I love this photo. It's two of my favourite puppies, Maggot and Cotton, sisters from Kay's litter with the lovely Max
Cotton's on her 30-day trial with a farmer in Oxfordshire, and it was with mixed feelings that we saw her go. She's a pretty little dog, with a big personality and very obliging; she impressed us with her work when she was really just weeks old.
Cotton has an instinctive steady and confident pace and is happy to keep her distance from the sheep - just the type of young sheepdog that makes training a pleasure.
However, it's her sister Maggot who brought this photo to mind again. At eight weeks, Maggot went to a lovely home with a keen smallholder and his family where she started sheep and agility training. Sadly, due to ill-health within the family, they feel Maggot's not getting the time and training she deserves and needs so she's coming back to finish her training before we think about a new home.
It's another of those situations that stir mixed feelings. It's very sad that Maggot's family circumstances have changed, and of course we'd far rather everyone was fit and healthy and she was able to stay. On the other hand, it's exciting to see any dog again, nearly a year after it left. When, on the odd occasion, we've had dogs back to stay for a holiday it's always been fascinating to see what they remember, and how they react to seeing a "strange" dog in a pen they were expecting to see occupied by an old friend. Typically they just fall back into the old routine, and within a few hours it's as though they never left. Of course, we can't wait to see if Maggot works sheep as well as Cotton - or even better!
Until the ground starts to dry out none of our dogs are doing any training, so let's just hope they all still remember what sheep are for when we finally start work again.