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2008. As the owner of Pip, and as any owner would say, she's the best dog in the world, and no amount of money would be enough for me to part with her. This little dog (bred from working parents and born in June 2004), arrived in our home almost four years ago. She had never lived or been in a house and sat on my kitchen floor too frightened to move; an hour later our cat, Lucy, encouraged Pip to move by hissing and running out of the house. The meeting in our home was a new experience for both Pip and Lucy, as both hadn't been brought up with eitheróthe cat with dogs or the dog with cats. Literally within hours, the two were inseparable until Lucy's death twelve months later, but the experience had made Pip very tolerant of all animals so much so any baby animals born on the farm has the best babysitter ever in Pip.

She only started work at around 18 months when we bought the farm and the sheep arrived; she is so good that when she's not working we can walk through a field of sheep, cows, horses and chickens and know she will not attempt to gather them up. We found that when we moved to the farm she no longer required a collar so it was removed, but not completely discarded, but only as her training with sheep began she needed the collar on, so we used this in her everyday life. No collar means we do not ask her to work. When we go to work, we tell her as we put on the collar "working dog collar" and she goes into work mode.

Living on a farm we had to be able to make this separation from pet dog to working dog as our door to the house is left open and Pip has the freedom of the farm. We did not want her to aimlessly be chasing the livestock every time she saw them. Neither did we want her tethered on a chain for hours and hours as firstly she's our pet dog. She knows the different animals to look after. We can ask her to babysit our pet rabbit and off she goes. She knows the seven cats by name and can look for the one by name you ask her to find, ignoring the others until she finds the one you named her to find. We have had two new calves born in the past six weeks, and she tell who's who even though they are both black! She knows them by the names we have called them. Our neighbour, Eddie, mentions she can do everything but heelwork to music. WRONG EDDIE! Our daughter, Ellie, has taught her to do the conga and to spin on command.

Hopefully, the below images will give the viewer a chance to see Pip doing her chores.


Working 1

Working 2

Working 3




Pip was off to inspect the flock.


Sheep were rounded up to the corner of the field so we can inspect them.


Sheep are looking at Pip who has them penned in the corner.


Pip in complete control as we inspect the sheep


On her own, Pip held 66 of the Herdwick sheep so we could attend to trimming of feet. As the picture shows, none were going anywhere, but that is what we expect from our working Beardie.


Note we were not using hurdles to pen the sheep, just the dog to hold them. That holding on Pip's part allowed us to move the sheep a short distance before moving them back into the corner. I found that movement very useful after we trimmed the sheep's feet. Running a sheep on a bit helped us make a diagnosis between whether more trimming was necessary as opposed to another problem.


Pip in action the first time she was put in with the cattle. Until that occasion (which was photographed by a friend) she had befriended them on the other side of the fence. On that day, her time had come to show them who was boss. The basic instinct of moving the stock to head and turn them was there straight away.


Moving the cows.


Heading the cattle so as to hold them for inspection.


Pip in charge;  the cattle had to respect her.


Pip turning the cattle.


My husband halter breaking our little white heifer.


My husband and daughter halter training our red heifer, so she can be shown at shows; this also makes worming time so much easier when the cattle are halter broken.


This is one of our native ponies at age two; she is a registered Fell filly. The Fells are renowned for their full mane and tail. We intend breeding from her, but only after she has been broken for riding and driving.


Pip found time for play; she loves agility. In this picture, she was leaping with such ease over the sheep hurdles. On this photograph she almost looks as though she was sitting on the top rail of the hurdles.


And now time for bedónot in a kennel but on the sofa in the family homeónot a bad life for this little worker.



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