Beware the wrath of an angry dog.


It has to be admitted that Sal is not the most aggressive of dogs. Unusual for Border Collies, she rather likes people. In fact she has no concept of social distancing and no understanding of the fact that people might not appreciate muddy footprints on their trousers/shirt/jacket.

It’s the same with livestock. She is remarkably longsuffering. Cattle can sniff her, I’ve even seen calves licking her. Admittedly she does tend to move away if they start chewing her ears, but that is understandable. And all she does is move away. She metaphorically shrugs and gets out of range.

Even with sheep, if nothing particularly is happening and a lamb wants to play with her, Sal will play. I’ve seen her quietly sidestep wild charges and occasionally dance in front of one to tempt it into running at her.

Even with rats, I’ve only ever seen her attack two. I don’t know what one of them did but she killed it. The other was sitting on the grass six feet away from her quietly washing itself. She obviously felt that this was an insult that couldn’t be borne and pounced. The rat shot into a hedge and disappeared.

Obviously she dislikes foxes. She chases them enthusiastically but has never got so close that she had to worry about what you do next.

Then we have Billy. He’s a feral cat who likes people. So much so it seems to be trying to copy our greeting. When he approaches I’ve noticed that we all say, ‘Hello Billy.’ The noise he makes when he comes up to us does sound a bit like ‘Hello’ as produced by a cat. Not only that but he’s fascinated by Sal. I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that she’s the nearest to him in size. They do seem to have a working relationship. They mind their own business, don’t get in each other’s way and whilst when passing they might sniff the other’s nose, that’s about it.

Then last night I noticed a rat drinking out of Sal’s water bucket. Sal had obviously not seen this. So I did the obvious thing. I got Billy. I took him across and placed him where I’d seen the rat. As a hunting technique for getting rid of them goes, this one is pretty successful. He probably will not get the rat then and there but obviously he marks the spot and builds it into his daily round.

On this occasion he could obviously smell the rat, his tail started twitching and he started to hunt. Sal came across to me to get her ears tickled. Billy continued to hunt. This took him into Sal’s cattle trailer and it was then he saw Sal’s bowl. This still had some of her supper in it.

Billy hunted across to it, sniffed it and at this point I said, “Billy.”

He looked at me, drifted away from the bowl and then drifted back to get another mouthful.

It was at this point Sal flew at him. There was nothing playful happening here, Sal went from Border Collie to Angry Wolf and hurled herself in defence of her supper dish. Billy had the problem he was trapped, he couldn’t get out for the dog coming in. In the circumstances he did the sensible thing and apologised. His stance was defensive but without the spitting and suchlike you can see from a cat that is ready to attack.

Sal stopped, came back to me, and Billy, somewhat sheepishly, quietly made his way out of her cattle trailer and made his way across the yard to stare at her from a safe distance. Sal lay down across the door into her trailer with her head on her paws, and gave the impression of a dog who was dozing quietly without a care in the world.

Me, I just left them to it.


If you want to meet Sal at her more emollient


Another collection of anecdotes drawn from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. As usual Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep get fair coverage, but it’s mixed with family history and the joys of living along a single track road.

As a reviewer commented, “Another excellent compendium of observations from the back of Mr. Webster’s quad bike in which we learn a lot more about sheep, border collies and people. On the whole, I think the collies come out of it best. If you fancy being educated on the ways of the world, with a gentle humour and a nice line in well observed philosophy, you could do a lot worse than this.”

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10 thoughts on “Beware the wrath of an angry dog.

  1. Stevie Turner August 4, 2020 at 9:03 am Reply

    I’ve never had a dog, but have heard people say that a dog will guard its food bowl jealously. Woe betide anybody who takes it away while it still has food in it!

    • jwebster2 August 4, 2020 at 9:08 am Reply

      Sal will let me take her bowl away with food in, perhaps she trusts me to be doing it for good reason, like putting more in it 🙂
      Nobody else has ever tried

      • Stevie Turner August 4, 2020 at 9:42 am

        Grrrrr… I can almost hear her growl!

      • jwebster2 August 4, 2020 at 9:54 am


  2. Doug Jacquier August 4, 2020 at 11:14 am Reply

    My experience from my own Border Collie, the late Flight, (admittedly not a working dog) was more akin to Sal’s behaviour, in that rather than not liking people, she was more than willing to share her muddy paw prints with all in her vicinity. However her protection of her food bowl was relentless. We had warned our grand-daughter about this and impressed upon her, in the strongest possible terms, the need to never touch it. Children being what they are she could not resist and copped a nip to her face for her trouble. No permanent damage but to this day she rates Collies up there with German Shepherds and Rottweilers and wolf packs. Mind you, this is the same dog who, in the presence of lighting and thunder, would do her best to hide in my pockets. 😉

    • jwebster2 August 4, 2020 at 12:10 pm Reply

      A lesson well learned 🙂

  3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 13, 2020 at 8:24 am Reply

    I like your description of how a cat can apologize to a friend. A friend the cat offended.

    • jwebster2 August 13, 2020 at 8:43 am Reply

      It was the only way you could describe it, I’ve seen how Billy acts when he feels Sal has pushed him too far or he feels threatened, the only way to describe him was apologetic 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt August 13, 2020 at 4:09 pm

        But it’s lovely, and it means that the trait is deeper in us than a human invention.

      • jwebster2 August 13, 2020 at 4:58 pm

        I suspect it’s very deep, a more sophisticated part of the fear/flight/fight reaction

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