And as though border collies weren’t enough . . .

Great Dane Lily
Lily the Great Dane

There are two other dogs here that aren’t sheepdogs. Lily is a Great Dope (I mean, Great Dane) and Eris is a half-Deerhound lurcher. Eris (whose name is borrowed from the Greek goddess for strife and dischord – and I’m not surprised) thinks it’s funny to follow me about, ruffling my fur and pretending to bite me.  Lily wouldn’t dare to even pretend.

Deerhound lurcher - Eris
Deerhound lurcher - Eris

In fact, Lily’s very easily intimidated, especially if you have sharp little teeth and a natural air of authority (such as moi) or a beak. At mealtimes she’s usually fed, weather permitting, in the garden. As soon as the dish is in place the local gang of magpies and jackdaws (and a motley one who looks like a cross between the two) gather on the fence and gateposts, watching her. They seem quite casual at first, almost surprised to see her, “What? You here again, old thing? No, don’t stop, don’t you mind us.” But poor Lily looks self-conscious and less hungry, especially when the birds start to move in closer, invading her personal space. Eventually she gives up and steps back, which is the cue for the birds to move in and take what they want from her dish.

Credit where it’s due, Gilbertson & Page’s Dr John Gold has reared several generations of magnificent jackdaws, but they don’t get a mention on the bag!

I think Eris would have indigestion if jackdaws watched her while she was eating. Gill says that Eris has a sense of humour and that she’s the prettiest thing with a beard on the farm. I don’t have a beard – obviously.

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