In my last post on Cinnabar caterpillars, I mentioned I spent half an hour on the reserve with Bess and the caterpillars... I thought most of those who look at this blog knew who Bess was, but I had a few raised eyebrows. So for those who don't know, let me introduce to you my loyal companion and best friend "Bess".
Bess is a border collie, or sheepdog as I prefer calling her as she is from true working stock lines. Her claim to fame is that her great grandfather "Wisp" won the International Sheepdog Trials back in 1992.
The photo above is one of my favourites of her, back when she was still young, and before I really took photos. When I first got her she didn't know how to play, and I had to teach her. It took a while, but eventually she got the hang of it, and frisbee used to be her favourite game... she is a little too old for that now though.
The photo was a fun one to get. I had to throw the frisbee, then quickly grab the camera, focus on her and hope for the best.
Beautiful isn't she? I call her a semi-rescue. She didn't come from a rescue centre, but she was unwanted. From the little I can tell from the paperwork that came with her, she was born in Scotland, passed on to a farm in Norfolk, passed round a few more until she ended up at the BWC owners son's farm.
He wanted to train her up to be a working dog, but just didn't have the time to do so and was happy to give her to a good home.
I went to see her one Saturday, not expecting too much as I had always had dogs (males) and that is what I was looking for. Also I had never taken on an older dog before, she was a year when I got her. When I turned up on the farm, Jules showed her to me and let her out of her shed, and she just ran off!..
... I thought, oh christ!, but then I just kneeled down watching her in the distance, and she turned round and ran the length of the field back, sat next to me and rested her head on my lap! Jules said he had never seen her do that with anyone... and maybe he just said that to make my mind up, but I do still believe him as she is still very nervous of new people to this day.
Either way, that was my mind made up, and I told him I would be back to pick her up tomorrow (on the Sunday).
|Herding Sheep in the Summer Evening|
I spent a lot of time with her in the early days training her, so much that she seemed a different dog when Jules came to see her just a month later. We were all very happy, so it was a good decision made.
I did train her with sheep a little, and she knows, or did know it's been a long time, her left and right and stand etc. The basics. But she is really just a companion, but with an active lifestyle. She is always out with me around work and has become the BWC dog in this sense, often following the other keepers too if she thinks they are doing something more interesting than me to watch.
|On the Club Car|
Most of the time she is with me though, and even travels on the vehicles. It took a while to train her that they were safe, but she got there in the end and soon jumps on for a journey.
On the club car she knows that she is not allowed off if in the deer paddock, but is allowed off around the Centre if we stop.
|Riding on the Dumper Truck|
She will even ride around on the large dumper truck with us, although at her age now she needs a helping hand getting up there.
|Taking it Easy|
If you are a visitor to the Centre, you may have met her already. If not, then you would not of been far away. While we are not open she is allowed around the Centre with us. But once we are open, or have a booked group in, she stays behind our yard fence with us where we prepare the food etc.
When I first had her she was scared of water, petrified in fact, but now she loves it and always jumps in when we are on the reserve.
|Bess in a Mess|
And she is not afraid of getting dirty!
|Bess in the Snow|
Here are a couple of photos of her in the different seasons. The snow above and bluebells below.
|Bess in the Bluebells|
She is an old girl now, and you can see it in the way she moves, how she has slowed down, and the grey in her face. But she is still full of life and enjoys working closely with us all. She really is part of the BWC team!
|The Keeping Team, 2014|
Below is one of the first photos I took of her when I first got her. It was on an old Sony mobile phone, but still one of my favourites of her.
|A Young Bess|
Thanks for looking.