Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sophie the duckherder

Sophie is mostly yellow Lab, but I swear she has some Shepherd in her. She was born on a farm and came to us after her first family had to give her up, so I don't know her whole story, but she does have some Shepherd-esque qualities!

When I got her, I was told she could herd chickens. I never really put her to the test, but the other day, I had to round up three wayward duck -girls and get them back to the barn. They've been going AWOL lately over the fence or through the barn, bent on investigating the garden. Fortunately we haven't had any predators about lately.

Sophie was with me when I found the girls behind the barn, so I asked her to help me shepherd the ducks home. And she did!


"Come on ladies, let's move it along!"



Waddle, waddle, waddle... there go Bianca (bottom), Danger Duck (middle) and Karène (top)!



"Smartly now, ladies, before the raccoons and foxes and coyotes come out!"



A little deke to the left...


...a little deke to the right...



...and soon the girls were back at the barn!

Sophie blew it just before the barn, though. She got a little excited and one of the ducks started to fly. Now, the dogs are very good about not chasing the chickens and ducks, but if somebody starts flying, it's a whole new ball game. They love to run after the flying creature, with me yelling at them to stop (which they always do.) They aren't malicious about it. I think the dogs want to fly too! Plus those girl-ducks are strong aviators and could fly up onto the barn roof if they really wanted to. (The drakes are too heavy for that. It would be like flying Butterball turkeys.)

I called Sophie off, and Karène (the one being chased) landed and waddled into the barn.

Anyone else got a duck herder out there??

If you're not Canadian and have never heard of a "deke", enlighten yourself here!


31 comments:

  1. My sister could really use that dog to catch one of her chickens that is always escaping. She looks ridiculous chasing a chicken down the road! I thought everyone knew what deke meant. I deked over for a look at the official translation. ~ Maureen

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    1. Sophie's good with the chickens in a pinch!

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  2. I suspect both of mine might be Duck Eaters; I haven't yet tried them with my hens.

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    1. Sloooow sloooow introductions! ;)

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  3. That is so cute (and useful)! The family hound when I was a sprog used to herd me upstairs to bed on (parental) command, nipping my heels if I was too slow about it.

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  4. Deke???? That wasn't on the citizenship exam!!!
    Jane x

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    1. Tricky one, isn't it? I only found out a few years ago that it's a Canadianism!

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  5. Easiee than herding cats!

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    1. What isn't? ;) ANd getting Gordon out the door is like herding cats too!

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  6. Sophie has an inane sense of duty being part of the family! As I read more and more of your posts, I understand your amazing ability to illustrate such wonderful books. My grands are loving their copies, XOXO

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    1. You bought copies for your grands? That is lovely! THank you so much and I'm so glad they're enjoying the book. If you want me to send signed "bookplates" (stickers really) for them, just send me an email to the address in my profile.

      I'm glad you're enjoying our crittters!

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  7. The illustrated story is wonderful! Thanks for the lesson on "deke" and not only that, thanks for the lesson on the duck-deking dog. Delightful.

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    1. Oooh, I am going to call her "Sophie the Duck-Deking Dog" now!! Maybe there's a children's book in that.

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  8. That must be such fun to watch!

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    1. They are pretty cute together!

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  9. Flying butterball turkey...LOL! Makes me think of trebuchets.

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    1. Oh dear, yes. And turkeys being dropped from the sky on WKRP in Cincinnati!

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  10. A duck-deking dog! Love it!

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  11. Hi Natalie, just found your blog from John Gray.

    Love the duck herding dog! I have witnessed a turkey on a barn roof. It kind of scrambled up there rather than flew. But did it every December 1st and stayed there each night until well after Christmas... so funny.

    Jessica

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    1. Welcome! I looooove John's blog, and I will go check out yours. That's very impressive about the turkey getting up on the barn roof. That said, I've seen wild turkeys flying around here and they are stronger aviators than I would have thought. They seem a little ungainly on land.

      Smart bird, staying up there until after Christmas. :)

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  12. Thanks for the link for us non-Canadians or non-hockey followers. :P What a cutey to help you herd the ducks.

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    1. My pleasure to amuse and educate! ;)))

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  13. What a talented dog Sophie is! And the ducks don't seem to mind being herded.

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    1. They are used to her. She often follows them around eating their poop (UGH!) DOgs have no class...

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  14. those duckies are so cute... i just wanna hold them and cuddle them...hahah

    and your doggie is VERY smart!

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    1. Me too, but most of them won't let me! There are two that let me pick them up without struggling but that's it. The chickens are easier!!

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  15. I watched a display of a Scottish sheepdog herding geese this summer in the little village of Aberfoyle. It was hilarious, with geese being MUCH more troublesome than sheep, but a long battle of wits did end with the geese going over the bridge, through the tunnel, up the ramp, down the ramp and between two long fences into their pen. A real lesson in "dogged" persistence.

    What I'd really like to see though is a dog managing to herd cats. Am not sure if that has ever been tried but my money would be on the cats.

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    1. Oh my, geese have attitude! I know they used Border collies on some golf courses here to herd the Canada Geese off. I'd love to see that in action.

      Sophie and Julius the cat have a hate-hate relationship. But Sophie is fascinated by him, and anytime he saunters past her, she waits a millisecond or two (to avoid confrontation), then follows behind me. THat's the closest she gets to cat-hering!

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  16. Oh, Kane would love that job. Are these ever great photos. Love to see more of the farm.

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!