Sunday, 19 July 2015

My Collies of Rookwood

Oz and Sam looking at Mapassa

As I laid Bruce to rest this week, I realized how many Border Collies have crossed my path at Rookwood.  My fur family of various Collies has always been part of my life on the farm and I have walked many kilometres all over the farm and enjoyed sharing my time with them.

A young Bruce

Bruce loved balls
Bruce was a cross Border Collie given to us when he was a mere three weeks old.  He was actually too small to be taken away from his mom however, survived by sleeping in a shoebox next to my bed.  He was a very pretty Collie and loved to play ball or chase Frisbees.  Now, although he had the Collie background, his sheep herding skills were lacking.  His best method of herding or driving stock was to run into the flock of sheep and scatter them in all directions.  

Initially, Bruce travelled everywhere in the front of the truck with his boss, Swithan, until one day he had a bad altercation with the bakkie. He then decided that farm work was to be left to the other dogs on the farm.  Bruce was the dominant dog and always made sure the rest of the pack knew that.  In later years he spent a lot of his time guarding the woodwork shop or dutifully following his boss, Swithan around the yard.  If Swithan was out on the farm, Bruce would quietly climb onto the chair in the workshop and wait patiently until he returned.  Bruce had one good friend, Smokey the cat.  They grew up together and although Smokey did outlive Bruce, there was always mutual respect for each other.

Bruce patiently allowing a dassie to warm himself on his legs

Jack and Sam as puppies
The next two oldest collies on the farm are Jack and Sam.  These two brothers came as puppies from Lyndon Snelling, one of our neighbours, who farms closer to Cathcart.  Jack and Sam are classical black and white collies and came from good ‘working parents’.  Jack, the smaller of the two was the runt in the litter, but this has never stopped him. 

Both puppies battled initially with car sickness and to travel on the back of the bakkie.  This they outgrew as they got older. 

Jack resting

Jack has worked hard over the years and one can see that his body is slowing down now.  His feet have walked many, many kilometres behind cattle being driven to or from Duncraggen.  

Jack in the snow

 Jack has always been the more active dog of the two.

Jack herding the chickens in the snow!

Sam could sleep anyway
inside too!
Sam on the other hand, is the dog that will use his weight/body to bring down a sheep that needs to be stopped.  Sam has always walked behind, but has equally had as much mileage under his paws driving cattle to and from Duncraggen.   

Sam prefers to sleep outside and guard his tractors while Jack loves to sleep inside.

Sam looks like 'dogzilla'!

They both enjoy walking with me, but I can see that both battle now if I go on long walks.  Sam survived two bad cases of biliary with a blood transfusion a necessity in the first case.  It was touch and go but he pulled through while Jack gave us a rabies scare a little while ago, which fortunately seemed to be a paralysis of his jaw – thankfully.  They are both fully recovered now.

Jack swimming in a dam

Sam always listening

Oz the teddy bear pup

The next special dog is Oz.  Now Oz is the not so typical a Collie as firstly, he is a dark brown in colour and secondly he has a much shorter coat.  He does however, have the typical white tip on his tail and white colour (half) and blaze. Oz originates from Aberdeen and he arrived early in January looking like a little teddy bear.  

Oz grew up with lots of water and became a star when his water loving antics became the front cover of the agricultural magazine, the Landbouweekblad.  It was after this that he was nicknamed ‘water baby’.  

Oz the water baby

Oz doing what he loves best - travelling
Oz travelled a lot in the front of the vehicle and still loves to travel like this.  As opposed to Jack and Sam, he would travel for kilometres quite comfortably and behave himself on a lead wherever you took him.  Oz loves to work sheep and cattle, but tends to be a bit of a bull in a china shop and wants to ‘stop’ the stock instead of driving them on, or if you send him to collect the stock he will run the whole perimeter of a camp to do so.

Oz catching a snowball

Oz loves Frisbees, (they all do) but he specifically will jump tremendous heights to catch them.  He also clears a two-metre fence quite comfortably if he hasn’t got the patience to wait for you to open the gate.  He would have been an extremely good agility dog.  Oz had one pet hate – Bruce!  He now has his own space and is slowly getting used to this.


Oz with his yellow eyes

The second youngest dog is called Scott.  Scott came to us two years ago when we went to the Border Collie Rescue in Cape Town to collect Zorro.  Kevin wanted company for his dog called Angie and applied to adopt Zorro.  When we saw Scott being advertised, we decided to offer him a forever home.  So very early at the end of the June winter’s morning, we loaded Zorro and Scott to come to their new homes.  Unlike Zorro, we do not know where Scott really comes from as he was rescued from the Anti-animal Cruelty League.  

Scott and Zorro

Scott the relaxed dog

Scott and Jack together catching a lift!

Scott is such a gentle dog and from the beginning, we knew that he was not going to be the aggressive one. 

Initially, he did not know what sheep were and he would jump up and down and squeal while being kept on a lead to ‘introduce’ him to the sheep.  

Scott also gave us a couple of scary moments when he seemed not to realize that Rookwood was home and was once picked up by the staff of the neighbour as a lost dog. Scott, however, has now settled down and loves to work stock especially cattle. 

He is really quite a chilled dog yet thoroughly enjoys the space he lives in.  He is not an early morning riser and is quick to go back to bed should it look like it’s too dark outside.  Scott loves to sit on your lap, if you give him half the chance, even though he will not really fit!!!  We are just so grateful he has settled in so well.



Scamp on the night he was found

The last little dog at Rookwood is a spring chicken.  Scampie arrived here towards the end of April as a lost dog found running around on the gravel road nearby Rookwood. 

Despite advertising and responding to two queries, it became quite clear that Scamp was going to become part of the fur family at Rookwood.  Scamp was a mere six months old and initially an extremely scared dog. He had obviously had a bad start in life.  

Scamp leaping across the water

Introducing him to the river and the water was an experience he clearly had to get used to.  Once he gained confidence after circling one of the pools in the river whilst getting closer and closer to the water, he now enjoy running in and out of the water.

getting used to water
Scamp loves the furrow

Scamp has grown up a bit and has discovered sheep is what Border Collies are all about and we have to watch that he doesn’t spend his time herding the sheep in the land below the house.  

ever alert Scamp

His eagerness in driving them into a kraal caused Swithan great consternation, thinking the sheep had been stolen whilst Scamp had hidden them behind the kraal wall!  Two days ago Scamp drove cattle to the camp and is beginning to do what all the clever Border Collies naturally do.  He is a very happy boy now and spends some of his time jumping and barking at his own shadow.  He has grown in confidence and is typically full of energy as a youngster. He truly is a beautiful classical Border Collie.

on a walk with the 'cousins' at Rookwood

Sometimes on weekends, the ‘cousins’ come to visit – these are Kevin’s three dogs, namely Angie, Zorro and Buksie.  They all love going for a walk together.  One can then truly say they are all carefree, contented Collies on Rookwood.

Happy collies on the bakkie

Happy collies in the veldt!


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