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Thanks goes to Cynthia Mahigian Moorhead, who furnished a copy of a letter sent to her many years ago while she was the editor of a magazine for the Bearded Collie Club of America.

In the Spring of 1984, this letter was published in the "Beardie Times," the magazine of the Southern Counties Bearded Collie Club. It was authored by Alan Barker in response to a letter from Ms. E. Gallatly, who was trying to gain information about Mr. Ted Jackson, an Immingham shepherd. He is shown below with his 17 year old Beardie-like dog Rover.

Mr. Barker has kindly given his permission for his response to Ms. Gallatly's enquiry to be included on this website.

"Your enquiry about the Immingham shepherd and his dog has certainly stirred things up in Immingham! I am not a local, having moved here from Oban in Argyll some years ago, but my wife and family are of local descent. My mother-in-law was the first to identify Mr. Jackson. It seems he was known as 'Jesus Jackson' and was really a cattleman rather than a shepherd. After some enquiries I was able to find Mr. Jackson's only surviving child, a son. Mr. Jackson Jnr. was quite delighted with my interest. He was born in 1935, so remembered the dog quite well.

There were no pedigree papers with the dog, who came to his father at a year old. The previous owner could not handle him as he was continually destroying household items—sounds familiar! Mr. Jackson described the dog as follows:

Approximately two feet at the shoulder, white chest and mane, white on his muzzle and legs, grey over the rest of his coat which was full but not particularly long. It was an Old English type dog. Mr. Jackson did not know Beardies as a breed and said that the dog was not like the Old English Sheepdogs one sees about today. It definitely wasn't a Rough/Border Collie type. Just where the dog came from originally he wasn't sure.

My investigations led me to speak to a local landowner who employed Ted Jackson and his dog. He described the dog as 'Finest Bullock dog I have ever seen'. It was the only dog of its type Ted Jackson owned and the dog was approximately twenty years old when it was put down purely because of old age.

Several people have told me of an occasion when Mr. Jackson couldn't attend to the cattle in his care and the dog went to the fields, rounded up the cattle and shepherded them into an enclosure!

I have been able to ascertain that two farmers in this area have used Beardies for livestock and indeed both were full of praise for them—though one described them, in a domestic sense, as hairdresser's dummies. He probably has a point. However, the farming of livestock is practically non-existent now in this area as the land is turned over to crops.

You mentioned an interest in shaggy dog stories. Our own Beardie, Marcus, is a fairly typical example of the breed, noisy, bouncy and very affectionate to the family. My wife, Anne, and I were visiting relations of hers who run a small holding some miles from Immingham, with sheep, a few cattle, pigs, chickens and so on. Marcus was with us as we were being shown the new arrivals, some sheep. Marcus edged up to them and very slowly extended his neck till his nose was almost touching the sheep's face. The sheep suddenly bleated. Marcus leaped back, turned round and raced back to the house at top speed—some sheepdog!

I mentioned earlier that I do not belong to Immingham but moved here from Scotland. It was there I first came into contact with the breed. Oban is a small port and cattle and sheep were brought from the Hebrides to the livestock market. After a ship journey, cattle in particular are difficult to get out of the boat. The shepherds' Beardies would leap into the ship's pen and race back and forth across the cattle's shoulders to get them moving. I have seen them separate a single cow by this method.

I'm not sure if time alters the memory but I remember the Beardies as being a bit bigger than the dog we are used to seeing in the show ring or household. Also there was not so much white on them and a high proportion of black and dark brown dogs. Coats were always quite short with muzzles shaved.

I hope these ramblings have been of interest.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Barker"

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