Monday, July 27, 2009
SHEPHERDING AND BORDER COLLIES
While my two brothers and I were in Ireland last June, we took a very enjoyable day bus trip around the "Ring of Kerry". One of the most interesting stops was up on a mountain where a professional shepherd showed us the many varieties of sheep that exist in Ireland. And he showed us how he communicates with his two feisty Border Collies. He uses, as far as we could gather, whistle signals which include a special whistle signal for each Collie and signals that tell each one exactly what to do: "Move Right!", "Move Left!" "Crouch and menace!" "Sit down" "Run up!" "Run sideways". I am pretty sure that the shepherd also uses voice signals. And I suspect that sometimes the simple movement or position of his shepherd's staff tells the collies where to go or what to do. One interesting detail was the "Crouch and Menace" signal. The sheep see what is the movement of a possible predator when the collies bend down and creep meanacingly toward them. So they move! Here I include a YouTube clip which I wish had been longer.