One of Stanley Poe’s Border Collies moves the herd of sheep on his farm in central Indiana. Poe uses one of his two dogs every day to help move the sheep around the farm.
One of Stanley Poe’s Border Collies moves the herd of sheep on his farm in central Indiana. Poe uses one of his two dogs every day to help move the sheep around the farm.

FRANKLIN, Ind. — Stanley Poe II employs the help of some four-legged friends to help take care of the 500 sheep on his farm.

For many years, Poe Hamps, located near Bargersville, has used border collies to move its herd to different locations around the farm.

Poe said that they use the dogs for work purposes every day, which is why he keeps two around.

“One is a spare or a backup, in case one is hurt or the other is hot,” he noted.

Poe mentioned that the main job of his two dogs, Jan and Dee, is to move the sheep. Their primary instinct, he explained, is to stop anything that moves and bring it back.

He added that is why many sheep dogs get injured, because they will run out into the road to protect something or someone that has separated itself from a pack.

Although border collies are good dogs, are full of energy and are intelligent, those very reasons can make them tough to keep as pets, unless they are kept busy.

Poe noted that this particular breed is known for its agility, which is makes the dogs great for working with sheep.

Poe said that the dogs don’t attack the sheep because they are not an aggressive breed, which is why he chooses to use collies, but they do have a bite command for those sheep that are a bit ornery.

He added that the dogs also know right, left, up, down and stay.

“Border collies use their eye to move and stalk the sheep,” he said.

To the sheep, Poe pointed out, the dogs resemble predators, which is why the herd will move away from them, and the dogs don’t have to bite or bark like other breeds of sheep dogs.

Poe said it doesn’t take long to train the dogs, and, in fact, they don’t have a dog trainer — they do it all themselves on the farm.

He added that the border collie usually has to be around 6 months old before training is started, so the dog is big enough and won’t get hurt.

“The longer the dog stays, the longer they learn,” he said.

Poe noted that 90 percent of the dog’s ability is natural instinct — either they have it or they don’t.

He mentioned that after exposing the dog to the sheep, they introduce the bite commands, along with the other directions that are necessary for the dog to successfully complete its duties.

Poe’s older dog, Jan, came back with him when he was on vacation in Scotland with another man who was looking for a new herding dog.

Unlike in Scotland, where they can use three or four collies at the same time, Poe said that he normally only uses one at a time since he uses voice commands to control them.