June 29, 1978 - February 24, 1993

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Willy shortly after we brought him home at 9 weeks old

Above, Willy's maternal grandsire, Maurice MacGregor's famous New England Trials Champion, RobRoy NASDS 17846
herding suffolk ewes at a sheepdog trial in the Northeast.

Willy05TrampJudy.jpg Willy02.jpg Left, Willy's sire (left) and dam, Cessnock Tramp NASDS 20650 and Judy NASDS 19331. Tramp was the smooth-coated son of Alex McKinven's Tweed NASDS 13685. Judy was the daughter of Maurice MacGregor's RobRoy NASDS 17846.

FOOT (v.t., to add up,
as numbers in a column,
e.g., "to foot the bill")

by Carole L. Presberg

[Our first Border Collie, Willy, was born in July 1978 and died in February 1994 at the age of 15 3/4. This story was written for and first appeard in the Shepherd's Dogge Volume VIII, Number 3 Fall 1995]

NewWilly.jpg It was my 4th year at farming, my 3rd spring with lambs born at the farm. The previous fall I had bred more ewes than ever before--20--and this spring they all had twins and I hadn't lost a one--40 lambs all rollicking and romping in the pasture--I was in 7th heaven.

There were now 60 sheep grazing an orchard outside my perimeter fence, and being a bit uneasy, each morning I drove the flock into the orchard with Willy, and each evening I sent Willy to gather them into the barnyard for the night, while I dutifully counted to make sure everyone was safely in. But, have you ever tried counting young lambs, all running about baaing and bleating and playing leap-frog and laup-the-dike, and their mothers calling anxiously after them?

One evening I thought I had everyone, but Winifred kept looking back at the orchard and calling for her lambs; and Willy kept returning to the orchard as if he'd left someone behind. So I counted again and I counted a third time, but each time I thought I got the correct number. Then I went back to the orchard two or three times and had a look around, but found nothing. "C'mon, Willy," I said, "we've got them all."

Willy03.jpg The next day we drove the sheep out again, and that evening when we brought them back in, Winnie refused to come, and so did Willy! This time my tally showed one lamb short and I returned to the orchard. Willy and Winnie were both standing beside a big old hollow apple tree at the center of the orchard, and I was astounded by what I saw!

Willy7.jpg Or, rather, what I didn't see. For barely visible, sticking out of a small crack about three feet up the trunk, was a little black cloven hoof! And inside the trunk was Heathcliff, Winifred's ram lamb! He must have crawled in through the rather small crack at the bottom of the tree, and climbed up toward the light visible through a large hole, now just above his head. There, his foot must have slipped and lodged in the crack at the bottom of the hole, and he was stuck. His struggles had wedged his hoof tighter and it took a saw to free him. He had spent more than 24 hours in the tree and hadn't made a sound, or I should have found him given the number of times I had passed by that tree. But he was none the worse for wear.

The moral? Count on your sheepdog. Mine could foot better than I!






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Last modified: July 9, 2013