Tag Archives: sheep herding
Sheep in the Winter Night
by Tom Hennen
Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought
of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian
religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.
courtesy of today’s Writer’s Almanac
Wee’s First Hours
by Terri Florentino
“I think she’s having another puppy!”
“Another?!” My friend Megan had been helping me to whelp the litter the entire night. It had been two hours since Echo delivered her seventh and last puppy–suddenly she was bearing down and licking again.
I moved the other seven puppies to the far end of the box out of her way. While I assisted Echo, Megan got the hemostats, washcloth, bulb syringe, and scissors ready for yet another go. As we watched, Echo delivered what looked to be nothing more than a placenta.
“No puppy,” I said. As my hand closed around the mass, I felt something inside the size of a mouse. “Megan, hand me a wash cloth and a bulb syringe! I think there’s puppy in here!” I removed a section of the sac away, and there was the smallest black and white face I’d ever seen. Megan and I shared a look of amazement and fear. Afraid the puppy wasn’t breathing, I placed a bulb syringe in its mouth to clear away any mucus and wiped its teensy nose. Once Echo had separated the puppy from the umbilical cord, I massaged him in a towel.
“Is he breathing?” Megan asked.
I opened the towel to look. I had never seen such a tiny Border Collie. He was half the size of his littermates. “He’s gasping—hand me the bulb syringe. I want to clear his mouth and nose again.” I gently massaged him with the towel and waited for a little cry.
By now Echo was nudging my hand, demanding her puppy like the good mother she was. I set him in the box between her front legs. She rolled him from side to side, washing him from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. She didn’t seem concerned about his size; she was as diligent with him as she was with his littermates. Surely she would have sensed if he was disastrously abnormal.
“His color looks good,” Megan said. We were both looking for whatever reassurance we could find. “He’s breathing steady, right?”
“True,” I sighed, and sat back. “But I’d hoped to hear a little squeal out of him by now.”
Once the pup was sufficiently washed, I leaned over the whelping box and moved him into position to nurse. Much to my delight, the little guy latched on and eagerly suckled. We began to relax, and fatigue set in.
“Let’s weigh them. After we’re done I’ll go wash Echo if you’ll freshen up the whelping box and put down the fleece.”
“You bet,” Megan said. All seven puppies weighed either fifteen or sixteen ounces. The wee one was eight. Megan recorded their weights. “He is literally half their size!” she said.
“C’mon Echo, let’s go for a walk,” I said. Echo jumped out of the box and ran out the door. Once back inside, I placed her in the bathtub for a quick rinse. Wyn, who is a daughter of Echo’s from a previous breeding, took over licking and fussing after the puppies while Megan was busy wiping down the whelping box and lining it with a large piece of soft, warm fleece. Echo never minded Wyn caring for the pups in her absence.
After Echo was dried and clean we returned to the puppies. Echo immediately jumped into the box and gingerly lay down with all of her puppies. The puppies were squirming and squeaking while making their way to the “breakfast bar.” I placed little wee puppy at the nipple closest to him and helped him latch on. Once latched, he eagerly nursed. Megan and I watched in dismay as the stronger puppies pushed him away from the “milk bar” as if he was nothing. It was going to take a lot of management to keep this puppy going. I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone. It’ll take a village, I thought.
My mind went a million different directions all at once; I’d never had a runt. I feared the little guy wouldn’t make it through the night. I tried to prepare myself for worst, but except for his size, he was vigorous. He was determined to survive. If the little guy was giving it his all, I would give him mine.
The Art of Toy Herding
by Patricia Kimbell, BCI Contributor
Julia, my five-year-old, smooth-coated Border Collie, couldn’t play outside or practice her Agility skills very long each day due to the severe Texas heat this summer. She learned to conquer her boredom by “herding” her toys.
Sometimes she arranges them, always the pink ones, on the floor and most times on her bed. Apparently, pink is her favorite color, as she always chooses that color from her toy box. The color choice surprises me, because I had always heard that dogs were colorblind.
She may not be able to control anything else in her little world, but she can control the order of her toys!
The intricate way in which she intertwines her toys reminds me of a jigsaw puzzle.
Four years ago, I found her at an abandoned ranch near me when she was approximately a year old. She was starving and heart-worm infected, trying to dig water out of a dried-up pond. That was on the 4th of July, hence the name “Julia.” She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
Editor’s Note: Julia’s artistic arrangements are reminiscent of Dog Works: The Meaning and Magic of Canine Constructions by Vicki Mathison.