For the love of herding dogs

Herding dogs

Confession: I’m a dog person.

Dogs have been part of my life since my father brought home Mr. Wiggs when I was five. We never did figure out his lineage. He was definitely a mutt, just like most of us. Mr. Wiggs was the first of many dogs in my life. When my son turned seven, he asked for a dog as a birthday present. He picked out Buddy at the Sioux Falls Humane Society. Buddy was part of the family for 13 years. Losing him was so hard that I promised myself I’d never get another dog. Then, a friend called about a collie puppy looking for a home. Bear was a herding dog – I watched him “herd” my grandchildren – minus nipping at their heels.

After Bear left us, I was lonely. Thanks to a good friend, I found Zinc. She’s a rescue dog and “probably” a border collie. She’s definitely a herding dog. Even though she’d never been on a farm or ranch, I watched her move cattle that had strayed onto family land in Wyoming.

Zinc was the inspiration for Maddie, the border collie in Lone Tree Claim.

Maddie is an essential character in Lone Tree Claim. The border collie was Katie Rose’s constant companion. Katie Rose relied on Maddie to watch the flock and protect the sheep from predators. I love watching videos of border collies herding sheep. They are so darn smart and intuitive. Herding is just part of their DNA. And herding dogs play an important role on ranches. Sheepherders and cattlemen would have much harder jobs without their canine partners.

All three of my novels include pets as part of the story. There’s Sunny in Proving Her Claim and Maddie in Lone Tree Claim. I had intended to switch it up in the third book and put a cat into the story instead. And I did: Butter, Lizzy’s yellow tabby, appears early on. But, well, I’m a dog person, and Shadow, a German Shepherd, showed up midway through the book.

They’re all good dogs.