Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Farm Dogs

Few things represent the rural agrarian life more than the farm dog. In addition to the companionship that dogs provide, the farm dog really earns his keep. With only one acre, we hardly qualify as living on a farm, yet our dog still has his job and he does it well.

Shiloh is our Shetland Sheepdog (also known as a Sheltie). At 35 pounds, he is a good bit larger than the standards call for, which is why he lost his value as a stud dog and we were able to get him. When pests invade the garden, Shiloh chases them away. An unusual pest for most folks but not uncommon for us is wild peacocks that sometimes get into the garden until Shiloh chases them away. Another job that Shiloh does well is catching chickens that fly over their fence and get into the garden. It’s almost as much fun watching that as it is watching a Border Collie working sheep. He chases the chicken and tries to corner it. The chicken will eventually give up and stop and he just stands over it to keep it from leaving. He never tries to bite or harm the chicken in any way. If we aren’t out there at the time, he will bark to let us know that he needs help. I walk over and pick up the chicken and put it back over the fence. The chickens are usually quite happy to see me after dealing with the dog.

Shiloh as a young puppy, holding a chicken


  1. Mattexian

    Your Shiloh looks like a very handsome boy, and has proven his usefulness around your farm very well!

    This is the first time in a while that there haven’t been any Shelties somewhere around my life. My mom’s dog Beau had to be put to sleep a couple months ago, and before him was my old runt Emmett, who I think wasn’t much bigger than the chicken! And our first was Buddy, back when I was still in elementary, so there’ve been continuous Shelties around us for over 25 years. My mom is looking to get another one soon, I guess getting tired of an empty house, tho the rescue groups near us want to inspect the house and yard, with all kinds of requirements like a tall fence. (I haven’t heard of Shelties being good climbers!)

  2. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Thanks for stopping by, Mattexian.

    This is our first Sheltie, and I’m pretty sure that it won’t be our last – he has been a truly great dog. Before Shiloh, I’ve had a German Shepherd, an English Setter, and a Border Collie. The Border Collie would be a right up there with the Sheltie as far as being an all-around great dog. I enjoyed the others, but there is just no way to top a good Border Collie or Sheltie.

    I’ve seen Shelties that were really hyper – just bouncing all around and generally being obnoxious, but Shiloh is content to just lay around when we’re in the office or in the house. He also will spend hours just sitting by the chicken pen and watching. He’s a good dog.

    I enjoyed looking through your blog – Good stuff there!

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