who have achieved the Prestigious ASCA WTCH (Working Trial Champion), and the AKC HC (Herding Champion).
In 1964, at just 19-years-old, Joe even trained a bear he rescued from gypsies while he was in the Air Force in Turkey. Barney the bear was a Russian Silver Back who leaned to heel, sit, and run obstacle courses with the other dogs. “If he can train a bear, he can train any dog” laughs his wife, Linda.
Ewe-topia is just an hour south of Seattle in Roy, WA down a 5-mph gravel driveway.
We scheduled our visit on a Saturday. My dog, Kyzer, is a very excitable and friendly German Shepherd. Pulling into the park like facility, his tail began to thump, nose twisted and as expected, antsy whimpers start to stir in excitement. As we approached, Linda greeted us with a smile. We instantly felt relaxed. We looked forward to a day with nothing but plenty of blue skies, open fields, and exciting activities.
Linda and her staff went over basic policies and procedures. We wondered whether the sheep might get hurt. “Rest assured,” she shared, “with the steady hand of an expert sheep herder watching over the flock, the sheep are totally safe and quite happy.”
After the introduction, our names were written on a whiteboard in order of arrival, and we were encouraged to make ourselves at home while we waited for our turn at the new experience ahead.
While we waited, we sat down on one of the many of the benches surrounding the corral where “city- pampered” dogs like mine got to show off their own level of experience at herding the three sheep that trailed closely alongside the handler. My dog’s antsy paws began to pitter-patter in excitement.
We also visited their agility courses. My dogs followed me as I guided each up a teeter totter, two-part ramp, and a tunnel. When your dog isn’t herding sheep and is friendly with other dogs, they even have a large fenced in field for unleashing to run at their own pace of farm freedom.
When it came our turn, Joe, the owner watched as my dog, Kyzer, and I walked toward him. Joe assessed the dog and said, “he’s going to be sensitive.” He was referring to my 115-lbs German Shepherd who resembles a small bear. But he was right. My dog is sensitive, and he knew how to handle my dog before he even started.
As you walk in through the area where the sheep are inside, Jess, the handler, asks you to keep your dog leashed until the process begins. Once everyone is prepared and unleashed, Kyzer was guided with a long thin-walled PVC pipe to keep him a safe, but friendly distance from the sheep running around in circles near the handler. He ran until he was too tired to continue.
It was a true team building experience between dog and owner. To watch him embrace something he was originally bred to do in a safe manner was totally exciting and fulfilling to me.
Ewe-topia was an amazing experience. Many people return time after time. “We have 20+ year customers who drive hours just to spend an hour or two on the farm with their dog” says Linda.
The couple even encourage those who do not have dogs to come to enjoy the farm with them. They take pride in what they do and encourage anyone to come and watch.
The weather was great. Linda even jokes and says “this place is the Banana-Belt! It could be pouring down rain in the nearby town but be clear skies at our farm.”
I know that my dog and I will be bahhhhhk!
Take a look at the experience, visit their YouTube video site, Armchair Herder at https://tinyurl.com/4hfvt7xw
Ewe-topia is open most of the year, but closes seasonally for a winter break from November 21st, reopening Jan 26th.
To visit Ewe-topia in Roy, WA, call to make an appointment at 253-843-AWAY (2929). Appointments are required. Also, be aware that no one is allowed on the property before lesson times unless they have prior permission.