IAN BROWNLIE and 12-year-old Bessie are among the competitors taking part in the World Sheepdog Trials which are being held in Scotland for the first time.

Some 25 nations from around the world, including teams from South America, North America, Africa and Europe, are represented at Fearn Farm near Tain. The competition has been christened the 'sheep dog Olympics' and involves about 240 competitors from as far away Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa and USA. It runs until Saturday but will get the royal stamp of approval today with a visit from the Princess Royal.

Caithness, Sutherland and Ross SNP MSP Rob Gibson has welcomed the staging of the event by lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament to mark its start. The event is being supported by Homecoming Scotland 2014, and has been organised by the International Sheep Dog Society and its Scottish members. Princess Anne is patron of the society.

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Ewen Mackinnon, its Scottish National President, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be part of the Highland Homecoming celebrations taking place during September and October this year. Tain is well and truly set to welcome the world over the next few days and of course, the world's finest sheepdogs."

Mr Gibson said that the event was significant and another example of Scotland hosting a world-class event. "This is a big deal, competitors come from all across the world to take part. Every corner of the globe is being represented in Fearn this week. It's not often that can be said."

Princess Anne will present the Best Farm Dog of the Year award after watching the dogs in action and speak to representatives from the overseas countries and the Irish, Welsh, English and Scottish national presidents.