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A flock of sheep
December 27, 2010 9:48 AM   Subscribe

The perfect gift for the dog who has everything.
posted by scalefree (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
My similar business plan of renting out mice to owners of bored cats didn't work out very well.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what do you have to buy to keep the sheep entertained?
posted by Felex at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have an Australian Cattle Dog, and when we noticed her strong sense to herd (shoes, toys, us.) we realized that she was going to get bored pretty quick, so we got another cat. The kitten wasn't afraid of her the way the older cats were and gave her wonderful practice until the kitten realized that she had more than two dimensions to move in and "up" became an option that the dog was mostly unprepared to deal with.

Much barking and crashing around ensued, and has continued since.

The final answer was to bring her to the dog park where she could happily team up with a bunch of other herding dogs and they could round up all the larger animals. Much to the amusement of those dogs owners.
posted by quin at 10:14 AM on December 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sue Foster knew what she needed to do when her border collie, Taff, was expelled from puppy school for herding the black Labs into a corner.

That is one stupid puppy school.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on December 27, 2010


you guys have no idea how difficult it is to have so much money that one has to keep thinking up problems on which to spend it
posted by schroedinger at 10:16 AM on December 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


There's a couple of border collies at the dog park we go to who love herding all of the other dogs, especially our very large and easily confused English Mastiff.

It's definitely entertaining, if only for the look of "I don't know why I'm listening to you, but FINE," on our girl's face.
posted by ThatSomething at 10:17 AM on December 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


We have two border collies. Both are from herding stock and the female is Very Intent about it. She has settled on herding the vacuum.

(The cat is their go-to solution when anything seems to be "going wrong." Loud noise? The cat did it. Blender running? Find the cat and give it a talking to.)

Mrs. Maxwelton has definitely said no sheep, which is a relief.
posted by maxwelton at 10:19 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I should add they're absolutely right about the damn cat.
posted by maxwelton at 10:20 AM on December 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


It was once described to me that some Border Collies are so focused on work, they will find work to do whether you like it or not. "Well, my master went to the office. Better get started on tearing down that bookcase. Has to be done sometime..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:30 AM on December 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


My blue heeler has a relentless herding instinct, and we noticed it as a puppy the first time we took her on a trail walk. GUYS! GUYS! STICK TOGETHER! TOGETHER! AARRGGH! MUST! HERD!

I'd love to see how she does with cattle or sheep.

love you, Molly
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:30 AM on December 27, 2010


A friend of mine was doing "nose work" with her border collie; sort of like they teach drug sniffer dogs, it's a fun little competition for the dog to find three different scents in an area in the shortest time. The border collie did well until it came to the "final exam"; scents hidden in a high school biology classroom which included... a large fishtank, full of tropical fish, which were MILLING AROUND BACK AND FORTH TOTALLY DISORGANIZED AND NEEDING, *NEEDING* TO BE HERDED!!! She dithered in frustation back in forth of the fishtank, ignoring her handler's calls except for a flicked-ear sort of "Wait, just a minute, be right with you, gotta get these, these, these---" way, and her time ran out.

Another friend had a border collie that herded chickens and, if no chickens were available, bees. Best day of that dog's life was when the twin daughters learned to toddle...
posted by The otter lady at 10:34 AM on December 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Ms. Foster keeps a llama to chase off the coyotes that threaten the lambs

Huh. I didn't know this was a thing. How long has this been a thing?
posted by fight or flight at 10:44 AM on December 27, 2010


But what do you have to buy to keep the sheep entertained?

Joseph Smith
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wonder if I can rent a lion for my ridgeback...
posted by muta at 11:06 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Huh. I didn't know this was a thing. How long has this been a thing?

At least 20 years. Maybe 30.
posted by scalefree at 11:06 AM on December 27, 2010


I believe this is what they call a "first world problem".
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on December 27, 2010


My shepherd mix herded my pet chickens when I was a kid! As a full time fiber pro who goes to a LOT of fiber fests every year, I have to say that watching the border collies wrangle sheep is one of the single best things I get to see each time. They LOVE to herd. They love herding like my dachshund loves chicken. I think it's awesome that these owners are recognizing that they have a responsibility to keep their dogs appropriately engaged.

In the long run, it's cheaper and better for everyone than having a psychotic dog ripping everything to shreds out of boredom because their instincts are being ignored. Buying a dog with these kinds of strong instincts and then ignoring them is really cruel -- these aren't just rich people with nothing better to do, they're people who respect their dogs' needs, schroedinger, as a good pet owner should. Just going for walkies isn't going to cut it with a border collie.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rear Gear: The perfect gift for the dog who has everything.
posted by gman at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's more of an inverse third world problem.

But I agree completely. If you can give your dog the exercise that the breed requires, you shouldn't own that dog. My JRTs get a 5 mile walk and an hour or so of fetch everyday and they are superhappy. I wish I could give them something real to hunt.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:30 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er: "...can't give your dog..."
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2010


A new gilded age.
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:40 AM on December 27, 2010


My former step-father had a friend with a Border Collie named Quill. Quill was the smartest dog I've ever met. Quill's owner taught me a few commands to use when he and Quill would come for a visit. Quill and I would go out back with my step-father's dumb as rocks Springer Spaniel, Daphne. I'd toss the ball for Daphne while keeping Quill next to me. Once she got the ball, I'd send him out to her. He'd do his magic, she'd drop the ball and I'd tell Quill to get it and bring both the ball and Daphne to me. Poor Daphne was so confused.

Border Collies are beautiful, smart, hard working dogs. Border Collies and other herding dogs are way beyond my level as a dog owner. I'll stick to my Berners. They may be hair farms, but they're more my speed.
posted by onhazier at 12:02 PM on December 27, 2010


My girlfriend's Nebraskan parents rented a furnished apartment in Chicago to visit us over Christmas and the past few days. They absolutely love my border collie and invited her for Christmas Eve (I got to come too.) Within ten minutes she was pawing at the living room sofa trying to retrieve something from underneath. My gf's Mom was afraid we were going to find a dead mouse or worse.

Tennis ball. Left by some other renter. The dog has some amazing abilities.

BTW and OT if any mefites plan to visit Chicago I highly recommend the furnished apartment thing. Less than $200 a night, garage space, fully stocked kitchen, stylishly decorated 3 bedroom apartment. One block from Wrigley Field (this may or may not appeal, but there are others.) Feel free to MeMail if you'd like info. And I have no financial interest in this thing, it was just a fantastic way for people to visit.

Going over there was like visiting friends in their home as opposed to the parents-in-a-hotel thing. And my gf got a four day vacation six blocks from her apartment.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 12:22 PM on December 27, 2010


One man and his dog makes it to the states then.
posted by Virtblue at 12:50 PM on December 27, 2010


Felex: But what do you have to buy to keep the sheep entertained?

Some grass to eat, and the occasional cloud-shadow to run away from.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:53 PM on December 27, 2010


I'm in touch with a couple who live near me and keep sheep. They help dog owners train their dogs to herd; my mutt appears to be at least part Border Collie and definitely has some herding instinct. I hope to get my girl over there in the spring to see if her eye is The Eye.

My dog isn't quite so obsessive as most BCs but has a great deal of energy and is easily bored. Mercifully, she's not destructive... she just tries to herd us outside to go play.
posted by workerant at 1:01 PM on December 27, 2010


But I agree completely. If you can't give your dog the exercise that the breed requires, you shouldn't own that dog.

This 1000x. Borders, in particular, need to herd and will become neurotic if they aren't allowed to. Breeders need to step away from their monetary incentives and tell potential owners that: in this particular case it's cruel to own these animals and not let them do what they are bred to do. (Yes, my terrier goes after rats. No I don't let him catch them.)
posted by The Bellman at 1:04 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they could herd geese. And how long the dogs would survive.
posted by Memo at 1:30 PM on December 27, 2010


Geese management (about halfway down).
posted by quin at 1:33 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a Border Collie. She was thrilled to herd the kids. It was pretty fun to watch.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:30 PM on December 27, 2010


I had a Border Collie. She was thrilled to herd the kids. It was pretty fun to watch.

Yep, this one's pretty entertaining.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:01 PM on December 27, 2010


Unless you actually are a farmer, or are super active or have a super active family willing to engage the dog, I have no idea why people keep purchasing border collies. Is it the coolness factor? What the heck?

Yes, they're great working dogs, but only if you want to keep it busy for several HOURS a day, EVERY DAY, for practically the rest of its life.

I'll take a lazy-ass breed over a working one, any day of the week.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 3:14 PM on December 27, 2010


A Border Collie is the new world's smartest dog (best not to focus on the Fox News link... but that this was done as a published scientific study).

And that, gentle readers, is why I'm unlikely to ever have a Border Collie.
posted by vers at 3:19 PM on December 27, 2010


I had a Border Collie. She was thrilled to herd the kids. It was pretty fun to watch.

Yep, this one's pretty entertaining.


Very entertaining, but a Sheltie rather than Border Collie.
posted by vers at 3:29 PM on December 27, 2010


A friend told me about taking his kid to a pool party where the family had a border collie. The adults were involved in some adult discussion when somebody noticed there was no splashing in the water, which was odd considering the heat & number of kids at the party. So they investigated & found a whole cluster of kids all on the far side of the yard, away from the pool. Whenever one tried to get in the pool he or she was firmly & efficiently persuaded against it by the dog. I don't think they even realized it was happening, they were somewhat confused about the situation when asked.
posted by scalefree at 3:56 PM on December 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Woof.
posted by taff at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2010


All my dog needs is a warm body to sit on and a squeaky toy to chew incessantly. I've never been happier about that than I am after reading this. She is a simple dog, and while I'll never be able to teach her how to go to the library for me or assemble a rocket ship, we coexist just fine.

Though, I wonder what she'd do about sheep. Probably mistake them for very fluffy dogs, try to play with them, and then run away in abject fear when they got tired of her bouncing and barking and punching-in-the-head-as-a-way-to-say-hi. Oh, Boxers. So crazy.
posted by cmyk at 4:48 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


My dog was herded by a pair of very industrious border collies at a dog park a few months ago. He's the kind of dog who loves attention no matter the sort, and he had this fantastic facial expression the whole time the collies were at him..."These dogs are weird!! This is awesome!! They never get bored, ever!"
posted by little light-giver at 10:21 PM on December 27, 2010


My dog is a mutt with maybe, maybe some Australian Shepherd in him. I am incredibly fortunate in that the extent of his herding behavior is basically moving from room to room going, "Uh, guys? If you could be in the same room at the same time, that would really help me a lot."

And when we happen to comply with this request, well, that's the dog's best day ever.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 11:00 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


(The cat is their go-to solution when anything seems to be "going wrong." Loud noise? The cat did it. Blender running? Find the cat and give it a talking to.)

Yes. Fanny (Bulldog/Boxer) does this. She is The Enforcer at our house and God help the cats if I yell at them for being on the table or if the microwave oven dings or if someone knocks at the door, because her first instinct is always: go find those cats and give them some tough love. On the other hand, if I drop some chicken on the floor and tell Fanny it is for Phineas, she respects that and backs off. Also, when it is time to snuggle, the cats come to her more often than they come to me. Right now she is curled up in front of the space heater with a cat-- Eustace-- nestled up against her chest.

Unfortunately she takes the role of The Enforcer to the dog park. Joyful barking, fine...everybody carry on. Angry barking and Fanny wants to muscle in and get tough with whomever is disturbing the peace. It keeps us on our toes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:46 AM on December 28, 2010


Whenever I read about shit like this, I'm reminded of the David Cross bit about old rich ladies who leave their fortune to their pets: "And my entire estate, my huge mansion, my millions of dollars, and all my worldly possessions I leave to Mr. Sprinkles. Oh and P.S., fuck the homeless."
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:50 AM on December 29, 2010


Mrs. Jeffamaphone grew up with an Australian Shepherd. They also herd children around the yard, but are not as dedicated as the BC. When they were kids they would stand together in front of the AS and then run in opposite directions. This upset the AS quite a bit as it could never figure out which one to go after first. I would also recommend against getting Australian Shepherds for most casual dog owners. They require lots of exercise as well.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:35 PM on December 29, 2010


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