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Wednesday, April 01 2015

Sarah, in Washington, wrote: "absolutely love your blog, especially about the dogs, and was wondering if you could kindly tell me a bit more about them? Are they pedigree/papered etc? "

Dear Sarah:  Awwww . . . THANK YOU!  I'm so glad you like the blog! I think you were probably talking about the Border Collies since you said you were "off to read another chapter of Barbed Wire Borders" but just in case, I don't want to slight the other dogs. So we'll start with the first dogs the readers ever met.

   First there was Alice the Bloodhound. Yes, Alice was registered. She came from Jerry Yelk's line of trailing hounds in Wisconsin. Impeccable working lines. Alice was a mantrailing dog. She was retired long before I began the blog, so the readers only knew Alice as a temperamental senior citizen.  Alice died in 2011.

   Kona, the Belgian Tervuren, was my Cadaver Dog. Yes, he was registered too. Kona came from Prelude Kennels in Wisconsin. I retired him from Human Remains Detection work when I became a Crime Scene Investigator because dead people on duty and off duty was a bummer. I later regretted that decision to stop training cadaver dogs. Nevertheless, he was happy to settle into the role of a farm dog. Kona passed away of kidney failure in 2010.

   Ice, Kona's littermate, was actually a Narcotics Dog who belonged to dear friends in North Texas. They retired her early and re-homed her with me where she stayed for years until she and my Livestock Guardian Dog, Briar, could no longer live in peace. I then re-homed her with my mother where she has blossomed. Ice finally has what every Belgian wants - a person to care for 24/7. She is my mother's shadow, the Black Wolf.

   Lily is my first Border Collie. Other Half found her in a feed lot in North Texas. Her breeder takes in 18 wheeler shipments of calves which he moves from green pasture to green pasture using horses and dogs. The point is to move the cattle without stress so they will gain as much weight as possible. His dogs are unregistered Border Collies. Because I wasn't interested in showing or breeding, I didn't care that Lily didn't have papers. I just needed her to work. This guy can't afford to get sentimental and keep dogs that don't work so I knew odds were in my favor that my pup would work. And she did. At the time I got Lily I was raising meat goats, and she proved herself to be invaluable on the farm.

   Ranger was given to us by a friend. He also has no papers. Ranger is an Australian Cattle Dog, commonly called a Blue Heeler around here.  He is a decent little cow dog when the job is pretty straightforward with no stress. Since this is rarely the case with cow work, we needed another stockdog who could think outside the box.  This called for another Border Collie.        When Kona died, we ordered a registered Border Collie from Glenn Christianson, a breeder in Oklahoma who does cow dog trials with his dogs. This puppy was Trace. Trace is a complicated little dog, but is tremendously talented, so despite having little or no formal training, he and Other Half seem to get their work done. Ranger, the Blue Heeler, retired to the couch where he just gets fat and supervises everyone else. Before Trace could be picked up from the breeder, Other Half found Cowboy,    a stray Border Collie in Abilene. We didn't need another dog, but Cowboy needed a home, so we kept him. He is limited by a bad back injury he received when he tangled with a donkey before we got him. Considering the x-rays, I'm surprised he worked cattle as long as he did. Now he no longer works cattle, he just starts dog fights.

Because Trace is often lame, and Cowboy has a bad back, that leaves Lily to handle to bulk of the ranch work by herself. She is six now, still going strong, but cow work is hard, and it's dangerous. It takes a few years to get a cowdog ready so we needed to get one now before Lily retires. Although Trace has more natural talent, Lily has a work ethic that goes beyond talent, so we chose to go back to her breeder for our next puppy. Mesa is that puppy. Again, no papers, but generations of cowdogs behind her, so I felt confident that she would meet our needs.

   When I first met Other Half, he was on his third German Shepherd patrol dog, Zena. Despite the fact that she was a police dog, Zena was a gentle soul. When she retired from police work, Zena was re-homed with the elderly mother of a friend who wanted an older dog to lie on the couch and watch television with her. They were a perfect match.

   When Zena retired, she was replaced by Oli, a Belgian Malinois from Czechoslovakia. Oli was a predator deluxe. Juggling Oli and a farm was like trying to live with a tiger surrounded by sheep. After Oli blew a knee out and had to be medically retired, she actually increased her attempts to hunt and kill livestock. Her predatory behavior had reach the point that if we didn't place her in a home, we would have to put her down. She had already killed one sheep and maimed two others, and since she was no longer going to work, she now had 24 hours a day to study new ways to get over/under/through the fence to kill sheep. I couldn't have her killing all my farm animals. The dog had to go, one way or another. I'd never been in a position like that before. Oli was our responsibility, but so were the sheep and the goats, and eight other dogs in the household were not searching for ways to kill livestock. Thankfully, Triumphant Tails Rescue stepped in and took Oli. They then placed her in a home with an active couple where she happily became an active couch pet/jogging partner. My farm animals breathed a sigh of relief.

   Other Half's newest patrol dog, Aja, is another German Shepherd. She is from Czechoslovakia too. Like Zena, Aja is a sweetheart. Although she is an active kickass police dog, she isn't a menace on the farm, like Oli. We hope his agency will retire Aja with us when he retires.

   Briar is our Livestock Guardian Dog. There is much speculation about her parentage. According to her breeder Briar's mother is a Komondor and her father is a Great Pyrenees. According to the "Who's Ya Daddy?" DNA service, Briar is reportedly a Great Pyrenees/Malinois cross. I wouldn't put much faith in those tests. Regardless, Briar is an excellent Livestock Guardian Dog and like Lily, is a pillar on the farm.

   And then there is Dillon. Dillon has no job. He is the only freeloader on the farm. Other Half will swear that Dillon has the most important job - he sleeps with us. Yes, he is a full-size Labrador and takes up as much room in the bed as 10 year old human, but Other Half insists that Dillon sleep in the bed. The truth is, he is quite cuddly.  :)   We got him because Other Half just had to have a duck dog. After all, he wasn't duck hunting because he didn't have a duck dog. Guess what? Dillon is one of the best bred duck dogs you can find. He has a fantastic pedigree, health checks, titles, the works. Dillon has been hunting twice.

So I decided to steal Dillon and start him in Cadaver work. He was clever, and so it was easy. The problem was that shortly after Dillon began training, all the Forensics work for our agency was taken out of the hands of the police department and moved under the umbrella of a civilian corporation, taking all the CSIs with it. As a police officer who was a crime scene investigator, I was already caught up in this tangled mess and decided it was no place for Dillon, so I quit training him in cadaver work. He will be happy enough just being a pet.

So there you go, Sarah. That's the straight skinny on the pack! I hope I answered your questions!

Posted by: forensicfarmgil AT 12:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email
I'm glad Sarah asked that question. It's always good to review your farm animals' stories. Perhaps you can review all the cute goats' stories next.
Posted by Terri's Pal on 04/01/2015 - 02:35 PM
Wow, I can't believe I've been reading your blog for about 5 years now! It's my very favorite blog of the (many) I read. I enjoyed revisiting those pups that have gone to the bridge. Wonderful, every single one.
Posted by Christine on 04/01/2015 - 03:04 PM
Ice is still my favorite and love to hear how she is doing! But glad to get updates on all the dogs! How is Stone doing at your Mom's? Are he and Ice still buddies?
Posted by Janie on 04/01/2015 - 03:46 PM
We have a male Pyr-Komondore mix who used to guard cattle. He looks very much like Briar except he's bigger. Our guy is now a house/yard dog because he doesn't want to stay in with the goats.
Posted by Paula Lane on 04/01/2015 - 05:05 PM
I love your blog too! I have a small farm with sheep and dogs and chickens. I love your way with words and who doesn't love a good animal story?
Posted by claire s on 04/01/2015 - 05:11 PM
Loved reading the summary. It brought back memories. I want to second what Claire S and Christine said! You are the story teller I love to read.
Posted by Sharon on 04/01/2015 - 10:50 PM
I liked this summary as well. I really read this blog for the dogs, because I love border collies. I've only been reading about six months, but I did read a lot of the older ones. I had not realized Ice was still alive, and it's good to hear it. I really liked the ones about Trace when he was a little prodigy and also the other border collies. Behind the Shower Curtain is my personal favorite, but some of the other BC ones are close. You have a refreshing style and I enjoy all your posts.
Posted by Elissa on 04/03/2015 - 11:15 PM
Awww.. you guys are so sweet! I do so enjoy sharing the farm with you and am glad you like reading about it.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 04/07/2015 - 10:28 AM

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