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Red’s five months old now. The changes in him are noticeable almost daily. Although he’s very active and would apparently play all day, he’s curiously obedient. Where collies may have to be told several times, it seems Red learns immediately. When corrected, he’ll sometimes look thoughtful for a few moments as though he’s storing the information away. From then on, the most he needs is a gentle reminder if youthful exuberance causes him to forget the rules.
A point of particular note is Red’s determination. This comes to the fore whenever he’s threatened, either by a sheep or a bigger dog. On these occasions, Red will apparently back down but quickly comes back with more aggression (and noise) than before.
We first noticed it when he accidentally got too close to an aggressive sheep. The sheep put its head down and Red turned away. We thought he was beaten but he quickly came back at the sheep, barking aggressively. The sheep moved forward to attack. I was too far away to intervene and could only watch as Red turned away and then come back with astonishing ferocity. His hackles stood up, not just on his neck and shoulders but all along his back to his rump.
Understandably, the sheep fled . . . and what might have been a disasterous encounter for a puppy became a huge boost to the young kelpie’s confidence.
Red had won, and he knew it. He bounded back to me with obvious joy on his face.
More recently, he’s used his power whenever a bigger dog has attempted to take a bone or toy from him. So far he’s never attempted to steal another dog’s posession, and never been the aggressor, but if threatened, he has a ferocious defence and will chase away a dog twice his size.
Of course, courage in the face of sheep is a great attribute for a herding dog but we’re just a little concerned that as he grows stronger, Red might turn this powerful defence into a means to get what he wants. So far there’s no hint of him doing it.