Jet is from Raven's first litter, by Porter's Cyrus Jim, born December 2004. He lives on a farm in Essex, New York, with his owners Mark and Kristin Kimball. Jet is OFA good, MDR-1 normal/normal. He was featured in an article in Small Farmer's Journal in 2006.
Owner's description of Jet at 3 years of age:
"On a biddability scale of 1 - 10, he's a 12. He is highly intelligent and often learns lessons in one go -- e.g., the first time he followed me to the mailbox and stepped onto the road, I gave him a good solid "no," set him back ten yards and told him to stay, and since then, when we go to the mailbox, he stops ten yards before the end of the driveway and waits. That's typical for him.
He's strongly bonded to me, but he will work for my husband with encouragement. He knows his boundaries, has never wandered off the farm despite being intact. He is gentle with babies of all species, a friend to children and his cats. He is fairly non-reactive, doesn't bark or generally even get up when new people come to the farm -- but that may be because we have a constant stream of visitors here so he figures that's nothing to get excited about. He alerts to stock that are out of place or loose, so we know that if Jet's barking, something is definitely wrong.
As a guardian, he keeps the chickens safe from airborne predators and also drives away ravens and crows but ignores other birds, just the way we want him to. We've had no fox or coyote trouble since he joined the team. We do suffer from raccoon attacks but I can't blame him, since I keep him inside at night. As a hunter, he kills voles and the occasional rabbit...
Weaknesses? The main one goes back to that incredible biddability of his. He hates to get it wrong and an ill-timed or too-harsh correction will shut him down. And he'll remember it, so it takes him a long time to get over it. For example, if I were to use 'no' while he's working stock, he'd exit the whole situation, and might not even want to come back the next day. Now I use 'hey' and 'here' if he's doing something I don't want him to do, and get him to come to me until I can sort out the next step. It took me a long time to figure out how to set things up to make him right.
Another weakness is that he was slow to mature. He's shown flashes of brilliance all along, but at three, he's just coming into his full abilities and becoming a steady worker. We use him to collect the milking cows, and he knows the heifers from the cows and keeps the heifers in the pasture and walks the cows to their stalls, and he takes great joy in keeping the bull away. He's gentle with the cows and brutal with the bull, which is the way I want it. I used to wish he were grittier, but I don't anymore. At this point he is plenty gritty, and I have even used him to manage the pigs at feeding time. I think the shutting down, and maybe even the slow maturity, may be related to the fact that we have a very complex and busy farm, and I threw too much at him before he was ready to handle it.
He moves the animals we want moved but he's not a high-drive herder. His working style is laid back and casual except with the animals he perceives as dangerous -- e.g., he'll let the dairy cows move along on their own if they're moving in the right direction, but he uses a lot of force with the dairy bull and the ranker individuals in the Scottish Highland herd. He barks for emphasis when he's working and will grip occasionally -- hocks, flank, and tail. He won't use force unless he's sure that it's allowed. We raise broilers in the summer and he's gentle enough to catch the half-grown chicks without harming them. He pins a wing with his paw and puts his mouth gently over the neck. That's a big help.
His intact-ness has never been an issue... He gets on well with other dogs. When our daughter was born this summer, my sister came with her Jack Russell Terrier for a visit. Jet kept the JRT away from the baby, the chickens, and the cats with such subtlety and diplomacy that the JRT barely knew he was being herded. That's Jet in a nutshell."
Story about Jet, excerpted from Essex Farm Newsletter:
"Speaking of Jet, he turned three a few weeks ago, and he seems to have finally grown into his duties. Lady (visiting English Shepherd) might have had something to do with it, too. While she was visiting, he got to work as part of a two-dog team, and that seems to have given him a big boost of confidence. And testosterone. It couldn't have come at a better time. We put Princeton, the Jersey bull, in with the cows this week. Yesterday morning, in the dark, Princeton came across the pasture at a gallop, heading for the barn door, where the cows were filing in. BULL'S COMING! I yelled at the top of my lungs. Sam was in there with his brother John and his girlfriend Emily, and I had a terrible vision of the unsuspecting visitors getting trampled and gored. Suddenly, a snarling black and white streak ran past me, leapt in the bull's face, and turned him. The bull was so startled he ran all the way to the end of the pasture. Then Jet calmly escorted the cows to their stanchions. This morning, the bull tried the same thing. This time, he saw Jet coming, and all Jet had to do was snap at him once. I was so pleased that I decided to take him down with me while I fed the pigs, which is my least favorite chore. Imagine trying to push through eleven four-legged linebackers while carrying eight gallons of milk. The linebackers can smell the milk, and all they want to do is knock you down so they can get at it. Every one of them outweighs you, and they also bite. That's pig chores, and I always finish them sweaty, cursing, and covered in half-spoiled milk. So this morning I turned off the fence told Jet that it was cold. (He has long understood the words 'cold' and 'hot,' and he'll only cross a fence that he knows is off.) We two faced off with the eleven linebackers across the fence, and then we both jumped into the fray. At first, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, but when the pigs mobbed me and I yelled at them with that note of real fear in my voice, he opened a can of fury on them, and parted the mob like Moses at the Red Sea. Good dog!"
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