Loose Ends: Dogs, ducks, determination

Dolly Viscardi
The woman had border collies long before the local sheepdog trials. She couldn’t find enough for them to do on the ranch. While they had plenty of room outside to run, they had no work to do. So her dogs usually resorted to filling their hours by getting into trouble. Until she discovered that ducks were the solution. The ducks thought her dog was their mother and the regular parade of ducks daily from the empty barn to the irrigation ditch began. He rounded them up throughout the day taking them hither and yon. The dog thought he was doing an honest day’s work. This week’s sheepdog trials will include a dog demonstrating the fine art of working ducks.
Border collies were the ranch dog of choice for many years before the international sheepdog trials were held here every September. No one knows when the very first border collie appeared on the local scene, but sheep ranchers used them as working dogs. The only complaint about them was that they got bored easily and would find trouble when they were not working. Some folks blamed it on their intelligence, others on the genes, as more and more of them were being bred with other breeds and becoming house pets. Usually the mix was with other herding dogs, Australian Shepherds and cattle dogs.
Our own border collie/Australian shepherd mix, who could have been called a BoAussie (or said quickly, Bossie) should have been a working animal. Her origins were suspect, as the bloodline could only be traced to the mixed-breed mother from Craig. The kids manning the cardboard box full of black-and-white puppies in front of the grocery store only knew they had to get rid of them. The dog was timid and spooked easily, but spent much of her time trying to get keep the rest of household on their toes. She became so adept at playing tug-a-war with the other dog, the only name that fit her personality was Tug. A few ducks to gather up and herd over to the ditch might have helped.
Watching the trainers and their working dogs compete is an amazing experience and listening to them put the dogs through their paces with only a few commands, “Away home,” “come by,” and “tie down,” is enlightening. The gestures that accompany each command are equally important. The dog days of summer may refer to the weather for most folks, but Meeker has taken advantage of their own dog days to extend summer a little longer.
— dolly@theheraldtimes.com