Speaking of dogs, I think the shepherd’s dog the most valuable of his species, certainly for the farmer. Our dog Jack, a thorough-bred Scotch collie, has been worth $100 a year in managing our small flock of sheep, usually about 700 in number. He has saved us more than that in time in running after them. After sheep have been once broken in by, and become used to the dog, it is but little trouble to manage them; one man and the dog will do more than five men in driving, yarding, etc. Let any man once possess a good dog, he will never do without one again.
The sagacity of the shepherd’s dog is wonderful; and if I had not seen so much myself, I could hardly credit all we read about them. It is but a few days since I was reading in a Scotch paper a wonderful performance of one of these collie dogs. It seems the master of the bitch purchased at a fair some 80 sheep, and having occasion to stay a day longer, sent them forward and directed his faithful collie to drive them home, a distance of about 17 miles. The poor bitch when a few miles on the road dropped two whelps; but faithful to her charge, she drove the sheep on a mile or two farther then allowing them to stop, she returned for her pups, which she carried some two miles in advance of the sheep, and thus she continued to do, alternately carrying her own young ones, and taking charge of the flock, till she reached home. The manner of her acting on this occasion was gathered by the shepherd from various persons who had observed her on the road. On reaching home and delivering her charge, it was found that the two pup were dead. In this extremity the instinct of the poor brute was yet more remarkable; for, going immediately to a rabbit brae in the vicinity, she dug out of the earth two young rabbits, which she deposited on some straw in a barn, and continued to suckle them for some time, until they were unluckily killed by one of the farm tenants. It should be mentioned that the next day she set off to the place where she left her master, whom she met returning when about 13 miles from home.
The anecdotes of their sagacity are innumerable, and truly wonderful.
I purchased a bitch of the tailless species, known as the English drover dog, in Smithfield market some two years ago. That species is much used upon the Downs, and are a larger and fleeter dog than the collie. We raised two litters from her, got by Jack, and I think the cross will make a very valuable dog for all the purposes of the farmer. They learn easily, are very active, and so far they fully answer our expectations.
A neighbor to whom we gave a bitch of the first litter would tell her to go into such a lot and see if there were any stray cattle there; and she would go over the field, and if there were any there, detect them and drive them down to the house. He kept his cattle in the lot, and it was full 80 rods from the house. The dog was not then a year old. We had one of the same litter which we learned to go after cows so well, that we had only to tell him it was time to bring the cows, and he would set off for them from any part of the farm, and bring ihem into the yard as well as a boy. I think they would be invaluable to a farmer on the prairies. After raising two litters, we sent the bitch to Illinois. I hope farmers will take more pains in getting the shepherd dog. There is no difficulty in training. Our old one we obtained when a pup. and trained him without any trouble, and without the help of another dog. Any man who has patience, and any dog knowledge at all, can train one of this breed to do all that he can desire of a dog. T. C. Peters.
Darien, January, 1814.
We hope that Mr. Peters will now send us the price of his dogs if he has any for sale, for we shall have a dozen inquiries within a fortnight after the issuing of this No. Well-trained shepherd or cattle dogs in this vicinity are worth from $20 to $35, and scarce at that. Puppies 3 months old, from $3 to $10.
excerpted from: American Agriculturist, Volume 3 – 1844