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Mike Condie wrote an article for the Working Bearded Collie Society
Newsletter, Issue No. 5, June 2002. With Mike's permission, it
is retyped below:
Merton Holly (Sock's)
Having previously worked with someone who had a
cracking wee Beardie when I was a stockman/shepherd in a livestock mart,
I'd always had a notion to get one myself. Its been 11 years since I
worked alongside that Beardie bitch as she eagerly helped load up
virtually every one of the 5,000 sheep or so which were sold every week.
Last year I began my search for one of my own. I
heard about the W.B.C.S. and spoke to as many people as I could to get a
feel for what types of dog were out there. Eventually I went to collect
a pup from Peter Dickson near Biggar. His dogs amazed me, very friendly,
quiet and the maternal/paternal instincts were astonishing. "Joe" is now
ten months old.
Not long after this, I got a call from Eddie Mc (note:
left out the last name due to Eddie's request) alerting me to a
bitch he bred which was not settling in its then home. I phoned the
people in question and eventually acquired her ("Socks"). Initially she
barked at everyone, didn't eat much, insisted on a biscuit before bed!
Or she would howl, nipped legs, hands and went for other dogs, chased
cars and generally failed to acknowledge my presence. This was a bitch
that was confused about her place in the pecking order and purpose in
life, and generally got away with murder.
Work began, walking on a lead, put in a run with
our dominant Border Collie bitch and generally got nowhere and nothing
until she did as she was told. To cut a long story short she came right
in about 3 weeks, hard up the heals of cattle, healing as required, hard
as nails. Sheep are a different story, as stylish as most trialing
Border Collies, plenty power, nice square turns, a good stop
(miraculously!), still a bit prone to coming in tight and over-flanking
but generally a fantastic work dog and loyal family pet. I've discovered
Beardies are more independent free-thinking and pushy compared to most
Border Collies but quick learners and once they've grasped a command can
adapt it to suit the situation without prompting a useful skill
especially in a hill dog.
I've since got a third Beardie. Peter Dickson
retired from farming and is pursing a career elsewhere (who can blame
him!). I got his Stumpy bitch, a naturally bobtail bitch again with
power to spare, nice nature, good all-round stock dog and what a
conformation she has, small but incredibly well built. I'll always have
my Border Collies but for as long as I can keep this quality of Beardie
and assuming they produce similar types I'm hooked on Beardies.
Socks in 2003: