Working Dogs

Poppy’s little piglets are just like their Mother. Escape artists.  Every time I turn around lately they are out in the wrong field or on the drive or somewhere they are not meant to be.  In fact I have never had a group quite as busy.  Boo is put on his string when we herd piglets back in, so he walks beside me. Ton is better at this – he has to find them first then he just creeps forward slowly, eyeing them, makinng not a sound, gently moving them back to the hole they came out of.

Then I block the hole and we await the next escape.

They have grown out of their niddle sized hut and now have the Nunber Three Hut which is a big old cracked upside-down drinking trough with a doorway cut out of it.

They were so exhausted after their busy, busy day of exploration that when I checked them last night they were asleep in a heap just outside the door of their bedroom.

At night I have to lock them with their mother into their little concrete run just to make sure they are still there in the morning.

Very shortly they will be ready for their electric fence – it cannot come too soon for these wee monsters!

Last night I took the hay right down the back to feed the cows, who paced the tractor al the way to the end of the field. I fed the big cows but the two little ones  (Tia and Bobby3) just hung out by the barn eating grass, not hearing my calls, they were a long way off and not trained to come yet.

working dogs

So I set Boo to work.  I had never sent him away to do a job -almost out of my hearing. All our work so far has been training work with the cows, who know what he wants and he has been close by, with me in the fiield as well so I can stop him if he gets too enthusiastic. This time I was outside the field and a long way off from the animals and he had never worked the  calves before.

I lifted the fence and put Boo in the field. Leaving Ton with the big cows – he is not much of a herding dog with the cows. He gets in front of the animals too much.   Ton is trained to keep animals in one place  or to find them if they are lost, while Boo is trained to collect the cows into a group, get control and walk them to a new location.

“See Daisy” I said to Ton, which meant stay with the all big cows. Ton went to his belly and stared fixedly at Lady Astor.

Boo stood just inside the fence and stared fixedly at me.

“Let’s go to work Boo.” I said. This command means No More play time – Work Time. Work time is seperate and specific.  He literally stood to attention, his head swinging to see where everyone was, then back to me to await the commands.

“Go round!” I called to him, pointing to the two calves in the distance. He leapt into action and circling wide flew down the field and came up behind the calves.  Then he stopped right behind them and looked at me for instruction as per his training.

He is a heeler, so all his work is from behind the animals and he will move them by darting at their heels.

“Bring ’em up.” I called which means bring them to me.  He made the darting movements at the young calves (there were two – it is difficult to herd just two),  clacking his jaws together making biting noises, this moves them, soon the calves set off at a trot. And Boo ran from the left of them to the right of them  behind them, in a tacking formation, making sure they ran straight to me.

He was moving them a  bit too fast only just in control.

“Go slow.” I called as they got closer and Boo backed up and slowed right down so they did not overshoot the hay.

“Go down.” I barked. As you can imagine he does not like that command – he would prefer to keep on herding them. But he was moving them in to fast. So reluctantly he lowered himself to the ground.   “Wait.” I called. So he lay still ready for action but waited.

Within seconds I had two calves eating their hay. And one very pleased dog waiting a ways behind.

“That’ll do, dog.” I said to the gleeful dog who knew perfectly well he had done good. He backed up and took a wide swing around to me so as not to bother the eating animals and  I lifted the fence so Boo could slide under for his reward.

Which was a pat, a good boy, and a ride home on the tractor.

Boo took a while to mature but is turning into a valuable dog on the property. Though he is still not terribly good at herding piglets.(Iin fact herding piglets is a bit like herding cats and best left to TonTon). But Boo will be a great cattle dog.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

57 Comments on “Working Dogs

  1. Oh how I love hearing about Ton and Boo!! I would love to sit out there on the fence post and watch all of those two herding the cows and piggies!! And trying to figure out where Boo sits on the tractor!! Those crazy little piggies are keeping you entertained!!!

  2. What a wonderful story about Boo’s herding progress! I know you have worked hard to train him and it is paying off. Good boy indeed! Piglets are like giant ants, impossible, but in a good way. Have a lovely day.

  3. Yep! those heelers are wonderful dogs!!! I need you to help train both me and my heeler, Dolly! She wants to do what I want her to do. The problem is, I don’t know how to tell her what I want her to do! It’s a conundrum!!! 🙂

  4. GOOD JOB BOO! An extra pat coming from SE MN for your hard work! Those naughty piglets are so cute when asleep — exploring is such hard work! They are learning from the best with Mama Poppy. I love the white markings on that one piglet towards bottom center of picture. Forecasting a high of 67 or more today on November 17th! Have great day on the Farmy Miss C.

  5. It’s wonderful to hear about how the dogs do their jobs. Boo rightfully looks pretty pleased with himself! And the piggies are just too cute for words. Thanks for the morning smile.

  6. 3+ years old now – he is finally hit maturity for a heeler. I love that face of his! I have knows 4 heelers – couple of working and couple pets. They have very high energy but so want to please. A dear friend has two mixed breed heeler pups – 1/2 blue 1/2 rottie…. huge dogs. One looks like a heeler with a rottie nose and chest. The other looks like a rottie with a heeler chest and paws. Odd couple – but at 4 months – they are learning commands very well. The will grow up to herd goats. Farm of 100+ at that.

    And it is not surprising that Hop-n-Pop’s piggies are just like her…..

  7. There is nothing better than a well trained dog and the satisfaction it’s gives a person and the pleasure it gives the dog too! Well done Ton and Boo. 😊

  8. I have always marveled at working dogs. And, I marvel at the person who can train animals. Somehow there must be a connection at a higher level than just shouting commands or going through rigorous training. I feel there has to be some kind of respect, a knowing of abilities, and appreciation for the skill.

  9. That is just magic!  Boo and Ton perfectly trained for the job they are to do….Can you come to Bulgaria and train my dogs to sit! and to be quiet… Well done Miss C..lots of love P  

    Sent: Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 2:26 PM

  10. Loved reading about your great dogs, Miss C. I’d like to see how you train them!
    Hope that your people aren’t affected by the earthquake in NZ. :/

  11. Good boy, Boo! I remember when he was so afraid of the big animals. I love when they grow up and come into their own. 🙂

  12. Pingback: Dear Coffee Shop Dudes: The Blogger Recognition Award – thepracticalhistorian

    • Yes you are right , though I love the sentiment behind the awards – being a daily farm blog makes it hard for me to apply myself to the rules and pass it on appropriately. But thank you so much. I am thrilled that you enjoy reading so much. c

  13. Like everyone above, I love love love hearing about the dogs and details of their astounding work ethic and talent. It’s quite extraordinary that you have one dog for pigs and another for cows. Serendipitous!!
    BABE is in the top 5 of my all-time favorite movies.

  14. I love that your two dogs have such different abilities and inclinations, and that you’re able to make use of them in the life of the Farmy to such amazing effect. I love to see a heeler at work…

  15. I love my Boo!!! He had me when he became Boo Nanny and just keeps on!!!

  16. Do, why don’t you do a series of blogs that show how you train your pups. Inquiring dog minds would love that, me included.

  17. I love the pictures of those contented piggies. It is lovely to watch working dogs. They understand so much, it’s a tool that smiles!

  18. Ah, well trained dogs! Atta boy, Boo!

    I have a daydream about being a Scottish farmer with a herd of sheep and a well-trained border collie, working together nice and smooth… And then I think about the frustrating moments and the work it takes to get there, so the daydream never lasts very long.

  19. Hi, Ceci! Morning, all! Your dogs (and you) sound fantastic! The only time I’ve seen this is at the Scottish Highland Games where the shepherd is working the sheep with his Queensland Heelers or Border Collies. Of course, this is an exhibition, but the hours of training and building of trust and respect, as was already mentioned – WOW! A lovely sight to behold! – Sunny

  20. Our red heeler, Gertie, was great with cattle, chickens, and small children. She couldn’t work with chickens that had chicks, the chicks made too much noise and didn’t herd well, and she found it was easier to just eat them (this only happened once). Also, I could never get her to back off when I was mounting my horse. If the horse started to move, she’d latch onto a hind leg to keep it still. That didn’t work very well. Nor did swinging on its tail to get it into the trailer. Gertie lived to be 18 and she was a wonderful dog all her life. Queenies can be a handfull, they need work to do. But they work hard.

    • That is such a funny story, Boo often grabs at the tires of the tractor trying to put a stop to it – but fancy doing that with a HORSE! Boo has a similar problem with chicks – wwe have to lock them all up. c

    • What a great idea! Since some of the senior pigs here have the wits and the will to come when called and know their scheduled daily events, it seems like it could happen!

      • I don’t know pigs as well as you, but I believe they have large brains and can be quite intelligent …but perhaps they have too much intelligence to want to be a sheep dog. I can’t see Sheila herding piglets, but maybe one of those piglets could be the next Ton Ton. They definitely behave a bit like dogs around Cecilia 🙂

        • The funny thing is that poppy cares not at all where her piglets go. They roam far and wide (two visited the milking room last night – luckily John was milking so I could race out – they saw me and laughing scampered all the way round the barn, through the fence and back to their side. I just have to wait until they are too big to fit through the fence – it will not be long! c

          • Ha ha – that comes from Poppy trusting you completely. She feels safe and therefore her piglets are safe 🙂

  21. Lovely working dog stories, and a well deserved accolade for Boo and his trainer ♡ Having had a couple of cattle dogs I have a soft spot for them – so I often get a tear in my eye reading about Boo – but when it came time to adopt again I didn’t want the wonderful memories mixing up with a new dog experience, so when we found a German Koolie, similar to Ton, we thought he’s the dog for us.

  22. So proud of Boo. Thank you for telling us this story in detail. Those pigs are as cute as they are mischievous! You might like to have a look at @dawsonriverkepies on Instagram. It is a wonderful feed photographed by an Aussie woman farmer who has about 11 working dogs that she photographs. Gorgeous photos.

  23. What a delight that Boo has begun to really come into his own. You and he can be very proud of and pleased with such tremendous progress from the reckless, feckless youth he was in his bounding-around beginnings. Only his amazing intuition and sensitivity as Boo Nanny hinted at how wise and skilled he would promise to be. A lovely day on the farmy indeed!

  24. I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before … but of course … you train your dogs. I’ve read through the comments and it sounds like there are ‘heelers’ and there are other jobs. I think it was Pat who mentioned it has been 3+ years. Are there certain breeds of dogs that are best suited to be ‘cow dogs’? Interesting!

    • Boo is a bit of a mix actually but has Blue Heeler in him and Ton is a full Border Collie. And yes certain breeds are better than others. Heelers and Eye dogs are for cows and Collies are often found herding sheep. c

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