I was 11 when first introduced to the puppy we named Sandy. Over the years we became great friends building up a close relationship. He was of no particular breeding though some said he was a mixture of collie and corgi, but no one knew for sure. He was small and pretty as a picture with his collie markings and the color of a corgi.
As a farm boy I needed a dog; mother said Sandy would be good company and he would protect me. “Protect me from what?” I wondered. Well, that little dog became my constant companion. Somehow he learned to herd cattle, sheep, chickens and hogs, and became quite an asset to my valley hauling business, and yes, he often thought he was protecting me!
Knowing little about training a dog, looking back, he must have been a bright one for he just seemed to know what I wanted him to do. Farmers used to laugh when I went to collect four hogs from a pen of twenty or more. They had put blue chalk marks on the four selected animals’ backs and would stand back looking on as I set Sandy to work.
When I held the pen door open, Sandy barked happily and ran in amongst those large ungainly animals. Jumping up onto their backs, he ran across them selecting only the ones with the blue chalk marks and quickly herded them to the door. Onlookers never failed to be amazed.
Oh yes, he was smart, of that there was no doubt, but Sandy had a darker side.
Every now and then, when he was probably bored and needed a little excitement, I would see him stalking one of the farm cockerels. He always seemed to pick the one with the largest tail feathers.
Then, when he was all set and had the cockerel in just the right position, he dashed in and chased the bird. Eventually, when he’d finished toying with his victim, he’d grab a mouthful of tail feathers and skid to a halt. Well, you can imagine the wild scream of that cockerel when Sandy was left with its tail feathers in his mouth. You might say that cockerel had been plucked alive!
If dogs could laugh, I’m very sure Sandy was laughing.
© 2004 J. Robert Whittle
Canadian author, J. Robert Whittle, grew up with his parents and nine siblings on a small farm on the Yorkshire moors. Find out more about his family-style books at: www.jrobertwhittle.com
This story was published in the August 2004 Issue of Kennel Up Magazine.