Scotland Tour: Sheepdogs Put on a Great Show

There’s nothing like a good sheepdog show…and I just saw my favorite ever, with Neil Ross at Leault Working Sheepdogs.

Our tour bus pulled up a long, rutted driveway to a remote farm. As we stepped out of our bus, a dozen eager border collies of all ages scampered to greet us. Then came the shepherd, whom the dogs clearly loved and followed like a messiah. He proceeded to sit us down in a natural little amphitheater in the turf and explain all about his work. With shouts and whistles, each dog followed individual commands and showed an impressive mastery over the sheep.

It’s hard to find vivid farm experiences in Europe. Do you have any favorites?

p1-sheep-dog-manOn this farm, it was very clear: Sheepdogs are smart…and sheep are idiots.

p2-crookOur shepherd friend demonstrated why, for thousands of years, people in his profession have used a crook. As he talked, he wasn’t shy about sharing the frustration farmers feel when “fancy people with numbers after their names from the city come to tell them how to manage their land.” And he explained how he believed that the worst thing you can do for the natural environment here is to make it a national park. The experience was vividly real and fascinating.

p3-shearingWith good, old-fashioned shears, we each got our chance to shear a sheep…who just lay there, as if at the beauty salon.

p4-puppiesNo one at home would think of me as a softy for dogs. But when our group got to cuddle the dozen tiny border collie puppies, only a few days old and just starting to open their eyes, I fell in love. The shepherd said it’s good for baby sheepdogs to have contact with humans like our group right from the start. I seriously considered a “puppy-napping.”

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