Suzy is a truly amazing dog.
She is my right hand on the farm, almost human in her intelligence and empathy, and so sensible and kind.
...from working the sheep, to babysitting my young children, "policing" the younger dogs to mothering lambs or little kittens, hunting rats around the feed storage areas and poultry sheds to tenderly caring for her babies, her can-do attitude, intense devotion and solid work ethic come across in everything she does.
I have an ES that someone once told me was "worthless" as a herding dog... She was raised from weaning to ten months of age in a pen and taken out for "herding lessons" and exercise, and the nice people who had her were mystified as to why she didn't automatically kick into prey-drive and act "herdy" like the Border Collies they'd had previously. They didn't understand that ES and other upright, loose-eyed, bossy dogs that work from a bond to their master and desire to enforce the master's rules on the livestock rather than from nothing more than inhibited prey drive need to be allowed to follow the farmer throughout the day from the time they are old enough to keep up, and that without this bond and understanding of their place on the farm as the master's right hand, they cannot be expected to perform.
They didn't understand the difference between ES and trial dogs.
I took this "worthless" dog home, worked through some minor quirks she'd picked up from spending too much time alone in a kennel (separation anxiety and a high pitched nuisance bark that would peel paint ;-), and just let her follow me around without asking her to do much of anything... I fed her, talked to her, let her sleep beside my bed and follow me to the back door when I put on my boots in the morning, and let her watch and process *every single thing* that went on on this place 24/7. It didn't take long for her to gain the confidence to step in and try to help me with whatever I was doing, sometimes she was right on, sometimes she wasn't. I would praise her like crazy when I recognized a useful behavior, and tell her to "leave it" or send her "out" when she was off base. I modeled the behaviors I wanted rather than trying to explain to her where to go and what to do with a lot of words or commands at first, then as she caught on we began to put "names" to the things we were doing. And more and more, she stepped into her role as "my right hand".
Nowadays, the joke around here is that if Suzy could write checks and drive to the feedstore, I'd be out a job ;-)
Blacksheep Suzy was bred by Norma and Charles Elwell in MO. She has been PennHIP certified and her DI measurement of .38/.38 places her in the 85th percentile for the breed.
Suzy is UKC registered and has earned her PRGN from AWFA.