My current dog is an English Shepherd, Buddy. He’s an almost two yr old farm-bred sable and white, intact male. He weighs about 65 lbs, and he’s showing great promise of being a fine dog. His most outstanding feature isn’t herding per se, it’s trying to help at anything I do. He is very responsive. He does work the cattle, but still has some things to figure out.
If I dig, he digs; if I drop a glove, he picks it up and brings it; if I carry brush, he carries brush:
If I look up a tree, he starts hunting squirrels:
if I say “What’s that!” he’s on full alert, growling and looking/listening for whatever I might have noticed.
That sort of dog, always alert, always involved. Why am I going on about all this? Because it makes teaching him almost anything a possibility. And because he has initiative, thinks for himself, and is tough.
I really can’t tell you much of anything about Buddy’s lineage. He’s registered ES with IESR, and as you know the parents are named with owner’s surnames, so the breeder was named Mueller (he raised the bitch), and the dog was purchased by him from an Iowa Amishman (I don’t recall the name). But I saw both dogs twice, and liked them both. So I went with it. A funny story here….when Mr. Mueller was telling me about the dog, he said that at first he didn’t like him very well, because “he didn’t listen. But after a few months, he turned out to be a really good one.” It occurred to me later that the dog is now probably bilingual! No doubt the Amishman didn’t use English with the dog; he spoke Amish. So it took the poor dog a couple months to learn all new commands in English! Anyway, both parents are similar in type, color, and calm temperament. And both worked cattle with moderate aggression. Nice dogs.
Sept 4, 1998
I thought I’d share with you what Bud did for me last evening. I went to my home vineyard to collect a couple dozen grapes to test for ripeness. Of course Bud went along. As I started down an aisle picking a grape here and there, Bud began growling very confrontationally and circling something in the weeds just a couple of yards ahead of me. I stepped up to see what it was, and there coiled into a pile was the largest copperhead snake I have ever seen. A good 30 inches long and almost 2 inches at the thickest. It was caught by the neck in a loop of the bird netting that hung to the ground from the vines, and was very agitated. I called Bud back, praised him and took him to the house, out of harms way, before removing the snake from the net. If not for Bud I would certainly have come within striking distance, as my attention was focused on collecting individual berries from the bunches hanging hidden under the netted vines. I wasn’t looking down. Thanks, Bud!
October 29, 1998
Hey, the latest is pretty interesting. I think we have a bear visiting us at night to eat windfall fruit, and most likely corn meal in my cattle shed. I’ve involved the state furbearer biologist, and he thinks so too. We’re trying to nail it down to a certainty. Anyway,the interesting thing is that Bud confronted whatever the raider is last Monday night after dark, and had a terrific growling/snarling match under an apple tree near the house. I was able to call him off unscathed, but couldn’t see what the critter was in the dark. But definitely not the usual possum or coon. Two nights ago I had two 50# sacks of cornmeal shaken and torn to shreds in the shed, and the tooth marks (and claw marks) on the torn sacks are compatible with a bear. If this is what he confronted, he did great, and definitely did not back down.
A postscript: A black bear was reported being seen a few miles from here two days later.
December 4, 1998
I have a few moments, so I thought I’d fill you in on the progress with Bud’s herding. The strategy of driving with him some of the time at the rear of the cattle seems to be going well. An interesting side note comes from the Jersey milk cow’s interactions with Bud. As I walk behind the group of cattle, he frequently ranges to the side of the group, at the rear. Well, the Jersey cow apparently resents it when he moves beside her and past her shoulder. She’ll swing her head and threaten him, and he has been dropping back a bit in response. This is okay as far as teaching him where to pressure the animals, but not so hot regarding dominance. Well, last evening he apparently had enough of her threats, and when she lowered her head and charged a few feet, he lit into her, head on, and quickly had her in full retreat. I said nothing. She hurried after the other cattle, and he trotted back to my side. A good step forward in asserting his control, I thought. I suspect she won’t challenge him again very soon. On the whole he seems to have caught on pretty well now. His outrun is about 100 yards at this point, and he doesn’t need to be told what to do. He is gathering, and bringing up the stragglers, and I’m satisfied with his progress.
December 7, 1998
Bud ran and treed his first ‘coon a couple nights ago. We’ve had a couple coons raiding the wife’s bird feeders and otherwise being pesky lately. After dark Bud growled out the glass door, and it turned out to be the raccoons at the bird feeder. I opened the door and the coons took off with Bud in hot pursuit. In a few moments he barked down in the woods, so I followed. He came to me when I got close, so I asked him where the coon was. He went directly to a tall pin oak, stood with his feet on the tree and barked treed. I looked up and I could see the coon at the very top against the sky.
It turned out to be a fat boar coon of about 25 pounds.
You recall right about Buddy and calves, and the mature cattle too. He will herd, or gather when asked to. But he’s more bonded to the animals than that. When he was a puppy, I left him during the day in the stable, while I was away at work. I’d tell him “wait for me”, and he’d settle right down. (He’ll still stop in his tracks and patiently wait when I say that.) The cattle could run in and out. As soon as he was able (about 12 weeks), he would jump over the wall into the open stall and follow the cattle out into the pasture. That’s where he spent all his days till about 6 months of age, lounging about with the cattle till I drove in.
After puberty he began occasionally visiting the neighbor’s Brittany bitches in their kennel across the road. I was concerned that he might be hit, and began tying him up while I was away. As soon as he was released he would find the cattle and check that all was well. Still does to this day.
I think I told you that one night he found a opossum in the group of cattle, and instantly killed it. When my Jersey has had both of her calves, he’s been intensely interested, and jumps into the stall with them. Both times he has helped the cow dry off her calves, and will for weeks lick the baby calves’ bottoms like they were puppies. The cow is completely at ease with him doing all this! Once when I turned out a baby calf with the cow it kept getting out of the pasture, and he kept putting it back in, till finally he was so frustrated that he rounded up the baby with the rest of the cattle and was going to keep them bunched up there. I gave up on pasturing the calf and put it back in the stall.
Buddy always checks on the current calf every time he enters the barn. So yes, he does have this behavior certainly, but he still confronts any and all strangers with loud barking till I tell him it’s okay. I would have to say that he’s probably least driven to just work cattle. He’s very helpful moving them, gate guarding, and the like, but isn’t consumed with that activity. In fact on a few occasions when the cows were coming along anyway, and I sent him to fetch, he either just runs up to them and escorts them along, or he looks at me like “what for….they’re coming!”
More recently in that situation, he’ll bark at them from beside me. If they’re not coming, he’ll look at them, then look at me, and if I so much as lift my finger he’s off to get them. Of course the hunting instinct is there, but truthfully I haven’t tried to encourage that too much, outside of running off deer and killing varmints. I don’t know if he’d begin self-hunting or no, but I don’t want him to. So far it seems to be mostly territorial.
February 8, 2000
I went home early yesterday and went for a walk in the woods, with Buddy of course. He treed a squirrel pretty quick, and treed nicely till I caught up with him. It was a big hickory, and Bud circled the tree barking up, so that the squirrel came around the trunk where I could see him. We looked at him for a bit, then I called Buddy off and we went on. Big difference from a hound that I would have had to lead off for a distance to get away from the tree. Bud trees just as hard, but he’s so damn smart! He just knows his job, and accepts my decision.
BTW, Saturday I brought home a half dozen bales of straw, and Bud stood on his hind legs to see what I had in the bed. Then he just squatted down, and vaulted over the SIDE of the pickup onto the bales without even scratching at the side panel! I wouldn’t have believed he could jump that high from a standing takeoff.
Oh, did I remember to tell you that he treed another ‘coon a few weeks ago?
March 22, 2000 Well, peace and quiet in the wee hours of the night have been restored at the Green farm. The masked marauder that has been raiding the bird feeder in the predawn hours finally slipped up last night. Bud caught him out just before we retired for the night. The coon tried to climb the roof drain pipe when Bud appeared, but was snatched off and flung into the yard. A good scrap ensued, and the coon managed to make it to a small tree. I helped out a bit, and Bud shook the bejeebers out of him when he hit the ground. Cancel one coon! Love these dogs! :>) Ted
May 9, 2000 On most weekend mornings Sara and I enjoy a leisurely breakfast, when we can linger over coffee and talk about whatever. About a year ago Buddy started doing something that I consider most unusual too. We were just sitting at the breakfast table over coffee when Bud walked over to an unoccupied chair, and with eye contact with me, slowly stepped up on the seat, climbed up and sat down. Then with his tail sticking out between the rear splats and slowly wagging, he just sat there quietly and kept us company till we were finished. He wasn’t begging food at all, just being one of the folks, and socializing. Since then he has done this regularly, and seems to enjoy the moment very much. If we talk to him he’ll sometimes rumble back. Most amusing, and good company! Ted Green and Buddy
I called Darlene Merz tonight to let her know how well Trudy was doing, and had a nice talk with her. Learned quite a bit. For the record, I’ll give you Trudy’s ped, which I got tonight. Her sire is Merz’s Laddie, by Kaschak’s Stormie out of Kaschak’s Cooks Kee. Trudy’s dam is Merz’s Cleo, by Merz’s Barney out of Merz’s Sue. Merz’s Sue is by Merz’s Barney out of Merz’s Bobby. I don’t have Merz’s Barney breeding, but it was Merz stock as well. They have S/W and tris.
I haven’t said much on the list about Trudy, as I’ve been waiting to see how she developed, but it’s time to say that I’m very pleased. She is a tiger about working cattle, plenty of moxie and very eager to help. She’s biddable, and very quick to respond, and easy to control.
This week I began to really try to direct her efforts, and she responded quickly. Now she’ll work quietly behind the animals when told to do so, but will go in instantly when asked. She’s learned the winter routine and so understands what we’re doing, and is quick to help. That (herding) was my biggest goal for her. In the meantime Bud has also taught her to chase and tree squirrels, and boy does she ever like that. She’s now finding and treeing them on side trips into the woods when the cattle are moved. She comes at a gallop when called, will heel well, and is solid at sit, stay and down.
Guardian-wise she is not as quick to bark as Bud, nor as utterly fearless with strangers. That is to say she will stand off a few feet till she has “met” someone she doesn’t know, but is fine after introductions, as long as the person doesn’t act too brash. She is very attached to both Sara and I, but is more protective of Sara, and I believe really means it. She will even bare her teeth at Bud if he intrudes when she is getting Sara’s attention. All in all, for a 10 month old pup she is turning out to be a keeper!
Her color is sable and white, with a black shading over the shoulders, and some black trim…..very pretty markings I think. Somewhat similar to Lucy’s look. Size-wise she is about 45 lbs, relatively slender build compared to Bud, and slightly taller. And very agile and quick. And I must say that she is very mouthy, in that she is quick to use her teeth both when herding and even just playing. Not to bite hard, just nip or grip. The cattle respect her. I’m going to try to get some pix of Trudy soon so as to register her with AWFA and IESR, and so you will see what she’s like soon.
Dr. Ten Green was a parasitologist at the University of Missouri and was one of the original founders of the AWFA. His English Shepherd Buddy was registered with the IESR.