Above, black-and-white Ettrick Linn


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by Carole L. Presberg

[Our second Border Collie, Ettrick Linn, was born in April 1980. She was a very sensitive dog and could not take correction. Therefore, while she had plenty of herding instinct, she did not make much of a herding dog, as the minute she was corrected she left the field. While she loved all people, and normally got along well with other dogs, she did not care to have her space invaded. As soon as our third Border Collie, Jute, reach maturity, she and Linn began a continuing battle that was threatening to end in dissaster for one or both of them. Consequently, we were eventually forced to chose between them and find another home for one of them. When Linn was 5 years old we reluctantly gave her up to Nancy Rothwell of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Our choice was based upon the fact that Linn was more people oriented and could therefore be more easily placed, and we needed a herding dog, which Linn was not. It was a sad decision for us, but actually a very happy one for Linn. Linn lived the bulk of her life with Nancy, who was devoted to her, and she died at the ripe old age of 15 years. This story is really Jute's story, but illustrates the difference between the two bitches and shows how they quite simply could not live under the same roof. It was written for and first appeard in the Shepherd's Dogge Volume I, Number 1, Spring 1988.

Jute and Linn could not get along. Linn was five years old and Jute was three, so you know who was here first. But Jute was determined to be alpha female, and hounded Linn unmercifully. Linn would keep her temper for just so long, but Jute's badgering would finally push her over the edge, and then they were at each other's throats. I always feared the worst for Jute, as Linn was a third again bigger than her and had a good, strong jaw to boot, Jute's jaw having been weakened through an encounter with a truck when she was still a pup. But sheer obstinacy on Jute's part kept them evenly matched. Shout, cry, pry and pull, it was nearly impossible to tear them apart once they got going, and neither one would back down once the battle began. If you managed to grab one and get her clear of the fray, the other would attack her while she was at a disadvantage. And it was dangerous to try to separate them. You never knew if you were going to be bitten by mistake for you effort.

One day I was coming back from the barn having completed the evening chores. In the barn, all four of my Border Collies got along reasonably well--at least they never had gotten into a fight there--as the sheep occupied all their attention. But on the way back, Jute might start growling at Linn, and then the fireworks would begin. On this particular day, I was accompanied by all four dogs, as well as my mother and father who were visiting me. I was carrying a hat full of eggs, the hens having been productive that day, and me with no other recepticle to hand but my hat to carry the eggs in. I heard Jute growling ahead of me and thought "Uh-oh, here we go again!"

As we entered the kitchen, the two females turned and went for each other . The two males, excited by the fight, decided to get into the act. I shouted to my father "Grab Willy!" I yelled at Moss, "Moss, get back!"--I thought he would because he was more timid than the others and usually didn't like confrontation. I screamed at my mother, "Here, take these!" and held out the hat full of eggs to her. At the same time I started grabbing for Jute with my free hand and yelling "Linn! Jute! Stop it!"

Nothing happened except for Linn and Jute still going at it hammer and tongs, and Moss and Willy barking and dancing around them looking for a way into the skirmish.

I turned to see why my father hadn't taken hold of Willy, and found him standing paralyzed with a bemused expression on his face. My mother, likewise confounded, couldn't rouse herself to take the eggs from my hand. I remembered that neither of them had ever had a dog or any other animal in their lives and were city folks through and through. It had been a struggle just getting them to accompany me down to the barn to see the sheep and poultry.

All this took a split second. "!*&?%+-$#&%!" I exclaimed, and dropped the hat full of eggs. I grabbed Willy myself and dragged him into the back hall, closing the door. I shoved Moss into the living room and told him to stay. I ran back into the kitchen and seized Linn with both hands, lifting her out of the fray so quickly that I surprised both bitches into the moment's inaction that I needed to rush her out onto the front porch and slam the door.

I then went back into the kitchen to see about Jute. I expected to find her torn and bleeding on the kitchen floor--I had seen blood when I pulled Linn off. Instead, I found Jute happily lapping up the eggs that were smashed all over the kitchen floor. There was a little blood on her lower lip where Linn had bitten her, but there was egg all over her face.

Linn4.jpg LinnWillyJute.jpg Linn3.jpg Linn2.jpg
Above, Ettrick Linn, left to right: Linn about 4 or 5 months old; Linn at about 2 years old with Willy (center) and puppy Jute;
Linn at about 2 or 3 years old; and Linn about 8 years old. Below, Linn at about 4 years old.





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Last modified: July 9, 2013