Earning Stripes

Norah, my sheepdog, took on her first real task this morning, when a two week old lamb became separated from the flock.

When a young mother ewe and her twins went out to pasture for the first time this morning, one lamb was left behind. His mother did not mind–she was preoccupied with the grass she’d missed so badly, so the lamb had no direction.

My attempts to corral the little ram were futile. I spent ten minutes chasing him around the yard and pasture, never toward the flock. I didn’t want to leave the lamb alone from the flock, but I  didn’t want to chase him.

Enter Norah.
Norah is a nine month old border colley-labrador. She’s quite short on training (my fault, of course).

I gathered her from her kennel and we approached the lamb by leash. When I let Norah loose, I urged her to “Go get him.” It didn’t take long for the chase to begin.

Norah caught up to the lamb and peeled off the lamb a couple times, when I got cold feet and called her off. The third time she chased I was confident that she wouldn’t harm the lamb. I followed along and, as I did, Norah got ahead of the lamb. . . .

The sheepdog’s instinct is to put the sheep between itself and the herder. As the herder commands, the dog pushes sheep right, left, etc..

The lamb, which had been running away from us, turned around and ran straight toward me. Norah, chasing it back, arrived just after I caught the lamb. I praised Norah for her work.

I carried the lamb back to the flock and its mother. Norah maintained a distance, as she’s learned that nursing mothers don’t take kindly to her presence.


This was a promising first outing for Norah.