The Lean, Mean Herding King

Welcome back to the Royal Sydney Easter Show. The family headed off there yesterday where we were able to see this very smart Border Collie rounding up the sheep, responding to hand signals. Unlike the dog, I didn’t pick up everything the trainer said. However, he clearly spoke up how he is training the dog to “use his brain” and he mentioned something about building up and I guess using the dog’s natural instincts. That makes a lot of sense.

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That’s one clever dog!

When I was at school and we’d be running around the oval, there was a Border Collie, which we nicknamed “Flash” who used to run with us. He was very lean like the dog I’ve photographed here. The coat also doesn’t look as fluffy as Bilbo’s coat and indeed, the show dog we met.

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The Sheep.

I can certainly attest to the Border Collie’s herding instincts. When Bilbo thinks it’s dinner time, he either rounds up Geoff or I to remind Miss to feed him. He doesn’t waste his energy going direct to her. He is a true mirror how how things operate around here…right down to sitting next to my chair when I’m eating toast. He knows I don’t eat my crusts. Smart dog. Or, as Geoff puts it: “You’ve trained him well.”

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Border Collie…the “show” variety.

As anybody who has ever had a Border Collie can attest, when a Border Collie doesn’t have any sheep to chase, they will always find an alternative…their sheep substitute. While their fixation with chasing tennis balls can be as irritating as fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, it’s nothing compared to being herded up yourself.

I made the huge mistake of walking the dogs every morning after dropping the kids at school. When the kids changed schools this year, the routine changed but their expectations haven’t.

Being rounded up by one Border Collie is hard enough but two is torture. Fortunately, Lady is only half Border Collie and she’s a lot more mellow but those big brown eyes of hers are hard to resist.

Bilbo with ball

Obsessed…Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball at the beach.

The other query I have about the Border Collie’s rounding up abilities, is why can’t they get the kids tidying up their rooms? Why can’t they get the kids to take them for a walk? Why can’t their herding abilities be put to good use instead of rounding me up, chasing tennis balls and helping themselves to food which is temporarily left unattended.

Perhaps, I’ve just been using the wrong hand signals!

xx Rowena

By the way, the Royal Sydney Easter Show is held out at Olympic Park, the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. While these photos look like they were taken in the outback, this is urban Sydney.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Our ball desperado. Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

11 thoughts on “The Lean, Mean Herding King

  1. itsathought2

    I used to bruises on my legs from my Australian Shepherd nosing me to herd me toward her objective. Usually a walk, or to be let outside. She was very persistent.

    My sister had an Aussie that used nips to herd – mostly non-painful but that is NOT a good behavior for a pet. I was grateful for the nosing behavior comparatively.

  2. roweeee Post author

    Shame we hadn’t trained Bilbo to do that! He’s 10 now so we’ve probably missed the boat. Lady is intellectually related to Pooh Bear.
    Monika, I’m going to post this on the blog but I was driving home from dropping my daughter at school and there’s a huge charity shop warehouse and a smaller one next door which is about to move and everything apart from furniture is down to $1.00. This op shop is pretty rundown and there’s a front room leading down to a larger one, which is where I saw a huge Eeyore sitting there looking so forlorn. Having dropped the kids’ huge Pooh Bear off at the school a while back, I had to buy Eeyore and strapped him into the front seat of my car. It was a 45 minute drive home and he’s sitting there hunched over looking sooo sad. I’m leaving him there for a bit. What is he trying to say? I’m at least taking him down to the beach for a photo! Thought I might share him with a few friends who are teachers. He could be quite a good talking point with kids.

  3. roweeee Post author

    Border Collies definitely had very strong herding instincts. Bilbo barks when dogs and people go in the water down at the beach. He’s been swimming once maybe twice and usually doesn’t get his paws wet. The beach is dangerous. Everybody out!

  4. roweeee Post author

    Lady jumps up on my lap with her front paws when she wants something. I’m thinking: “Isn’t this lovely she’s saying hello.” but she is saying: “Get me my dinner now before I start scratching!” Bilbo doesn’t touch you but can be a real pest when he wants something.

  5. roweeee Post author

    He’s currently sitting on the couch and Bilbo is lying on the floor down below…asleep, mind you. Not such a compassionate listener after all!

  6. New Journey

    What fun….they ae amazing dogs…my border is so smart….she pokes with her nose and then goes to where she wants you to go…she never barks unless there’s danger…thanks for sharing…

  7. roweeee Post author

    Bilbo quite enjoys a good bark. Thinks he’s some kind of superhero, trying to defend us particularly from the postman and the garbage truck. Why couldn’t he do something useful like finding missing socks?

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