Shepherd’s Dog Hector Points the Cat

From Anecdotes of Dogs by Edward Jesse, Esq., 1858
The Colley Or Shepherd’s Dog: Hector Points the Cat


“Another peculiarity of his was, that he had a mortal antipathy to the family-mouser, which was ingrained in his nature from his very puppyhood; yet so perfectly absurd was he, that no impertinence on her side, and no baiting on, could ever induce him to lay his mouth on her, or injure her in the slightest degree. There was not a day and scarcely an hour passed over, that the family did not get some amusement with these two animals.

“Whenever he was within doors, his whole occupation was watching and pointing the cat from morning to night. When she flitted from one place to another, so did he in a moment; and then squatting down, he kept his point sedulously, till he was either called off or fell asleep.

“He was an exceedingly poor eater of meat, always had to be pressed to it, and often would not take it till we brought in the cat. The malicious looks that he cast at her from under his eyebrows on such occasions were exceedingly ludicrous, considering his utter disinclination to injure her. Whenever he saw her, he drew near his bicker and looked angry; but still he would not taste till she was brought to it, and then he cocked his tail, set up his birses, and began lapping furiously as if in utter desperation.

“His good nature, however, was so immovable, that he would never refuse her a share of what was placed before him; he even lapped close to the one side of the dish, and left her room,—but mercy! how he did ply!

“It will appear strange to you to hear a dog’s reasoning faculty mentioned as I have done; but I declare I have hardly ever seen a shepherd’s dog do anything without believing that I perceived his reasons for it. I have often amused myself in calculating what his motives were for such and such things, and I generally found them very cogent ones. But Hector had a droll stupidity about him, and took up forms and rules of his own, for which I could never perceive any motive that was not even farther out of the way than the action itself.

“He had one uniform practice, and a very bad one it was; during the time of family worship, and just three or four seconds before the conclusion of the prayer, he started to his feet and ran barking round the apartment like a crazed beast. My father was so much amused with this, that he would never suffer me to correct him for it, and I scarcely ever saw the old man rise from the prayer without his endeavouring to suppress a smile at the extravagance of Hector. None of us ever could find out how he knew that the prayer was near done, for my father was not formal in his prayers; but certes he did know,—and of that we had nightly evidence.

“There never was anything for which I was so puzzled to discover a motive as this, but from accident I did discover it; and, however ludicrous it may appear, I am certain I was correct. It was much in character with many of Hector’s feats, and rather, I think, the most outré of any principle he ever acted on. As I said, his great daily occupation was pointing the cat.

“Now, when he saw us kneel all down in a circle, with our faces couched on our paws, in the same posture with himself, it struck his absurd head that we were all engaged in pointing the cat. He lay on tenters all the while, but the acuteness of his ear enabling him, through time, to ascertain the very moment when we would all spring to our feet, he thought to himself, ‘I shall be first after her, for you all.’ “

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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.