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You do know how to whistle, don't you? 

"How do you like that brass whistle?"

"I'm not crazy about the flavor. But the sound carries well. Here, feel how heavy it is."

Certain conversations you can hear only at a dog herding competition, such as last month's Montana Stockdog Challenge in Red Lodge. In this case, two dog handlers were comparing their whistles, which can be made of stainless steel, plastic, ivory, or even sterling silver ("it's so soft, it makes a thick glob in your mouth").

Handlers use the whistles to direct their border collies, sending them right or left, on a short run or long, said Hope Hanson of Fromberg, an organizer of the event. Most train their dogs on voice commands, then convert to whistles because they carry better. "Also if you're stressed," Hanson adds, "it doesn't come through as much on a whistle."

I was there doing a story, and this tidbit probably won't make the final draft. But I just thought somebody needed to hear about it.

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