Wisest dogs in the world

Border collies round up Animal Parade

ERIC HALSALL is Secretary of Holme Sheep Dog Trials Association, and a member of the International Sheep Dog Society since 1949

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 7 October 1962

THE wisest dogs in the world, sheepdogs of the vast Australian sheep ranges, will be in Granada’s Animal Parade on Monday.

Their daily work of sheep handling will be seen in trials filmed in Australia. Trials which display what must surely be the perfect understanding between human and animal intelligence as the dogs carry out the commands of their masters.

These dogs are Border Collies, originally from the English-Scottish borders.

They are mainly black and white in colour, alert, medium sized, lithe and fit, fast as the wind, and supremely intelligent.

Practical dogs, their standing is based on their working ability, not on their looks as with almost every other breed of dog.

Border collie
Australian sheepdog – alert,, intelligent

Although the trials you will see in the Australian pictures vary slightly from the accepted British procedure — adapted quite practically to meet the special needs of Australia’s sheep farming pattern, the ultimate purpose is entirely the same — to produce a quiet and efficient working dog, capable of the steady and careful treat ment of sheep.

When the skilful teamwork of shepherd and dog is seen, either on television or in the countryside, and trials can be seen everywhere in the North of England, something of the comradeship that exists be tween the lonely hill shepherd and his dog will be appreciated.

Theirs is not a circus performance, a repetition of taught tricks, but a thought-out reaction to the whims of sheep to obtain their mastery.

More than one shepherd owes his life to his dog’s intelligence in winter drama on the high hills of this country.

Lost in snow and cloud on the fells of Lakeland, one young shepherd was guided over rocky slopes by hanging on to the tail of his collie, a journey to safety he could never have made otherwise.

In similar country, a 10-year old trials champion collie worked alone for three hours to bring some marooned sheep down a crag face; and one sheepdog of the Lancashire hills hung on grimly to the fleece of a sheep, preventing it from slipping to drown in a moorland stream, until relieved by his master.

And there is the famous example of devotion to duty of Tip, the 12 year old Derbyshire sheepdog which guarded her master’s body for 15 weeks on the storm swept moors of the Peak District.

Uncanny though the skill of the sheepdog appears on the trials field to the watching townsman, its intelligence and ability to reason have astounded even hardened sheepmen who have known it all their lives.

And as you watch them on Monday remember too that without them vast areas of moorland would be unproductive. For these moors are only suitable for sheep grazing and without his sheepdog the shepherd could not manage live flocks there.

For man for all his genius has still not been able to produce a machine to do the job of the working sheepdog.

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