A Post of Answers
Love your questions and comments on the last post. Thank you for providing the chance to dig a little deeper into the story.
Do the ewes typically hunt new dogs? Well, it’s not unusual (many stock dogs who see a lot of stock have probably experienced it) but those ewes who go out of their way, without provocation, are few and far between. The ewes notice a lot of things and a new dog is pretty obvious to them. The ewes also have lambs at their side, so they are less tolerant right now. The yearlings in the flock, and ewes without lambs, hardly care. This is also a flock that lives year round at pasture. They get bothered by predators and the like. They have developed a few survival smarts and being aware of strangers in their midst is one of them.
An adult dog would be more imposing just on size and the ewes think twice before making a charge. In my experience many adult animals do not favour or coddle young that do not belong to them. I realize there are exceptions and there are adults who faun over any young, but most adults in this group will be quick to deter strange youngsters, including any strange lamb.
Crow is marked very differently. I wonder if it isn’t his white blaze on a dark face that has the sheep taking more notice of him.
He’s pretty sure of himself and a bit oblivious. He’s a bit too courageous for his own good and he doesn’t get upset by much. He’s already recovered and is smarter for it. He has more energy than I expected and that doesn’t help settle sheep. However his tolerance of things without getting upset about them will balance that out.
Wren on the other hand, really wants to be liked and gets upset when things are stressful. She is sensitive and I, and the other dogs, can easily give her concern with a light reprimand. She doesn’t recover as quickly as Crow does either. The ewes accept her better but she’s careful not to rock the boat. She’s also a solid white, fluffy dog, and is more familiar to the ewes.
The really interesting thing would be a way of determining how much of their personalities is nature and how much is nuture. Crow was handled excessively, Wren hardly at all. For the job description, Wren is my pick but Crow might surprise me yet. He has something within that is intriguing.
Yes, there are some dogs that do not make it as guardians. While I have no data to make any claims I would suggest too much prey drive often weans a lot of dogs out of a job. Not being assertive enough is the other. If the dog is too demure about predators, they’ll get worn out in short order. A dog that is hyperactive is also not a good thing. These dogs are so much more than predator deterrents. They are overseers of your flock. They can keep stock calm, or make stock riled up. They can tell you a lot about what is happening, such as where predator pressure is coming from, or location of a dead animal.
I do have a deep sense of gratitude for this land and this life. I love my dogs to pieces although I am aware that I hold them in a different light than most people get to. I love that this flock is here because it provides such a fascinating foray into working dogs. I’m incredulous that we held to a dream of raising sheep in this very natural, gorgeous and stark manner that nature is. Along with all the good have been numerous uglies, some so tough for me to digest I haven’t been able to write about them yet. But like nature the uglies are good in their own light and in their own time, and we are most fortunate that the good far, far outweighs them.
|From the files|