Scavenging collies cleave to Cleavers

Collies find there's something to be said for mild weather

Young Border collie sheepdog grazing on wild plants
In tune with the current culinary trend for baby vegetables, Remus relishes the young goose grass

I know, we really don't have much to complain about; our roads aren't flooded, we haven't lost an entire crop under water, and we haven't been forced to move our belongings upstairs.

Nonetheless, I'm finding the weather pretty tedious, but you can trust collies to find something positive in almost any situation. The dogs are delighted that the mild weather's allowing some of the wild plants to grow, and the most important amongst them, in collie terms, is goose grass.

Goose grass is also known, aptly, as cleavers - it's the stuff that develops the tiny green fuzzy balls that stick to your jumper (and hat, scarf and gloves in a typical British summer).

I don't know what medicinal properties (if any) cleavers has to offer, it could simply be delicious, but for whatever reason it's a big favourite with collies. I became aware of it after one of our bitches, Lyn, had her first litter of puppies. After a few hours, once she was sure everyone was settled and quiet, she was anxious to come out with everyone else to stretch her legs (I thought).

Goosegrass is a wild plant growing in the UK
Galium aparine, also known as goose grass, cleavers and Lady's Bedstraw (though it must play havoc with her nightie)

Lyn set off with speed and determination, heading straight for a patch of cleavers by the pond. I had the impression that she knew exactly where she was going, and why she was going there, and I was fascinated to watch her grazing off the young tops of the plants.

Cleavers must be a prolific grower because every day there's enough new growth to make it worthwhile to squeeze through the fencing or under the hedge.

For the most part it's the older puppies and young dogs who enjoy it, plus any females with small or just weaned puppies.

Two young sheepdogs grazing on the field's edge
"I don't know what it is, Pru, but it brings out the hunter-gatherer in me"

Kay and Audrey are usually the first to the patch, followed by Pru, Madge, Dash, and Remus. Ezra eats it too, and doesn't fall into either category, but that's just typical of Ezra - an exception in almost every way.


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