Our English Shepherds
We are pleased to announce our newest addition to the family, Cedarcreek Skywalker, aka Luc.
I hadn't intended to add another dog for a while, since losing Buck and Mitzi so close together hit us hard. Soon after, I did contact Peg Eggertson with no intention whatsoever of getting a pup, but simply to let her know that we had lost Buck and I would eventually be interested in a pup sired by Copper as I have admired him & his pups for quite a while. I had some rather stringent requirements for our next pup, and I was prepared to wait as long as necessary to find the right one. I didn't realize until about 2 weeks after Buck's passing, just how much I and Sugar depended on him. She and Buck worked the animals as a team, and without him she had to learn a whole new way of doing things. I came to the realization that a new dog would be needed sooner rather than later.
As it happened, Peg ended up with a pup in her litter who fit my requirements and then some. Luc is a natural heeler when he works, is VERY rules oriented, loves to fetch anything and carries my gloves for me, is an eradicator of rodents and moles (we are learning where NOT to dig after I nearly sprained my ankle in the barn!), he always has my back (did his best to keep that cart from sneaking up on me when I was pulling the rattly ole thing across the yard. <lol>), and at the rate he's growing, he may end up a bit bigger than Buck was, as he's nearly as big as Sugar now, and not quite 6 months old yet. Sugar absolutely adores him and will let him get away with just about anything that's not against the rules. He is a true gentleman, always sitting to be acknowledged and minds his manners well when inside the house. He is gradually growing into the watchdog we need him to be, announcing visitors and anything unusual going on. He seldom barks without reason, so when I heard him barking out at the barn yesterday, I looked out the window to see him guarding the feed barrel from about 10 escaped does. I dashed outside to get them back in the gate with Luc pushing from behind and Sugar rounding up the strays. Buck's presence is still greatly missed, but Luc is doing his best to work his way into our hearts and lives. It's so nice to have two great dogs again!
"Sugar" , aka Cimarron Sugarshack was bred by Elaine Reynolds. Her sire is Johnny B. Good, dam, Butcher's Sandy Sue. Sugar is an out-going, extremely biddable, VERY gritty ES with a high level of intelligence. She has definitely been a challenge to out-think. I learned the hard way that I had to be sure to be very THOROUGH in her early training. One mistake I made was letting our growing birds out to roam only one day before leaving for the weekend. They had been penned in a chicken "tractor" since they were chicks and I decided to let them out to roam the day before we left, letting Sugar & Buck help me put them up for the night. We have other chickens who roam loose, and I wanted to let these youngsters begin to "integrate". I opened the gate again before leaving not worrying about predators if they decided to roost on top of their pen and not in it, but we came home to 10 dead birds. I wasn't sure exactly what happened until I noticed that evening, Sugar began chasing the chickens and caught one rather roughly. I scolded her before realizing that was her attempt to pen them up! She had seen Buck catch errant chickens for me and I guess she was imitating him and trying to get them into their pen this way. We had several more lessons in chicken "herding" before I felt safe with leaving them out again. Haven't lost a bird since, though!
We also had to work on Sugar's strong guardian instincts to make sure she understood the difference between welcomed visitors and unattended "drive-ups". When she was about 6 months, a very good friend of ours came over to borrow the generator and my husband didn't properly introduce him to Sugar. When Carter turned to go find a tool, our friend decided to move the generator to a better position to load. Sugar decided it wasn't his to move without my husband present and promptly grabbed him by the jeans and pulled hard enough to rip them! Not too long after this she also nipped another friend's dad who drove up unannounced to the garage entrance and tried to come in the back way instead of walking up to the front door like a normal visitor would. We now make sure Sugar is properly introduced to all visitors and understands that most are welcome at either door and that nipping is a big NO-NO. Now that she has matured she loudly announces visitors, but remembers our friends and we've had no more incidences except for the scam artist who came by trying to sell us asphalt for the driveway. When he got out of his truck to follow me after I told him NO, Sugar promptly put him back where he belonged. Buck would have helped, but he was locked in till the neighbor's dog went out of heat.
I am really proud of Sugar's progress and accomplishments as a farm dog. She is very nurturing with the young kids or sick animals. When something is wrong she runs back & forth from me to the problem and if I ignore her she'll give a little yip to get my attention. While some dogs will kill the rodents, rats, and squirrels, Sugar likes to catch and consume them. We've always had a few smarter rats who seemed to laugh at us & the cats from the barn rafters, but I haven't seen any since Sugar developed a taste for the rodents. She is very sensitive to vocal commands and is easy to call off when she is working hard. She's very biddable, has a strong sense of organization, loves to run and jump over things, and is as quick as a cat. Nothing short of 4 walls and a ceiling will contain her, so when she comes in season she has to be confined to the house or the feed room in the barn. Thank goodness we only have to deal with that a couple of times a year as it is a trick keeping two determined ES separated!
Registered English Shepherd and certified PRGN (Permanent heRding, Guarding, and huNting) with the AWFA (American Working Farmcollie Association)
Spring 2011 - We are heartbroken to have lost a part of our family in an untimely accident. We've never known Buck to cross the highway since his 2 week disappearance at 6 months of age. He's shown a consistent aversion to moving vehicles and paved roads both here at home and when we travel. However, he saw need to attempt to cross the highway at daybreak one morning in pursuit of something or someone, according to our neighbor. He was known to go after trespassers (escaped convicts) and dangerous wildlife beyond our borders, but has always stopped at our property line when it's rabbits, deer, and less dangerous wildlife and was never seen on the other side of the highway by friends and neighbors.
We mourn the loss of our beloved Buck. Our grief is tempered by the fact that he lives on in our hearts and in the blood of his progeny.
Buck is our English Shepherd, who saves me more work around here than I would have thought possible. Whether I need to move the herd, catch a goat, keep the chickens out of the goat feed, find a dropped syringe in the dark, whatever the job, he is always ready! His most recent accomplishment was amazing to watch. I looked out my window to see what had the dogs stirred up and saw the goats in the wrong pasture milling around excitedly. As I took a closer look I saw Buck gathering the goats. About then, Mitzi, our Rough Collie, jumped the fence to help. They sent the goats back down the fence and then patiently waited as each goat crawled through a small hole in the fence. I then went to congratulate the dogs and fix the fence!
I am constantly amazed at Buck's uncanny reasoning abilities and high degree of intelligence, however, I have come to learn that he is not among the few, as this is behavior that is fairly typical of many English Shepherds and working Farmcollies. No matter what the job is, he's a ready and willing worker, even if no one is around to tell him to do it! Those same working traits and reasoning abilities are showing up in spades in his offspring.
UPDATE 03/10/06 Buck is still learning new tricks and finding new ways to help out his family. He is a real fetch-a-holic and is always picking something up just to have it in his mouth. If anything falls out of my hands he picks it up & gives it back. He loves finding lost articles, be it animal or object. I dropped a pencil that went through & under the baby chick pen one day, a real hassle to go after as I'd have to get down & crawl through muck to get it. Fortunately Buck was handy and eager to look when I told him to "get the pencil". He looked a little confused when he stuck his head down low & couldn't see a baby chick, as that was surely what had escaped. I showed him the pen I had attached to my clipboard & urged him to "find the pencil" . This time he went to work crawling & sniffing around until he triumphantly emerged with the pencil in his mouth!
UPDATE 02/28/06 About a week after our goats completed kidding one of the does came home crying without one of her kids. When this had happened in the past it was nearly impossible to spot even a white baby as we have so much underbrush & deadfall. We just had to wait until the baby was hungry enough to come out crying the next day and let mamma find it. This time I asked Buck to "find the baby" and showed him the kid that returned with mamma. We set out on a walk with me following the dog asking "where's the baby?" from time to time and looking through and under everything we came across. Once we hit the front pasture Buck seemed to find a scent and set off at a good pace. I was afraid he was trailing rabbits, but followed anyway. I caught up to him at a big brush pile where he was standing with tail awag. There was our lost kid, almost invisible behind a log!
Just a quick note on Buck's progress. He takes his job quite seriously, as he always has, and proves himself more valuable every day. I had been to the grocery store the other day and attempted to unload the car in one trip. Buck was muttering to himself about what an ungrateful human he had (he who keeps the animals, children, and guests in their proper places and protects farm and family with his life each and every day!) when I didn't stop to say "hello" or give him his usual pat on the head as I loaded up my fingers with those plastic grocery bags. As I turned away from the car one bag slipped from my fingers to the ground, but I couldn't stop to pick it up without losing them all, which left me muttering to myself. I took my armload in the house leaving the garage door open and started back out to get the the one I'd dropped, when I met Buck parading down the hall with my dropped bag of groceries draped from his jaws. "Shame on you, Mom! I work for dog food and you can't even give me a proper greeting, but I love you anyway. Here's your stuff!"
Two weeks ago we lost one of our Anatolians when he was shot on our property near the highway. We suspect the culprits were kids out joy-riding with nothing better to do. Ranger was our big white dog who patrolled our home property with Buck, our English Shepherd as well as ranging all 40 acres to keep coyotes and stray dogs at bay. Buck stays closer to home and only went out further when needed. Our second Anatolian stays confined to a particular area during the day and is kept with the does & kids at night.
Since we lost Ranger, Buck went through a grieving period for his buddy which lasted 2 days. The third day I noticed he wasn't always "right there" when I stepped outside, but did come running, if I called, and always from a particular area in the pasture. I didn't really think too much about the change since we have lots of squirrels, rabbits, and woodland creatures that keep him busy, it is spring, and we'd been spending a good bit of time away from home as we are overseeing the rebuilding of our store and have been doing a good bit of finish work ourselves. By the fourth day I became concerned when we came home for the evening and Buck didn't show. I hooted and hollered his name and FINALLY heard him barking in the pasture. When I went out to find him, he came to meet me, but went dashing back down the fenceline, so I followed. I found him standing near one of our does who had her head put through the fence. The poor thing had been through a terrible storm we'd had the night before, had lost some weight, and her neck was raw where she'd tried to pull it out, so she may have been there for a while. While I angled her horns back to get her head out Buck kept nudging her flank and nibbling on her horns as if to help me. When she was free she could barely walk, but he escorted her back to the barn with his tail held high. I can only guess that Buck had been spending time near her (possibly trying to get her out and causing the raw spots) to make sure she was not attacked.
After that episode I paid a little more attention to Buck's whereabouts during the day. Our routine starts at the barn every morning when I feed horses, lock our other Anatolian in the day yard with his feed, and let the goats out to pasture. Normally, Ranger would go out with them and Buck would stay behind at the house. Now, Buck asks to be left with the goats and goes out to pasture with them. I went out to the back 20 after finishing the rest of the morning chores, just to observe. I could see Buck traveling the fenceline in the distance (exactly what Ranger would do) and using his nose from time to time. When he was satisfied the pasture was secure he laid down in a spot that gave him the best view of his charges. I went back to the house with a new respect for what these dogs are capable of. Buck still patrols our home area and is quick to show up if the Collies bark at something, but he keeps close check on his goats as well. When we put them up for the night and turn Chief loose with them, he stays at the house and only ventures out if an alarm is raised by one of the other dogs, or if the coyotes start up their evening song.
Buck is 15 months old now and takes his jobs quite seriously. He continues to surprise me with intelligence and understanding that is sometimes almost human, and even a little scary.
ROUGH COLLIE CARTANGEL CRYSTAL CLEAR
We sadly announce the passing of another extended family member. Mitzi was one of the happiest dogs I've known and always knew how to bring a smile to our faces even if we didn't feel like it. She was a grand old girl and a tremendous example of her breed in looks, temperament, and working instincts. She suffered a sudden, massive stroke and we had her put to sleep after a last wag of her tail as we said good-bye. Our hearts are still raw after losing Buck, but we will continue to remember them both and pass on their stories to our children and grandchildren.
Rockwood's Morning Star, Mitzi, is a gorgeous tricolor Rough Collie with excellent herding instincts and the ability to work on her own.
She is a great heeler and natural gatherer. We can depend on her to bring the goats from pasture to barn every evening without worry that a kid will be left behind, as she is quite thorough and moves dams & kids slowly enough that they don't lose each other.
She LOVES her goats and is the first to alert me when something is wrong. Last week about 10 p.m. Buck was snoozing in our bedroom before lights out and we were getting ready for bed. We can't hear anything on that side of the house from the bedroom, but I was up to check the doors when I heard Mitzi barking a high pitched fast yip, which was very different from her normal bark. I threw on a housecoat & stepped out to see what all the fuss was about. We have a stock tank that is being temporarily used as a hay cover for our older bucks. I have it propped up on one side using a t-post & fence panel, but it isn't completely stationary. Mitzi had jumped the fence & was racing around and jumping up on the 8' stock tank which had been moved about 30 feet and was flat on the ground up-ended. I found Gringo trapped underneath who was still butting the side of the tank trying to escape. Mitzi was all smiles & wiggles when I lifted up the tank for Gringo to escape. She stayed with him and checked him all over making sure he was OK. GOOD DOG! The rest of night was quiet, and I've anchored that tank so we don't have another such incident.