Once upon a time, Corgis were farm dogs. They were Welsh "farmer's curs", handy little dogs that did whatever needed doing about the place, whether that meant fetching the cows or ridding the barn of rats. They were 'discovered' in the early part of the 20th century, and fanciers set about beautifying them. Below left is a photo of one of the first Corgis which was successful as a show dog in England, in the early 1930's, and a modern show winner to the right. Two pictures are worth a thousand words.
To me, the old type seems like a tough, competent, hardy, and nimble dog, while the new and improved type appears exaggerated to the point of not being much good for anything except walking on the end of a leash on a sidewalk. But then, as we know, I am prone to minority opinions.
I happen to have one of these latter-day Corgis. Luke is an anxious, earnestly well-meaning but not exactly bright guy, whose defective elbows were arthritic by the age of four, who gets stress-induced diarrhea on walks of over thirty minutes, and who has more undercoat than a Samoyed. He's impeccably bred, with well-known champions liberally sprinkled through his pedigree, and he is indubitably a pretty dog. For years, I've been of the opinion that being fluffy and cuddly were his only virtues. But Luke has now redeemed himself, sort of.
Just on a whim, I decided to see if Luke could help Bonnie in her onerous task of shepherding the goats to and from their pasture. Lo and behold, it worked! Although he has no concentration, no sense of group, doesn't fetch, and won't bite, he does have a chaotic kind of enthusiasm for the task. It would be a mess with sheep, no doubt. Essentially, Bonnie provides all the structure (wears, groups, etc.), while Luke wanders happily along until one of the goats decides to stop and eat something along the way. Bonnie, out of despair, has started pretending she doesn't notice, but I say "Look Back!" and she dutifully trots back and tries to make the goat pay attention to her. This is where Luke steps up to the plate.
He only needed a few repititions of "Look Back" before he too was spinning around automatically and heading for the recalcitrant goat. He and Bonnie then set up a frantic barking which is so obnoxious in stereo that none of my goats can endure it for long. Soon the goat train is moving again, and Luke and Bonnie briskly bring up the rear.
Luke has a great time, in his bumbling way, and Bonnie and I both appreciate the help. I hope the goats take a while to catch on to the reality that neither one of those dogs is any threat to them.
Meanwhile, I took Ty back to Gwen's to see whether three and a half months made any difference to his approach to sheep. These were the sheep that, when he was about five months old, turned and butted him, and Bonnie had to step in and make them see reason. Now he's a big strapping boy of eight months. I didn't think the sheep would try any moves like that again. Wrong!
Yes, at first they moved away smartly. He was very excited, and much pushier on Gwen's sheep in the round pen than with the goats at home, but as I had found on the goats, he is far more sensitive to my voice than to the stick, which he treated as a nuisance and little more. I could do short pulls across the round pen and he would rate well, and then hold them nicely on the fence. About the third time we were doing a fence hold, the same big wether that butted Ty as a small pup decided, hey, I know this punk, and slammed him again.
But Ty had grown some. Instead of giving ground, he launched. Whammo, right on the head, and then, as the sheep turned back to the flock, he bit him again for good measure. That was the end of that! I have to admit that Gwen and I both cheered.
My guess is, I do have one dog who won't have any problems moving goats, when his time comes.