Welcome to the online home of Valmis Sheepdogs! Here you will be able to keep up to date with our latest news, discover information about our dogs past and present, get puppy updates and find details about the different types of training services I offer.
My name is Anni Ritakallio, I’m a professional sheepdog trainer and competitive trialist. For 8 years up to the summer of 2018 I lived and worked in the UK as a full time shepherd, responsible for all aspects of the care and lamb production of up to 2,500 ewes. In competitive trialing I consistently placed in Open level trails in the UK but i got the biggest joy from breeding and bringing on high quality young dogs at Nursery level. I annually qualified for and competed in the English National competition at both Open and Nursery level and in 2015 I became the first Fin to qualify to represent England at International level.
My kennel, Valmis Sheepdogs, is founded on the love of working sheep dogs. I have always liked dogs that are as pleasurable to work with as they are effective. Based on this I always try to produce litters from parents I know are tried and tested in tough work environments, as their ability to handle sheep is always foremost in my mind.
Feel free to get in touch with me using our ‘Contact’ page if you have any questions related to our dogs or sheepdog training services.
Before I came to sheepdogs I was involved in various dog sports. I got my first dog at the age of 16, a Golden Retriever Monna, who i started training in Obedience. Our approach was initially 'trial by error' but over time we refined our techniques and began to achieve real results.
My first real sport dog was a Shetland Sheepdog called Demo (Firabellen Hurma). Demo and I enrolled on the the Canine Studies course at the Central Ostrobothnia Rural Institute in Kannus, Finland. The course is run in conjunction with Finnish law enforcement agencies, and involves training puppies and young dogs in preparation for work with the Police and Customs as sniffer and tracking dogs. We also trained obedience with young guide dogs.
During my studies I competed with Demo in Obedience and Agility. We went on to win The 'Winner Class' (now referred to as 2nd Class by the FCI) at the Finnish Obedience Championships. In this video Demo and I are training 'Send away with directions, down and recall.'
After graduating I also worked as an Obedience trainer for a brief time in Finland.
Towards the end of my studies I was required to complete a work experience placement. Having grown increasingly curious about the world of sheepdogs, border collies in particular, I wrote to a couple of UK based trainers and handlers asking if I could briefly join them to see what went on first hand. To my surprise I was offered a work placement with English National winner and world renown trainer Derek Scrimgeour at his hill farm in Cumbria’s Lake District. I ended up working for Derek as shepherd and dog trainer until he retired from hill farming in 2014. It was an incredibly steep learning curve but by the time I left I had gained a lot of experience as a shepherd and dog trainer/handler. By now I was well and truly ‘bitten by the sheepdog bug’ and will always be grateful to Derek and his family for making me so welcome and giving me the opportunity to learn in such a beautiful and challenging environment.
After leaving the hills of the Lake District I found full time work as a shepherd at a farm on the Dee Estuary, on the border of England and Wales. I remained there for the next 4 years and was responsible for the welfare and lambing of the 2,500 ewes that grazed in one of the largest and ecologically important tidal marshland in Europe. During my time there I began training and breeding dogs professionally, and started to grow my reputation as a trialist and handler. I remained in this role until the summer of 2018, when my mother become ill which lead to me returning to my family home in Finland.
I consider myself lucky to be able to combine my love of training dogs and working with them and sheep on a daily basis. You can find out more about my team of dogs, the latest trial news, dogs for sale and much more by using the menu bar at the top of this page.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Valmis Sheepdogs!