The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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268              COLLIES, OB SHEEP DOGS
dead with cold. A few hours more and it would have been too late to save him.
Sirrah, the favourite collie of Hogg, the ' Ettrick Shep­herd,' was, like many people who live in lonely places, rude and unsociable. If a friend patted him, he growled ; if anyone admired him, he simply walked away. But, says his master, in spite of these manners, ' he was the best dog I ever saw.' Very little is known of his early history, but when he is first heard of he belonged to a boy down on the border, and was sold by him to a drover for three shillings. The drover brought him north­wards, and gave him very little food on the way, so that when Hogg first met him he was very thin, and looking as cross as hungry people often do. At this time he was nearly a year old, with a very dark coat. Partly out of pity, and partly because he thought that the dog looked as if something might be made of him, Hogg offered the man a guinea, which was eagerly accepted, and took his new bargain home. The next day the Ettrick Shepherd began to teach Sirrah his duties, which were evidently quite new to him ; but it was wonderful what pains he took to learn, and how grateful he was to his new master. ' He would try every way deliberately till he found out what I wanted him to do, and when once I made him understand a direction, he never forgot or mistook it again.' And besides his care in following out directions, he was wonderfully clever at inventing ways of overcoming obstacles or getting out of difficulties.
One dark night, about seven hundred lambs, which had just been taken away from their mothers, formed them­selves into three divisions and rushed away to try to find their way home again. Hogg, and a boy who was with him, did all they could to stop them, but it was no use, for the darkness was so dense you could not see the length of your hand. ' Sirrah ! ' cried the poor man in despair, ' they're awa';' and so they were, beyond the power of his catching. But Sirrah was cleverer than his
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