In furtherance of the discussion that was started with the poster who wrote about the ranch that allowed dogs to come and play with sheep for the day, today a woman wrote: “many of us do not own sheep, let alone sheep farms or have access to sheep 24/7 so we have to get by with what we can. In my case that means training once a week for about 2-3 hrs. I still like to think my dog is herding sheep, goats or cattle. While he’ll never make the nationals, may never even make it in Open we are having fun and I love working with him and seeing him do what he was bred for.”
That’s the sad truth of the world today. The number of people that own livestock, at least anything other than factory farming, is becoming less and less thanks to development. I see it every day where I live now. More and more land which was once farm land is getting bought up for housing developments. It’s very, very sad to see. I am blessed to live where I do and am able to have a good-sized flock of sheep, dairy goats, etc. My dogs, who were bred to work, get to work on a daily basis. I cringe to think of how many Border Collies are bred each year who are unable to work daily, or even weekly. They are more like armchair Border Collies than real working dogs.
I hate the term “herding” and try not to use it. Instead, I say “working” or “moving” stock. For some reason, “herding” sounds negative to me.
I wonder how many of these people who take their dogs to stock once or twice a week would continue to be involved with stock if they had to go out day in and day out to care for the stock or how many of their dogs would stand up to real farm work. There are many, many days and nights that I’d rather stay in where it’s cool, warm or dry rather than head down to check on the sheep or milk the goats. It’s a huge commitment of time, lots of it is far from fun and it has to be something you really love to do. Every day I thank the powers that be that I have the dogs I do because caring for the animals would be so much harder (or impossible) without them.
I know that it is out of the question for most people to have stock and maybe if more could, this world would be a better place. Livestock is not ruining the earth, people are.
Until later …