Jetty the Shepherd Dog
by Jim McLay (from Country
Life in America, November, 1914)
[Few names are better and
more widely known among sheepmen than those of "Jimmie" McLay and his
dog Jetty, of the University of Wyoming. Mr. McLay's success with his
flocks is exceeded only by his popularity as a judge, as indicated by
the fact that he made the awards in three classes at the 1913
International and has begun the 1914 season by officiating at several of
the more important events. Yet it is not solely by his reflected light
that Jetty, his supremely sagacious shepherd dog, shines in the modern
annals of sheepdom. Perhaps only sheep men who know what it is to have
their labors lightened by a dog's aid can fully appreciate her;
nevertheless the number of her friends and admirers has increased many
fold, for few who watched her brilliant feats in the International arena
last year, will soon forget her wonderful agility, tact, energy,
caution, and self-reliance, all of which blend so sweetly into her
perfect obedience. -- The Editors.]
Jetty is a
rough-coated Scotch collie, in color black, white and tan. She was sired
by Ben Davis, a noted prize winner, and her mother was Standard Snowdrop
-- both registered in the Canadian and the American Kennel Clubs. Jetty
was whelped in June, 1908, and has
only been shown twice, once at Denver and again at Omaha, but both times
took first prize. Her head is the required length for a show dog, and
she has good ears, splendid coat, and an exceptionally good carriage of
tail, but her head is a little wide between the ears -- a point I like
as it makes room for brains - - and she has a very bright, sharp eye. I
think the reason so few bench collies make good workers is because often
the eye is deficient. This is a very important thing, for the dog learns
from his master's expression even more than from the spoken word what is
required of him.
As a puppy Jetty
was brought up about the house, the playmate of my little girl, and
being an attractive youngster, was a general favorite. Being then, as
now, in the employ of the University Wyoming, which at that time had
charge of the Government Sheep Experiment, I went to the range to take
charge of the sheep during the lambing season. It was a bonny spot, hill
and dale and gentle undulation as far as one could see, and an ideal
place for breaking a dog.
From the start
Jetty was quick to learn, watching every movement. Morning and night she
helped to drive the sheep when they went to graze or back to the corral.
I taught her to lie still and watch them when they fed. Very soon it was
convenient to leave her to watch the bunch when it was necessary for me
to take a young lamb and its mother to a place of shelter, and it was
surprising how soon I could be away for a considerable time and know
that all was well with Jetty in charge.
I taught her to
collect the sheep when they scattered too far, and bring them nearer.
When too far away for a word of command, she would obey a whistle or a
sign made by waving a stick with a handkerchief tied to it. Often I
would send her a mile or more.
Jetty will collect the sheep when they scatter
too far, and will hold them in any particular spot desired.
On the range it is
frequently necessary to separate certain individual sheep from the rest
of the flock -- a difficult feat which Jetty accomplishes with marvelous
neatness and despatch.
part of her education was to hold the sheep back from the feeding
troughs until the troughs were filled. This early training has always
been of much use to her, as it taught her patience.
At the Stock Farm
of the University Experiment Station she has been used to work with
different kinds of stock, and is as good with cattle and hogs as she is
with sheep. It is hard to get a dog to work both cattle and sheep well,
as they must work closer and rougher with cattle than with sheep. But
it is with the hogs that she is in her element. she knows every word
that is said, and when the day comes to weigh the experiment hogs, she
is all excitement; it is laughable to see her take the hogs from the
pens to be weighed and back again with no help and scarcely a word of
command. I never saw a dog that could reason better; when hogs or sheep
are being weighted, if they run past the opening, she invariably runs
around the opposite way; and heads them back into the pen.
When in Chicago at
the International two years ago, she was with me at the hotel. We were
in the office and I went up to my room for a moment; Jetty missed me and
evidently thinking that I had left, went in search of me. A friend saw
her away up in the business part of the city but could not get hold of
her. Three hours later, when I was feeling pretty blue, thinking I had
lost her, she came trotting into her pen beside the sheep.
At Spokane late
fall I had her with me. We went first to a hotel and from there to the
fair grounds, in an automobile -- a distance of more than three miles. I
locked her in a place prepared for her at the fair grounds The next
morning I found her waiting at the hotel door; some one had let her out
and she came for me.
There was once a
Scotch shepherd who had a very fine dog. An American tourist became very
much attached to him and wished to buy him; but the old man shook his
head "Ye wad be taking him to Amerike? he asked. "Yes" replied the
tourist, and thinking the price named had not been sufficient, offered
more, but again the old man shook his head "Na, na, maister, I couldna
pairt wi' my dog." A short time afterward an Englishman bought the dog
for a price much less than that offered by the American, who indignantly
asked the old man why he would not sell the dog to him.
"Ah," said the old
man, "Bruce was bought once by a hielander who took him to Lock Fyne;
another time I sold him in Glasca', and three times in England. Bruce
will be back in twa or three days, but Amerike is too far -- he cauldna
swim the Atlantic."
Mr. B. H. Heide of
the International has for the last two years asked me for an exhibition
in sheep working with Jetty, and last fall I had a request from several
of the state fairs for similar exhibitions, they wishing to demonstrate
to the stockmen the value of a good working dog. Wherever we went, Jetty
called forth much favorable comments, but only the slightest idea can be
gained of her real worth at these exhibitions, as the space is so
limited. One who is not used to a good working dog can scarcely realize
what a labor saving device a dog is to the stockman, and how much more
carefully it will handle stock than will a half dozen men or boys
running after it.
Some dog trainers
say that they can train a dog in six weeks, but Jetty is more than four
years old and she is still learning. A good many people have asked for
particulars as to my method of training her, and a few words along that
line may be of interest. As she was the playmate of the children she was
much about the house, so her first lesson, as it should be with every
dog, was that of cleanliness. A dog is naturally cleanly; give him a
bath frequently and he will soon learn to like it. A puppy brought up
about the house and with the children has an advantage over one that is
not: he learns the language from the children, and as few persons can
resist a boisterous, friendly puppy, he is soon a general favorite,
talked to and made much of, and he knows that playmates, big and little,
are his friends. A growing puppy needs plenty of good food, which should
be as near as possible that which the children get -- porridge and milk,
the porridge well cooked. Feed him regularly three times a day, and vary
his food, for he must be well nourished to form the strong constitution
that is absolutely necessary for the working dog.
The puppy develops
rapidly, both physically and mentally, and the time of uninterrupted
play is short. In about two months he has begun to understand our
language fairly well, and has already been given a box in his own corner
and taught to lie there out of the way. Now he must have more lessons.
In the evening when work is done call him from his den and begin by
teaching him to lie down; speak gently but firmly, and very distinctly,
saying "lie down," placing a hand on his head and pressing his head
gently down between his paws, something as you will wish him to lie
later on which watching at his work, and hold him firmly a minute or
two. Make his lessons short at first, and lengthen them as he goes on.
Night after night the lesson must be repeated as near the same time as
possible; he will soon look for it and enjoy it, and often will be
waiting and all alert when called. Before very long the lesson will be
well learned, and as soon as called he will watch eagerly for the sign
to drop to the floor; with the upward wave of the hand he is on his feet
again, watching for the sign again to send him down. This lesson well
learned, he is ready for another, but do not try to teach two lessons at
once. When teaching a lesson, should something distract the dog's
attention, call him sharply to you and scold him for his negligence, and
then set him the task to do again.
During his earliest
lessons a pup is naturally rebellious, but no one should be allowed to
laugh at his efforts to resist, nor be permitted to attract his
attention. A man cannot serve two masters and neither can a dog; he must
have only one master and will work well for but one.
When he is about
nine months old take him with you to the field, teaching him to follow
close at heel, and now his work must start in real earnest. If too young
a dog is put at work, he is not able to defend himself, and a butt from
a sheep or a kick from a cow is apt to give him a timidity that will be
hard to overcome. But once this work begins, keep him at it every day
till he is thoroughly broken. I have always found, when I haven't work
enough to keep my dog with me all day, that it was best to shut him up
in a comfortable place after his lesson, until I have work for him again
in the evening or the next day.
At the start be
careful that the young dog's work is close at hand. When he sees the
sheep begin to rush from him he is eager to give chase, but that must
not be allowed; keep him back so that he is near enough to be restrained
should he rush among them and scatter them. The trainer must watch the
dog closely and not allow him to make a mistake, but in the instance
before the mistake is actually made, whistle sharply and call him off
before he has gone wrong.
Every man must rain
his dog for the work he requires him for and as he necessity presents
itself day by day. These few general rules are about all that one can
give. Make your dog your companion; talk to him and he will learn your
language just as a child does, by hearing it. Keep him with you at your
work, show him how to do the things you want him to do by first doing
them yourself and telling him to help you, but teach one thing at a
time; and be sure if your dog is not with you that he is within sound of
your whistle; do not allow him to stray away, and see that he is closed
in at night. A dog that is allowed to run about at night is apt to get
in to mischief and is never ready for his work next day.
When driving, teach
your dog to keep close under the wagon, by ying him there for a few
times. If a young dog is allowed to run around at will, other dogs will
worry the life out of him, but they will not touch him under the wagon
for fear of the wheel. As soon as you stop have him jump into the wagon;
there he is safe from other dogs, and will soon learn thus to guard the
wagon and its contents.
If you work calls
for a long journey provide water for you dog, articularly in the Western
country, where one does not find a free running stream every few miles.
A dog can run hard for six or eight hours without showing fatigue, if he
access to plenty of water, but he cannot do without it. This is probably
due to the fact that a dog does not perspire through his skin as do most
animals, but through the tongue, and he needs more water or rather,
needs it more frequently. For this reason I never could see the benefit
of clipping a; long haired dog during warm weather.
It was by the
method outlined above that I trained Jetty; but it is not only because
of her aptitude at learning and her work with the stock that we love
her; she is a good watch dog and is still the friend and playmate of the
children, and my constant companion and co-worker.
On the range it is frequently necessary
to separate certain individual sheep
from the rest of the flock -- a
difficult feat which Jetty
accomplishes with marvelous neatness and
* * * * *
-- the Field Illustrated, July 1915
Jetty working hogs -- The
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