Hawkeye doesn’t like farm work. He doesn’t care for it. If he was intended to be a farm manager from birth, my three livestock guardian dogs probably helped him decide otherwise. I don’t think they bullied him out of it or anything like that. There just wasn’t a niche to be filled there. “They got this”, as it were. He may have been meant to work large livestock, but I only have small goats. Half of my goats are smaller than he is, and none of them want to be within range of his seventy-five plus pounds or his baleful stare. He has taught even the most stubborn of our adult male goats to respect him from a distance. In a few weeks, Hawkeye will meet a herding clinician with the know-how to tell me more about his relationship with stock.
But for now, my one-and-a-half-year-old Hawkeye would rather be off in the woods, running from tree-to-tree and putting his nose to the ground. He loves following scent trails from hill to valley across our acreage of woodlands. And he can’t resist lying and rolling in the spring fed, rock-bottom stream that divides our land. Even on a cold day, he’ll lower himself down into the water and sit for a spell. Since he was seven weeks old, Hawkeye has loved the water. Not just splashy romps across the shallows. As much as possible, he submerges his broad head and stout body, blowing bubbles and smiling gleefully.
But the one thing Hawkeye loves more than the woods, or the stream, or sniffing out critters, is me. He constantly makes eye contact with me. And aside from his adventures among the trees, he most prefers to be by my side. Laying at my feet. Rolling over for me to scratch his chest or neck. Nibbling on a cow ear while I read or listen to the game. That’s not to say he’s a pushover. Far from it. He’s independent and strong-willed. And Hawkeye doesn’t really like anybody else to be around. He tolerates my wife, but that’s about it. We’re a lone wolf, he and I.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever breed Hawkeye. Probably not. He’s intact and seems healthy enough. But he’s quite a bit bigger than breed standard and frankly more dog than most people would want or need. Maybe I’ll change my mind someday, after he saves me from drowning in a pond or heads off a wild boar from goring my leg. But for now, he’s just my best friend. The reason I wake up before sunrise and go outside at first light. The reason I write and read and learn as much as I can about English Shepherds.