I've been herding sheep with border collies for nearly 15 years now, I have a hard time remembering when I didn't have a border collie, my favorite breed of dog, a wonderful kind of dog. I got a border collie when I shouldn't have had one and knew little about them, I started working with dog trainers to figure them out. Now, working with sheep and a border collie is a natural enough thing to do, especially with a keen animal like Red.
I don't trial with him, it's not our thing. He is a farm dog, like my other border collies, and a valuable one. Still, in these years of working with border collies – Orson, Rose, Izzy and Red, I've never seen a relationship quite like the one Red and Liam have. Orson couldn't herd sheep, Rose had no patience for challenge, she would have dragged Liam all around the pasture. Izzy was a sweet creature, he preferred people to sheep, hospice work was his thing.
Usually rams or wethers would challenge a dog, but intermittenly. Liam challenges Red every single day, but gently. He stands in front of Red, defies him, tries to stare him down, then he usually backs up or backs off. But these two face off every single day, their days begin in that way. Red gets close, goes into his killer-crouch, and waits for Liam to buckle. It's the eye that gets Liam every time. Border collies control sheep with their eyes, and Red has a powerful look.
Liam seems to want to prevail, but melts under the stare every time. It's an automatic start to the day now, something we hardly notice. I wonder if it will go on forever. Liam is a good guy, a gentle and affectionate creature. He has never backed Red off, I doubt that he ever will.