by Dana Mackenzie
A friend of mine, Kaye Harris of Crown Point Australian Shepherds, related this story to me some time ago. Names have been changed to protect the guilty!
My neighbor Jim called me up wanting some fresh sheep to use in training his dogs. We decided the best way to go about it was to use the sheep he already owned and cross them to my Barbado ram. Hopefully, the resulting lambs would be and stay light longer.
Jim showed up the next morning in his pickup with his camper shell packed full. Eight ewes, a couple of which looked to be from the time of Moses, jumped out in my front field for the breeding season.
Along about November, Jim called, telling me he was coming for his ewes. My husband, who was settling down on the couch to watch a football game, looked up at me and asked if we would need any help with the loading. I said, "Don't worry dear. Jim says the ewes are used to loading in the pickup. He can get them out of the field with a feed bucket and his Border Collie. It shouldn't take any time at all."
I walked outside, glancing up at the sky with a shiver, thinking it was good it wouldn't take long because a Blue Norther was just rolling in. Naturally, I'd left my jacket in the house.
Jim pulled up the driveway and backed up to the field gate. He rattled the feed bucket, and three ewes headed our way. The little Border Collie tried his best to help, but managed to always be in the wrong spot at the wrong time.
An hour later, we had managed to muscle one old ewe into the back of the pickup. Prospects were getting pretty dim for finishing before dark. It was cold. The wind was blowing a frigid gale. I was turning blue. My husband was walking toward us to offer some help.
All this time, my 13 year old, out-of-shape Australian Shepherd bitch was laying in the yard just watching. Jim decided to move the pickup so that we would have a wing to work with. The little Border Collie was going out for one last try when we were all left in the dust by the old Aussie's charge. Chancie'd had enough of this nonsense.
Down the field she flew, around the sheep. Her outrun was about two feet off their shoulder. Here they all came, hot-footing it, under the pickup, down the driveway. Chancie's outrun distance increased to two and a half feet. Here they came again, under the pickup, down the field. My husband was holding his sides with laughter. I was afraid Chancie would have a heart attack. The little Border Collie was frozen in place, with only his head and eyes following the action.
I was real proud of Chancie the next time. Her outrun distance increased to ten feet. I told Jim to get out of the way, because this time the sheep were going to get in the pickup. He only had time to open the camper shell and barely get out of the way before they arrived. They all loaded up, even the ancient ones, over the tailgate Jim hadn't had time to lower!
Chancie looked up at the pickup, over at us, and the little Border Collie as if to say, '"That's how it's done."' Then WTCH Mighty Fine Second Chance, the foundation bitch of a line of working Australian Shepherds, walked slowly back to the yard and her old dog dreams.
This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 1995 issue of Aussie Times. For more information about this author go to Hearthstone breeder page