Shetland Sheepdogs

















Sheltie Inspirations

Through membership of the Sheltielist, I was introduced to the writings of Melissa who lives in Manitoba, Canada.  These short stories were inspired by her love for her Shetland Sheepdog "Callie" and I was so moved by them I felt it would be nice if they could be enjoyed by other Sheltie enthusiasts. With the kind permission of Melissa, who agreed to let me share them with you all, I have reproduced some of these stories and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sheltie Song

A recent tragedy in my life has made me look and listen to things a bit different.  Callie loves to bark, she barks at everything that moves.  People coming in and leaving the house, coyotes singing in the swamp, cars driving by and cars going back.  It used to annoy me, but the other day instead of trying to make her be quiet, I took the time to really listen to her, I mean listen with my heart, not my ears.  You know what I heard?  Not a noisy little Sheltie, but a beautiful voice and a lovely song.  It stunned me, this revelation.  She was singing to me, telling me that life had entered our home (in the form of my brother-in-law).  I realised that she sang at life.  Whatever moved was life and she was telling me "LOOK, LOOK, something living has entered our world."  Why hadn't I heard this before? So I really began to pay attention when she barked, or as I call it now, SANG.  Yep, sure enough her singing was letting me know that some life had pulled into our driveway, a life she knew.  She sang to the coyotes, and she sang to the horse and donkey, she sang and sings to all life that comes into her domain.  Callie does not yap or bark, she sings and my heart finally and for once can hear it for what it really is, "A Sheltie Song."  To those of you who can let your babies bark, listen to them with your heart and not your ears, you may be surprised at what you really hear.

A Sheltie Key

In a moment in time, in the blink of an eye, I lost my best and dearest friend.  My life was irrevocably changed, never to be the same again.  Outwardly I continued to function as normal, there were still bills to pay, a job to do and a ranch to help run.  Emotionally I closed the door and promptly locked it.  I did not have the key, nobody did EXCEPT one small tri-coloured Sheltie.  Who gave her the key?  I don't know but she had it, and still does.  In the universal language of love she slowly helped unlock the door.  She never told me "life goes on", she never said "snap out of it", she just quietly sat with me, followed me everywhere I went.  She slept at my feet, licked the tears away and showed me in ways too numerous to mention that time does not heal all wounds, but time makes the coping easier.  Whomever gave this beautiful little Sheltie the key, knew what they were doing.  She helped to keep the door from being locked all the time.  And while I still grieve and still long to just see my friend's smile again, just once, I have learned with the help of my Sheltie Angel to open the door now and again. There are still times when it is shut and locked, but I silently ask Callie for the key and she quietly and graciously gives it to me.


Sheltie Magic

Well it is time to shovel out, we had anywhere from 12 to 16 inches of snow yesterday and overnight.  The wind has now picked up and that can only mean DRIFTING SNOW!!! which is just as bad or worse than  FALLING SNOW.  I often wonder and ask myself on days like this what the heck I am doing here instead of being in Portland Oregon (where I am from).  The snow was blowing in my face and shovelling was getting harder.  The temps have dipped down to -15 Celsius and there is a wind chill on top of that.  I finally finished my job of delivering rural mail and was stressed out, needless to say.  I let the dogs out and started to clean up the snow around the house, on the deck and the walk ways.  God I could think of a thousand places I'd rather be and a million things I'd rather be doing.  The dogs were running around and in the way.  I stopped my work for a minute to watch them.  Callie was having the time of her life, although in places the snow was almost to her shoulders.  "Silly dogs" I thought until I looked into their faces.  Callie's face and eyes held a look of magic.  It was as if she was saying "Oh come on mom, this is fun, look!!!  Put down that stupid metal thing and play".  "No time", I told her, but I watched her play.  It was magic, pure and simple, pure and innocent.  Not a care in the world.  She romped and played, she rolled in the snow.  Snow was not an inconvenience for her, it was a special thing sent from the heavens, just for the pleasure of her.  "MAGICAL" was all I could think, "MAGICAL". 

Sometimes I wish the magic could come back to me, like when I was a child,  but to me now, SNOW is SNOW.   I'd like to say that after watching my beautiful little Sheltie play with her pal that the magic did come to me, that I stopped looking at this snow as a chore and started thinking of it as a toy given to me by someone special.  NOT.  I finished shovelling, I came in the house and I did the other things that needed to be done.  But as I sit here now, I guess I feel some of Callie's magic, and I smile at how much fun two dogs had riding on a snow shovel.  Once again this beautiful little creature I have been blessed with has made me smile, has made me see that things are not as bad as I make them out to be.  So to all of you I wish some Sheltie Magic in your lives.

What My Sheltie Taught Me

A little thought came into my head today at work.  I have taught my sheltie to sit, stay, come, heel.  I have taught her to stay in her yard, to not chase cars, to not bother the big cows.  I have taught her that her home is safe and warm and full of love.  All very good things, all important.  But the  thought that popped into my head was 'what has my Sheltie taught me?'.   I looked into the deepest recesses of my soul and it did not take me long to find the answer.  She has taught me that the darkest days do not last forever, she has taught me to look beyond myself and see the world as a  whole, to always try and find the bright morning of life no matter how dark  the night is.  She has taught me to love myself as much as I possibly can.  She has given me hope when none could be found.  She has taught me to laugh at myself and the silly things in life, to accept what cannot be changed.  She has taught me that I may be cold and tired but there is always something  neat around the corner.  She has taught me what unconditional love truly is, to look deep into the soul and not pay so much attention to the outside of something.  All these things my little sheltie has taught me.  WOW so many  things that will never be taught to some human beings who do not have the love of a dog.  I must thank this little creature for showing me and  teaching me things that few to no human being could teach.   A lifetime of  wisdom and love in four short years.  And that is what MY SHELTIE TAUGHT ME. 

What I Love Most About My Sheltie

When I got home from work today, I was really tired.  I did not sleep well the night before and dealing with icy roads this morning just made me exhausted.  I wanted to curl up on the couch and just sleep.  I took my shoes off at the door, poured myself a glass of orange juice and was on my way to the sofa, when standing in front of me I noticed a little Sheltie holding one of her Christmas toys.  "Oh not now Callie, mommy is tired".  She didn't care and she let me know by not moving an inch, just standing there with that silly blue octopus hanging out of her mouth.  So I plunked my tired body down on the kitchen floor and we began to play "fetch the octopus".  As I watched her play I started to think, what do I like best about my Sheltie?  Well, I love her little pricked ears, they make her face look so mischievous.  Then there is her gait, it is not a trot, but a pace (not standard I know, but nothing about my Callie is standard) and it makes me laugh.  Her coat is so shiny and soft and silky (also not standard).  I love her coat.  Then there is her funny little feet that if you do not trim the hair on them regularly they look like little white slippers.  But that is not what I love best about her.  I love her face, her muzzle, dainty, it is not foxy but fine.  Her face is truly a beauty to behold.  But the thing I love best about my sheltie are her eyes, her beautiful, glorious eyes.  So dark they are almost black and they gleam and sparkle with a zest for life that we should all be lucky to have.  Her eyes are soft and you can lose yourself in the depths of them.  Yep, her eyes are the thing I love best.  If every politician, every army general, every human being whoever wanted war could gaze deep into those eyes, there would forever be world peace.

A Sheltie

It is a cold night here in Manitoba, and it was a grey day.  Winter is at our back door, all the geese are moving South, huge flocks of them.  We lit a fire in our wood stove tonight and the soft glow of flames danced off the floor.  Under my computer lies a little black, white and tan dog.  She is small and she is warm and comfortable.  When I look at her I wonder if she knows how important she is in my life.  I often wonder if she really knew what she means to me and how much I need her in my life, would she be able to handle that kind of responsibility?  To have a human being's heart so completely and totally.  I would walk to the end of the earth for this little dog, I would beg, borrow, even steal to keep her here next to me.  Such a big burden on such a small dog.  Sometimes it makes me feel guilty knowing that I have placed this on her little dog soul, but I just can't help myself.  Warm fire, warm house, love and a beautiful Sheltie dog at my feet and in my heart, what more could any sane human want?  Except maybe 2 or 3 more beautiful Sheltie dogs at their feet.

Sheltie Tears

I have cried a river, a lake an ocean of tears in the last 8 months.  I have cried for the sudden loss of my best friend Sue,  I have cried for all the lost, abused and abandoned Shelties (and all dogs) in this world.  I have cried for my father-in-law who is dying from cancer and I have cried for myself.  I have no more tears left to cry, at least that is what I thought.   

I came home today from the hospital after visiting my father in law.  All I wanted to do was sit in the sun and the wind and let all the smells and sounds of a hospital wash off of me.  I sat in my chair on the deck and, of course, Callie sat with me.  She wanted so much for me to play with her, but I just could not find the energy.  "Not now sweetie" was all I could muster up as a reply to her.  So we sat together in the sun, I drifted away to better places and better times, a place I call my "happy place".   It was not working, even the happy place wasn't "happy".   I sighed,  "No more tears to cry".   Suddenly I felt the cool wet nose of my friend Callie.   I opened my eyes and looked deep into hers.   Was it my imagination or was she telling me "If you cannot cry anymore, that's ok, I will cry a million Sheltie tears for you."   I'm sure, even now, hours after the experience, that that is what her expression said.  "I will cry a million Sheltie tears for you".   I love this beautiful little creature, who always knows the right time to come to me with an open heart, a kind and loving expression, no more perfect being is my little Sheltie.  Any creature that would cry a million tears for you is a special being!   Well I cried.  I thought I could not cry anymore, but I did, although this time the tears were not in sorrow but in joy, in joy and love for the little dog at my side.  Thank you to the powers that be for the love of a Sheltie. 


New Life

And so it has started.  Calving season in the frozen North.  Two days ago the first new life of the season, and on our farm, came into this world.  

The phone rang on a cold March evening, it was my brother-in-law.  "Come help me get a calf into the shed and under the light before the poor little thing freezes to death."  So I got up off my warm couch, took my fluffy slippers off and put on five layers of clothes. This night was at minus 20.  "God what a night to come into the world."  I cursed that calf as I grabbed my keys and prepared to go out the door.  "Well come on Callie, I'm not going to be the only one out on a night like this."  She jumped for joy, oh boy!!! her face read like an open book. "It's an adventure!"  I wish I could always look at things the way Callie did.  When we went out the door the bitter wind hit me square in the face.  God I just wanted to go back into my warm house, but such is not the way here at calving season.

We drove into the yard, I slowly got out of the Jeep, Callie leaped out racing around and barking  "An adventure, an adventure!!!!! oh boy an adventure."  I hung my head to protect my face against the freezing wind and made my way down to the corral, with Callie right on my heels.  And there in the straw, on this bitter, bitter night, lay a bundle of shivering, wet LIFE.  I stopped cursing him, I stopped feeling sorry for myself at being out on this night while all my friends were snug in their homes, and I helped get this little fellow up to a warm shed and under a heat light.  We fed him so his tummy would be full and warm, we bedded down the cow, gave her hay and told her what a fine mommy she was.  The whole time Callie just stood and watched, she never said a word, she never strayed far from me or this brand new life.  She looked worried, she seemed to be on guard making sure we did the things needed to keep this little fellow alive. 

And when we were done and all was right, I stood there and stared at that calf, the one who got me out of my nice warm house, the one that made me miss my favourite show. My ears were cold, my  feet were cold and my nose was running.  I could go home now but I just stood  there with Callie in the freezing cold, in the back of that shed and I looked at that wet bundle in the way Callie was looking at him.  WOW, a brand new life!!! in this frozen waste land!  Why is it that Callie always seems to know how to look at things?  She just understood that what was happening was NEW and EXCITING and WONDROUS.  She did not think of the cold, her mind was not on her favourite program, she once again saw life and joy where I could not.  "Welcome to the world little one."  I turned to Callie and thanked her again from the bottom of my heart, for making me see the little joys of life. I sighed and called her to come and spoke the words that have been spoken on this farm every calving season for two decades "One down and 129 to go."