Shepherd’s Dog Collects the Flock at Midnight

From Anecdotes of Dogs by Edward Jesse, Esq., 1858
The Colley Or Shepherd’s Dog: the Ettrick Shepherd’s dog, Sirrah, collects a scattered flock at midnight


James Hogg and Sirrah

James Hogg and Sirrah

How well do I recollect the Ettrick Shepherd descanting on the sagacity and perseverance of his favourite sheep-dog! His name was Sirrah, and he told me the following extraordinary anecdote of him, which I give in his own words:—

“About seven hundred lambs, which were once under my care at weaning time, broke up at midnight, and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that I and an assistant lad could do to keep them together.

‘Sirrah, my man!’ said I in great affliction, ‘they are awa’.’

The night was so dark that I could not see Sirrah, but the faithful animal heard my words—words such as of all others were sure to set him most on the alert; and without much ado he silently set off in search of the recreant flock.

Meanwhile I and my companion did not fail to do all in our power to recover our lost charge. We spent the whole night in scouring the hills for miles around, but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could we obtain the slightest trace. It was the most extraordinary circumstance that had occurred in my pastoral life.

We had nothing for it (day having dawned), but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock of lambs, and knew not what had become of them. On our way home, however, we discovered a body of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, called the Flesh Cleuch, and the indefatigable Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief, but still standing true to his charge.

The sun was then up; and when we first came in view of them, we concluded that it was one of the divisions which Sirrah had been unable to manage until he came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment, when we discovered by degrees that not one lamb of the whole flock was wanting!

How he had got all the divisions collected in the dark, is beyond my comprehension. The charge was left entirely to himself, from midnight until the rising of the sun; and if all the shepherds in the forest had been there to have assisted him, they could not have effected it with greater propriety.

All that I can farther say is, that I never felt so grateful to any creature below the sun, as I did to my honest Sirrah that morning.”

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.