Shepherd's Way

Below is the introduction to an article written by Terry Sanders, former president of the English Shepherd Club, in 1957. The full article (available online here) ran for 4 pages, and includes a number of stories about his experience with working English Shepherds in Texas.

BragDog Photo

Brag Dog, By Terry Sanders

Published in True West magazine, March-April 1957

"I'm a cowdog man. Don't get me wrong; I love a good horse. I'll drive hundreds of miles to a calf-roping or a cow-cutting contest and enjoy every minute of it. But when it comes to getting cattle in the pen, any old plug horse will do as long as I have a pair of good cowdogs…

I always loved to hear the tales about "find dogs" and "ketch dogs", but the yarns that appealed to me most were the ones about the English shepherds that they kept to drive cattle. They had four or five of these wonderful shepherds most of the time; shaggy black-and-tan or black-and-white dogs, with broad, short heads and more brains than most men.

When the boys moved a herd cross-country, they always took along two or three of the shepherds. If a steer broke away from the bunch, the cowboys just kept riding. One or more of the dogs would heel the steer before he got far… he soon decides that the safest place to be is right back in the middle of the herd.

…Finally the open range was fenced and plowed, planted in cotton and corn. When people quit raising cattle they no longer needed cowdogs; so, by the time I came along, the great English shepherds were only a memory in my territory.

Then, nearly twenty years ago, the country began to change again. The land was too worn out from row-cropping to make much cotton or corn, and the price of cattle began to edge upward. Men in overalls became a rarity on the street; instead one saw cowboys in blue jeans and big hats. We were living in cow-country once more.

Like just about everybody else in the area, I bought a little bunch of cattle. That's when the trouble started! Seemed like it didn't make a bit of difference how gentle a cow was; when I turned her into the pasture, she got real independent. After a few days in the blackjack and postoak thickets, the gentlest cow decided that she could dodge a rider indefinitely – and she generally could…

At this point, I would have given my eye-teeth for a pair of English shepherds like granddad had told me about, but I didn't know where to find them. The American Kennel Club didn't register any such breeds. None of the dog magazines mentioned them.

Then, one lucky day, I spotted ad advertisement in a farm magazine. Tom Stodghill of Quinlan, Texas, was advertising "Genuine, old-fashioned, black-and-tan English shepherds." I had a letter in the mail before dark, and it wasn't many days until the expressman set a dog crate on my back steps. I opened the crate door, and out ambled a gawky three month old black-and-tan pup. I didn't know it at the time, but that lanky pup was to become my "brag dog"…

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