Behind our booth at the Ren Fest is the little grassy space where sheep-dog demonstrations are held three times a day. There are eight or nine sheep, and two fellows, one older, one younger, and they use voice, gesture, and whistle to tell the dogs what they want.
The dogs are border collies, and I adore them. They're so keen to go, they fairly vibrate with suppressed energy, and as soon as they're permitted to work the sheep, they snap into a focused state a Zen Master would envy.
The sheep are...well...sheep. Ruminants. They've eaten some of our silk ivy vines and they smell like...sheep. One of them is kinda cute, though - it's black and white, and I can't help wondering how its wool would spin up...grey? Variegated? I haven't had a chance to ask the shepherds, yet, but I plan to, if only because these are the questions that haunt me!
One of the dogs is fifteen years old. I don't know any human fifteen-year-olds who mind that well, do as they're asked with a grin (and a lolling tongue, but given the way kids these days pierce, maybe that's a good thing), and beg to be let to work more, more, c'mon, there's still some fight left in those sheep! You can tell he's an older dog when he runs - he favors one foot a little, but don't tell him you noticed, because he won't thank you for it - he wants to work! He's an old hand at this sheep business, and he radiates confidence in equal measure with his enthusiasm.
The second dog is, I think, seven or so...although I may be wrong. He's middle-aged, for a dog, anyway. He is still young enough to get up to a few tricks, but mostly he's steady on, intent on the job at hand. He doesn't just grin - I swear, he's laughing, although whether it's at us or the sheep I couldn't say. I suspect a bit of both. He knows what he's about, too, but he looks to his humans a bit more, making certain before he acts.
Then there's the puppy, a two-year-old that has better manners than most adults I know. He is sharp, anxious to please, and desperate to make those sheep mind their manners, sorry they ate your vines, ma'am, I won't let it happen again, mind the droppings there, thank you. He gets a little excited and forgets that there's a human in charge of things, but he's still a treat to watch.
I want to pet them all, frolic with them (but not in the sheep meadow, because I know what those sheep do in the meadow and I don't want to step in it, let alone frolic) and generally play with the beautiful dogs. I never had dogs when I had sheep because the sheep were largely penned and there were only four of them - not enough to qualify as a flock, really. I love dogs, and these fellows remind me of how much fun a canine can be.
Don't get excited, T, we're not getting a dog. Unless I can also have a dozen sheep or so...
Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!
"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
For old quotes, look here.
For old quotes, look here.