Of Sheep and Dogs...

June 16, 2009 | By Modern D.

Tracy J. Libby shares more about the Border Collie breed....

There's an old joke in the sport of dogs about a man who was thinking of sending his Border Collie to a well-respected handler for some training. The punch line being, of course, that the man should leave the dog at home and go himself. Ironically, therein lies more truth than was intended.

Border Collies have been bred for hundreds of years with a single goal in mind: improved herding ability. Because of this, they are high-drive, high-energy dogs that move faster than the speed of gossip. Unmatched in brains, instinct, and endurance, they can do just about anything-and do it superbly. Someone once said they are so smart they can pick your pockets clean and leave you smiling about it. Picking pockets may be a good side gig, but their day job is "premier sheepdog." They are the working stiffs of the herding world, and they live it morning ‘til night.

Sheepdogs have been around in some form or fashion for thousands of years. Much of what is known about their origin and early history is based on nineteenth-century literary tales, a bit of archeological evidence, and a good deal of speculation. Biblical references, such as Job 30:1, refer to dogs with flocks. Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro (116 B.C. - 27 B.C.) wrote about the care and training of shepherd dogs, and about a sheepdog he procured as a watchdog. Dr. John Caius's book Treatise on Englishe Dogges, written in 1570, is considered one of the earliest references to working sheepdogs in Britain. Interestingly, his description, written more than 400 years ago, bears an uncanny resemblance to the working style of today's Border Collies.

The earliest sheepdogs, in all probability, descended from guard dogs similar to those that accompanied the Romans when they invaded Britain in A.D. 43. These dogs were most likely crossed-intentionally or unintentionally-with other dogs, including the herding Spitz-type dogs belonging to the Vikings who invaded Britain between the eighth and ninth centuries.

Read the rest of this article at: www.moderndogmagazine.com/breeds/border-collie
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