Shepherd’s Dogs from 150 Years Ago

I found a wonderful collection of vignettes of the remarkable sagacity and adventures of Shepherd’s Dogs compiled from local legends of the Borders of Scotland and England over 150 years ago. Originally published in 1858 and compiled by Edward Jesse, Esq. the month’s worth of stories–which I will publish one each day in June–come from an all breed work called Anecdotes of Dogs.



“My dog (the trustiest of his kind)
With gratitude inflames my mind:
I mark his true, his faithful way,
And in my service copy Tray.”—Gay.

Landeer's The Shepherd's Chief Mourner, 1837

Landeer’s The Shepherd’s Chief Mourner, 1837

Who that has seen has not been delighted with the charming picture by Mr. Landseer of the shepherd’s dog, resting his head on the coffin which contained the body of his dead master!

Grief, fidelity, and affection are so strongly portrayed in the countenance of the poor dog, that they cannot be mistaken.

We may fancy him to have been the constant companion of the old shepherd through many a dreary day of rain, and frost, and snow on the neighbouring hills, gathering the scattered flock with persevering industry, and receiving the reward of his exertions in the approbation of his master.

On returning to the humble cottage at night, he partakes of the “shepherd’s scanty fare;” and then, coiled up before the flickering light of a few collected sticks, cold and shivering with wet, he awakes to greet his master at the first glimmering of morn, and is ready to renew his toils.

Poor dog! what a lesson do you afford to those who are incapable of your gratitude, fidelity, and affection! and what justice has the charming artist done to these noble qualities! I trust he will receive this fanciful description of his dog as a little tribute paid to his talents, as well as to his good feeling.


It’s amazing how the same cultural memes resonate and reemerge over time regarding our relationship with dogs.  The 177 year old painting of the shepherd dog mourning over his master’s casket was recreated in life with the viral image of Hawkeye lying at the casket of fallen Navy Seal Jon Tumilson, expressing the same grief and fidelity and affection.

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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.