WhiteOak Farmcollies

September 7, 2000

Pat McLain wrote:

After the disaster earlier this year with the border collie I had, it got even harder to participate in the online discussions, as I pondered how much of what happened to Fly was really my fault through ignorance of the breed.

My Fly was a registered BC, bought before I knew better-I got him from a sheep dog trialer at our local wool and sheep festival. He turned out to be way too intense for a small farm, caused the death of our new baby boer buck through sheer excitement (the buckling freaked out over the dog herding him, ran into the barn so fast he brained himself on one of the posts). After that, he got increasingly more intense until it was a battle between him and me as to what he was going to do with the stock.

Finally he lost himself totally and started killing poultry, biting the goats, and turned on my youngest son. my son was not hurt, but at that point the dog's fate was sealed. I learned afterwards that something similar had happened with several of his littermates-they became very unstable and untrustworthy right about the time they reached maturity.. The whole episode was horrible and nasty, and almost turned me off getting another dog for fear something else would happen.

But this pup is as different from Fly as night is from day, and I think I have found a companion as well as a partner- I now have one of Amy Dorsch's pups (from Judah and Ellie) here at Shepherd's Glen. I had talked to Amy earlier, and told her what happened with Fly, and after a bit of correspondence, I went ahead and got one of the pups.

Amy sent me a video of the litter so I could see them, and good evaluation on each pup's personalities and abilities, at least as far as you can tell with youngsters. We made arrangments that my sister, who lives fairly near Amy, would pick up the pup, Tess, and bring her here to the farm when sis came to visit over the Labor Day weekend.

Well, Tess has been here since last Saturday. I am in love.......this puppy is incredible. I have never been around a pup like this. She is quick to learn, calm, and already she has taken on certain responsibilities as her own, even though she is only 12 weeks old.

Liam Farley of FoxCreek Farm, littermate of Tess

My mom is terminally ill with cancer, Tess has taken it upon herself to check on mom at least once during the night, and she will let me know if mom is calling me during the night. She has attached herself to me like a shadow-she is lying at my feet as I write this. She has become the favored playmate of my 3 1/2 year old grandson, to the dismay of his own dog, Jack, who is not allowed in the house because he has no manners (long story, Jack is a rescue). However, Tess has charmed all the dogs here at Shepherd's Glen, and none of them object to her or her puppy ways.

She has accompanied me when we are feeding the stock and poultry, and watches, not chasing or getting excited, she seems to anticipate what is needed. She has helped round up(sort of) a massive (well it was all of them ;-) outbreak of sheep, goats and the llama, and did it quietly, not alarming the llama, who disliked the BC intensely.

The only animals she suggested I take care of by myself where the calves who got loose last night because someone forgot to shut the gate. She stayed on the porch and just watched.

She seems to catch on almost immediately to what you want her to do. It took one day to teach her to ask to go out to do her duty and she learned in not much more time to ask to come back in. I never had a pup that housebroke so fast. It's like you only have to explain it to her once and she gets it.. As Amy said, she is very anxious to please, and so far it has been easy to teach her what we want her to do, or not do. I am sure there are bumpy spots in the road ahead, but I am very happy with this little girl so far............

Tess is from Amy's latest litter, and can be considered an Old Time Farm Collie-you can see Amy's Judah, the sire, and pics of the pups. She was whelped June 6th, or thereabouts. I know this is young, but she is already showing lots of sense, and thinking about what I want her to do. I believe Ellie, the mother is a border collie-my brain is not at full functioning status right now, hehehe, CRS syndrome-but she is much more laid back than many of the BCs I have seen, Amy, am I right, here?

I just came in from watering the young pullets we have, and there was a dust-up in the chicken yard between some ducks and geese and a couple of hens-Tess went rushing over there, but didn't do anything but watch me grab the hens and get them out of the way. Even with all the flapping when I let them go in the coop she didn't forget that I told her 'NO' and 'don't touch', just watched very closely-this is a very wise little dog.......as soon as all the ruffled feathers were calmed down, she lost interest. What interested me most was that Tess stayed calm throughout, in fact. I wonder if this behavior is going to last throughout puppyhood, but I am still assuming nothing until proven.

Shepherd's Glen Farm

September 29, 2000

Got a new Romney ram this weekend, and our Tess is not sure she likes him......noticed she is very careful around the stock, and so much more calm than I am used to! When we were trying to get a good look at the sheep yesterday, she would follow them at a distance, and when we got them settled behind the barn she sat on the hill above them, very alert, her whole attention on them. As long as they stayed put, she stayed put, but never once did she try to run them...and it was so easy to call her off them to come up to the house with us. She is being very circumspect in and around the barn-George the llama objects loudly and speedily if she moves too fast around 'his' charges! and she rapidly learned a healthy respect for George......

Pat in MO
Shepherd's Glen Farm
Man who says it cannot be done, Should not interrupt Woman who is doing it.
Chinese Proverb

November 5, 2000

Tess is beginning to display some of the things I hoped to see in her. She is doing some guarding......mostly in the house right now......she has moved her sleeping place from beside my bed to across the threshold of the front door-no one is able to get inside after dark without having to push her aside!

But what I wanted to report was something else......the other night, very late, she needed to go out, and I let her....but was not feeling up to go with her,(it was the day my young grandson moved back home with his mom........after 3 1/2 years with me) She rushed down the ramp barking, either there was something out there, or she was just responding to the pyrs, who were doing their usually noisy announcement that they were on duty.......I waited for her to finish and ask to come in. In the meantime my son returned with the U-Haul that they had used to move the boy's things and unloaded a double bed at 3 in the morning then headed out to return the trailer......I forgot about Tess for a bit,,,,but once everything was done went out and called her. No answer. It is cold and dark, and very late.....called again. Again, no pup. By this time I am kicking myself for letting her out alone......I am thinking she has gone off looking for the boy because he and she were very close-my grandson is not quite 4 years old....and he and Tess would play and wrestle like pups......When day finally came, as soon as it was light enough to see, I headed out to look for her......

I found her on the top of the pond dam, with one of the pyrs, the youngest one, about 14 months old......she would not come when called, just looked at me.The huddle of white fur, and black-and-white fur, looked wrong to me, there was too much mass for the two dogs.....plus I was puzzled by their behavior....so headed out that way to see what was going on. Neither dog moved until I got their, then Tess got up and met me at the gate.

The two dogs were lying on either side of a young doe, the pyr along her back line, Tess against her belly....it looked like they had been there a while; well it had been at least 3 1/2 hours since I had let Tess out.......Unfortunately the doeling was dead......she had not been attacked, there was no marks on her anywhere, no evidence as to what happened except for some bloating........it was pretty cold, so it wasn't from decomposition.....the goats had gotten into one of the calves creep feeders so I am thinking it was that......... anyway Tess had stayed there with the LGD and 'protected' that kid until it was light enough for me to find them..........

Tess seems to be copying behavior from my Great Pyrenees, when she is allowed to free range....therefore, when she gets out with them, she will lay with them on the pond dam......she spends less time with our old Border Collie, who is more farm guard than herding dog.....this dog never had the prey drive, and we considered her a failure 10 years ago. This BC had an accidental litter by an AKC Rough Collie, and I wish now I had paid more attention....several of these pups went to farmers in the area and the stories I got back about their behavior sound suspiciously like what we are looking for now! They became general farm dogs, one worked pigs, one became a cattle dog, several more became companions.....She had 5 pups, and there wasn't a bad one in the bunch......That was the only litter she had, I had her spayed right after that.

Anyway, Tess does not act aggressively around the sheep and goats. She is not very interested yet in helping me move them, but she will put them back where they belong on her own if they are out......I have seen her go through a group of goats without scattering them.....they are not afraid of her, either. She mostly ignores the cows and horses, seems to be very cautious about their size............ She does round up birds-we have turkeys, geese and ducks, plus a few large-breed chickens. She doesn't harass them, just drives them . She does not know how to gather them up, but she can get them to head into the building.

She will make the rounds of the place, checking out the barn, the henhouse, up and down the drive, a big sweep around the upper pond, and through the fields. She has only once left the place, and ended up a quarter mile away, at a neighbors, where she was promptly tied up until we got there. She knew she was in trouble too! Since then she has not stepped a foot off the place.

She will chase cats, but the game is controlled by the cat-if it doesn't want to play, it only has to start up a tree, and Tess quits....the cats have learned that they don't have to go very high either, because she will not pursue them once they are clasping the tree trunk! She is very gentle with kittens......our house babies have been found asleep on her back.....She misses our grandson......and has been looking for him.......and ever since he left on Friday, she has been sleeping across the threshold of the front door........

We have a little trouble getting her to come when called, but it looks like we have that solved, she came today with no trouble at all....I keep a short leash in my pocket at all times, and when she refuses to obey, its on the leash for the next couple of days.......she is getting to be much more responsive.

There is a definite tendency on her part to challenge me for dominance.....I have to physically make her move out of my way-she tries to block my progress, or make me go around her.....I feel she is trying out challenging me for top-dog status.

The only time she makes any noise is at night, when she goes out at night, it is always in a rush down the ramp, barking....She doesn't exhibit this behavior in daylight.

She is not a hearty eater, more of a picker.......but she has started challenging the cats if they are too close to her bowl at feeding time.

She hunts......field mice mostly, and with a characteristic 2-paws-held-close-together little jump that reminds me of wolves hunting mice. It is a stiff-legged hop up and down, then nose to the ground to see if she got it. I think she is maybe 50% successful. Not really interested in anything else yet, but when one of my guineas got loose and flew into a tree, she followed it around the tree from branch to branch she stayed right under it, and was clearly disgusted when I failed to catch it.

She will be 5 months old tomorrow, Nov 6.

Pat in Mo

Don't be afraid of trying something new.
Remember, amateurs built the Ark and professionals built the Titanic. ~Author Unknown~
November 9, 2000
speaking of biddability.........today we had our first snowfall, and it is clear that Tess does not respect me......I could not get her to come in to me at all today! I know snow, especially the first time experiencing it can go to some dogs' head....they get very excited........but she clearly knew what I wanted and chose to ignore me........

this is not the first time she has behaved this way either. Do you have any hints on how to establish dominance over her? indoors she is very biddable, and outside on the line she is also biddable and willing to listen to me.....but now she is clearly wanting to spend more time working, either guard or patrol and does not mind me..........at night she goes out, and usually will come in after 30 minutes or so.

I need to be able to let her out freely, but right now I do not like to let her..........or am I expecting too much from too young a dog?

Really, the only thing I don't like is her refusing to return to me when I want her too. I get a dog training newsletter, just 2 issues so far, and from what I have read, I have not established my authority over her. And is this refusing to get out of my way when I am trying to go somewhere in the house, more of the same thing? And how do I go about correcting this?

PatinMO ICQ#45137340

I don't think that it is all just an authority thing when teaching the come. I start when I start feeding my pups, I whistle and call while they eat. (use the "pavlov's dog principle".

Here is the lesson. dog is outside- I whistle and call. dog ignores me, I make a loud buzzer noise (like they do in game shows when you get the wrong answer) and she looks at me. as soon as I get her attention, I praise and call again- she races to me and I give her her favorite treat- whatever gets that pavlov's dog thing going.

I do this when I am outside with the pup and I hear a car- I call and treat and have her sit until the car passes. this gets her to focus on me instead of on the car.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.


July 27, 2002
Pat said:

So far, everyone is pleased with the pups out of Tess and Max. Even with the little opportunity he has had(we have hardly any livestock left)he has shown himself as a hunter(rodents, rabbits, possums)and he did contain a loose bull on his own, though he totally ignores our goats.

He loves everyone that comes up, though he does follow the grandkids around when they are outside. But then, he is only 17 months old and is mostly being a silly pup. Maybe it will change as he gets older, and we get started with the new farm.



From: Pat
Date: Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:43 am
Subject: two stories

I've got two stories to relate today, one about the dogs and new lambs.... and one which could have been a bad one but isn't.

We had our 3rd lamb born yesterday, and got to see some pretty nurturing behavior on the part of both Tess and Max....at their introductions to this new baby, still wet with birthing fluids, I was pleased to see them licking the lamb dry! Then today, when it got itself outside the pen, and was bleating anxiously for mother.....both dogs were right there, until I could catch it and reunite it with mom.....the only thing, though is that Max attacked the Pyr, who was also responding to the cries of the baby. Max just can't see those Great Pyrenees as part of the working team around here... Tess doesn't seem to be afraid of the lambs, like she is of the adult stock around here...so I'm hoping having lambs around will help her instincts overcome her fears....I've even considered getting a couple of bottle lambs, and giving her the job of overseeing them.

now to the scary story. We managed to "lose" little Rhi today.....she figured out how to get the heavy outside door open. She's played on the back porch before - her mom's pet rabbit lives on the porch, and she is always visiting it. But we were not in the room when she left the house this time, and no one knew. She's never been able to turn the knob before this. We were alerted to trouble by hearing her sudden cries, and realizing they were coming from outside, at the same time Max was barking furiously. Ran outside, to find that Max had her cornered on the front porch, she was furious with him, and he was being a little too enthusiastic, but he was not letting her off the porch. When he saw us, he came bounding over, yelling "I stopped her, I stopped her!" (I swear, you should have seen the I m-so-pleased-with-myself" look on his face!).

He got himself a whole handful of treats for this one, and Little Miss Rhi got swooped up and hugged and taken inside....now we'll have to fix another hook and eye to keep her from sneaking out again! I will be so glad when she gets a little older - she's just 2 1/2 - but have the idea she is always going to be the one who does the heart-stopping antics....she just rushes headlong through everything......

Mom had had her out earlier to play, and she had not been happy when we came in for dinner....and Max had prevented her twice from heading towards the road - he's so big now, that she is only about a head taller than him, and he did the same as Bobby did - tangled her up, so she fell down, and sat on her until Mom came......

It's good to know that the dogs know she's not allowed near the road - across it is a big unfenced field with a large pond - and that they will stop her from leaving....anytime she heads in that direction, there is a dog in her way...


Easter Morning, April 20, 2003

I've got a new Max story to share.

This morning we had another pair of Shetland lambs born, with the mother only seeming to accept one of them. The stronger of the two has a wandering streak you'd not believe! Twice we found him in the neighboring horse pen - and they are only about 12 hours old.

Anyway, about 9 pm there was a commotion outside - we could hear what sounded like a dog in pain over to the south of us, so went looking to count our dogs, since all of them were out. Wasn't one of ours, and in the rain and dark we couldn't find the stranger. Then we heard one of the ewes calling over and over, and no lamb replying, so went to see what was going on over there.

Julie found both newborn lambs missing. She found one of them after a short search - did I mention they are both black? - It was on the wrong side of the fence, cuddled up with Wolf, the Pyr. She couldn't find the other, the ewe was not wanting the lamb we found, and kept calling. I was outside the sheep pen, with Max, standing in the rain. Max kept saying there was something very interesting in the shadows at my feet, and though I felt around and found nothing, he kept insisting something was there. Julie investigated, and there, wedged between the two overlapping wire panels, she found the missing lamb, just where Max was insisting there was something. He was cold and wet, and starting to seizure...we brought both lambs inside, as it was evident that the first one hadn't nursed, and the other one only had a very weak sucking reflex - Julie has since taken it into the clinic, where she can administer fluids - I don't expect it will survive, though. All the time that Julie was working on it here, though, Max was in there, licking it nudging its head up, and trying to dry it off too.

I've gotten the other one fed, and Max has taken over cleaning it up too, licked all the milk off it's face, given it a thorough going over, and keeping it between his front paws...Soon as it fed, it had to pee, LOL.. good thing I'd put papers down! what surprised me, though, is that Max cleaned up after it (no Max kisses for me tonight!), he licked the paper, and licked the lamb clean (just like puppies) - and before I could stop him, he also cleaned up the meconium that the lamb passed!

Is this what I should expect? He is very gentle with the lamb, and that lamb is clean and dry from nose to tail.....Right now, the lamb is asleep in a padded laundry basket, and Max is sprawled asleep as close to the basket as he can get....I offered to let him back outside, and he chose not to go (unusual, as he normally doesn't want to stay inside). He wasn't too happy with Julie taking the other one away from him, either... I am so proud of Max! His behavior is changing, he is just past two, now, and he is becoming much more serious about things....

Patrick takes his goslings out to the fenced play yard for some sun and grass, and Max is there, watching both boy and goslings, and keeping the rest of the dogs away from them. If one of the goslings strays too far away from the rest (in Max' opinion), he gently nudges it towards the rest of them.

This afternoon I went out to get more feed for the chicks we have on the porch, and checked to see if anybody had gathered the eggs yet,(they hadn't) I picked up two from the coop floor, put them into the bucket of chick feed then turned around to get the others (from a nest in the corner), only to not see them....I discovered that when the hen decided she didn't want to set after all, after she left the eggs, Max covered them up with loose bedding! He's been paying very close attention to egg-gathering....I expect, one of these days, to find him collecting the eggs himself, hehehehe.

Had taken the mare for a walk this afternoon(between rain showers), and let her graze on some of the long grass in the yard. Found out she doesn't like my new raincoat, so she was a little spooky to begin with...then she stepped on the lead rope, and that spooked her some more. She started dancing a little, and circling...... Max and Bobby were with us, just along for company, as far as they were concerned, until the dancing began, and it must have looked to them like she was going after me - she was crowding me a bit with her circling. They promptly started scolding her; I got her to stand still, then made them sit still....talking to both mare and dogs....in the end, they were nose to nose and the mare even got a lick from Max. Bobby, being only a year old, was more nervous, but he listened to me! and came and sat by my side, though eyeing the mare, as he waited for her to do something unexpected. What helped, I think, because he (Bobby) got a little too excited at first, and was on the opposite side of the mare from me, thereby pushing her even closer into me, was that I flipped the long end of the cotton lead rope (one of those soft, fat, braided cotton bull leads) around the back of the mare, and caught him on the hip with the knotted end, just as I told him "no, back off"...caught him completely by surprise, and he didn't know where it came from....He stopped right then, and after that was much more attentive to what I was saying. I didn't want him hurt by the mare, and I didn't want him to associate it with me....or the mare....since it came from behind him, I'm sure he won't. Course, one thing is the mare is really a good old girl, and isn't scared of the dogs, actually likes them....and at least a couple of the dogs like her.

All in all, we had a pretty good day here, and we learned some very interesting things about our dogs.

Oh, Julie just called - the twin didn't make it....and she was so upset with herself, because she couldn't save it....


Good Shepherd Farm
Judah, Tess's Sire
Ellie, Tess's Dam
Celt, Tess's Brother
Tara, Tess's Sister
Jack, Tess's Brother
Indy, Tess's Brother
Polly, Tess's Sister


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