“Goat Dogs,” written by Major Jesse Ursery, originally published on Pages 29-30 of the English Shepherd Club of America Who’s Who Breeder Manual, provides an insightful narrative on the author’s lifelong experiences with English Shepherds. The article focuses on the breed’s versatility, particularly in herding and guarding livestock. Here’s an analysis of its key themes:
1. Early Experiences and Fond Memories:
Ursery’s first encounter with English Shepherds was in his childhood, with a dog named Fan owned by his father. He fondly recalls Fan’s exceptional abilities in hunting and herding, setting the stage for his lifelong admiration for the breed.
2. Fan’s Versatility and Skills:
Fan, the black and tan English Shepherd, is described as an adept tree dog and an efficient herder, capable of driving in milk cows and grabbing any animal when commanded. These anecdotes highlight the breed’s intelligence, obedience, and versatility.
3. Personal Bond and Adventures:
As a child, Ursery shares his adventures with Fan, emphasizing the dog’s understanding and adaptability to his preferences, such as only chasing ground animals when with him, knowing he didn’t have a gun. This aspect illustrates the breed’s intuitive nature and strong bond with humans.
4. Tragic Loss and New Beginnings:
The story of losing his first English Shepherd to rabies, and later acquiring another from Mr. Tom D. Stodghill, reflects the enduring appeal of the breed to Ursery, even amid setbacks.
5. Integrating English Shepherds into Farm Life:
After purchasing a farm in Arkansas, Ursery recounts buying a pair of black and tan English Shepherds from Stodghill and training them with goats. This unique training method showcases the breed’s innate herding instincts and their ability to bond closely with livestock.
6. Guarding and Protecting Livestock:
The English Shepherds’ dedication to the goats is evident in their refusal to leave them, even for feeding. Ursery also mentions their fearlessness in protecting the stock, emphasizing their loyalty and protective instincts.
7. Challenges in Managing the Dogs:
The necessity to pen the dogs to prevent them from returning to the goats illustrates their strong herding instinct and the challenges in managing such dedicated working dogs.
“Goat Dogs” by Major Jesse Ursery is a poignant and personal account that showcases the English Shepherd’s remarkable abilities in herding and guarding. The article not only reflects on the breed’s functional attributes but also highlights the deep emotional connection and mutual understanding between the dogs and their owner. Ursery’s narrative serves as a testament to the English Shepherd’s invaluable role in rural life and their adaptability to various working environments.