Jump to content
BC Boards

The Late Developer

Donald McCaig

Recommended Posts

Dear Sheepdoggers,


This morning, the sun hadn't burned off the fog when I sent Fly. I'd intended a fun day - let Fly do what she does best with minimum assistance from me - and Fly likes to find sheep but the grass is unmowed and it's fifty acres and it took a while. When the flock came near, I gave Fly a few whistles and in a flash I had two dogs working the sheep.. I'd left Peg, Luke and June in the sunroom while I worked Fly. Peg had pushed through the child gate into the upper level and found the one screen door that wasn't locked and came out to help.


Peg is five years old. She started last month.



Peg was a mistaken breeding between Shay McMullen's unregistered Lad and a well bred farm bitch. Lad was "the pizza dog". Shay was driving into town one morning and on talk radio heard" I found this dog in the ditch. He's a nice dog but he keeps getting into my sheep. Anyone who want him can have him and I'll throw in a pizza." I don't know if Shay ever got the pizza.


Lad was Shay's first sheepdog and would do anything to please Shay and the two made it into open and placed in some big open trials. Still, I wouldn't have picked Lad as a sire.


Shay farmed out the Lad pups for socialization and we drew Peg, . She was terribly timid - you couldn't pet her because she'd go into a lickyou frenzy or roll on her back and pee herself. Alas, we are sentimental and kept her. Peg showed no interest whatsoever in sheep. Not at 5 months, six months, a year, eighteen months. Peg became Anne's pet.


She's nice enough I guess but I didn't pay her any mind until she was three and I was taking all our dogs out west and when I brought Peg into the vet for shots , the vet tech said, "Mr. McCaig. That's the first time I've ever seen you with a dog on a leash."


Because Peg didn't work sheep I hadn't trained her. Not at all. And I was about to take Peg and three other dogs to the Dakotas.




Peg came when called and had pack manners but had never overnighted off the farm and never been in a motel. So Peg got a crash course in "Sit" and "Stay" which she learned after three reps., Peg rather enjoyed the west and was no trouble.


This July, I was more than a little surprised when five year old Peg sailed out behind the sheep and fetched them to me.


Hmmm. said I.


I guess I've had her out half a dozen times since. I haven't got a small ring and there's 120 sheep in a big field so I use June as backup dog.


Peg seems to have skipped some steps. She's got a good down/sit and fetches the flock fairly nicely. She almost understands her flanks.


Sheepdoggers prefer the dog that starts early - five/six/seven months - and most look for a pet home if the dog hasn't started by a year. David Henry's McCloud was winning open trials at 18 months.


But early sheepdog books often suggested that the dog that started late (I think they meant at age two) learned quicker and was ultimately better than more precocious pups..


Though I wouldn't describe her as "timid" anymore, Peg is extremely soft and I don't believe she'll ever make a trial dog. Still - this very late developer really, really wants to do it so I'll teach her.


At a minimum,she'll teach me more than she's already taught me.


Donald McCaig

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...