Digger the Collie Calculus

Border collies are expected to be able to manipulate sheep for the purposes of their work. They need an insight into how the flock and individuals think and behave. The really good sheepdogs can anticipate, predict and alter outcomes by using what our household has now dubbed ‘Collie Calculus’. 

Our four year old Digger has earned that title not only in the field but also in the home. He often captures our imagination with his rather manipulative manoeuvers. 

When Digger was a year old, we introduced Molly, a delightful black and white collie girl to the pack. She was sourced from the same breeding kennel as Digger and had the same father but a different mother. We had high expectations from Molly and have not been let down. Being a female and the younger of the two, the chances of her falling into pecking order with Digger went well.

Digger has learnt through his calculating personality rather than through brute force, which he did try initially, to get others under his command. This was of course not permitted by the bipeds in the household!

Digger's favourite sleeping spot is the armchair in our bedroom and if Molly is caught dozing away on it, Digger will bark furiously at the kitchen door. Molly often feels obliged to  accompany him to deal with the danger that he has announced. She speeds down the driveway at top speed. Digger nonchalantly saunters towards his favourite chair and looks around casually. He huffs smugly as if to say, "See, it’s easy"

Digger often manipulates the humans just as effectively. He is obsessed with balls, a classic collie trait and one with which I get annoyed with at times. His ball games must by definition be many and varied, He took to flicking the ball with his nose so that it lands behind the bed. He then towers over the spot and squeaks like a tiny pup that has lost its mum. At first, we thought he was just being a pain in the …….(fill in the appropriate part of the anatomy), but discovered that every time, the ball becomes wedged between the bed and the wall.

This game is carefully designed to make us ‘do something’ other than just pick it up and throw. He huffs triumphantly when we scrummage for the ball and is clearly delighted at being able to get us do what he wants. 

True story by Laura Hall-Levetan of Australia





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Laura Hall-Levetan
True Story?: