Letter written to Chandler Strunk around 1997 by Rex Bowers.
My grandfather kept this type dog all his life and used them on our farm. I got my first hunting experiences with a Shep and now have access to one again. What I mean by access, I got my grandmother, age 92, a male pup for a companion dog. Rounder, her last dog, was very old and had to be put down. I had mentioned to Richard that I wanted one for her and he was kind enough to give her one! We named him “Mac Lamrock Shep” and call him Shep of course! He is sort of a family dog, as my parents live next door to Grandma and my mother feeds him, and everybody turns him loose!
The best squirrel dog I ever had was a farm shepherd, Rusty. Granddad got him when I was very young and I grew up with him. My parents did not worry where I went as long as Rusty went along. He was a serious body guard! I could sic him on anything, as he feared nothing. We trained him on cows and mules with our older shep, Sport, who was very old. Sport would bring up the milk cows at milking time and put them each at their milking station. We milked three cows by hand. Also, we did all the farm work with a team of large mules. These sheps walked many miles behind a mule, in trace links. They would nip their heels if they got too slow. When mowing hay they followed the four foot sickle bar, and if a rat or mouse ran out, he was dead.
Also, we raised chickens, loose, both laying hens and game chickens. When we needed one caught all we had to do was tell Rusty which one, he would catch it, without plucking a feather and would hold them down on ground. This same dog would hold a ton bull by the nose.
I’m sure you have seen these dogs do all these things and more, but to those who have not it’s hard to believe! Rusty got down in his hips at 18 and I put him down on my 21st birthday. It was almost as hard as going to a person’s burial. He was my best friend, hunting buddy and more important, my bodyguard.
I took for granted dogs like this as Granddad kept them always, but now realize how special they were. One thing that made a big difference in these dogs was how they lived. Our house set on rocks, and was blocked in on two sides. These dogs slept under the house, right under our bedroom. If we went out the door the dogs went along always. They were only tied up when someone was coming as they would not let a stranger in the yard.
My coon hunting career got started by watching these sheps kill coons and wildcats that were catching our chickens and guineas. At night we would hear a chicken squall up in our large cedar trees. The dogs would go to treeing and Granddad would light the kerosene lantern and we would go to them. He would tell me to climb up the tree and punch out the coon. Usually by the time I got back down the coon was stone dead! I was real young but this sure put the coon fever in me!
Things are much different today, and farms are too, but I’m sure people could use these dogs at whatever they want!
I’d like to hear of other people who grew up with these dogs and how they used them. I hope people don’t try to make a one purpose dog out of them, as they are capable of much more.
A shepherd fancier