Herding - "Oh Heck They Are Born To It"
One beautiful fall day in Ohio I was taking one of my daily long hikes in a Metro park with my 7 year old female Aussie Mana. I came up over the crest of hill and saw an elderly man in trouble. He had unloaded three horses for his grand-daughters to ride on the Metro Park Horse trails and they had gotten away. They had taken off at full gallop across the open field. As we approached him he called out "Can I borrow your dog"? I explained to him that Mana had never been trained to herd nor did she have any experience with livestock. She ran geese off the golf course, fetched a mean frisbee and knew about every trick we could think of to teach her but she was a "city dog". He replied "Oh heck, they are born to it". I expressed my concern that she would run the horses out even farther and possibly on to the nearby highway. We may never see any of them ever again! He asked her name and asked her to come and sit and she did. He told me it was obvious to him she was a good dog and well trained (and she is indeed) and to let her try. Mana was already alert and keenly watching the horses grow smaller in the distance so I knelt down and told her "bring em back" the same phrase I use when the cat makes an escape. Off she went!
Much to my surprise Mana raced directly towards them, and took a wide turn left away from the highway. This brought them together and they came thundering back towards us. The old man calmly opened the corral gate and again to my surprise Mana expertly ran them in and posted herself at the gate. The horses were pretty freaked out but you NEVER saw a happier dog! The old man thanked me and gave Mana a quick pat on the head and said "good Dog" That was plenty of thanks for her.
My brother's Aussie had 8 beautiful pups and Mana was a gift to me from him. I always told him how smart she was, (my very first Aussie) When I told him what had happened he was not surprised at all. He told me Mana's father was grand national stock dog of Mexico.
Mana is 13 now but whenever we walk by that corral or field she is on high alert. I know she wishes she could run those horses in every day if she could! She still has an active fun life but somehow after this event the geese were never quite as exciting as they used to be.
The old man was certainly right...
Heck, she was born to it.