We’re welcoming our next Billy

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English Shepherd, Billy

This story, in the process of unfolding, is surely one that has had many hands in it.

Today would have been our great Billy dog’s 9th birthday, and the hole left in our hearts and on this farm with his passing is impossible to describe.

Ironic, isn’t it, that over the course of a lifetime, it takes sadness to know what happiness is, and absence to truly value presence.

Lindsey, a lifetime friend of my daughter Caroline, told me recently she reached out to a breeder of Great Pyrenees, thinking a Pyr pup would be a good fit in her family’s life.

As she answered questions so wisely asked by the breeder, Lindsey was surprised to hear, “I have a feeling what you’re really looking for is a family farm dog. Have you ever heard of the English Shepherd?”

Lindsey was put in touch with a woman in Oklahoma, and pictures of a cute little black and white female puppy were shared.

Lindsey sent me a message, saying, “Your name has come up quite a few times lately!” as she reached out to English Shepherd breeders.

Lindsey’s excitement for this pup and the breed began to heal my aching heart. This breed needs someone of Lindsey’s generation to champion its amazing strengths.

A week or so went by, with Lindsey deciding she is ready to add the female puppy to her young family. The breeder then let Lindsey know she had acquired a pick-of-the-litter male from Texas, her male the sire.

Lindsey wanted only the female, but thankfully, also mentioned it to me. Pictures were exchanged, along with pedigree. This pup is meant to be ours. Coming soon!

This black and tan with a white blaze on his chest, looks stunningly like Billy did as a pup. His pedigree, on the sire side, is quite similar to Billy’s. The dam’s pedigree runs to a rare, old line, which is valuable beyond measure.

Most importantly, to me, is bringing new lineage into this area of the U.S., as my life’s goal is to help keep the black and tan English Shepherd alive. It is of great concern to watch numbers within this rare breed, specifically the black and tan, of working farm dogs dwindling.

There are so many stories within this story, along with the unseen layers of happenstance that go back many different avenues.

My grandparents, well-known for giving this breed a strong following on farms across the U.S. in the 1930s and ’40s, are surely smiling down on it all.

I’m counting down the days, as Lindsey says, when we make the happy trip to bring two English Shepherds back to Jeromesville, Ohio.

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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.

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