What My Herding Dogs Have Taught Me

I was recently asked by an interviewer what I’ve learned from my dogs. Since he was referring to Dogs of Dreamtime, he was specifically asking about Kiera, Magic, and Molly.

To put into context some of what I’ve learned from my animals, it helps to know that, left to my own devices, I gravitate toward intense herding breeds. Kiera is an Australian Shepherd. Graidy is a Border Collie mix. Magic was an English Shepherd mix, who died from Lyme Disease. Molly was my deaf Australian Shepherd. They all came when they were just a few months old.

I mention this because while all dogs (really all animals) offer us lessons in unconditional love, and the joys and responsibilities of companionship, herding breeds have added a whole other layer for me. Since herding dogs thrive best when they get to live as working partners, that requires a level of commitment, training, observation, and communication skills that can take us into uncharted territory if we let it. And while herding breeds aren’t for everyone, they continue to provide me with one of the most thrilling and challenging adventures I’ve ever embarked on.

Put most simply, what I’ve learned from my dogs, interestingly enough, is how to be more fully human. Which has helped me, in turn, learn how to let my dogs be more fully dogs.

4 thoughts on “What My Herding Dogs Have Taught Me”

  1. Any person considering a dog really needs to research what breed would compliment their Family and lifestyle. That is the reason so many dogs are dumped at shelters etc, people do not understand what they are getting into. These breeds usually need a job and are highly intelligent! In my opinion, a lot of people fall in love with the beautiful looks of a merle, then later on, realize what they have gotten themselves into. Both my guys were easily trained. I did try to get my Sheltie into flyball, but he is just too insecure and scared. He was not socialized for his 9 month stint in the rescue. I will say once you own a herding breed, boy it’s sure hard not to fall in love. :)

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  2. Same here Karen. Currently I have a Sheltie/Border Collie mix and my Aussie/Border Collie mix. I love the loyalty of the herding breeds. My Boys came to me at older ages. And as you know, usually Aussies will attach themselves to one family member, and with Bandit, that is me. He is my doggie soulmate. I feel a true connection to him. He does not have a strong herding instinct, which I find odd lol, he prefers just to shadow me and lay on the couch. A few of my friends even commented how when they speak, it seems he really listens! :) Really a wonderful breed if you know what you are doing with them.

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    • Dawn, my first herding dog was a Sheltie. Most people don’t realize that they’re quite capable herders! : ) So I’m sure I’d fall in love with both your dogs as soon as I saw them. And so true, these dogs do understand us beyond what most people would ever guess. Both my herders are one-person dogs, strongly attached to me. They love and protect everyone else in the family, but they’re always within a few inches of me. So people should know that if they’re not looking for velcro dogs they should pass over these breeds.

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