Would you part with the best sheepdog you ever had?
The last few days at Kings Green Farm have been something of a roller coaster. At the end of last week we had the trauma of the Kelpie puppies being stolen, and then huge relief when we heard they'd been recovered from North Wales.
Enough to be going on with, you might think, but no. We'd previously arranged for someone to come to see some sheepdogs we had for sale, and one of those dogs was Carew.
Don't misunderstand me; we adore Carew, and she's by far the best sheepdog we've ever had, so you could be forgiven for wondering why today she's on Dartmoor looking after someone else's sheep.
The truth is that Carew was wasted here. She's the sort of sheepdog who knows what's needed, and just gets on with it.
She has amazing power with stubborn sheep (and cattle) yet she always uses the minimum of pressure to get the job done.
With just twelve sheep here all through the winter, and no time to go sheepdog trialling, Carew was spending most of her time hanging around, getting older.
And keeping her here was not only holding her back, it was holding back the training of our other dogs too.
Unless you're stronger willed than I am, when you're in a hurry (i.e. most of the time) it's all too tempting to take the best dog every time there's sheep work to do. You know that if you take that dog, the job will be done efficiently and quickly, and you can get on with something else.
Rotating the work, so that youngsters gain valuable experience, is something you have to force yourself to do - and I admit, Carew was doing more than her share of the little enough work we have here, particularly in winter.
After much careful thought, and one or two false starts where I half-offered Carew to people and changed my mind at the last minute, our visitors came, saw her work, and bought her immediately.
That's it then. No more Carew to look after things here, and with Kay beginning to show her age it'll be down to Bronwen and Ezra. Ezra is Carew's litter brother, and he's another dog who had very little training because his sister outshone him from the day she took an interest, but for the near future Ezra and his daughter Bronwen will be the top workers here.
It was a terribly hard decision to make, but parting with Carew has to be the right choice. We've had several years with her, and she's taught us such a lot about training, but she was going nowhere. No new challenges, nothing to learn.
In a few weeks' time she'll be looking after a large dairy flock and she'll absolutely love it. More important still, based on our experience with them, we know her new owners will give her a wonderful home. That fact alone has made an extremely hard decision far easier to make.
This blog is quite short, and doesn't begin to describe Carew at her best, because I'm still feeling soppy about parting with her, but some time in the near future I'll write a more descriptive page about this truly great dog.