June 23, 2007

Drawing blood

See that little dog in the photo? I'm crazy about her. (The snapshot was taken at an AHBA trial in Jamul last November. You can click on the photo for a larger view.)

Let me count the reasons I love the landshark:
  • She's bold on stock.
  • She is resilient as steel.
  • She's mad keen.
  • She's fast as a whippet, and fast collies rock.
  • She listens to me.
  • Her walk-up is straight as a die.
  • She watches sheep when they're 200 yards away.
  • She has a full-mouthed, cowdog grip.
  • She is patient and gentle with new lambs.
  • She can lock eyes with a dog-pounding wether, and will him to retreat.
She's an assertive, happy little animal, and she has a personality larger by several orders of magnitude than most dogs I've met. "So you don't think she's a whippet/Jack Russell cross?" I asked Jack Knox after he worked her, and Jack said, "Oh, no -- she's got some breeding."

Heartbreaking, a bit, that I'll never know more about her pedigree than what Jack said: "She's got some breeding."

No one expects to find a genuinely useful stockdog in a pound or shelter or rescue, but I knew the first time I saw this little dog that she would work. She was a terrified stray with a badly broken foot --- she'd been hit by a car --- but I knew she'd work livestock, and I knew that she'd be my girl forever. I just knew. Did I mention that I love her tons?

Over the past couple months my little dog has held sheep for the shearer, for shots, for drenching, and for more shots. Last week a vet and I were drawing blood for CL testing, and my girl had to walk straight in and press sheep against us, then release the pressure a bit and keep things calm and still while the needles were in play. My Cheviots have stared dogs out of the pasture, and a few of the ewes will try to hammer my other border collies, but they don't challenge this one. It was mostly close work, and my girl was was a peach. (All the blood samples were negative for CL, according to the Davis lab. I tested my ewes because a Boer goat on the property, part of a student 4-H herd, had tested positive for the disease.)

I was especially happy that my little dog moved sheep with such confidence around a couple busy strangers, and that she was willing to let the vet pat her while she sat in the water trough after we were done. Not bad for a stray that used to be terrified of people. I hope she'll do an 800 yard outrun on a USBCHA Open course someday --- but she's my good right hand on the farm now, and I'm feeling the love ;~)

(No, the blue neoprene thingy on the landshark's collar isn't an anti-bark shock device. [People have asked.] And the slip collar wasn't for training, but to prevent her from bolting in a blind panic if she got spooked. As I said, she used to be terrified of people. My dogs usually don't wear collars in the house or at work on the farm.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't really tell what her body looks like from the photo but she resembles some half cross border collie greyhound lurchers that I have seen. If she is a half cross border collie whippet it would explain the herding instinct, appearance and the speed.