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Just Another Working Day for Merton Pip
by Eddie (neighbour and breeder of Pip)
All the Herdwicks and Hebrideans were brought down from the fields into
Diane and Gary's main barn by Pip in order for the sheep to be clipped. Also,
this was done because the sheep needed to be dry; the weather had turned to very heavy rain. I now
was able to see what a talented worker Pip had become. The holding pen was in place
and held about 16 sheep at a time. To have a constant supply of sheep
for the shearer, the pen would be refilled with waiting sheep whenever the
shorn sheep were finished. Pip was shown only twice
what was expected of her by myself and by Diane. We would push the flock
towards the holding pen with Pip at the back of us to block any sheep
from running back to the main flock. If any sheep tried to break away, the words "Pip
look back" was given, and Pip would, without hesitation, fall back and turn
the runaway sheep back towards the holding pen.
Once the sheep were in the pen and the gate was closed, Pip would either
stand or lie down at the gate and was left there on her own. The Hebrideans
(which can be as agile as deer) would jump the holding pen gate to get back to
the other sheep. On seeing one jump over the gate, Pip was told "watch
them." She responded to this command by letting her presence be seen at the gate
to assert her authority.
It was really good to see this bitch work on her own.
We all said nothing, and after six hours, Pip had been driving shedding,
turning and holding sheep to be put into the holding pen. If any sheep started moving towards the holding pen gates, Pip would
make her presence be
known to make the sheep stop from crowding their way to the holding pen. This
action by her prevented any sheep from being crushed.
All in all this young dog, to my mind, came of age on this wet Sunday,
and I wondered if I had sold the wrong dog from the litter. It was a
privilege to watch Pip and Diane work as a team under the pressures of
clipping time. Pip, like her mother, Jess, never deserted her post and never
once took her eyes off of the sheep. She also knew when to put pressure on
and when to release the pressure giving herself a break. Whatever was expected
of her, she did. To me, this is what Pip was bred for; she is a genuine
working Beardie out in the field working cattle and sheep or doing yard work and working in the clipping shed.
P.S. Pip has not quite mastered heelwork to music, but Diane assures me
she is working on that; you can't have everything!