Moses arrived here in the spring of 2010, a middle-aged, retired show dog. His former owner sent him home with me in a most presentable form, fully bathed and groomed, ready for a show. Here is what he looked like upon arrival, fearfully meeting grubby Bronte:

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In retrospect, the bath was a bad idea, as he was not waterproof for a few weeks, and got really wet when it rained. But it was mild weather, and he survived the short but difficult transition to farm life.

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MaggieWhen I went to my first border collie herding trial many years ago, I was appalled at how much yelling all of the handlers did. I swore to myself that if and when I ever trained stock dogs, I’d do it without all that yelling! Well, famous last words. I yell at my dogs a lot when they are working sheep. Sometimes I really get after them, even grabbing them by the scruff and getting in their faces. Afterwards, I always wonder, did a bicyclist or driver on the road just see that, and think I’m a terrible person? Smile

But the truth is, stock dogs can be very pushy. My idea of nice, calm stock work is their idea of bo-ring. They know what I consider appropriate, and they sometimes push the line when they are far away from me and think they can get away with it. And this can be dangerous for me, the dog, or the sheep- or all three! A friend of mine had her leg broken when her dog ran stock over her through a gate opening. Dog-run sheep can crash into fences and break their necks. And dogs can get hurt too, being kicked, butted or crushed by livestock if they are not using their heads. So I do take naughtiness seriously, and correct to the level needed to get the dog’s attention. Which sometimes needs to be quite a wake-up call for a keen border collie. AnnoyedOften I have to act like I’m literally ready to kill them, or they will just brush me off and keep doing what they’re doing.

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Polite Sitting at the GateSome readers already know his background (but in case you don’t) our LGD, Moses, is a retired show dog. He’s a finished champion that was never really cut out to be a “campaign dog,” travelling the road for years, racking up group placements and best-in-show wins. So, he’s here now, and farm life seems to suit him much better. One problem I’ve faced with him is grooming, however. Ironic, since he must have spent a lot of time on the grooming table when he was a show dog. But perhaps this is one reason he needed a career change, as he hates being groomed!

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This is a little pet peeve of mine. Or maybe it’s a big one. We live on a well-traveled road. Our sheep pastures abut the road. Our guardian dogs do their job, and bark at anything in the environment that’s out of the ordinary: pedestrians, bicyclists, deer, coyotes, and cars that slow way down or stop. Usually it’s just a minute or two of casual barking and then the thing is gone and calm returns.

But there is this phenomenon that I can’t figure out. Several people who like to drive by reeeel slow, and let their dog hang half out the car window and bark like crazy. And then our guardian dogs bark louder, a much more escalated bark. They go bananas and run the entire 600 feet of fence line to track this invader of our peace and ward it off. And all this ruckus makes the border collies bark inside the house, then race hells-bells out the dog door to see what’s going on.

Lots of people do it, but some cars I recognize, because they are regular and repeat offenders. It seems it’s a favorite pastime of many; and they must be people who live nearby, since I see them so often.

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A little brief on our LGD Moses, living in retirement after a successful show career in the Kuvasz ring. He has been here over a year, and is doing very well. I think he really likes this life with no obligations, and he definitely feels triumph each time he “wards off” a passing bicyclist or slowing car! Then he goes back to snoozing.

I still have a pretty strong suspicion that  his vision is bad, that he is very far-sighted. I see it often, in little things he does.

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