We’re on vacation, these dogs are working

June 9, 2010

These are border collies with a shepherd, who, along with a small herd of sheep, demonstrated how working dogs spend their time. It was pretty cool.

The shepherd had distinct whistles and commands to tell each dog what to do and could work multiple dogs simultaneously because they responded only to their own commands.

Those dogs herded the sheep down the hill, up the hill, to the right, to the left, and then—picked off two specific sheep as the shepherd specified. The sheep read the dogs as predators (wolves) and so they move out of fear.

Note the attitude of extreme focus in the dogs’ eyes. Lean, hungry, they looked pretty much like wolves, to me. But they’re border collies.

The sheep moved around so accurately that I suspected that maybe THEY were the ones trained, not the dogs.

The wool from these particular sheep is too rough for sweaters; it’s used for tweed or rugs.

The dog demo was the highlight of our day, which was mostly spent on the bus looking at the gorgeous scenery.

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