Shetland Sheepdogs

It's not uncommon for an uninitiated pedestrian who loves dogs but whose canine lexicon barely gets past "Snoopy" to walk up to the owner of a Shetland Sheepdog (or Sheltie, to kick it streetwise), and say something along the lines of "Ah, a little Lassie!"

Well, they are NOT farkin' "Lassies," jerkwit, and what's the fascination with that character anyway? Did you know there was yet ANOTHER Lassie movie back in '94, as well as a TV series in '97? The whole concept is this: "cute dog." Get over it. And while yer at it, get over the idea that Shelties are "Lassies," assie.

I can't claim myself an expert on the breed, but have owned three Shelties during my brief time here on Earth, and harbored a child-nerd fascination with them around fourth grade or so while trying to convince my parents we needed a family dog. I believe the reason I became fixated on getting a Sheltie in particular was that my dad had mentioned he had a friend that owned one previously. Apparently the combination of good temperment, smallish size but not on a "wound-up toy dog" scale, and intelligence helped me convince my parents this was the next step on the family pet scale after the crushing loss of our tenacious, distant, sneeze-inducing cat Mandy.

Read any pro-Sheltie literature (steer clear of left-leaning propaganda like The Sheltie Anarchist), and they'll blather on and on about how obediant, loyal, friendly, and intelligent this breed is. And for the most part, I suppose I can't disagree with any of this … the first two qualities, at least. The two Shelties I own now are indeed fiercely loyal. Obedient? Throw a tennis ball across the yard, and plan on getting nothing in return but looks of indifference. Maybe other Shelties go for the whole "fetch" gig, but these dogs might as well have been advertised as "100% Retriever-free blood!" Now there's an ad campaign waiting to be ripped off. (?)

Now, as far as the friendly and intelligent qualities go, generally most Shelties I have encountered uphold the "never met a stranger" attitude, though in my travels, a skittish, nervous Sheltie isn't quite the rarity it's made up to be. This includes our youngest dog who seems to distrust humans more than I do, yet is pretty cool around the ones she's known for a good few years. Convenient with house guests, it isn't, but at least when the other neighborhood dogs engage in a barking contest, you have the comfort of knowing she'll finish at least in the top three.

Intelligent? Well, that's a relative term, isn't it? Smart as Mick Foley? No. Smarter than me? Very possible, if not probable. Granted, she is getting up there in age, yet still gets a mandatory two walks a day, she sleeps more than I ever did in my formative years. Maybe she truly is more intelligent than I give her credit for, quickly picking up on my ethos that sleep IS the best escapism.

Review by AAA