Follow-up: Border Collies

Here’s the gist of an email from Tom Watson after last week’s post on border collies:

My daughter and her husband have three border collies: Ace, the father; Piper, the mother; and Tucker, the son. At six, Tucker is the primary worker now, and Piper is second. Ace has taken over the job of “foredog,” staying close by and pitching in if needed.

Tucker is the greatest dog I have ever known. He’s as gentle as all get-out, only wants world peace, but nobody knows the job he is supposed to do better than he. 

These pictures were taken last Saturday at their farm. Note the open gate. My son-in-law had gone to spread feed and left the gate open with no worries at all.  He knew that Tucker would spot it and know what to do without being told.

 

11 Comments

  1. My feeling about the animals we have kept, though few were working animals, is that they ask for so little and teach us so much while returning unconditional affection and their inherent beauty. They count as one of the privileges of country living.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – I think my mother felt that way about the animals in her farm life, too. She wrote about many of them and had vivid memories of them, 80+ years after the fact.

  2. I somehow missed your original post (sometimes they go to JUNK !?!) — but want to say that one of the supreme afternoons of my whole life was watching sheep herding trials. The dogs were physic it seemed, if hearing the whistles we couldn’t. The winner was a little 3-legged dog.

    Added to the spectacle were dozens of puppies out for a socializing among the crowd. A real joy.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – Junk! What were they thinking? Anyhow, I certainly came away with the idea that the human gave only general orders – the dog figured out how to execute, including how to deal with contingencies. Rogue sheep, as it were. Very smart.

  3. Jim Taylor

    Something like Barbara, I witnessed a dog at work on the slopes of Mount Brandan, on the Dingle Peninsula in — you guessed it — western Ireland. As we came down the slopes, we saw a small black-and-white dog gathering sheep scattered of several hillsides. Gathered them together, rounded up the strays, turned them down the hill, ushered them over/around the crags… When we got to the bottom of the mountain, about 2,000 feet down and a mile further along, we found the dog’s shepherd, calmly smoking his pipe and occasionally blowing a whistle pitched too high for us to hear. I don’t even know if the dog was getting whistled commands, or just obeying what it had learned over the years. Amazing to watch….
    Jim T

      1. Debbie Lyall’s dog died recently: a wonderful companion, guard dog. Every week when we went to Deb’s for framing or painting judging, Artie and I would look deep into each other’s eyes and have deep conversations. Dogs are the best. She also has two cats: the friendly one likes my attention but, as Steven Wright would probably say, “really looks at me like I’m a 5’8′ can opener.”

        1. Isabel Gibson

          Barbara – I’m sorry about Debbie’s dog – they’re members of our family, in ways cats are not, I think. And I quite like cats, but have no confusion over who is “staff” in our relationship.

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