Our Border Collie
Herding livestock is one of the most important tasks at SVF. Fortunately, we have just the right dog for the job—Dakota. This beautiful, eight-year-old Border Collie was bred in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The pick of the litter, Dakota was selected and raised by SVF’s Program and Livestock Manager, Sarah Bowley. At six months of age, Dakota began his professional herding training in Illinois and thus embarked on the highly specialized career that is the birthright of his gallant breed.
Border Collies derive their name from their historic origins along the border of England and Scotland, with an actual breed designated around the mid 1800s. Bred by shepherds, the breed is recognized by its dramatic black and white coloring, but it is prized for its keen intelligence, athleticism, and ability to quickly respond to all types of herd animals, including sheep, cattle, goats, and even poultry.
A well-trained Border Collie is a master of the craft, coaxing herd animals with an assortment of finely honed skills and tricks. Running, circling, quick turns, and a steady directed gaze, or “eye,” are used by the skilled herder to direct the movements of livestock while minimizing stress on the herd. Border Collies come to know the particular traits of their herd, anticipating and adapting to their demeanor, movements, and age to build a bond of trust.
At SVF, Dakota works sheep, goats, and some cattle. This consummate professional has been trained not to bark or jump—that is, unless on command. Dakota helps the SVF herdstaff move stock almost daily between the farm’s pastures and small corrals. This is especially helpful when herdstaff are performing routine procedures such as hoof trimming. A very special dog, Dakota is the sole canine allowed at SVF.