Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Worrying Sheep (caution may be upsetting for the squeamish)

It is a bit more serious than telling the sheep that their bills are over due or that there is no after-life. If an untrained dog or dogs get into a field of sheep, they'll chase them down which is bad enough this time of year when the ewes are so heavy in lamb. The dogs can also bite and occasionally kill the sheep.

This happened yesterday morning in the field down the road. In fact, it was a field that we walked past on Sunday during our wonderful walk. I heard woodpeckers. How could something so horrible and violent happen less than 48 hours later?

A large black dog that looked like an over-sized rough coated border collie was seen by the gamekeeper. The dog had a sheep down and was gnawing away at it. The gamekeeper didn't have his gun with him or he would have shot the dog there and then. Farmers and gamekeepers are allowed to kill any dog that is found worrying sheep. The horrible thing was that the sheep was not dead. The dog was chewing away at its hind leg and hadn't killed the sheep.

My friend Innes, whose sheep it was showed me the poor thing later in the day when I was dropping his son Gordon off after school. It's bones were exposed. One of her tendons had been snapped and it could no longer use that rear hoof. Innes was just waiting for somebody to come over with a gun so they could put the poor beast out of it's misery.
This is Innes at a sheep show. This particular sheep won Reserve Champion. Let's hope it wasn't this sheep!

Naturally, it wasn't an ordinary sheep, it was one that he used to show. The ewe was pregnant with two good lambs inside her. They've been lost too. We don't know whose dog it is, but Innes is sure that when discovered and confronted, the owner will deny their dog's involvement.


Xtreme English said...

Ooof....that's a bad dog. I'd volunteer to come over and off the mutt myself. Feral dog packs raise cain with deer in New England and elsewhere, but I've never heard of a sheep having its back leg devoured while it was still alive.

So sorry for Innes. He has wonderful show sheep. What a dreadful experience.

Alan G said...

That is really terrible Peggy. I hope the owner can eventually get some measure of satisfaction, assuming he can find out whose dog it was.

Many years ago I had an appointment to take some photographs of a fellow's show rabbits. I arrived at his farm that afternoon and everyone was in total disarray. His rabbits were kept in elevated cages outside. Dogs had gotten in the area while they were gone that morning and had gotten under the cages and chewed the rabbits feet and legs mostly off through the bottom of the cages. It was a really gruesome sad situation and he lost all his rabbits.

Betty said...

How awful! It may be a case of "shoot the dog first, then tell the owner." It would help if there was a picture of the dog worrying a sheep.

Peggy said...

Ma - Thanks. It is a bad dog wandering about. Thank God it hasn't come into the yard to bite anything we've got here.

Alan G- That is also a rotten story.

Betty - What you have described, shoot first, ask questions later is the policy with dogs that worry sheep. The law will back the farmer every single time. If you don't want your dog shot, keep 'em outta the field.

I didn't put a photo of any dogs worrying sheep. It's too gruesome.

Tink said...

Dreadful. Was there no way to save the babies inside?

Patsy said...

Oh, what a awful thing to have happen. I think you should strap on a holster with a 45 colt in it! And to loose two babies; the waste of it all.

gawilli said...

What a sad story. Actually I think the owner of the dog should be shot as well.

Xtreme English said...


either that or given such a stiff fine he'll wish he had been shot instead!

claude said...

This horrible story reminded me of one of the novels by Thomas Hardy, can't remember which one it was, in which this poor guy who tends to sheep and ewes has a dog, and one night, the dog chases all the sheep to the top of the cliff and they all jumb and the herd (is that the appropriate word?) is lost.
I read the book years ago, but that scene is still with me.

Jay said...

That's really sad. I really love dogs and hate to ever see any get shot or anything like that. But, we all know that once a dog gets a taste for any livestock, whether it's sheep or chickens or whatever, then you won't be able to stop it from going after them.

Around this area there are lots of dogs that get shot going after chickens. I blame the dog owners mostly and wish they could be fined at least the value of the animal(s) killed.

Peggy said...

Tink - I didn't want to ask Innes, I fear I know what the answer would be.

Patsy - Handguns aren't allowed in the UK. Those with a license for a rifle are gamekeepers and some other profession that I can't remember. A few farmers have shotgun licenses, but Innes doesn't. I like that there are no guns around.

Gawilli- That's a bit extreme, but the owner should be made to be responsible.

Ma - A shot dog would be enough punishment, but a good fine wouldn't go amiss.

Claude - Being a sheep farmer can be heartbreaking. This is one of those times.

Jay - I love dogs too. When I first got Polly, she thought it was great fun to chase the chickens. I stopped her immediately. She had a few tail feathers sticking out of her mouth. I shouted at her so loudly and so hard that she ran in the house and under the bed, where she stayed for the rest of the day. She never chased chickens again. Just walks among them without bothering at all. Dogs must be trained or kept under control!!

Anonymous said...

you're a good dog person. Lucky Polly.

xo, ma

Xtreme English said...

Hardy's FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD...a young guy and an inexperienced dog. I remembered it when you mentioned it. Brrr....

Ex-Shammickite said...

Dogs should never be allowed to roam loose in farming areas, or anywhere! But unfortunately there are a few irresponsible dog owners who don't toe the line. We had a Siberian Husky (nice dog but I'd never have another one) who got out under the fence and killed a couple of the neighbour's chickens, we had to pay mega$$$$ to the neighbour and I was very careful about that dog ever since. Lesson learned.

J-Funk said...

What a terrible loss! I would be so upset. It's tough to keep dogs in when you live on a farm - my mom installed an 8 ft chain-link fence around her yard and her dogs could still get out, even when she ran electric wire across the top and buried chicken wire along the bottom. The only solution was to put them in a small fully enclosed kennel during the day when she was gone - bummer! all that countryside and they could only look at it. Oh well, at least no sheep were killed.

Molly said...

That's awful. It was bad enough when I kept sheep to have a mountain lion steal a lamb. Why on earth do people keep herding dogs when they have no interest in training them? I can count on my little herding dog to not bother any animals because she was trained as a puppy not to do anything until instructed to do so.

Anonymous said...

As a vegetarian, the thought of any animal suffering for any reason is revolting, but dogs are not human, and to subject them to human laws is not relevant, they go by their nature. I do not believe that this dog was a bad dog, it's a dog, doing what is natural to a dog.
The thing I find unusual is that the dog was a collie, as a short haired collie owner I can say that this goes against their grain. But dogs do go feral, as do humans - just look at the main streets in any town after the pubs close.
And Patsy, thank god I don't live near you!! No offense, but the thought of taking my dog out for a walk and you with your 45 strapped on just waiting for a fouling offense, well it's enought to make my bowels loose.
By the way Peggy, love your blog, Pictures are great too.


Peggy said...

Saffie - Thanks for visiting. We love vegetarians at this house, The Man of the Place is one! Sadly, I disagree with you about this particular dog. It's a bad one. Its not normal for any carnivore to start eating its prey BEFORE it has been killed.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the welcome Peggy. I came across your site via the taxi site in Barrow.
Do you have a link to Barrow in some way?
I see you have a Staffie, my neighbour has one called Steff - lovely dog, unfortunately he's getting on a bit and his snoring keeps us awake (mind you, so does OH's).


Peggy said...

Saffie - I'm not really linked to Barrow, its just near here. I can see the hills of the Lake District and Cumbria from the window of the room where this computer lives.

Anonymous said...

Well, from any way you look at them Peggy, the lakes are beautifull.
I've been looking at blogs because I wanted some ideas to start my own, but I think my computer skills aren't up to it.
Love yours though, lovely pictures and clear format.
Keep up the good work.