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L. J. Humphries from Towyn

Several eminent sheepdog handlers of the past also gave demonstrations of their skill in working dogs. These spectacles proved very popular with those whose knowledge of dogs, sheep and country life was, of necessity, limited. The achievements of these men showed how their successes proved their worth and that of their dogs. Those lucky enough to watch them, either on the trials field or at a demonstration were seeing masters of their craft.

L. J. Humphreys was one who brought the worth of the working sheepdog to a wider audience. His record of wins at major trials speaks for itself. Six times, he took the Welsh National Championship; in 1929 and 1930 with Toss 464, in 1931 with Lad 476, and 1934 with Lad 990, and in 1933 and 1939 with Moss 2206. Toss and Lad worked well as a team, and won consecutive Welsh Brace Championships in 1931 and 1932. A brace class was first introduced to the International in 1926, though trophies started to be awarded in 1929. Toss and Lad 990 won in 1928, and in 1935 Lad partnered Meg 1498 to take another International Brace title.
Toss was clearly a remarkable dog for the big occasion, being in the Welsh team for a decade and only being pipped by the narrowest of margins in the 1928 Supreme Championship, by Fly 824, handled by the great J M Wilson. Toss had the very important attribute in a top class dog of being able to assess his sheep quickly and accurately upon first contact with them. He had good breeding in him, having T Dickson’s Hemp 153 as a grandfather. Moss also counted Hemp as a grandfather, and Lad was a great great grandson of Hemp’s. Dickson’s Hemp was influential in the pedigrees of many other good dogs such as J. M. Wilson’s Craig 1048 and Roy 1665.
Like all great handlers, L. J. Humphreys was always at pains to look at his dogs as individuals. He used wise words in describing his method of training, emphasising that the dog’s reasoning powers should be allowed to develop. He stressed the need for total consistency in training but didn’t censure the practice of allowing the dog to play either. “If playing, then play; if working, work; and in working, make sure of obedience.”
L. J. gave demonstrations at London’s Hackney Wick stadium, and the dogs were clearly unfazed by their less than rural surroundings!

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