Shepherd’s Dog Hector Has an Ear for Music

From Anecdotes of Dogs by Edward Jesse, Esq., 1858
The Colley Or Shepherd’s Dog: Hector Has an Ear for Music


“He inherited his dad’s unfortunate ear for music, not perhaps in so extravagant a degree, but he ever took care to exhibit it on the most untimely and ill-judged occasions. Owing to some misunderstanding between the minister of the parish and the session-clerk, the precenting in church devolved on my father, who was the senior elder.

“Now, my father could have sung several of the old church-tunes middling well in his own family-circle; but it so happened that, when mounted in the desk, he never could command the starting notes of any but one (St. Paul’s), which were always in undue readiness at the root of his tongue, to the exclusion of every other semibreve in the whole range of sacred melody.

The minister gave out psalms four times in the course of every day’s service; consequently the congregation were treated with St. Paul’s in the morning at great length, twice in the course of the service, and then once again at the close. Nothing but St. Paul’s. And it being itself a monotonous tune, nothing could exceed the monotony that prevailed in the primitive church of Ettrick.

Out of pure sympathy for my father alone, I was compelled to take the precentorship in hand; and having plenty of tunes, for a good while I came on as well as could be expected, as men say of their wives. But, unfortunately for me, Hector found out that I attended church every Sunday, and though I had him always closed up carefully at home, he rarely failed in making his appearance in church at some time of the day.

Whenever I saw him a tremor came over my spirits, for I well knew what the issue would be. The moment that he heard my voice strike up the psalm ‘with might and majesty,’ then did he fall in with such overpowering vehemence, that he and I seldom got any to join in the music but our two selves. The shepherds hid their heads, and laid them down on the backs of their seats rowed in their plaids, and the lasses looked down to the ground and laughed till their faces grew red. I despised to stick the tune, and therefore was obliged to carry on in spite of the obstreperous accompaniment; but I was, time after time, so completely put out of all countenance with the brute, that I was obliged to give up my office in disgust, and leave the parish once more to their old friend, St. Paul.

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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.