by Carl Larsen, Hid-N-Hills Border Collies and Kelpies

*The names have NOT been changed to protect the guilty.

This is one of the most humorous events I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  I only hope I can do it justice with pen and paper.

A week before it happened, my wife notified me of her wish to enter a photo in the Telephone Cover Photo Contest.  I said this would be fine, since Peggy is a very good photographer, and has won or placed in many a photo contest.  The kicker to this is that she would need my help.

The subject of the photo would be one of our stock dogs creeping up to a flock of sheep.  No problem, I said, “I have just the candidate.”

We recently purchased a young Kelpie from Jim Faught, in Doss Texas.  This pup has an abundance of instinct, but at this time, I considered it to have a little too much eye.  This would make a great picture, and also give Peggy plenty of time for that perfect snapshot.

Before I go any further, let me explain what “too much eye” means.  A dog with “too much eye” will stand and stare at the stock and be in a stalking stance instead of herding.  It may look like they are creeping up on them for an attack.  With a herding dog, we need to have them move around more, and try to control the movement of the stock with their presence.

 Now back to the story.

 The day came for the photo shoot.  Peg came out with camera hanging from the strap around her neck.  I told her to meet me in the round pen where our training goats were waiting.

 Now maybe I should introduce you to our goats.  We have four LARGE Spanish goats that weigh around 80+ pounds each.  I use them to start the young dogs that come here for training.  They have been here for about 2 years and have met some 20+ dogs in their short career.  Needless to say, they have things pretty well figured out.  The minute I turn a dog loose, they run to my feet and circle.  This makes it easy for me to teach the young dog how to position themselves to control the stock.  It is this habit of staying around my feet that caused this episode.

 O.K., picture this:  Peg is standing inside the round pen, next to the fence, camera aimed, fix’n to catch that prize winning photo.  Me and “Mick”, the young Kelpie, are standing at the ready.

 The idea was to keep the dog and goats working around me, and Peg would move about as needed to get the one in a thousand shot.

Well, as you might guess, things are about to go to hell in a hand basket.

When I turned the pup loose, I was hoping for maybe a short outrun, and then the beautiful stalking stance.  Surprisingly, Mick turned into an alligator.  He ran straight at the awaiting goats, clapping his teeth and growling every step of the way.  This turned the usually docile goats into four large stampeding balls of fur and horns.  Mick was doing his best to go to the head of this bunch to turn them.  This moved them straight towards Peggy.  I am sure things looked a lot worse than they could possibly be through the view finder.  The goats gathered around Peg.  She began screaming bloody murder for some reason.  One of the goats’ horn, had captured Peggy by the camera strap, and was trying to make his escape with Peggy in tow.  The loud ruckus seemed to excite Mick and he decided he must try even harder to keep these goats gathered around Peg, no matter what.  And by the way, he was doing a fine job of “heading and heeling.”  Finally the goat turned Peg loose.  Still screaming, she tried to make her way to me.

 Now you may ask, where was I, and what was I doing to correct the situation?  I’m still in the middle of the pen, doubled over in laughter.  The blood curdling screams from my wife and the picture that came with it kind of set me off in uncontrolled laughter and for some reason, I couldn’t quit.  Each time she screamed set me off even harder.  Have you ever laughed so hard as to loose every ounce of air in your lungs?

 If we would have had a video camera running, I guarantee you we would win, “Americas’ Funniest Home Videos.”

Picture this:  A middle-aged cowboy bent over in the center of the round pen.  A beautiful young lady photographer running as fast as she can while looking over her shoulder at a “herd” of stampeding goats bent on escaping from a vicious canine in hot pursuit.

And it aint over with, yet.!!

Peggy finally made it to me, still screaming, and me still laughing.

Now the goats arrive.  Peg bear hugs me and I can’t move.  She’s screaming something like," Get these *##**!! goats away from me.”

We are surrounded.  The goats are plum serious about getting away from Mick and he is just as serious about keeping them tightly bundled up against Peg and me.

Peg must have some relief.  She jumps up on my back, wraps both legs around my waist, and hollers, "You got me in this, now get me out of here.”  Remember, I am still out of breath with uncontrolled laughter.

            It’s only a matter of yards to the 4’ wide gate that leads out of the pen.  As we make our way to the gate, one of the goats thinks Peggy needs some company up there.  This sets off another round of screams and, of course, I am really hurting by now. My stomach is starting to cramp from continued laughing.  This screws Mick down even tighter.  He is really getting serious about putting these goats in our back pockets.

Finally we get to the gate and everyone is praying for a way out.  As the gate opens, the sudden rush is on.  How we all fit through the narrow opening is a wonder.  Needless to say, Peg and I ended up in a pile on the ground.  In a split second, she was up and off to the house.  The thought had occurred to me to ask if she had gotten a good shot.  Maybe this was not the right time?

Just a short note on Mick.  This pup just happened to turn on to stock at the wrong time.

As I collected myself and returned to my feet, there sat Mick, tongue hanging half way out and tail wagging.  The look on his face was worth a million dollars.  I believed it was an expression of complete satisfaction.  I couldn’t blame him for this ordeal.  It was just one of the “comedy of errors” that occurs around here, maybe not often enough.

(Almost every word of this story is true.  I swear!!!)


Copyright 2001 to Infinity, NAAKR, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Posted April 7, 2002