Shepherd’s Dog: Hector Son of Sirrah

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

Scotsman with horse and Border Collie, Richard Ansdell

Scotsman with horse and Border Collie, Richard Ansdell

“I once sent you,” says Mr. Hogg, some years later, in a letter to the Editor of “Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine,” “an account of a notable dog of my own, named Sirrah, which amused a number of your readers a great deal, and put their faith in my veracity somewhat to the test; but in this district, where the singular qualities of the animal were known, so far from any of the anecdotes being disputed, every shepherd values himself to this day on the possession of facts far outstripping any of those recorded by you formerly. With a few of these I shall conclude this paper. But, in the first place, I must give you some account of my own renowned Hector, which I promised long ago. He was the son and immediate successor of the faithful old Sirrah; and though not nearly so valuable a dog as his father, he was a far more interesting one. He had three times more humour and whim about him; and though exceedingly docile, his bravest acts were mostly tinctured with a grain of stupidity, which showed his reasoning faculty to be laughably obtuse.

“I shall mention a striking instance of it. I was once at the farm of Shorthope on Ettrick Head, receiving some lambs that I had bought, and was going to take to market, with some more, the next day. Owing to some accidental delay, I did not get final delivery of the lambs till it was growing late; and being obliged to be at my own house that night, I was not a little dismayed lest I should scatter and lose my lambs if darkness overtook me. Darkness did overtake me by the time I got half-way, and no ordinary darkness for an August evening. The lambs having been weaned that day, and of the wild black-faced breed, became exceedingly unruly, and for a good while I lost hopes of mastering them. Hector managed the point, and we got them safe home; but both he and his master were alike sore forefoughten.

“It had become so dark that we were obliged to fold them with candles; and, after closing them safely up, I went home with my father and the rest to supper. When Hector’s supper was set down, behold he was awanting! and as I knew we had him at the fold, which was within call of the house, I went out and called and whistled on him for a good while, but he did not make his appearance. I was distressed about this; for, having to take away the lambs next morning, I knew I could not drive them a mile without my dog if it had been to save the whole drove.

“The next morning, as soon as it was day, I arose and inquired if Hector had come home? No; he had not been seen. I knew not what to do; but my father proposed that he would take out the lambs and herd them, and let them get some meat to fit them for the road, and that I should ride with all speed to Shorthope to see if my dog had gone back there. Accordingly we went together to the fold to turn out the lambs, and there was poor Hector, sitting trembling in the very middle of the fold-door, on the inside of the flake that closed it, with his eyes still steadfastly fixed on the lambs.

“He had been so hardly set with them after it grew dark, that he durst not for his life leave them, although hungry, fatigued, and cold, for the night had turned out a deluge of rain. He had never so much as lain down; for only the small spot that he sat on was dry, and there had he kept watch the whole night. Almost any other colley would have discerned that the lambs were safe enough in the fold, but honest Hector had not been able to see through this. He even refused to take my word for it; for he would not quit his watch, though he heard me calling both at night and 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.