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Arizona Sheepdog
A Video Pick of the Week

I was rereading John Pilley’s Chaser, a must-read book about his dog, Chaser, the Border Collie who learned to distinguish over 1000 words. One of the aspects of the book I really enjoyed was his appreciation for Border Collie lore, with a nod to others, like Arthur Allen, the “grandfather of Border Collies,” who wrote the seminal Border Collies in America and went on to “star” in a 1955 Disney movie, Arizona Sheepdog. Pilley mentioned that it’s now available on YouTube, so I just watched it and want to recommend it to every dog lover. It’s my video “pick” of the week!

Granted it is a “staged” Disney film but what Nick and Rock, Allen’s dogs do on this film cannot be directed.  It was stunning to see how Nick herds a Navajo child’s pet chipmunk and then goes on to rescue sheep that have fallen into a fast moving river. These are amazing dogs who demonstrate that not only can they problem solve without supervision but they also work cooperatively with each other. This short film is a testament to Allen who has said, “I like a dog that is an individualist; one who thinks for himself and will act without orders.” As the film narrator says, Allen had no doubt that Nick would do his job and bring the sheep back to their flock. That is what they expected he would do and he did it. See it for yourself and let me know what you think.

 

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Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and editor in chief. thebark.com
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Submitted by Donald McCaig | August 19 2013 |

Dear Claudia,
Allen was an amazing sheepdogger. There's dog work in this short film few could do today. In Scotland in 1988 they still talked about the tall American, "Oh he'd come over for the International and sit in the stands and watch every run and you couldn't say a word to him. Not a word. He was concentrating to the dogs you see."

Donald McCaig

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | August 19 2013 |

Donald, Thanks for your comments, your insight is invaluable.

And to everyone else, Donald McCaig is another person who values Border Collie lore, and wrote one of my favorite dog books, Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men. He too is a remarkable sheepdogger, and a true friend of sheepdogs. He also wrote a book about the Border Collie battles with the AKC, another of my must-read books, The Dog Wars: How the Border Collie Battled the American Kennel Club.

 

Submitted by Frances Hogan | August 20 2013 |

I loved this video! I have shared it widely. Thank you so much, Claudia.

And what a treat to see one of my favorite authors, Donald McCaig, weighing in with delightful comments. I loved both of Donald's books that you mentioned. I also loved Nop's trials and have read it several times. It is one of the best dog novels I ever read--and in 60 years, I've read a fair number.

I also still share with people an article Donald wrote about watching the folks in Scotland as the local constabulary conducted an examination of the weapons in the house. It did not seem to bother people at all that the local police knew how many guns they had, nor that they could not have certain types of guns.

Submitted by Laura | August 28 2013 |

Dear Frances,
I loved this video too. As for people and their guns, if people aren't ruled by paranoia or by willful blindness as to the societal damage of such things as "assault" weapons, they'd have no problem with the local police knowing what guns they have.

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