Talking to Teddy about his Roots

“What Teddy? You are a herding dog. A herd? A herd is a big group of animals. The animal herd you’d know in another reality would probably be sheep. Sheep? Ah, a lot has been said, written, painted and poesied on the subject of sheep, but I don’t have any direct experience with them. Just a lot of hearsay. That’s a good point. ‘Herd’ is both a noun and a verb. When the animals are all in a group, that’s when they’re called a herd. Some smart person and his/her dog has to get them organized like that. No, I don’t think you’ll ever have a herd of your own, but you are doing a great job keeping Bear in line. No, she’s not a herd. Yeah, she’s big enough. What would Bear do with the sheep? That’s a good question, Teddy. You and Bear would be a team. At night when you’re sleeping, she’d guard your sheep so nothing could hurt them. From what? Everything. Coyotes, wolves, bears, eagles whatever’s out there. Sure you could help her. She’s taught you a lot about guarding, I know that, but I imagine if you had your own herd, you might not be Bear’s pal and sidekick because you’d both have your own work to do, especially during lambing. Lambing? That’s when the mom sheep have their puppies. Well, Teddy, it would be a pretty hard life for all of us if we were herding sheep. A good life, I think, but not as easy as this life. Yes, I’d like it — maybe — I think I would, but you, me and Bear came from circumstances not totally in our control. We have this life and it’s a wonderful life. We can still go out there and ‘herd,’ but we don’t have to survive on it, facing down a hard winter, or sick and dying animals, or you and Bear being injured, or me. Like everything in life, there’s always something we wish we had done or could do. Wish? Oh, that’s when you want a cookie and do everything you can to manipulate me into giving you one.”

Teddy T. Dog

25 thoughts on “Talking to Teddy about his Roots

      • I figured it was a good old game of chase me roll me over. People often panic when dogs bark and jump all over each other but if you breath and watch its usually either a little boundary making or a normal doggy game. You did well to catch such a great action shot!

            • My mom had a miniature poodle, white, seriously a silly looking old dog but she chased a Rottie, German Shepherd and lab (at once) away from my mom and me one evening when we were out walking on the trail along the highline canal in Denver. She took off after them and they put their tails between their legs and ran away.

  1. I’ve had some experience with sheep. You can’t fool ’em with the same trick twice in one day, but you can fool ’em with the same trick every day. And it’s no wonder many of the prophets were shepherds. From the constant bleating that went on, I heard my name clearly many times a day. It does get your attention. Lambing and shearing are times of constant work.

    • Norman Mclean wrote that a sheep hits its intellectual peak an hour after birth and it goes down hill from there. πŸ™‚ One of my favorite Indie films is “Sweetgrass.” It’s about the last summer a rancher took his herd of sheep up to the high country in the Beartooth Mountains. One of the shepherds does lose it. If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer:

  2. As a student I had to spend 24 hrs in the lambing barn. Most of the sheep didn’t need any assistance but when one did it got very busy so very fast! Not a relaxing stint and one I wouldn’t want to do on a daily basis. Ranger (our last dog and an Aussie) met some sheep. It scared him to the point of flattening himself to the ground and losing the ability to walk. He was a shaking and quivering lump of fur. When he went to board at a friend’s cattle farm, he was completely terrified of the cows and it was only the ducks on the pond that he showed any interest in herding!

    • that’s funny! Mindy, my Aussie before Teddy, never saw a sheep in her LONG life until she was about 12 and I took her to the groomer who kids had 4-H sheep. Mindy was absolutely fascinated by them instantly and I guess (the grooming was done in a shed) the groomer left the door open so Mindy could watch them.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this “conversation” as I was able to “hear” Teddy’s responses too. Herding is quite the activity/job/life’s work and as an instinct – with no actual herd – it manifests in other ways (if I understand it right). What a life! That photo is quite a captured moment too – wow!

  4. Loved the action shot of Bear and Teddy. I enjoyed eavesdropping on your conversation! The portrait captures Teddy listening to your every word!

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