Border (Collie) Patrol at Sheep-to-Shawl
Sheep aren’t the only fluffy, four-legged stars of Historic Hudson Valley’s Sheep-to-Shawl festival at Philipsburg Manor. Sure, they bear the wool that will be sheared, spun, dyed, and perhaps woven into a scarf. But if it weren’t for the border collie, that indefatigable herding dog, these sheep would be a flock of wayward drifters. Lucky for us, Scottish border collies will be onsite to round up our sheep for their annual haircut.
The border collie breed dates back to the 19th century when they were bred and trained to corral flocks of sheep along the vast border between England and Scotland. Their skills proved to be essential during the Industrial Revolution when shepherds were eager to supply meat and wool to a growing population. If sheep wandered too far astray, border collies would dutifully collect them, even if it meant navigating unfamiliar terrain and tolerating extreme weather conditions.
Sheepherding isn’t the only skill on the border collies’ resume. They’ve also worked in the fields of war, as sled dogs, for therapy and assistance, and in search and rescue operations. Turns out they also do a great job herding ducks, as visitors to Philipsburg Manor’s Sheep-to-Shawl will witness!
It’s no wonder that border collies are among the smartest and most active of dogs. Like an intelligent toddler, they learn new behaviors quickly—for good and bad—and require constant stimulation. They respond to specific commands and can detect variations in vocal pitch and whistle tone from their owners.
Above all, they make for great companions. But, an idle friend a border collie is not. To keep a border collie happy, it needs a steady stream of mental and physical activity, affection, and attention. Kind of like us!
Visitors can see these stealthy pups in action at Sheep-to-Shawl, where Gene Sheninger of Wayside Farm will be leading the sheepherding demonstrations.