Playing with sheep

Along with a couple of other people, I got a bit pissy on the Sheepdog-L list this morning and darned if some of the big hats (“professional” Border Collie trainers and handlers) as well as some of the big-hat-suck-ups didn’t write to chastise us.  A woman wrote asking if anyone knew of a ranch in California that allowed people to bring their dogs to “play with sheep” for the day.  I replied back telling her that while it is nice that she was interested in learning to work her dog on stock, sheep are not toys to be “played with” for the day.

For many people, sheep are a livelihood, unfortunately, for many, they are made available for this very purpose.  I personally know people (primarily those from sports backgrounds) who believe that it’s okay to let their dogs “play” with sheep.  In fact, early on, Wally used to say to Kessie, “do you want to go and play with sheep?”  That irritated me to no end.  He’s since learned that there is no “playing” involved with using Border Collies to work sheep.

While I greatly enjoyed the ASCA trials I went to, the lack of stockmanship, no, outright disregard for the welfare of the animals involved, upset me to no end.  Many of the people who entered the trials did so with dogs who were unprepared for the work and should have never been in that ring.  Worst still, the judges allowed the mishandling to go on far too long.

Like all animals, sheep are in our care and deserve to be treated with respect.

Until later …

3 Replies to “Playing with sheep”

  1. Good for you for speaking up – a neighbor down the road where we “used” to cut hay asked us to bring our cows over so her daughter could practice team penning and roping with them. We tried to explain that we used low stress handling methods and that we were trying to grow them, not have them lose weight and be terrified. She was aghast, even though she is a vegetarian. Silly us, we thought she was a vegetarian so she wouldn’t have to see animals mistreated, but we found out it is because she thinks livestock are ruining the earth. Meanwhile, she and her husband think nothing of having 3 horses that are barely ridden, and flying to their condo in Maui at least 5 times a year. Not much earth saving going on there!!

  2. Thank you for reading my Journal. I don’t know your name, but I’ve read your Blog for quite a while now and very much respect your methods of caring for your critters. I am afraid the Earth is almost beyond saving at this point. We can only care for our little piece of it.

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