Border collies have always fascinated me from the time I first read James Herriot’s books about being a veterinarian in England many years ago. A number of his stories are about dogs, Border collies—working dogs—in particular.
Now, we’ve raised sheep here on King Creek Farm, but not for many years. I can’t help but remember trying to herd sheep and thinking a well-trained dog would be useful. You know the Scripture, “all we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6)? Yep, sheep can scatter easily then regroup (they’re a herd animal, after all) far from where you wanted them to go.
The folks on the farm next door have two Border collies. Every now and then I look out the window at the right time to see the dogs move the cattle from one pasture to another. Once I watched while they convinced a cow who’d gotten wedged in a stack of bales to come out. It was utterly fascinating to witness the process and how well they obeyed orders.
Our Brody, now 5 years old, is half Lab and half who-knows-what. He’s certainly shown some instincts of the Border collie that may (or may not) be part of his heritage. If it moves, he wants to herd it. This includes children, cats, chickens, cows, and pigs. He’s not fussy! (We’ve convinced him most of those are best not herded.)
When a 4-month-old puppy named Domino crept into my novel a few years back and stole center stage, I wasn’t surprised. The story’s working title became Domino’s Game because of the vital role he played throughout the whole tale. Although the book has been renamed Raspberries and Vinegar, Domino retains his place on the front cover as a bundle of energy not to be denied.
Would I like a pup like Domino? Wow, no, not really. They need a lot of attention, space, and tasks to keep them occupied and happy. A 5-year-old Lab cross is demanding enough for me!
Ever seen Border collies run sheep in a trial? This video is of the 2008 championships at Mendocino County Fair: