Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Dogs and Chickens

There are some photos that are just too good to not share. Below is a photo sent to us by our friends, who are Bible missionaries in Sierra Leone, West Africa. They have two Australian Shepherds named Goodness and Mercy. I’ll let Mrs. Holt tell the story in her own words:

The attached picture is Mercy as he plays baby sitter to our 200 chicks. They just love him and he is so gentle with them. He helps herd them into the coop at night. Then, upon the command to “check” he criss-crosses the fenced yard looking for any strays. He does an excellent job. He is very protective of them and recently killed a cat (his fifth) that was trying to get into the coop at night. The chicks will begin producing eggs by November or December which will be sold to the company.

“The company” she mentions is the gold mining company (run by Europeans) in the town they are near. A good farm dog is invaluable anywhere, but in a place like the African bush where hostile creatures – both two legged and four legged – abound, a good farm dog can literally be a life-saver. Their dogs have alerted them to a cobra trying to get into the house via a drain pipe, barked to alert them of a brush fire approaching their house, chased or killed several rabid dogs, and defended them against hostile natives trying to do them harm.

Photo by Laura Jean Holt
Sierra Leone, West Africa


  1. Wyandotte

    A nice dog and a nice story! Boy, I could use a dog like that. I guess you have to train them yourself?

    We’ve “lost” so many chickens to predators, the latest being wolves that are now inundating our area. So I can’t let my chickens out of their little run until the sun goes down. The wolves never show up then.

  2. Sarah

    This is such a sweet picture! Some dogs can’t be trusted around chickens but many can. And I love seeing the ones who go above and beyond and include chickens in their “family”. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tish Toren

    What a wonderful picture 🙂 I love seeing examples of working dogs that retain other useful, old-fashioned traits, with so much emphasis on herding trials and other competition dogs like this one are getting hard to find!

    FWIW, the American Working Farmcollie Association runs an educational website, discussion group and registry designed to help identify and preserve the all-around family farmdog, check out

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      I like what I see on the Farmcollie site and I’m looking forward to spending more time there. Farm dogs have a special place in my heart.

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