Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Heather Houlahan, Farm Dog Trainer

| 7/29/2011 3:28:10 PM

 Get to know Heather Houlahan of Brandywine Farm.

What are you going to speak about at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR? 

I'll cover the nitty-gritty of finding, choosing, and raising a useful general-purpose farm dog, concentrating on the breed I know best - English shepherds - but including practical information for homesteaders and farmers who would prefer another kind of dog, such as a cur, border collie, Australian shepherd, working-bred German shepherd or Beauceron, cross-bred farm collie. A little bit of farm collie history, and a lot of practical advice that can help families raise a dog who is both a working partner and a great companion.

Heather HoulahanIt's typical for agricultural events include a stockwork demonstration, often with border collies who compete in trials. These are always impressive, but it can be impossible for a mere mortal to connect "where I am" to "what I see." And a specialist stock dog, specialist livestock guardian, specialist hunting dog, specialist watchdog, specialist family pet adds up to way more dogs than most people want to or should try to maintain. We'll talk about getting started with a dog who, while perhaps not as highly tuned as a trial sheepdog, requires less expertise to train and is more adaptable to the needs of a small farmer, especially someone with many species of stock, free-range poultry, crops, and free-range children.

What are you most looking forward to sharing with FAIR attendees? 

The good news that their great-grandparents' "Ol' Shep" has been preserved in North America, and what it means to live with one of these versatile, intelligent, useful dogs.

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