I’m single and I raise sheep. Not just any sheep, but flighty, unpredictable sheep that are impossible to manage single-handed. The sheep are Barbados Blackbelly, but they are not the subject of this post. Not long after I got my flock started, I realized I needed another hand. So I traded a few sheep and about a thousand dollars and got a “started” herding dog. “Started” means that he has learned basic herding commands, knows how to handle the sheep better than I do, and will stop and lie down when I tell him to. That’s all I needed—an employee.
That was many years ago and old Gage, my Border Collie, is arthritic and lame. He has a heart murmur and doesn’t seem to be doing well. Asking him to work sheep could get him hurt. I realized last month that I needed to start looking for another dog if I wanted to continue raising sheep. Several years ago, I was given a retired Border Collie, a grand champion who, at 11, just needed a quiet farm life away from dog trials. He had reached 15 when I had to put him down. So my first thought was to locate his original owner and let her know that I was looking for another retired dog.
I found her in Arizona and amazingly, she just that week decided to rehome Teal, a 6-year-old, fully trained Border Collie whose hips wouldn’t certify and thus couldn’t be sold. A week later, he had hitched a ride with a gal driving from Phoenix to Wyoming via Pueblo (my town). VOILA! I have a new used dog.
Teal has settled in well and enjoys his new farm freedom. No more living in kennels and only being off-leash when training. He now enjoys chasing birds and squirrels, tormenting cats, and running—constantly running—for the sheer joy of it. Oh, and he occasionally gets to herd sheep.
Why Is This Important? There could be a whole new, better life just waiting around the corner if you don’t give up when the first one doesn’t work out.