My aging stock dog and I were bickering like an old married couple. It was raining lightly on a cold and blustery day. I hurried across the yard looking for a staple gun in a tool shed. Out of habit, I called my Border Collie/ Aussie cross dog to follow me. Halfway across the yard, I realized she wasn’t tagging along. Turning, I gestured for her to come with me. She’s trained in voice commands as well as hand signals. However, her body language indicated she wasn’t sure I “really” wanted her.
When you introduce new animals to an established herd or flock, you should observe your dog’s reactions and behavior for a few days. Since he will be curious anyway, it is a good idea to introduce him to the new animals while he is leashed or to place the new animals in a nearby area.
When I saw an ad in the paper for a sheepherding clinic being held less than a stone’s throw from my front door, I could not resist. Such an event, pre-dog, would definitely have interested me, falling in the category of human-animal cooperative endeavors, as it were. I wasn’t sure if I should dare bring my mangy pound puppy, though. So I signed on as a spectator and arrived a minute before showtime, curious to see, and maintaining the option to bring my dog later.
A while back, with the farm slumbering under a full moon and a clear winter sky, my husband Mark and I decided to take a stroll down to the mail box, ostensibly to see if the outside world had delivered to us anything of interest, but really just to enjoy the night. Jet, my one-year-old English Shepherd, was with us. Just out the door in the driveway, Jet suddenly puffed up and let loose with his woo woo woo bark that means, in his language, something’s wrong here, folks. Then Mark and I saw a big black shape lumbering toward us.
It’s a cool morning on a nature preserve owned by Bur Oak Land Trust in Johnson County. I’m scouring a shady hillside with John Rucker and his four Boykin spaniels, looking for turtles. “Find turtle, find turtle,” Rucker calls to his dogs. He turns to me and says, “did I tell you I’m the only person in the world that does this?” When he’s not living off the grid in rural Montana, Rucker travels the country with his specially-trained hunting dogs, helping scientists and conservationists find turtles.