Lassie Boy

I just dad to share what Lassie did last night. I have 6, 4 month old replacement Rhode Island Red hens that have been kept in my brooder pen until I can get another chicken tractor or get rid of the rooster. Well, last night we let them out to run around (Stew was locked up). When it was time to put them back in, Lassie became very excited, I haven't let him work with these young birds before. Well, let me tell you, I really wished I had the video camera with me. He put his nose down level with them and ever so slowly started rounding them up, I had to help as they didn't go right into the coop, they scattered several times (silly chickens). After he got three or four in, he very carefully went after the others but kept an eye on the pen to make sure no one escaped. The last one was quite obstinate but Lassie was calm and mannered as he walked around and over the wood piles after this bird. With one final little bark and air snap, in went the final bird. He's been great with the poultry since he was a young pup but last night's display of ingenuity, calmness and intelligence was a sight to see.

Last night one of our ducks was missing. We got a late start on the evening chores and it was already dark by the time we got outside. There were 4 ducks in the pen already and we looked all around for the last one (dark brown duck, dark night.....) We finally gave up looking for her, locked the 4 into the pen and started doing other chores. I was in the middle of feeding the horses when in runs the duck with Lassie hot on it's heels. I don't know if Lassie continued looking for DJ (duck) after we stopped or if DJ just happened to come back on her own and Lassie wanted to show her to us. I did not see what went on outside. We're guessing that DJ came back, couldn't get into the pen on her own and so Lassie brought her to us in the main barn so we could put her away. Could have been a matter of coincidence or could have been a matter of wonderful FarmCollie instincts showing through. I'm going to chalk this one up to instincts.

Lassie has been getting even better with the birds. I was feeding the chickens and went looking for the ducks to put them away when I noticed that Lassie had already put them all in their pen and was standing guard at the door. Such a good dog.

A funny thing happened last night. A friend was over to show me her new car and it was chore time. I asked her to watch how well Lassie worked. Well, he put away the chickens, then the ducks and then I asked him to go find the goats. I was in the barn and my friend hollered "Hey Serena, Lassie just rounded up a deer!!!" " I can't believe he's got a deer!". I came running out of the barn to see what he had. Well, as it turns out it was Rascal, my brown Nubian goat (I guess he could be mistaken for a deer).

Well, last night Lassie did the cutest thing. We had been leery of letting our new Nubian kid loose to browse but last night, I decided, why not, how far can he go?Well, I let him out of the stall and hobbled back to watch the action from a chair some 50 feet from the barn door. Rascal slowly started coming out of his stall and then out the barn door. Lassie saw this and immediately put the goat back into the barn. He was very gentle about it but insistent. I called him back to me and he laid down by my chair. A couple of minutes went by and Rascal came out of the barn again, Lassie saw this and, once again, gently escorted him back into the barn. He did this 6 times! Finally, Rascal decided that he should stay put in the barn for the time being. A bit later, Rascal came out and went behind the barn. Lassie was frantic looking for him but finally found him and got him back into the barn.

Date: Mon Jul 15, 2002 11:13 am
Serena Writes:

Hi All,

I have two puppies from Lilly/Banjo's second litter. One of them, Lassie, is becoming a wonderful farm dog. This weekend, on his own, Lassie went out to the swampy area behind the house and retrieved two ducks (about 300 feet away). He calmly walked down (I couldn't see exactly what he did once he got back there) and a couple minutes later, he calmly walked back with the ducks walking in front of him. Once they got in front of the tack shed, Lassie broke off his pursuit and came back to lay at my feet. He did this twice.

The first time I was so excited, I ran into the house and told my husband. He thought it was only a fluke (the pups are only 5 months old). The second time he did it, Bruce was there to watch. We were both very impressed that this pup knew the ducks were missing, went and found them and put them back up near the barn with the rest of the flock. His herding style is very laid back which is perfect for my poultry. Both of them are very interested in the goats also. I also have noticed them getting into thinking about hunting. They are funny though, they'll watch the barn cats getting ready to jump on something and they barge in and make the kill. The cats are none to happy about it but it gives me a chuckle each time. It's usually just a bug but I've seen Bonnie jump on and kill a field mouse that the cat pointed out.

I love to watch the instincts develop in these dogs.

M. Serena Lanza

Lassie 9 months old

Jul 19, 2002
Serena wrote:

Lassie has figured out how to separate the chickens and the ducks and put them in their respective pens. He is very "loose" eyed and calm in his herding manner (unlike Bonnie who loves to run into the middle of the flock and scatter them). He is methodical about it as I have piles of "stuff" that the ducks will run behind and hide. If he's this good now at 5 months, I can't wait till he's two or three.

I can go one better too, I forgot to mention that I have one chicken that hatched out two ducklings, he somehow knows that those two ducks belong with the chickens and has not tried to herd them out (they stick to the "momma" chicken like glue though so maybe I can't claim he knows better) but I like to think he knows the difference.

I started by just taking him out for morning chores, letting the birds out of their various pens to free range for the day, feeding the horses, goats and pig. I didn't have him on leash for the morning chores. Once I felt comfortable with him around the birds, I started by having him on a leash while I rounded up the birds in the evening. He seemed interested enough but sometimes his mind would wander and I'd have to point him in the right direction. That went on for about one week on leash. Lately, I have had him with me off leash while rounding them up and then I let him try it on his own. He's not by any means perfect yet but it is obvious he has the right idea and loves to get things right. I love all over him when he gets it right. Now, I'll call the ducks (for instance) and wait by their pen door with their food, as they start coming to me, he follows up behind them until they all jump up into the stall. If one goes awry, he'll go get it.

M. Serena Lanza
Photos of Lassie with the poultry.

Scarlett, 5 months

Banjo, Sire
Lilly, Dam
Duncan, Brother
Kala, Sister

Farmcollie Guardian Behavior
Farmcollie Herding Behavior
Farmcollie Hunting Behavior


Bonnie Blue and Lassie

American Working Farmcollie Association

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