March 8, 2014
The work of the
shepherd, is it not too hard for a woman?
it’s a lot of heavy lifting, but it’s absolutely not harder for a
woman than for a man. You get very strong when working on a farm.
What is the typical day of a modern shepherd?
A typical day is caring for the animals a huge
part of the day, early up, feeding, checking that everyone is
healthy, and feeding in the afternoon. Less to do when they are
outside, but has to be checked then too. Very busy time when there
are lambing in early spring, then it’s watching night and day.
Why did you choose
the collie to have more help in your job?
It’s not very strange – a herder can do 10-mens
job. As working on a farm that made my job extremely easier when I
could send Samantha out to fetch the cows, the calves or sheep. It
was kind of a coincidence that I started with Rough Collie, when
thinking about it it’s strange that I didn’t choose Border Collie.
But when I was younger I read a lot about different
kind of breeds, and from what I read Rough Collies was originally a
great herder, I also found this breed very beautiful and perfect in
size. I started to search for rough Collie puppies and found one
breeder not very far from me, the mother of this litter was also
used for herding chicken/hens.
At that time I didn’t knew very much about
different lines etc, but I was lucky. When I saw the litter and
particular one lady, it was no doubt in my mind that I would take
her, she had a look that just said “here I am” you could see the
rascal in her eyes, she stood out.
Of course she was the one that was coming home with
me, and was called Samantha. She was an extremely good specimen and
I used her for herding cows, calves and sheep. She also worked sheep
together with a Border Collie, they were an excellent team.
In effect there were
many dogs best suited to your country and your climate. Why did you
choose the collie?
After what I read about the breed all these years
ago I found it very suitable for me. Rough Collies have no problems
with our climate. I also have a type of coat on my Collies that are
very water-resistant and branches etc don’t get stuck in their
coats, they have a smooth, straight rough coat (a correct one).
How do you choose
I want a Collie that are outgoing, independent,
fast, natural fetcher, social, have courage, willing to do work,
nosy with a spirit, I will see the “flame inside”. When I have many
of these traits that is the puppy I want to work with. I would never
have chosen a puppy I see is a very tender one, sitting in a corner
not interesting in anything with anxiety. In my house I want a
Collie that have a meaning of its own, a little hotheaded one,
that’s the kind I like and find easy to work with.
we have seen some of them come from show lines. How can you be sure
they will be good workers?
I have a hunch (a gut feeling) and so far I have
been very lucky. My first Collie, Samantha, was out of a mother that
herd. When I bought her I didn’t know very much about different
lines, and – perhaps a little naive – thought that since she was a
herding breed she would herd. She didn’t disappoint me at all. After
she sadly died I bought another Collie, Sammie, (she should in time
be Norway’s most all-round meritated rough Collie, to this day she
is still the only rough Collie here in Norway with a double
championship obedience Elite and conformation, and she is the
brood-bitch in my breeding).
She was an excellent herder too, she started
already 12 weeks young with our hens and as I have my fourth
generation herder here I know much about what’s behind what I have
now. And with what I have learnt all these years I know exactly what
I have also bought a female from Finland, Villemo,
just a couple of years ago, she also shows talent. Mind I am not
competing in herding and I would not consider it as that take too
much time, but to round up and do a good job, whether it’s to move a
flock or round them up, that’s what count. I think with the correct
training and patience many Collies can be used for this type of
As I mentioned I am looking for traits that I want,
like independence, stamina, hunting-instinct etc etc, I do like a “hotheaded”
Collie, as I feel they are easier to work with, it’s always easier
to have an individual that show too much of everything then an
individual that lacks a lot (a slow heavy type). My fourth
generation herder TengelMan is a bit hotheaded, he is starting to
“calm down” now as he is 6 years of age.
This breed has
always worked in cold climates, but Norway is the most cold
imaginable. Did you never have any problems with your low
temperatures? We think about some of our collie who live in heated
homes and shove coats and gloves before going outdoors!
No, never any problems with cold when working. We
have had sheep outside in the wintertime, the problem that can occur
is if it gets too much snow, and problems working – but then the
sheep are moved inside.
How do you train a
collie to work with sheep?
Herding instinct is derived from the Collie's
instinct to hunt - the prey drive.
When we are herding, my Collie controls the flock,
but I have to be in control of my Collie. Herding is teamwork
between my Collie and me and the relationship between us is very
Their work with sheep/hens/cows demands that they
Herding is a controlled activity, absolutely not a
wild frenzy of activity, the dog is not allowed to chase, even if it
can get a bit fast sometimes, especially in the beginning.
It is important that they know and are responsive
to certain commands before they are taken to train with the flock.
They have to know, as a minimum, stay (stand, sit or lay down) stop
and recall. They also have to know left from right, and here I use
my arms. I train this moment with a help from a fence, my Collie is
on one side and I am on the other, tell them and show them which
direction is what and that way I learn them the difference between
right and left. I also use voice in the work. It’s important to read
I praise them when they is doing the right thing,
that’s very important, and to be consistent. Build up a confidence
with them. I am training short period of times, and the training
shall always be fun.
The first I have to do is learn them at 8 – 10
weeks young to walk with a leash, teach them how to stop – say
command. Teach lay down and sit. Be consistent, but I always train
with positivity and short short sequences.
As I wrote earlier I introduce my Collies early to
sheep/hens. Sammie was an extraordinary Collie and she herd the hens
in at night when she was only 3 1/ 2 months young. In the sheep
field I have them in a long leash, about 15 meters when I let them
in for the first times. Here I can see if they show any interest,
and see how they behave around sheep. That we are doing several
months. Dogs that don’t show any interest at first – wait – and then
introduce them to sheep a bit later – some dogs are “late bloomers”.
Then I start with a few sheep in a pen, get the
sheep moving and let the pups/young Collie loose. My Collies have
then ran in front of them and stop them, this is
that they are born with, if they do this it is a good subject to
It’s also exciting to now see that the previous
training has been successful and that they remembers the commands.
Should he be too eager, then use a long leash and give a little jerk
and praise when he stops. Never forget to praise, all kind of work
should be positive.
The most important is to have a Collie that can
stop the sheep. Collies, is not as low in the body as the BC when
they herd, and don’t use their eyes like the BC, but I have had both
“eye-herder” and “body-herder” in my Collies, so in my experience
it’s very individual when it comes to Collies. My Sammie was also
very vocal when she herd. This is not very strange as breeders a
hundred years ago wanted Collies that had a strong voice to be able
to alarm other herders when they drove their flocks, not all think
about that and see it as a negative trait.
I learn them to stand in front of the sheep so they
don’t run away. We are two persons, I send her/him and say stop.
Should she/he not stop then comes a little jerk in the leash. They
don’t connect the jerk with me as the helper does the jerk. At the
beginnings just a short distance. When she/he stops the sheep we
have come a long way. There shall also be a distant between them and
the sheep, extreme important if there are lambs in the flock.
Then he/she should be able to bring the flock
towards me, I send them out to stop the sheep and then I go towards
the flock. He/she is on the opposite of me (12 o’clock from me). I
have taught them the difference between left and right and as I move
left or right he/she does the opposite.
If she/he is too close to the flock I go between
the flock and her/him to “push” her/him further out. Here I also let
her/him circle around the flock when I all the time is between
her/him and the flock. After a round then I am changing directions
Samantha herd bull calves and as we don’t approve of the dog going
in and “bite/nip” sometimes they have to. It’s not easy to work with
bull calves and Samantha was allowed to nip them in their legs to
move them. She never did that on the sheep or on the cows and of
course never draw blood.
At what age did you
begin to teach them?
I have started as early as 12 weeks with hens. And
about 4-6 months with sheep, just letting them watch and get
interested. If they shouldn’t be interested at once, then wait a
couple of weeks and try again. I find many people giving up too
We see, however,
that your collie not only works with the sheep. Obedience, Search
and Rescue, Agility, Tracking, Backpacking, Carting, Hunting,
Skijoring, Fun in the Water, Biking, not to mention the Exhibition.
But where do you find time and strength to do all that?
to be honest, all my free-time evolves around my Collies in some
way, working or training. And none of my Collies have asked to come
to me, so it’s my duty to make their lives as active and interesting
as I possibly can with different kind of activities. And it’s also
very fulfilling for me to work along with them.
About hunting, that is one of my brilliant
puppy-buyers, Lena, doing that, she has also gained a double
blood-tracking-champion-title on Casper – he is the first and so far
the only rough Collie gained that double-title in Norway (he is also
a certified cadaver-dog).
I do not show very much as I don’t find it very fun
and it sometimes seem as it’s kind of a lottery about who wins and
not, I often feel that it can be the “wrong end of the leash” that
wins. Occasionally I have attended some shows, and I am extremely
proud of the results my Collies have gotten. Agility is only play
and some I do because they find it amusing running through and over
hurdles. But I have a couple of competitions in agility years ago
with Samantha. Search is one of the activities I especially love,
and in addition to herding is a task where I really see my Collies
As my Collie-crew are working it’s important to get
muscles on them and stamina – to wade in water, swim and hiking with
back-packing is some that can help with that. Biking and skijoring I
find very fun, especially when they are pulling me. I also think
it’s important to do versatile things with them. New things will
always stimulate them and make them better problem-solvers.
And the collie can
really manage in all these activities?
For me a Collie can do it all, I find the breed a
“total package” (that is of course if it’s not an individual that
are nervous and anxious and slow).
This is breeder’s responsibility to only breed dogs
that are mentally strong. It’s both bad by the dog and of course by
the puppy-buyers to breed dogs with anxieties. Unfortunately I also
find many Collie-owners giving up too easy. Many owners of today it
seems they don’t realize it take times (and sometimes lots of it)
and hard work to train the dog to do a special work.
I find much of the degrading that also some
“preach” extremely negative, which is also coming from people that
have problems gaining good results. They have a tendency to “lower
the bar” for everyone else since they can’t make it themselves. I
see this here in Norway and it’s sad.
Looking at the dogs
that you have now, we note that they are all tricolors. Is it a case
or is there a reason?
I simply love that color and find it the absolute
most beautiful. Now, I can’t think of another color then tricolor,
it’s also standing out color-wise when herding, easy to spot
Sometimes my parents are watching my Collie-crew and as my mother
says the tricolor is the best, although she can tolerate a shaded
You have clear ideas
about what is a breeder. For example you say that there are
breeders, and then, there are BREEDERS. Do you think regarding the
latter are there still many in the world?
I am extremely fond of my breed, I want us
breeders/owners of Collies to have high standards. When I see
breeders using individuals in their breeding that are anxious and
“slow” it make me sad. The mentality and working abilities is the
number one in my eyes. And of course the health has to be good in
the breeding material. But it doesn’t matter how beautiful and
healthy a Collie is if it can’t cope with the day-to-day life
because of anxiety and anxiousness, Collies that can’t walk on
floors etc. I find that kind of specimen bad and should not be bred
I find it important to not only breed for looks,
but also take the mentality and working capacity in consideration. I
mean that before breeding a Collie he/she should have proven that
he/she can work.
And it’s a disgrace when people use individuals for
breeding when they are nervous and anxious. The chances of getting
nervous dogs after that kind of parents are very high. Anxiety and
fear are highly hereditary.
Not saying that I, as a breeder, can’t get a puppy
that is not like I want it to be, of course I can, but by using only
dogs that are confident and don’t have anxieties in different
grades, the chance is so much higher to get stable and good puppies,
that can bring joy to their new owners.
Of course there are – luckily - some breeders out
there that also consider the “whole animal” and not only that it has
“correct eyes/ears/tail and some conformation-titles” when breeding.
have gained an exceptional experience in dealing with the collie
about the job for which the breed was created. No more than you can
answer this question. But is the collie morphologically and
characterially yet what the shepherds have selected some centuries
This question is difficult to answer.
The exterior of a Collie has in some ways changed a
lot in some lines. But when seeing pictures from a century ago and
today it’s not difficult to see that it is a Collie.
Unfortunately I see many breeders today that don’t
considerate the “inside” of the individual, but if it has a sweet
face and some conformation-titles it’s enough to breed. It’s also
strange that I see lots of males looking like females.
I also see that for many breeders it’s important to
DNA test for different things, I am not against it, but what I react
on is that some think that is the only way. To take an example, a
Collie is certified free of CEA (DNA), but has a lousy temperament
(anxious etc). That one is used for breeding because of the eyes,
On the mentally-side I see Collies that has no
stamina, are slow and heavy. Not my type at all. I have seen some
heavy-boned Collies with no speed and guts at all and this is bred
from. And at least here in Norway we have breeders that want that
kind of Collies.
We have Collies that are extremely afraid of
gun-shots and thunder. I can’t imagine Collies from the past that
were used as a herder was afraid of things like that. A herder can’t
“flip-out” when he/she is working and a thunderstorm should arrive.
I have myself Collies that don’t react at all on firework and
A Collie is a ”light” breed that should be able to
turn on a dime, but some I see – I call them ”draw-up-collies” – are
so heavy-boned that they look like Berner Sennen breed, but for some
breeder that is correct. For me it’s ugly and so incorrect.
On the positive side it’s absolutely possible to
find what you want, a good working prospect if just looking. Always
check out the parents (and also what’s behind them) before buying a
pup – then you can get an idea of what to expect. It’s easier to get
a working-prospect pup when parents have shown that they can work.
Thank you Elisabeth, and HAPPY WOMEN'S DAY!