26 March

The Good Sheep Dog. Trust And Respect

by Jon Katz
The Good Dog
The Good Dog

Some people measure the sheep dog by ribbons and points, by how many whistles will turn them around. I measure a good working dog by the animals he or she is working with. I watch the sheep, not the dog. This morning, Red came in very close to the sheep while they were eating, four of them are bred and heavy. Every one of them put their heads down a few feet from him and began eating, they barely even glanced at him.

Red is a strong dog when working, he puts up with no nonsense, yet I have been pleased to witness the trust and professionalism that has grown up between him and the sheep. They respond to him, they move well for him, but he is always appropriate and they have come to trust him. When sheep are at ease, their heads go down. When they are not, their heads stay up and alert. I am happy that these animals feel so at ease around Red, it is a great compliment to him. They grasp that he is not there to hurt them or frighten, their work together is ancient and, when done well, understood.

I have been around many dogs that sheep do not trust and respect, that do not know what they are doing, that have not been properly trained or bred, and it is nothing like this.

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