Our dog’s love for the farmer is something else as is his desire to please him. Sam is usually put back into his kennel after bringing in the cows in the mornings. He is then let out again once the cows have been milked and we are heading in for breakfast. The reason he is put away is because he used to enjoy nipping at the cows when they were in the collecting yard so it was nipped in the bud by putting him straight back to “bed”. Twice this week, Brian forgot to put him back in and never even knew that he was left out until he spied him at the end of the milking. Sam gave an apologetic wag of the tail as if to say “I know I’m not supposed to be here but I promise I was good”. It’s amazing how much can be communicated by the angle of a dog’s head and the level of exuberence of his tail wag.
This photo is during our silage making – probably around 1972. I’m in the arms of Tommy our workman and a neighbour Mick Kelly always came to work during silage time. The dog was our faithful Pupsy, the last brilliant dog we had before Sam. Every dog between the two was useless!
The dog, in turn, is one of the farmer’s best friends. His mate he can’t do without. His helper who saves him hours on a weekly basis. Providing company while driving the tractor or walking the fields measuring grass. Waiting by the loader bucket for it to move so he can check the farmer is driving it correctly!
1. Unconditional love – a dog’s love for his master knows no bounds. No matter if he is told off or put to bed, Sam will do anything for a word of praise, a pat on the head or a rub down.
2. Takes verbal abuse and still adores him – the dog never assumes he is in the right and will take the verbal abuse, never shouting (barking) back but slinking off until the farmer is calm again. Not at all like a wife who will shout back and give as good as she gets.
3. Doesn’t require too much attention – all the dog needs is a clean kennel, a decent amount of scraps from the family’s dinner and a little affection.
4. Doesn’t complain if farmer is smelly – the farmer might have the smelliest wellies around but the dog is still happy to lie beside them on the tractor.
5. Doesn’t require conversation – the farmer can be as talkative or as silent as he likes. The dog will signal his acknowledgement of whatever has been said with a thump of the tail or a quizzically raised eye or he will also be perfectly happy sitting in a companionable silence.
6. Understands signals – While I will want to know exactly which animals have to be separated in terms of the amount of black and white on them, the dog will understand whistles, ‘come back’, ‘behind them’ and ‘bring them on’ not to mention hand signals too. A dog is capable of keeping one eye on the farmer and one on the cattle at all times too.
7. Is always happy to see him – No matter what time of the day or night it is, a good working dog is always happy at the prospect of some cattle rounding up, even if cattle have broken out and it’s midnight.
8. Know better than the farmer what to do next. Brian was on the way up to the far side of the farm one day and he noticed Sam wasn’t running along by the loader and wondered why. He got to the other yard and then discovered the reason. He had forgotten to put the bucket on the loader and when he travelled back to the farmyard, he found Sam waiting patiently beside it – the dog knew exactly what was to be done next.
Our dog is worth his weight in gold. Like all best friends though, he really only works well for Brian. He will bring cows in for me but in terms of anything else, he follows his own instincts rather than my instructions. He is six years old now – I think we will have to get another pup when he gets to about 8 and work the two of them together. He does have a few flaws though – he loves the movement of the bucket on the loader and as in the photo above, he will sit beside it waiting for Brian to put it on the loader and get it going. He also loves flowing water!!
Who is your best friend? Is it human or animal?
I had been feeding a runaway farmers sheepdog the last 6 months and have been really taken by him he’s so friendly and followed me & my 1 year old everywhere. We are moving so I have informed the farmer to get better fencing as the children aren’t to kind to him & roads are dangerous here to as Id hate anything bad to happen to him.
what a wonderful piece about dog’s worth, their meaning and their total love! I really think that you should string all your dog blogs into a little booklet. Let the dogs have their say in print, also:)
Lorna Post author
Thank you Louis, I’d love to write a book that has working dogs at heart of it. Maybe someday.
Yes, you can’t beat a dog for sheer loyalty and companionship. I’m not a farmer, but grew up in rural Ireland surrounded by farmers and their dogs. I have always had at least one dog around for as long as I can remember. Really enjoyed this. Great post.
Yes, a true friend who is always glad to see you.
Our collie cross is the same with Ian, adores him and follows him everywhere. There’s something reassuring about having a working dog around I’d be lost without ours, even if they do ignore me if their “master’s” around
I have always been intrigued and impressed by a farmer and his dog. They are so well trained. Trying to train a mad house dog was bad enough, and if I’m honest the fact that she runs like a mad thing in the other direction when I call her, would perhaps mean I failed!
I know the feeling – Sam acts a bit like that with me occasionally and believes he knows best whereas he obeys Brian. On a serious note though, the number of sheep being attacked by dogs on the loose is scary.
M T McGuire
I can imagine that few things beat a working dog on the farm. I bet they are worth their weight in gold.
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