Sunday, July 01, 2007

Herding cats--I mean, sheep

Eliza's hiking guide arranged for the group to visit friend Stuart's farm. Stuart raises sheep (about 700) and trains sheepdogs (term?). He has several border collies in various stages of development, some of whom competed the day before in a local contest.

uncertain sheep

Sheep are, well, perhaps not the brightest animals. The dogs, on the other hand, are brilliant. And sooooo keen to work, they positively vibrate with energy as they struggle between two instincts--that to obey Stuart and "stay" when he commands it, and the other to get out there and get the sheep organized properly, as soon as possible. And when one of their "peers" is working and they are not, they look like they are in physical pain with the struggle of restraint.

Here a couple of them are working:

dogs working sheep

And the sheep are getting there...

dogs working

Stuart had a series of verbal and whistled commands (the whistle is needed to carry over long distances): stay, go out, come in, come in left, come in right, etc. Really remarkable.

stuart whistles commands

Here they are enjoying a well-earned rest.

angela swatchy dogs

1 comment:

Knittah said...

So cute, the dogs in the carry-all on the bike!