Bond the Border Collie

One Border Collie takes up the unlikely task of herding ducks.

| January/February 2016

Bond herding geese

Bond has taken to his new job herding geese and ducks.

Photo courtesy Jhoane Robinson

My husband and I are developing a sustainable, organic gardens/farm, Oasis Gardens Learning Center, in Northeastern Utah. Our intent is to support lower impact small farming techniques, raising heritage livestock breeds, and growing heirloom vegetables and medicinal herbs.

As we had just acquired a fine Border Collie puppy last year, we attended the Soldier Hollow Sheep Dog Trials in Midway, Utah, to see what working Border Collies do. Wow! What an amazing thing it is to watch these well-trained dogs and their handlers work as a team to move sheep over large distances with only a few verbal commands and whistle signals! We were hooked, and decided to incorporate herding dogs into our program.

Since we are inexperienced with both sheep and herding dogs, we began working with an accomplished sheep dog trainer, Shauna Gourley, who we met at the Trials. Knowing we can’t really learn on an inexperienced young dog, she recommended we purchase an older, very experienced Border Collie that she knew was available.

Enter Bond, who has spent the last few years working sheep on a large ranch in Wyoming and had qualified for the National Sheep Dog Trials for the last two years. His owner was retiring from large ranching, and wanted to find the right home for him, so sight unseen, we drove to Buffalo, Wyoming, to check him out.

It was love at first sight! Watching him bringing sheep in from a 500+ acre field with just a few whistled directions was truly poetry in motion!

We loaded him into the car, drove home, and introduced him our mere 35-acre property. While much, much smaller than the 8,000-acre ranch he had spent the last five years at, Bond loves our Oasis. The only problem, as far as he can see, is that we don’t have sheep yet! He looked and looked for the sheep, but could not find any, and kept coming to me to ask, “Where’re the sheep?”

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