2014 was an eventful year for us at Halcyon Lane Farm, especially concerning the collies. We had our first litter of pups and placed them all into great new homes. We learned so much about our dogs this year as well. One of those lessons was to trust Jack and Lassie more.
It’s very interesting how quickly I jumped to conclusions when one of our dogs exhibited “uncharacteristic” behavior. Usually the conclusion was to assume Jack or Lassie was misbehaving, when in fact they had a good explanation.
For example, this summer, while we were away from home for a few hours we left Jack on guard duty. He keeps predators away from the flock while we are gone, and also keeps the chickens and geese out of the yard (that way the kids can still play barefoot). Upon our return, we were surprised to see Jack seemingly pinning a chicken down on the yard. We were shocked! Tony yelled from the car, “Jack! What are you doing?”
My first thought was that Jack had been overzealous in his guard duty keeping the chickens out of the yard and had injured one. As Jack came over to us, we saw the chicken stumbling around, apparently wounded by Jack. Our son went over to assess the poor chicken’s condition, but brought it over to us laughing. String was tangled all around both feet, but other than that the chicken was looking fine and healthy. After we removed the string and waited for the poor bird to realize he was free (chickens are not as smart as Scotch Collies), he walked back to the coop.
Poor Jack! We mistrusted him based on what we saw from a distance instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Jack was probably trying to communicate to us, “Something is really wrong with this weird chicken,” and it certainly needed to be brought to our attention. We changed our tune and Jack became the hero.
Later that summer, Lassie had a similar incident. My oldest son saw her rounding the chicken coop, chasing the ducks and geese, nipping right at their heels. He was very surprised and ran over to see what was happening. Come to find out, our biggest goose had started to chase our younger son, so Lassie was coming to the rescue! She didn’t intend to hurt them at all, just teach them a lesson about what the pecking order was around the farm.
Looking back on this year, these are a couple of the lessons that have helped us understand and trust our dogs more. They really have proven that they deserve our trust. They are also showing that they want to understand us better and what we want from them in their role here on the farm.