In which shelties are not good at being "wild" (some survival stories)

I brought Luna to work with me today, mostly because when I picked up my truck keys, she assumed she was "invited" to come with me, and was sooooo thrilled....well, it's just difficult for me to say "no" to a thrilled Sheltie.

photo taken with my phone in the park outside my library. 
Ten minutes before I took the picture, it was sn*wing, but melted fast.

In case you wondered, the giant "S" tattooed invisibly on my forehead stands for "sucker", and every sheltie in the world can see it clearly.  They tilt their little heads at me, and I capitulate instantly.

I am not alone in my devotion to the breed in general and individuals in particular.  I direct attention now to the case of  Dooley,  a sheltie who was lost and feral in the wild winter of Nevada for 53 days!

Dooley and his mum, reunited. Click the photo for the story.
 Shyness is a sheltie breed trait ("extreme shyness" is marked down in the show ring), a result of breeding skittish herding dogs to stay alone with a flock on remote Sheltish Islands.  Historically,  shepherds would float a band of sheep and a sheltie or two over to an island and leave them there for a few days or a week, until the sheep had denuded the grass and the dog had impacted the local rodent population.  Then the herder would return and float the group to some other island.  The dog's duties included keeping sheep from walking off cliffs (a needful task--sheep are dumb!) and keeping the band away from people who are NOT the shepherd.  Shyness, a heavy hair-coat and a piercing bark that can be heard over the roar of northern sea waves and wind were useful traits for shelties working in those conditions ...but they aren't so useful for civilized dogs. In Dooley's case, his extreme shyness kept him away from rescuers for at least a month, poor little tyke!

In celebration of Dooley's homecoming, it's time to share a story from my past...around 1998, I think.  I was going to library school and was living with my shelties Merry and Pippin and a cat in sweet little travel trailer parked in a trailer court near the lake.  It was a cheap place to live, and I was almost the only female in the neighborhood--most of my neighbors were divorced men who had gotten thrown out by wives, and were living in their hunting rigs.  They were nice guys, but they didn't know what to think of the "library lady."

I had just moved to the trailer park when Pippin got loose and got lost.  He was wearing tags--but they had all the OLD address/phone information on them.  I was terrified.  I spent a week putting up posters, taping flyers to mailboxes, and knocking on doors, looking for my dog. 

For seven days...nothing.

Then, around 5am, I woke up thinking that I'd heard Pippin barking.  I tried to quiet my heart, thinking that I'd dreamed it...and he barked again.  I threw open the door, and there was Pippin!

Joyful reunion!

Did I mention that, at this time in my life, I slept "in the altogether?"  Well, hey.  I was younger--and warmer-blooded--then.  Still, it was early March in the Swampland, and none-too-warm.  I gathered up my prodigal dog and continued the joyful reunion indoors.

Later that day, my neighbors in the trailer park saw that I once again had two shelties, and asked about it, so I told them about 5am, thinking I was dreaming, and the joyful reunion.

Their only response? 

"You were naked?  And we missed it?"


I'll try to post a photo of Pippin tomorrow.  He was a pretty little dog--almost as pretty as Luna herself. 

Meantime, all y'all, go give your dogs a kiss and a cookie to celebrate Dooley's happy homecoming. 

Life is good.


  1. Wow- that's quite a story about Dooley! That Floof fur came in handy for sure in this case. I'm glad they finally caught him.

    I'm sure you've been asked this a million times already, but are they actually related to Collies?

  2. What a joyful reunion that must have been! This winter, I helped with a search for a sheltie who was missing for nine days in a forested area near me - which also came to a joyous end. They are a hardy breed for all their pretty looks - but 53 days - wow!!!

  3. Great story about you and Pippin! I can picture it perfectly.

  4. Merry and Pippin! :3 Did they always want Second Breakfast? Plus your trailer park neighbors - that's the best story ever. :D


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