Shepherd’s Dog Whelps While Working

From Anecdotes of Dogs by Edward Jesse, Esq., 1858
The Colley Or Shepherd’s Dog: a sheep-dog whelps while working


The following is, perhaps, a still more extraordinary anecdote of the fidelity shown by a sheep-dog to its charge. It was communicated by Robert Murray, shepherd to Mr. Samuel Richmond, Path of Coudie, near Dunning, in Perthshire.

Murray had purchased for his master four score of sheep at the Falkirk Tryst, but having occasion to stop another day, and confident in the faithfulness and sagacity of his colley, which was a female, he committed the drove to her care, with orders to drive them home,—a distance of about seventeen miles.

The poor animal, when a few miles on the road, dropped two whelps, but, faithful to her charge, she drove the sheep on a mile or two further—then, allowing them to stop, returned for her pups, which she carried for about two miles in advance of the sheep. Leaving her pups, the colley again returned for the sheep, and drove them onwards a few miles. This she continued to do, alternately carrying her own young ones and taking charge of the flock, till she reached home.

The manner of her acting on this occasion was afterwards gathered by the shepherd from various individuals, who had observed these extraordinary proceedings of the dumb animal on the road. However, when the colley reached her home, and delivered her charge, it was found that the two pups were dead.

In this extremity, the instinct of the poor brute was, if possible, still more remarkable. She went to a rabbit-brae in the vicinity, and dug out of the earth two young rabbits, which she deposited on some straw in a barn, and continued to suckle for some time, until one of the farm servants unluckily let down a full sack upon them and smothered them.

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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.