Saturday

Are Dogs Descendants of Wolves, Ask Sheep About Wolfie the German Shepherd

Years ago I had a little farm and a small flock of sheep. I didn't have a dog at the time and, of course, had to remedy that situation. The dog I chose was a long haired German Shepherd. He was just a puppy when I got him. I named him Wolfgang. His real name was very long and very German and sounded like Schutzhund. Wolfie, was a good little dog who grew into a very big dog and a very good dog. He also looked like a wolf.

His training was minimal because he knew what was expected of him and did it. Could you imagine what the world would be like if people were the same way? However, I am digressing here and will try to stick to the point. The point was that Wolfie was a very good farm dog. One of Wolfie's specialties was homeland security.

He guarded the premises and no one came in without permission, and that included other animals. We had an overflow of rabbits one year and had to place some in cages outside. We usually kept them in the barn, but there were just too many so we put some outside. We were in the house after dark and heard a commotion outside. Coyotes!

I don't know how many coyotes there were. They were among the cages, howling and yipping and trying to rip the cages open. I opened the door and Wolfie scooted out, a low growl escaping as he passed me. I raced out with a flashlight. My biggest concern was that there was a pack of coyotes, from the sound of it, and only one Wolfie.

The coyotes, however, would have disagreed with me. I am sure, to them, it seemed like there were a dozen Wolfies. He seemed to be everywhere and wherever he was you could hear his low growls and the coyote's yips of pain. I tried to catch him, but he was too fast and drove the coyotes into the woods and up the hill behind the house. It sounded like a war. He finally came home, no worse for wear. I never found any dead coyotes, but I am sure there were many wounded.

We lost one rabbit that night. She had died of fright. We never had another problem with coyotes. Wolfgang had left an impression on them, in the form of teeth marks, I'm sure. Wolfgang was an impressive animal and no animals were more impressed than our sheep.

When it came to herding, Wolfie was a natural. I think it was his favorite job. I thought I would have to train him, but he was so smart, I simply told him what to do, and he did it. The sheep had been taking advantage of me for quite some time. They knew I was a slow human and they could outrun me and if they felt like spendingt the night in the field, what could I do about it?

I had a ram and a few ewes who just didn't want to be locked up at night. Considering the coyote population in our area, being safely locked away in the barn was a must. Until Wolfie came along I often spent considerable time herding sheep alone. Even as a puppy he knew what I wanted and quickly had the sheep in line. I can still remember the looks on their faces the first time Wolfie joined me in the evening when I was putting the sheep away for the night.

"Crikeys!" they seemed to say. "It's a wolf!"

Wolfgang crouched low and just stared at them. Then he began to inch forward and they nervously crowded together. The old ram made a show of staring him down. He turned and got between Wolfie and the ewes, but as soon as Wolfie moved, the stampede started.

"Put the sheep in the barn, Wolfie" I said. He did.

They ran for shelter and naturally headed straight for the barn. Every evening, after that, putting the sheep in the barn was no longer a time consuming job. I simply showed up with Wolfie and yelled, "Put the sheep in the barn, Wolfie." They headed for the barn right away and never challenged his authority. If I wanted the sheep I only had to say, "Bring me the sheep, Wolfie," and he would herd them to me.

Unfortunately, however, dogs do not live long enough and Wolfie aged and finally left us. His legacy lived on, though, because all I had to do was walk out to the field and yell, "Put the sheep in the barn, Wolfie!" and the flock would head for the barn. As new sheep were added, sheep who had never seen Wolfie, they were trained to head for the barn with the rest of the flock. No doubt they had been warned by the old timers about Wolfgang. It always gave me pleasure to think that Wolfie was still herding sheep, even after he had passed on.

I am sure the sheep thought the boss man had a wolf working with him and while you could get away with a lot with the boss, that Wolfie wouldn't put up with any nonsense. The reason sheep can be herded by dogs is because, whether humans believe it or not, all dogs are descended from wolves and if you don't believe it, just ask a sheep.

4 comments:

  1. Ha! I grew up with sheep and Border Collies, so I have some idea what you're talking about. I also now share my life with one of those wolfie dogs, and I'm growing to really love them!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aww, a great post! I just found your blog through the blog hop, and just became a follower.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi y'all, just hoppin' by to say HI! Love the tale of Wolfie...Love your blog.
    Y'all come by now!
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know I'm breaking tradition here and posting in an older entry but this story called out to me first because it's about a German Shepherd and second hearding. Our first GSD never exhibited this trait but our current GSD Erin definitely does. I've read so many times that a GSD is not happy unless they have a job to do and I definitely see this in our Erin. Great story and Wolfie is a great example of the intelligent and hardworking breed that is the GSD.

    ReplyDelete