Friday, April 25, 2008

Shem... Sam's Puppy

Isn't he cute?

I didn't know what an English Shepherd was... until Sam and I were walking into the grocery store a few weeks ago and saw pictures of free puppies on the bulletin board. Sam had been looking for a puppy for months, but the rest of the family didn't usually agree with the dogs he wanted to get.

Sam: "I found this hound advertised..."
Us: "A hound?! No way! We don't want to hear a hound chasing rabbits through the woods waking us up every night."

Sam: "I found a St. Bernard..."
Us: "Sam! Do you know how much food a dog that size will eat?!"

These puppies looked medium sized, cute... and they were free. So, we copied down the phone number and Sam immediately called about them. He was so excited to have the family finally sanction his choice. The next day when he brought home his English Shepherd puppy, I discovered that I really, really liked him.

I like dogs... sometimes. Well, as long as they don't jump all over me with muddy paws and lick me every time I step out of my car and never stop yapping, licking, jumping, and nearly tripping me. Shem doesn't do that. He's really the first puppy I've ever met who wags his tail and bounces up and down happily, but doesn't jump ON you or get in your way! Amazingly, he doesn't chase the chickens or torment the cats or bark incessantly either.

Shem's such a pleasant little feller... I have to say, I've decided that I really like the personality of English Shepherds. They're friendly, calm, intelligent, and kind to other animals and little people.

-- Mary

A bit more about the breed, gleaned from sources on the internet...

The English Shepherd is an extremely versatile breed of working dog, developed in the United States from farmdogs brought by the settlers from England and Scotland. The English Shepherd is a highly intelligent, practical all-around farm dog, being used as a herding dog, watch dog, hunting dog, vermin eradicator and child's companion. It was possibly the most common breed during the 1800s before fancy pedigrees became en vogue around the turn of the 19th century. Many farmers appreciated the breed for their versatility and not for their flash or strict conformation to a standard of appearance. These dogs were bred to do various tasks around the farm and not for show.

Unlike some other herding dogs, as a breed English Shepherds have not been specialized to work one species of livestock. English Shepherds have primarily been used on small diversified farms that have a number of different livestock species, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and fowl. English shepherds both herd and protect livestock.

The English Shepherd temperament is the defining characteristic of the breed, with great intelligence and often a unique type of kindness for those in his home, both animals and people. The English Shepherd is often an independent worker. English Shepherds are adaptable and learn routines quickly. Some can be watchful of strangers and are more one-person dogs. However, once he accepts people or children or stock as his own, there are few better caretakers than an English Shepherd.

While very happy on a farm with chores to do, the English Shepherd makes an excellent family companion. Because of its working background and devotion to family the English Shepherd makes a great companion for an active family committed to involving their dog in their daily life. They want to be part of the family and remain a working dog. The English Shepherd is happiest when he has a job to do; watching the kids, escorting the family to the park, and guarding the property from the UPS driver are all tasks the modern English Shepherd excels at.

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