Prince of the Stock Yard

Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd

Prince was a wiry dog who weighed a lean forty-five pounds when wet. He was a farm shepherd, alert but non-spectacular in any noticeable way. In looks or general behavior Prince shared little in common with bench-show dogs. He had a glossy black coat, a tan spot above each eye, and a tan bar across the chest. He had little aptitude for training and could not compete in an organized event to save his own life. He could not have earned a medal or a ribbon in any way.

But Prince knew where his meals came from, and he knew why he got them. His keep was to herd and drive cattle, to chase tramps from the pasture, and to guard the front door yard. All day, every day, Prince was on duty as duty required. For his efforts, he got no special rewards and he expected none. Everything Prince did, he did for the farmer, whom he worshipped. In short, Prince lived the life of a hundred-thousand farm dogs all over the country.

One morn in December, Prince had driven the cattle out to the newly broken ice of the drinking troughs. Having had their fill, he began herding and driving them back to their stalls. It was a busy job for one dog, and Prince had no eyes or ears for anything else. Meanwhile, the farmer was busy at his chores around the stables. He was certain that Prince could do his job without human supervision. Without a second thought, the man entered the box stall of his fifteen-hundred-pound bull. As a rule, the bull was gentle enough. The farmer had no reason to fear him. Without pause, he went about feeding the bull as he had a hundred times before.

Any farmer will tell you that there is no special danger from a bull who is known to be vicious. By default, such animals are handled with extreme caution. Many safeguards are arranged to prevent them from doing damage to their handlers. In almost all cases, it is the gentle or quiet bull that turns at an unexpected moment and causes the most harm. It is that tame bull who has not shown an ugly temper and from which nothing is feared who goes on a rampage. His handlers are injured because they have taken down their guard.

And so, it was with this farmer on this December morning. With his back to the bull, the man was filling a manger with fodder. The bull scraped the stall floor with his front hooves, lowered his massive head, and charged. The unsuspecting farmer was hurled into the air and crushed against the side of the stall. By the time he tumbled to the floor, several of his ribs had already been smashed. The breath was knocked from his lungs. He was near fainted from the shock and the pain. As the farmer fell to the edge of consciousness, he mustered what voice he could and called for his dog. By some miracle, a wisp of the man’s feeble voice reached the farm shepherd’s ears. The black and tan English shepherd’s head cocked, his ears pricked, and his eyes narrowed. Prince recognized the pain and fear in his man’s voice. The wiry frame of the unspectacular forty-five-pound dog took on a heroic shape now. Generations of selection and breeding came to the fore. With the hot blood of his ancestors rushing through him, Prince launched himself towards the farmer’s voice.

The bull lowered his head to charge again at the helpless and fallen man. The injured farmer could not raise himself off the stall floor or even roll out of the beast’s path. The bull charged. Raking horns approached the groaning man as a slender body flashed into the stall. Vaulting over the farmer’s prostrate form, Prince hurled himself at the bull’s plunging head. The canine’s white teeth tore into the bull’s sensitive nostrils. The farm dog deftly leveraged his momentum to deflect the charge. With torn and bleeding nostrils, the bull’s assault veered slightly aside, barely missing his victim. The bull wheeled about and charged again. And once more Prince thwarted him with raked teeth at the sensitive flesh of his nostrils.

The bull concluded to deal with the dog before finishing the man. He whirled upon Prince, assailing him with blind fury within the confines of the narrow stall. In so small a space the advantage was with the bull, as the dog had scant space to dodge or to retreat. Undaunted and tireless, Prince flew at the bull time and time again. Up and down the stall they flew for five minutes. The black and tan English shepherd seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. He darted beneath murderous horns to render flesh from the bull’s soft underbelly. He leapt high in the air, landing on the bull’s broad back to drive home his curved, sharp eye-teeth. He ducked and side-stepped, maneuvering so the beast would not tread upon the fallen man.

At last, bleeding and groaning, the bull fled the savage dog. He bellowed out of the stall in terror, leaving the farm shepherd to stand alone over the man whose life he had saved. Panting, but eyes transfixed on the stall doorway lest the bull should decide to return. When faced with a rampaging beast over thirty times his size, Prince had responded with heroic instincts.

The Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is a breed of working dog native to the United States. The Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd is considered one of the most versatile of all herding dogs and is not only capable of working with any species of livestock, but also of hunting, tracking, search-and-rescue, agility, competitive obedience, companionship, and personal protection/guard dog duty.