This blog is in memory of our beloved Border Collie Tippy who died on July 28th 2010. Every Sunday over the course of the next few months I will post memories and pictures of her life with us, both as a working farm dog, family pet, best friend and work mate.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Patient Tippy.

Tippy waiting on the quad bike at feeding time.

I think Tippy would have stayed somewhere all day if I told her to, especially if she was on the bike. I remember one time in particular when we were checking the sheep and cattle on a day where you could hardly see the hand in front of your face for the fog. She wasn’t aloud in the field with the cows and calves for both our sakes so I said for her to stay by the gate to the Pumphouse Field while I went round the field looking at the stock. During the inspection I came up on a cow that was calving so I hung around to make sure everything went ok. By the time I’d finished seeing to the cow and making sure the calf was okay and returned to the gate where I’d left Tippy it must have been getting on for two hours since I left her. Normally I would not doubt that she would still be there but I never tested her that long before and on a day when she could hardly see past the end of her pointy nose let alone see where I was but she showed her faith in me that I would return for her because she was still there waiting for me after all that time.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Even a professional sheep dog likes a holiday.

Tippy enjoying ball games on the beach.

I don’t remember how many holidays we took without Tippy, it wasn’t many as it turned out because on returning one time we noticed a difference in her like she was ill. She always stayed with my parents so we knew no great harm had befallen her, I’m sure she was spoilt rotten in fact.

On the Monday afternoon I took her with me to re-build a field wall and I knew for sure there was something wrong with her then because usually all the time I was building a wall or fencing she would be dragging lumps of wood around for me to keep throwing her but on this occasion she spent all day laying around in the grass so when we got home Vicki took her to the vets sure she was suffering some terrible illness so it was both a relief and amusing that on returning Vicki said that the vet had diagnosed that she was sulking because we went away on holiday and left her behind! She didn’t know we had been on holiday, having never been away on holiday she had no idea what one was but the fact that we had left her was enough to cause this mood in her.

Even a professional sheep dog likes a holiday you know!

Eventually she came out of her sulk and from that time on we always took her with us, if we couldn’t take the dog we didn’t go.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Dreaded Bottom Gate.

As Tippy got older she was allowed out of the garden more and one of the first walks we used to do was go and close the yard gate on an evening. We would then walk across the top of the yard and then down the field behind the farmyard and up through what we called the bottom gate and so back to the house. However from the very beginning when I would walk her round on a lead she had a thing about the bottom gate, she would not walk though it so I always had to carry her through the gateway back to the house.

Anyway one night I gave her a trial walk without the lead once in the field and everything went fine until we got to the dreaded gate when on seeing it she turned tail and ran for home, the only trouble being was that she ran the long way round, the way we had just come. I being worried as to where she was going set off after her in hot pursuit. Had I known what I was later to learn I would have been much better off going through the bottom gate where I would have met her coming the other way but as it was I didn’t know if she would find her way back home.

I lost track of her before I got to the top of the field because even at that early age she was way faster than me. So with darkness fast approaching there now followed another prolonged game of hide and seek with the dog, only this time she wasn’t confined to the garden, she had the whole run of the farmyard and all the wonderful hiding places it had to offer a Border Collie that could squeeze in to the smallest of hiding places. It used to take me at least ten minutes of coaxing, prodding and cursing to get her out of a bush that I knew she was in so I was pretty stressed about the prospect of finding her out in the open yard, especially as I had no clue as to where to start looking. Anyway after goodness knows how long she gave her self away in the old garage by the back garden gate. I think she had probably run down there intending to go back in to the garden through the gate by which we left the garden but couldn’t get through because it was closed so did the next best thing and hid in the garage which was full of all sorts of farm rubbish.
In the picture above I’ve marked the intended walking route in green and Tippy’s return route in red.

This is the garden where Tippy spent her first few months, note the clipped conifer bushes which she used to like to hide under. This picture was taken when she was a bit older and not so shy.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Possessive Tippy

In my last post I told of how Tippy liked to ride the tractors, what I didn’t mention was how possessive she was over them. A couple of occasions spring to mind when she let it be known who’s tractor it really was.

One time we had some contractors doing some work for us and one morning I had left our tractor parked in their way while I went to attend to some business with a cow in one of the sheds. I can’t remember what it was we were doing but as me and my workmate Steve were busy working away this young man came in the shed all red faced and very shaky. It turned out that he had got on my tractor to move it so he could get past but what he didn’t realise was that Tippy was behind the seat ready to pounce which she duly did some time after he climbed in the cab. The shock of her actions and the surprise was enough to turn the young guy in to a quivering wreck and it was some time before he felt able to enter in to any more work.

Another time when she laid claim to the tractor was when me and Steve were fencing at Moor Farm, we’d worked our way from the tractor so after a while Steve walked over to bring it back closer to where we were now working. He walked over to the other side of the field and climbed on the tractor but then I saw him get off and come walking back again and I was thinking it wouldn’t start or something. When he got back to me he announced that I would have to go and fetch it because Tippy wouldn’t let him get on the tractor. Apparently as soon as he sat on the seat she started growling at him. I don’t doubt him as he wasn’t the sort to make stuff like that up, especially as he had gone to the trouble of walking right across the field but after knowing Tippy for fifteen years I still find it hard to imagine her being that way with anyone as she was usually the most placid dog you could imagine apart from the odd occasion when she thought someone needed rounding up and moving on then she would do the usual collie trick of nipping their heels for them.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Tractor Tippy.

In the last post I told how Tippy enjoyed riding the quad bike. Well she also enjoyed riding the tractors just as much despite them being the most uncomfortable machines you can imagine, or at least they we back then in the days before air conditioning. Even on days when the temperature was way to much for a dog to be riding the tractor if I tried to leave her at home she was devastated, she just wanted to be out with me doing whatever I was doing no matter how uncomfortable that was. She liked the Ford tractor we had for a number of years because there was room behind the seat for her to make a little nest out of an old cushion and various old clothes.

We spent untold hours together on that tractor but unfortunately it wore out and the boss got us another one but it didn't have a place behind the seat so she had to have a bit of carpet on the floor by my left foot.

She didn't seem to mind though as there was no sign of her not wanting to be left behind.