Many of Shep’s and Sally’s ancestorsShep and Sally are by Sallee’s Rustie Jr. out of Sherling’s Jill were drover’s dogs used by farmers and ranchers of the Southeast U.S. to drive stock through thick woods and over narrow mountain paths.Walter Oglivie, “Pete The Mountain Dog,” English Shepherd Club of America’s Who’s Who Breeder Manual, pg 25 The terrain of my ranch is consistent with the terrain of these ancestral drover’s dogs; pastures carved out of the woods, joined together by narrow logging trails through hardwood forests. Shep and Sally are consistent with their drover’s dog ancestors because their bloodline has been bred true through the years. Shep and Sally are bred-to-purpose dogs whose ancestors were selected to perform on the terrain of a specific region.
How does that work in practice? When driving stock through wooded trails, certain animals tend to fall-out and enter the tree line. Shep and Sally will go in and get them out. Shep is particularly skilled at this behavior. He has the gravitas and grit to quickly bring a herd back to the trail from the woods. If a particularly stubborn animal doesn’t quickly re-join the herd, he will take the bulk of the herd back to the destination and then return to the woods. He does not re-emerge from the thicket without driving the animal before him. This valuable behavior is consistent and predictable. It is part of what makes the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd the bloodline that it is.