Although a person may have many friends, it commonly is
revered that an individual’s best friend, as well as loyal companion, is their
There are many breeds of dogs a person can choose to own,
ranging in all different shapes and sizes, but I recently had the chance to meet
an extraordinary gentleman whose best friend also serves as his partner when it
comes to sheepherding.
When it comes to anything related to border collies, the man
to go to is Jim Bob McEwen of Jay County, who not only raises the
black-and-white dog, he also used to compete in sheepherding competitions
While McEwen no longer competes, he and his trusty sidekick,
Len, a female border collie, still travel the U.S., taking part in Irish and
Scottish festivals, promoting the importance of sheepdogs in the agriculture
industry, along with giving people a taste of what sheepherding is all
I have had the opportunity on a few occasions to talk with
sheep producers who have big enough herds that they use sheepdogs to help move
their sheep around their operation — and after watching “Babe: Pig in the City,”
I figured I knew everything there was to know about sheepherding, even if the
movie technically is centered on a little pig doing a majority of the
However, I recently had the privilege of getting up-close
and personal during one of McEwen’s and Len’s demonstrations at Indy Irish Fest,
and I definitely have found a new activity to add to my list of unique events
and hobbies that agriculture offers.
To make sure the crowd was into the act, McEwen started by
demonstrating Len’s abilities to respond to the traditional herding commands by
moving a small flock of ducks around.
Of course, the dynamic duo put on a show for the audience,
letting the ducks pretend to escape and pass Len, but once everybody’s attention
was on the border collie, he gave her the command to round up all the ducks and
safely move them to another cage on the opposite side of the grounds.
I personally had never seen that before and was grateful to
Len that she didn’t allow the ducks to attack me while I was snapping pictures
from the corner of the arena, so I couldn’t wait to see her herding skills when
McEwen had her go into his livestock trailer and shepherd out three Boer goats.
The goats pranced around the grass in three separate
directions, but Len quickly had control of the situation and rounded up all of
the goats safely and herded them to one corner of the arena, where she made sure
they stayed until the next command was given.
I hope to one day actually be able to try my hand at
sheepherding — or at least own one of the adorable border collie puppies that
McEwen raises. I’m sure my dad could use a little help herding his Southdown