Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Tuesday, February 25 – bad dogs

When I went outside to feed the hens this morning I could hear barking and then I noticed all the sheep running as one across the field. I thought at first that Neil was rounding them up for some reason, but then I realised that they were being chased by a small off-white dog, which was yapping as it ran. So I ran too, over to the caravan, wondering all the while where Neil and Linda were. But it was shut up and there was no one there.

I then realised that the dog had cornered one of the old white ewes, who was stubbornly butting it while the dog bounced up and down, still barking. I had some baler twine in my jacket pocket, so I climbed over the fence and started walking towards it, thinking I could tie it up or drag it away. I called to it and it turned and looked at me, but as I got closer and was maybe a couple of hundred yards away it suddenly raced off and over the stile onto the road towards the village.

I took a close look at the ewe, which had suffered nothing worse than a bloodied nose, then went indoors to write a note to leave at the caravan. Neil came across at lunchtime to thank me and said if the dog turned up again he’d take a gun to it. Any landowner or stockholder has the right to shoot if a dog is worrying sheep. We don’t know whose dog it is and it could well be a stray from a nearby town, but that doesn’t mean he can risk his livestock, particularly as a number of ewes will lamb in a few more weeks. He said he’d checked the flock after seeing my note and that none of them had come to any harm, but we both know what damage even a small dog can do. When I used to keep sheep I once had an over excited Jack Russel attack my small flock. Its owner had let it off its lead and in a frenzy it tore at the neck of a lamb and nearly ripped the ear off its mother. I tore a strip off that dog owner and made her pay the vet’s bill for stitching up the ear and would have no hesitation in shooting a dog attacking sheep.

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