Monday, August 5, 2013

The Herding Instinct Gone Wrong

   Tag lacks a crucial Border collie trait: power. Thus, he plays Jolly ball croquet.

    The perfect working Border collie is expected to be intelligent and independent enough to make his own decisions about moving sheep -- but submissive enough to listen to his handler; he must have the predatory instinct to gather the sheep -- but not kill them; when needed, he must have the power to stand up to the stock and move it. He also must have the desire and stamina to work.

    Early on, we discovered that Tag is afraid of the sheep. Oh, he likes to watch them from a distance -- and preferably with a fence between him and them.

    But he is smart and obedient and wants to please. And he has the energy to play and work all day long.

  Like many Border collies, he likes to play ball.

  I'm not sure how it happened, but he invented his own game of ball. He takes one in his mouth and uses it to hit another ball.

  I remember the summer he first discovered this trick. It was the same summer we had a hen that liked to fly over the fence and roam the yard.

   Tag hit her with his Jolly ball. She squawked. He worried.

   The hen now stays in her chicken yard. Tag limits himself to just hitting Jolly balls.

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