Day 7 of the 30 days, 30 words challenge:
sheep dog, a dog trained to herd and protect sheep; specifically a) a collie b) a large, gentle dog with a short talk and long, rough hair covering the face and eyes: also called old English sheep dog.
O’Brien looked at the pup. He had been the runt of his litter. When he was just born, O’Brien had to put the other dogs away, in a pen, to let him feed. Otherwise, he was always just waiting behind the others, still blinded from new birth and unable to find a way over his brothers and sisters and to the teats. O’Brien named him Bídeach, but most of the time he called him Bid or Biddy. Siobhan thought it was a waste to time to train him for the herd, “Such a bitty body, bitty brain,” but O’Brien sensed she was wrong. And the first time he let him out with the sheep when he was barely a month old, he didn’t run them ragged the way most young pups did. Without training, he began to move closer to the herd, to crouch low, and after a moment, to move close again. From that time, O’Brien took Bid out to the fields with him almost every day, even when the other dogs were working. And when the other dogs herded, Bid stayed right by his side until the color started to drain out of the sky and they headed back to the house. O’Brien had been raised to love animals but hold them at a distance, and he had been able to do that most of his life. He knew that animals came and went and that was the natural order of things. It was best not to become attached. But something about the way Bid had changed things. So when Bid started to take breaks when he was running, to pant and lie down, O’Brien felt a knot form inside his chest. Runts are apt to live shorter lives, to have more health issues. Nature makes them work harder to survive. “You’ve done a good job here,” O’Brien said, reaching down to stroke the pup’s black and white fur. “You can leave whenever you’re ready.” Such a small thing to have taken up such a large space, he thought to himself. Such a very small thing.
3 responses to “sheep dog”
Beautifully written and convincingly imagined.
Just so you know, I am a huge fan of sheep dog trials. One year, for her birthday, I took Susie out to the Yorkshire downs in a massive driving rain to see the All-England Finals — which were mercifully canceled. So we went the next day too to applaud the dogs working in the mud,
I have had only had three dogs in my life. Bobo went to live with my parents when we moved to DC with an infant son. My mother, who had never had a pet of any kind, heated up Bobo’s dog food on the stove.
Gussie was known by me as the GDP (God Damned Poodle) because Susie chose him when Will was four and I had no say in the matter of what dog to fall in love with. He lived to be 18.
Now my constant companion is Teddy, a pound rescue from the west side where he had been abused and abandoned. We’ve been together for 4 years. We think he is about 6 or 7 now. He is incredibly intelligent and gentle. When he sees a young child, he will walk over to him or her and sit down, waiting to be petted. Whenever I walk with him, people smile at us and talk to him. He is beginning to slow down and can’t jump much anymore. Like me, he is no longer an athlete. So it goes for us all as we age. But he loves the mountains and the desert and the forests.
One of us will miss the other someday.
Beautiful, Steve. Thank you.
Thanks for the lovely story about Bid, very endearing.