Sports & Performance - Nell
Border Collie Nell has been competing in flyball continuously for 10 years, winning two British Flyball Divisional Championships, as well as a European Championship Division in 2016. She currently has the third highest number of points ever gained by a British Flyball Association registered flyball dog (93,515).
Nell was born on 25th April 2006 and bred to be a working sheep dog. However, her life on the farm wasn’t perfect, as she wasn’t as biddable as the farmer had hoped for. With the farmer wanting her out of the way, Nell ended up with Barbara Skyes at Freedom of Spirit Trust for Border Collies.
This is where Nell found her forever home with Rachel, from Stockton-on-Tees, in 2008. Justin Shearings, from the British Flyball, who nominated Nell, told us: “Rachel was looking for another dog to do flyball with and was recommended Nell by Barbara. When Rachel saw Nell, she knew she was perfect for her with her lopsided ears and beautiful tri-coloured markings.”
Nell had never seen a toy or ball so was going to be a good challenge for Rachel. Justin said: “With time and patience, Nell became interested in a ball; but, when she started flyball training, she would go to the box, get the ball then scoot of at 90 degrees believing her job was done.
“However, patience paid off and she raced in her first tournament nine years ago, gaining a whole 20 points. She was off the mark and eventually gained her Flyball Dog Award (200 points) the same year.”
Nell was never the fastest dog, but she absolutely loved every second of every leg she raced. Nell’s owner, Rachel, was often heard saying ‘Nellie, down’ in the back of the flyball ring when Nell decided to remember her sheepdog training and go and herd the other dogs.
Justin then went on to tell us: “Just before Nell’s 13th birthday, she gained the points for her Bellestar Award (90,000).” Nell is only the 4th dog to achieve this award and the only one still padding around today.
Nell’s final race was on 12th October 2019 when Rachel decided it was time for her to hang up her harness to ensure she continued to have a good quality of life. Having recently celebrated her 15th birthday, Rachel told us: “Nell is an amazing companion. She is affectionately known as ‘Slytherin’ for her ability to slither up for a cuddle in stealth mode. She’s given me her all in the 13 years I have had her in my life. She’s incredibly special and I’m very lucky she chose me all those years ago.”
Whilst she hung up her harness, Nell’s love for flyball still remains as she still does some training as a stooge dog to help the newbies in Stockton-on-Tees. Justin concluded by saying: “Nell is an example of how a well-trained dog, looked after with good nutrition and healthy exercise can work hard year on year, and keep winning rosettes and accolades after years of competing. To me she’s the hardest working dog and has achieved so much over the course of her long and happy life.”
If Nell has stolen your heart, and you think she should win the Sports & Performance Dogs category, putting her in the running for the title of Autarky Hardest Working Dog 2021, then make sure you cast your vote here.