Just wanted to say I enjoyed the article. Especially since my wife and I raise, train and show Australian Shepherds. Watching our dogs work sheep is an amazing thing. And it extends to family.
Our daughter was born 1 month early. She had a few medical issues we were watching before birth, so she spent a few extra days at the hospital. As I brought her home for the first time our "alpha" female was waiting at the door. This Aussie was an aggressive sheep/cattle herding dog. Exceptionally aggressive and powerful. But that day the look on that animal's face is something I will never forget. She stood back away from me as I came in, her ears back, with the softest "expression" I'd ever seen on her face. It was so unlike her that I pointed it out to my wife. So we stood there holding the newborn child. The dog (Maya) then slowly walked up to me and sniffed. She stood on her hind legs with the same look and gently licked the baby's forehead.
Later we put the baby in a small little bassinet on the floor. Our dog came over and wrapped her body around the outside of the bassinet and just watched her. For the next 2 hours.
A few months later we were out at a park. I was sitting on a blanket with the baby enjoying a warm day while my wife was working on the dog's obedience training (another thing she does). Suddenly the dog turned and ran back to me, breaking her training. My wife was yelling at her to come back but the dog completely blew her off which was absolutely out of character. The dog came over and stood in front of the baby staring off into the parking lot. Next I heard a low growl come out of the dog. A few seconds later a young man appeared walking out from behind some bushes off in the distance. As he walked closer the dog growled louder. At that point I realized he was carrying a stick and was walking erratically. I grabbed the dog's collar and just waited. Within a second or two the young man realized the dog was growling at him and there is no mistaking a "real" growl. He veered off and started walking away. The further away he got the quieter the growl became. She stood there for another minute or so until he was well out of sight. Then she looked at me, I scratched her head and told her she was a good dog, she wiggled a bit and tore off back to where my wife was standing and went back to training.
Anyway, I was reminded that day why I trust my herding dogs' instincts. They may not always be right, but their experiences are often such that they cut through the noise and get right to the point. There is no question about their purpose in life. No question about "why" they do what they do. No deep philosophical quandaries. They just do what they do. Period.
Maya, the Aussie, is retired now. 13 years old, bad eyesight, and almost deaf. But every morning I find her sleeping at the foot of my now 9-year-old daughter's bed, watching for wolves.
I learned a lot about life from my dog.