Our border collies, as friends and regular customers know, play a huge role in our operation. We rely on our dogs to help move sheep from one paddock to the next, to bring sheep into the corrals, to doctor sheep in the pasture, and to load trailers. I always have at least one dog with me every day - most days, I have both Taff and Mo (and sometimes Ernie as well). My canine partners lend structure to my day - if I'm running errands in town, I look for shady parking places and make sure my truck windows are rolled up to a level that will prevent them from hopping out to follow me. I rely on our dogs to make my work efficient and un-stressful. Sometimes I don't realize how much I rely on them until they are not available.
On Saturday afternoon, I took Taff with me to check on a small group of ewes at Blossom Hill Farm here in Auburn. While I was checking on the sheep, a beekeeper drove into the farm to check his bees. Taff decided that the shade under his car was inviting - too inviting. As the beekeeper left, he injured Taff. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but Taff has sore ribs and a sore front leg. He's laid up for the next 2-3 weeks.
Mo, who is without question our most talented dog (I say "our" - he belongs to our oldest daughter Lara, who let's me use him), ended up with foxtails in his right front foot over the weekend. He was okay Sunday, but as I prepared to leave for work this morning, he was hopping around on 3 legs.
Without Mo and Taff, I was down to Ernie - who's not quite ready for prime time yet. I had planned to bring one flock of sheep into the corrals today to put them through a footbath. Without any canine help, I wasn't up to the task.
While my lack of dog power changed my work today, I most noticed the little changes. I didn't need to worry about shady parking places or window height. I didn't have anyone to talk to as I was driving from one ranch to another. I realized how much I miss both the companionship and the help.
I joke with kids who visit our operation that one of the best things about my job is that I get to take my dogs with me everywhere I go. Days like this - without dogs - make me realize that this is no joke!