Singing praises of English Shepherds


I have been surprised by the feedback I have received from last week’s column regarding the decades-old murder of two brothers and their ever-watchful English Shepherd.
A note from a man who asked not to be identified simply said, “I loved my old English Shepherd more than I ever loved a wife, and I had more than one of them. The English Shepherd proved more loyal to me than any person I ever knew.”
Another reaction came from a man who told me he lived in New London when the murders took place. He sought me out while I was in the grocery store, saying he reads my column and just had to say something about this latest one.
“I can tell you that we mourned the murder of that great dog just like we mourned the murder of those men. It was just plain wrong, from start to finish. That dog would have done anything to protect those men, and those murderers knew it. That’s why they went armed with a bow and arrow.”
Just this morning, my husband returned from the local gathering place, the Jeromesville store (that’s a whole ‘nother column in itself!) and told me that the conversation turned to that particular story.
Joe Wilford said, “I was in high school when that murder took place, and I was working at the local newspaper. I remember the news came in and they sent me down to stop the presses.” A young man would not forget such a moment as that.
The conversation prompted another man, Ed Blough, to recall several great English Shepherd dogs that his family had over the years, all likely going back to my grandparents’ breeding stock. He said he remembered one of their English Shepherds was determined to be a groundhog hunter.
Not only would he hunt them down and kill them, but he would bring them to his family, lined up all in a row on the lawn, nice and straight, for all to see. He said they would get rid of them by dragging them off someplace, and the next thing you know, there they would be, all lined up in a perfectly straight row once again.
He said the English Shepherds they had were not only groundhog dogs, but they were quick to want to go hunting in the woods for raccoon, as well. Doug told him he always said if he had ever crossed an English Shepherd with one of his best hunting hounds, he would have had a world champion hunter.
Blough told about the English Shepherd that was quite the watch dog. Back at that time, everyone had a milk man, a bread man, a mail man. He said the dog came to know those fellows, and would gladly let them pass and go inside. For some strange reason, though, he would stay right near the door and refuse to let them back out of the house!
I grew up knowing and loving this great breed, and working right alongside of them on our dairy farm. It would be hard to find a better all-around farm companion with the work ethic and heart of gold that this breed carries.
Henry Wheeler Shaw once said, “A dog is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
That pretty much sums up every great English Shepherd I’ve ever been lucky enough to know.


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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, in college.