More than just man’s best friend


Man’s best friend is a title that seems to fall short. Few best friends have ever blessed me with such reverence as the dogs who have walked this life with me.
And into my life, yet another blessing has fallen.
My dad used to say, “We couldn’t farm without him,” speaking of his English Shepherd, Bill.
We now have a farm and the great farm dog to go with it. Farm and Dairy readers who have followed this space for a time will remember Murphy, the great dog who was so wise she even penned the column from time to time.
Her loss was great; we could not dream of attempting to replace her for the longest time.
Changes. Since we moved to this farm, the thought of another English Shepherd tugged at us. An ad in the Farm and Dairy seemed to be written in bold, reaching off the classified page to us.
Doug called the Weavers and we made plans to make the trip, along with our friend, Chad Helbert.
Dog day jitters. Like a kid, I was getting antsy as the trip seemed to grow longer than I had expected. I couldn’t wait to lay eyes and hands on those black and tan beauties.
It was worth the drive. Both the mama and the papa dog impressed us with their dairy farming dog instincts and their welcoming committee personalities.
Touching tales. The Weavers shared with us the great story of watching this mama dog carrying abandoned, hungry kittens so carefully in her mouth, one by one, bringing them to share the nest with her large litter of puppies.
The kittens and pups nursed, side by side, peacefully filling their bellies from this amazing mama English Shepherd.
Final pick. I chose the puppy that reminded me so much of our dear Miss Murphy.
This puppy has four white feet just like Murphy did, and a little patch of white on her chest, just like Murph. Her tan markings and her sweet face are all amazingly like Murphy’s.
The hardest part was having to leave her that night, waiting for the calendar to say it was time to pick her up.
Yesterday, Doug and Chad made the trip back to the beautiful dairy farm in the eastern part of Ohio, each bringing a pretty little female pup back home.
Changing of the guard. Channing may never quite fill Miss Murphy’s paws. We cannot expect her to.
We will train her the best way we know how, and hope that some of Murphy’s amazing spirit shines through from time to time.
The name Channing is a good beginning, as it is an English name meaning “wise.” I’ll keep you posted.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.