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The Shepherd's Dog

AnimalAnecdotes Home




James Hogg, the shepherd poet, had a dog named Sirrah, who was for many
years his sole companion. He was, the shepherd says, the best dog he ever
saw, in spite of his surly manners and unprepossessing appearance. The
first time he saw the dog, a drover was leading him by a rope, and,
although hungry and lean, "I thought," Hogg tells us, "I discovered a sort
of sullen intelligence in his face, so I gave the drover a guinea for him.
I believe there never was a guinea so well laid out. He was scarcely then
a year old, and knew nothing of herding; but as soon as he discovered that
it was his duty to do so, I can never forget with what eagerness he
learned. He would try every way till he found out what I wanted him to do;
and when once I made him to understand a direction, he never forgot or
mistook it again."

About seven hundred lambs, which were at once under Mr. Hogg's care, broke
up at midnight, and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in
spite of all that the shepherd and an assistant lad could do to keep them
together. "Sirrah," cried the shepherd, in great affliction, "my man,
they're a' awa." The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the
faithful animal had heard his master's words, and without more ado he set
off in quest of the flock. The shepherd and his companion spent the whole
night in scouring the hills, but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could
they obtain the slightest trace. "We had nothing for it," says the
shepherd, "but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost
his whole flock of lambs. On our way home, however, we discovered a body
of lambs at the bottom of a deep ravine, and Sirrah standing in front of
them, looking all around for some relief. We concluded that it was one of
the divisions of the lambs which Sirrah had been unable to manage until he
came to that commanding situation. But what was our astonishment when we
discovered by degrees that not one was wanting! How he had got all the
divisions collected in the dark is beyond my comprehension. I never felt
so grateful to any creature below the sun as I did to my honest Sirrah
that morning."





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