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Having a dog as a pet?

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Re: Having a dog as a pet?

Postby Kay » Tue 12 Apr 2016 12:37 GMT

I just noticed that there seems to be an anomaly between "no experience" and "good at handling" in my earlier posts. But it was in a different environment. It's not so hard to learn the calls and whistles for dogs that are already well trained with sheep. You could probably stick a parking cone in the field with a pre-recording of "Come-by Shep" and various other commands. The dogs already knew how to do it. They just happened to like me because I praised them a bit more than they were used to after the job was done. Come to think of it, they could've done it without me. But I was probably better at opening and closing gates.

Sheep are so stupid anyway. I managed to herd them without the dogs for several days. The sheep imagined that the dogs were there and behaved accordingly, by habit. Then one day the sheep got wise to the fact that there weren't any dogs, just me. I was really struggling. One of the men in a field not so far away realised the problem and whistled loudly. Almost immediately, there were three dogs at my side, and the recalcitrant ram I was facing off (getting a bit nervous because he was going to charge at me) ran off in fear to join the flock. Yo! Good dog!

Keeping a pet and knowing how to care for an animal in a domestic environment is an entirely different matter to working with farm dogs. The dogs I looked after as a child and young adult were working dogs. There was no real "care" involved - they pretty much cared for themselves. Sure, they had to be fed and there were the occasional vet-type jobs (not my job).
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Re: Having a dog as a pet?

Postby ruggie » Tue 12 Apr 2016 14:09 GMT

I've walked the hills with shepherds, and helped gather sheep for shearing (so I know how to grab a sheep that's already in the fank, drag it to a shearer, and tip it onto its bum in front of him), but never tried to use sheepdogs - I just watched the shepherds do that. But nowadays I couldn't walk that far or at such a long-legged pace...
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Re: Having a dog as a pet?

Postby Kay » Tue 12 Apr 2016 14:51 GMT

What I loved about working on the farm was that, as a child, you did things according to your ability and interests. If you weren't up to much you'd probably get away with gathering a few eggs per day or something. Never any pressure. No "child labour" as such. But I wanted to do as much as I could. Unfortunately, I was very afraid of cows, which didn't help on that particular farm. Again, no pressure, they made sure I didn't have to go near them. I made up for it (not that I had to) on the various crops and the sheep. (I was a bit scared of sheep - ie the rams - as well occasionally, but not too much.) You didn't have to do anything you were uncomfortable with. In some ways, I was a farm animal myself. Farmed out as free labour to the relatives who gave me bed and board - and a very loving home.

One of my usual jobs was to jog up the hill, almost as high as the peat bog and run the sheep down onto the lower fields so they could be caught for dipping and various other purposes, eg overnight grazing/sleeping. I'm not sure what came first - doing that job or doing very well at school as a cross-country runner. It was great to be given the freedom and responsibility but the men (my uncle - by marriage - and his older brother) always kept an eye out so even though there was the autonomy, they were on it like a shot if you were having any problems such as having to face down a few rams. Not one dog, but three. Come on you rams, you and whose army?
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