Steve Niedrauer wrote:

>  I always thought the
> old time farm collies were trusted around the livestock without supervision,
> but maybe I am wrong about this.  Would herding dogs ever be trustworthy
> around the stock without a human handler present?
In my mind this would depend on alot of factors, including the type of
stock and the specific breed of dog, as well as the dog's previous
training.  Most BCs from working lines would rather herd (anything) than
breathe.  I personally would never trust my own dogs around stock of any
kind without  a human handler present.  If they sudenly found themselves
outside without a human present, there is no doubt in my mind that the
first thing they'd do is look for stock to herd - mine or anyone else's
- and would herd it to death.  The intensity with which BCs take to
herding means they just never quit - they
would probably "run" livestock to death rather than savage or maul
stock.  But the end result is the same.  Randi Pike has done a lot to
educate me to the merits of the modern English Shepherd, a generalist
type dog which is capable of performing many of the duties of the old
farm collie.  Hopefully she'll jump in here and answer your question
as it relates to ESs.  Other breeds of herding dogs are quite variable,
so our respective breed experts on this list, could speak to this issue
as it relates to Shelties, Collies, Aussies,etc.

> How could one use the same dog for guarding as well as herding and being a
> general help and companion to the farmer and his family?  You have raised the
> issues of boundaries and supervision with livestock for a herding dog--would
> you see any other issues raised with this scenario?  Do you think these issues
> could be reconciled, and if so, how?
> There are several breeds whose owners swear that the dog will guard and herd - the Briard and Bouvier come to my mind first.  Es owners also insist  the breed can be both a guard and herder.  Since I use two separate "specialist" breeds to do these two jobs I am not an expert on the dual purpose or generalist type dog - However the idea really appeals to me!  Especially since these types of dogs are frequently considered excellent pets and companions as well. My BCs are less than desirable as pets - just too intense.  I made this comment to someone not long ago who asked me how I would describe my relationship with my BCs - the only honest answer I could think of was "co-dependent".  I've always been interested in the general working farm dog (I'm on this list for that reason) and although I don't believe they're common, they apparently do exist.

The issues I raised re: boundary training vs. confinement behind a fence
have alot to do with my personal experience no doubt but also have ALOT
to do with legal issues.  In my state if a dog left it's owners property
and subsequently caused damage in some way - killing stock, biting
someone, etc. - the owner would be held liable for all damages unless
the owner could show "reasonable and responsible attempt" to confine the
Boundary training is never recognized by the law as reasonable and
responsible. (in my state anyway).  A fence is.