Fifty years with the Border Collie
    LR Alexander 
 
     Fifty years ago I was a general contractor and running a hundred cows and I was needing help.
Part time help was hard to find so I decided to see what dogs could do.
I got me a wire haired heeler that was a great help, that was my start with dogs.
I had heard about Ben Means using border collies so I started visiting with Ben and watching him work his dogs on cow and calves.
I was hooked on the borders collies and was amazed at how much difference the blood line makes.
You must start with the line that has the grit for that kind of work.
A lot of them don't make it. Using dogs is a way of life for me.
After you condition your cattle to the dogs, the stress of handling, penning, and working them gets easier every time.
The old cows that were so mean when first exposed to the dogs are moving away from the the pressure,
when the dog is under control, and has learned when to let off when they are moving in the desired direction.

I trailed for about ten years and got my share of ribbons but I feel my dogs got better after I quit
trailing.
There is a lot of difference in a good ranch dog and a trail dog. I know there are some that will disagree with me on that statement.
My niece Amy Crawford has been working with me for the last seven years
and doing an excellent job of training farm dogs.
Of course she has good well bred dogs to start with. They run approximately three hundred head of mother cows.
She has a dog named Odie out of Aggie's first litter, both are King bred, that is an excellent cow calf dog.

We hide cattle in a large pasture with brush and trees and Aggie or Odie will find them and bring them to the corral.
Then we practice sorting, both dogs are on different voice commands but thy are on the same whistle commands.
We can use them separately or together using the whistle.
These are dog broke cattle, we break them as replacement heifers or dry cows.
We are training hard biting dogs but brains are very important. They must learn when to put pressure on and when to let off.
After fifty years breeding and training to work cattle you would have to learn something.
I have learned each dog is different and has to be handled accordingly.
One very important thing is the bond you have with the dog you are training. Let him know he is your buddy and he will work his heart out for you.
You don't need treats or E-collars for obedience. All he want's from you is a kind word and a pat on the shoulder.
Of course he has to have a strong desire to work cattle.

We have people call for help to pen a bunch of old cows and calves that have never been worked with dogs.
We don't do it often but it's a lot of fun and most of the time we get it done.
Some times there are a few baby calves one or two days old. I've had people tell me over the phone they have a dog that can take a mother cow away from a day old calf.
I believe the only way would be to shoot her.
It's a small piece of paper to get fifty years on but that is about it
LR Alexander
8- 10- 2015