It’s a dog’s life: border collie Reg in training to keep flocks safe

Tom Parry, grazing Manager for the Wildlife Trust and Sheep-dog-in training Reg
Tom Parry, grazing Manager for the Wildlife Trust and Sheep-dog-in training Reg

Border Collie Reg will be put through his paces over the next few months as he learns to work with Sussex Wildlife Trust’s flock of 500 sheep.

Reg, and his partner-in-crime, Grazing Manager Tom Parry, help manage the Trust’s livestock, making sure herds of sheep and cattle never overgraze.

Doing so helps wildlife thrive and hardy, native breeds like the Herdwick and Hebriden sheep will help to create specialised habitats for a variety of insects.

“Although I don’t think he has earned the title of ‘Sheep-Dog’ just yet, Reg is definitely showing promise and is well on his way to making a decent, working sheep-dog.”

“Working with the sheep is its own reward for Reg, he looks forward to it, but I praise him when he gets something right, with words and a pat rather than food treats. I expect him to be fully trained once he is five years old.”

Tom, alongside fully trained sheepdog Bess, have been teaching Reg all the tricks of the trade. Not only is he now regularly working off the lead and learning commands, he has picked up how to turn left and right, lie down and walk on.

He can also “outrun”, a manoeuvre which involves moving away from Tom in a large sweep to gather the sheep together.

To keep their national parks pristine and to make sure the cattle stay healthy, the wildlife trust move cattle across 18 different regions, including heathland, chalk grassland and wood pasture. Animals are also checked daily by a team of staff and volunteers.

The Trust are always looking for people to help check the livestock. To find out more about working on team’s like Tom’s and, perhaps, with sheepdogs like Reg, click here.