I had been to see many litters and none of the puppies seemed quite the right one, that is, until I met Robbie. He was from a large litter. The man had sheep and the puppies were from working stock, so he told me. They were the most delightful little gaffers, medium fur, classic border collie markings, flop ears - just what I was looking for. One little fellow came up to me and put his paw on my leg and then looked into my eyes, scampered away and played a bit, then came back and put that little paw up again. That, I knew, was the sign of a dominant dog, and I was not overly concerned, since if I took him home with me, he would be my 11th border collie. They were simply my breed.
The little puppy came back and sat beside me and looked up into my eyes. Yup! He was the one. So, I paid the man $450 and loaded Robbie into the little kennel I had brought in case and we were off to a great friendship. Robbie, not once messed in the house. He did not prefer to sleep in his kennel, and I did not force him since there was no issue with house training. Inside the house he was calm and sweet, listening all the time. It took him one or two lessons to grasp what he was to learn, as he is incredibly smart. In no time at all, he learned, sit, stay, down, find, fetch, this way and that way as indicated by my outstretched arms which showed him the direction I wanted him to run. He loved to play fetch with a ball or stick and was a delight, but for one thing. As soon as I was not paying attention to him, he was gone to find something interesting to do. Lots of that involved chasing animals, particularly sheep and cows.
For a while he got very much better and came to a whistle or call. He was even becoming adept at herding the sheep, bringing them in from the pature for the night. He could be trusted with the poultry and waterfowl on the farm, and the rabbits, but never with the sheep. For some reason, he would run them in one direction and then run in front of them and run them back to where he started. That was great fun for him. Outside, reprimanding him seemed to have llittle effect. He simply could not be left to run free without supervision.
Robbie is 5 and a half years old. I am not sure what spurred him to have a bad change of behaviour, but this summer, he started to corner a ram and then rip wool from it and bite. When he was caught, he would wag his tail as though he believed he was doing something right. No matter how much I yelled at him, threw him on the ground and held him down, he would get up all happy. He was not getting the message.
The real problem began when he was outside with me, and I was busy, usually on the phone or talking to some one in person. He would take off and corner a sheep. Usually it was a ram, I think , because they tended to fight a little, which gave him more interest in what he deemed his 'job'. But then, just last month, he cornered my Babydoll ram and bit him pretty hard. The ram was fine, or so it seemed, then all of a sudden went down, a week later. I gave him some antibiotics, but I was too late. He likely died from a wound that had become septic.
Then, this morning, I let him out to do his business and forgot him for about 15 minutes. 15 minutes too long. He got Bob, the Cotswold ram, down and chewed him up very badly. Bob has neck wounds, leg wounds and his ear is nearly torn off on the side that he has a blind eye. I am pretty sure that Joe, and possibly Mike, joined in because there was some blood on their faces. Now, after the Babydoll died, I planned to never let Robbie out of my sight. He no longer can be trusted around sheep at all, though he is a wonderful dog, loves family and would be super as a pet, away from sheep.
He can be tied and is fairy quiet, only barking when he really feels there is a reason. He cannot be fenced in or kenneled, unless the kennel has a roof, or he will climb out. He will jump pretty much any fence. I do not want him to spend his life tied up though. He needs to be with people who will play with him, throw a ball so he can fetch, and love him. He is very lovable and extremely well behaved in the house. Just NO SHEEP.
I am sick with sorrow though. My heart is broken. Robbie and I , well, there is a special bond there. I love him with all my soul. It is like giving your own child away. I, of course, want the best home for him, where he will be loved and happy. I do not want him to go, but I cannot keep him here. It is too dangerous for my sheep and they deserve to be safe. Oh oh oh dear, my sweet puppy. I will miss you so so much.
PS. Robbie loves car rides and is a wonderful babysitter for newborn lambs and sheep, and for chicks, ducklings, and bunnies. He tends to them with tender loving care.