It’s true, we have an unemployed working dog. His name is Cowboy and we think it’s about time you meet him. It took many tries to get some photos of him because he just doesn’t stay still for very long. He can sit but completely disregards stay.
Cowboy is a 9 month old registered English Shepherd. Never heard of it, that because he is kinda rare. His breed is only recognized by the UKC. Our breeder told us that there are ony about 1200 English Shepherds in the world. We didn’t know that when sought him out. We wanted him because of the breeds desirable attributes. Before kids I went on an extensive library quest for just the right farm dog. I found several breeds including Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Lab and German Shepherd that seemed to fit some of the job descriptions but not all of them. We wanted a dog that could herd cattle, protect chickens, protect children, and relax when needed. Each of the dogs on our list seemed to be able to do one or two of these task but not all of them. Then a friend of ours that has a small hobby farm told us about English Shepherds. She told us they were an old fashioned farm dog. Perfect, that’s just what I was looking for. I did a ton of research, gathering every bit of info I could.
The English Shepherd is known for it’s ability to be an all around farm dog who can relax at his owners feet when the work is done. They can herd cattle but don’t need to do it all day long like typical herding breeds do. I also read stories about how they have a strong protection instinct and not only can they respect chickens but they can be trained to herd them. All right, now we’re talking. Every dog I have ever known has killed a chicken or two. I thought this was standard for all dogs. Apparently I was wrong. Our breeder did tell me that any puppy has the capability to do some bad things so they need to be under supervision with the chickens until they are mature enough to handle the job. When we did live on a farm Cowboy was just a pup and was too young to meet the cattle and the chickens were in movable pens in the field so he was able to observe them but not mingle with them. The chores were pretty boring to Cowboy and sometimes in his puppyness he would abandon Robert and head back to the house to hang out with me. As he has gotten older his attention span has increased and now I think he could reasonably go all day if mentally stimulated.
English Shepherds also are known as a mother’s helper. And this I can testify to. Cowboy is my son’s best friend and vice versa. They play all day long. My son can get a little rough with Cowboy and Cowboy just lays there and loves the attention. Even as puppy who liked to mouth anything and everything he somehow understood that Robby was off limits. While Cowboy loves each of us he seems to be most attached to our son. When our son leaves and Cowboy doesn’t have the opportunity to go with him he cries at the door until he returns. The rest of us get a little whimper and then he settles down.
Cowboy is also very intelligent, attentive and craves an opportunity to please us. He is either underfoot or a whistle away. I call him the enforcer because he is very attentive to things that are out of order or out of place. He as no tolerance for people or things that are not following the rules. He barks at bugs on the ceiling, goes crazy when the newborn puppies a few doors down are in the backyard whimpering, and he makes us stop to check out those tacky Christmas decorations on everyone’s lawn. He is very high energy and needs a long daily walk and opportunity to run and play fetch off leash. Even with these things he still has to be chewing a toy or playing with a ball and he loves to dig in the backyard. We are all at home all day with him and he still finds opportunity to get into trouble. I can’t imagine if we worked out of the home all day. This would not be the dog for a busy family with a small yard. This is the dog for a farm with chores and new smells, and animals and no cars to chase. We can’t wait until we move to our homestead and neither can Cowboy. He will truly be in his element and we can’t wait to see him shine.
We will be updating you all on Cowboy’s progress as a fine working dog. Please feel free to contact us with questions or stories about your English Shepherd. Until then…