Sunday

Father of our Breed...

With the passing of Father’s day last week, I wanted to mention a special salute to the founder of what we know today as the “Border Collie” and yes, it’s a little late but I thought of it on Sunday afternoon.  Some dog breeds can be traced back to ancient times for thousands of years but the Border Collie as we know it, can be traced back to 1894.   The Border Collie as a breed didn't exist, according to Cimmiekris Border Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, until a Northumbrian farmer (Northumberland is in northern England, on the border with Scotland), Adam Telfer, crossbred two types of sheep dogs in 1894 and the “father” of our breed was born in September of that year from Hemp's mother, Meg, who was a quiet and very strong-eyed black sheepdog, while Hemp's father, Roy, was a loose-eyed black, white, and tan sheepdog with a good natured temperament.  Unlike many modern border collies, Hemp was a tri-colored dog with only a small amount of white fur on his body.  
Old Hemp, September 1893 - May 1901
The Border Collie as we know it today is descended from Old Hemp. And his style was reportedly different from that commonly seen during his era, as he worked more quietly than other sheepdogs of the time. 
His owner, Telfer, was thoroughly impressed with the dog, once saying Hemp "flashed like a meteor across the sheepdog horizon. There was never such an outstanding personality."
Author and commentator Eric Halsell was also impressed by Hemp's skill, once said of the dog, "none who saw him work ever forgot him... Almost faultless in his work... he was born with such knowledge of his craft that he never required training and went to his work naturally.”   First following sheep at the age of six weeks, Hemp grew to have a great ability to herd. He moved sheep quietly unlike the louder sheepdogs of the era and was far more mild-mannered, although sometimes worked so intensely that he physically trembled and within a few generations his style had been adopted by almost all Border Collies, and became known as the Border Collie style.
Old Hemp got around, and he wasn't all work and no play. Estimates place Old Hemp's offspring at more than 200, due to his stud services being widely sought after and each of the 29 collies that won the Farmers Championship for sheepdogs between 1906 and 1951 were descendants from Old Hemp.
It was surprising that Old Hemp was this talented because his Father Roy was a good dog, but did not possess special talent for herding sheep.  His mother Meg was such an intense worker that she hypnotized herself instead of the sheep.
So you see, all of us that are owners of Border Collies are related in one way or another to a farmer in Cambo, Northumberland UK, a shining example of the breed and will always be remembered as the father of the Border Collie breed.  Our Clancy who Grandparents were born in Selkirk, UK is only 48 miles from the birthplace of Old Hemp.
Our Clancy James...
Most people do not know of Old Hemp but if you own a Border Collie, you are part of a family of dogs that came from good insight and a rough coated, tri colored Border Collie…Old Hemp…

Happy Belated Father’s Day…Ken
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