Following my first interview with the lambs I was intrigued and felt even more determined to understand the experience of sheepherding from their perspective, so the next time Renee brought Chris and Rue to practice I went into covert “sheep mode” and joined the flock. Oh, I did not don a silly lamb outfit. It was much too hot for that.
I maintained a low profile and did my best to blend among the lambs wearing a white t-shirt to match their fleece, and khaki shorts to match the sunburned grass in the paddock, uttering an occasional “Baaa” in order to fool the dogs. Border collies are widely regarded as among the most intelligent of dogs so it took them no time to notice that I was three feet taller than the girls, and walked on only two legs. I was also the only one not eating grass.
Even though my cover was blown I stayed with the sheep until the exercise was complete and then conducted a thorough debriefing.
Dan – Well now girls, how did this week compare with the last session?
Pearl – Oh my, how exciting. Was Gandhi watching? (Gesturing) Oh Gandhi, over here! Look at me!
Shirley – Oh stop, you shameless flirt.
Pearl – Shirley dear, I would never consider flirting. It is most certainly unladylike. No dear, I was merely acknowledging the attention of a gentlemen friend who admires me. (gesturing again) Over here, Gandhi! Look at me!
Shirley – Who are you kidding? Why, you are as bold as a goat!
Bluebell – Don’t call Pearl a goat, you butthead. She’s a Dorset-Freisian.
Shirley – Oh, I’ll butt you in the head!
Dan – Whoa! Let’s not go there again. Shall we get back to the interview? What did you think of Chris and Rue?
Pearl – Chris was a perfect gentlemen. He guided us gently through the gate and gave us ample room to waddle along, like the petite ladies we are. Did Gandhi notice? Do you suppose he was just a tad jealous?
Dan – I’m sorry Pearl, but I don’t think he paid any attention.
Pearl – Oh my, that is precisely what a jealous beau should do. I am so delighted that I think I shall blush!
Shirley – Well nobody would notice if you do. You are a black-faced lamb, remember?
Bluebell – Stop picking on Pearl, just because she has a boyfriend and you don’t. Small wonder too, since you are always such a crab.
Shirley – Don’t call me a crab, I’m a Dorset-Suffolk-Freisian and Targhee lamb, you dummy. Somebody oughtta knock some sense into your thick head and I’m just the one to do it! (foot stomp)
Dan – Ah, what about Rue? How did that go?
Shirley – That Rue was nasty. She kept sneaking up on us, rushing and nipping with her sharp little border collie teeth. Oh, if only I had a squirt gun!
Pearl – Shirley dear, a squirt gun would have been of no use. You have no thumbs to push the button, poor thing.
Bluebell – It was scary when Rue rushed toward us and bit me on the shoulder. I fled as fast as my cloven hooves would carry me but I fell and was sure to be eaten…until Daddy Dearest saved me! I still remember crying out “Daddykins, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and then he rushed right over and saved me!
Shirley – Daddy Dearest? Daddykins? Give me a break. He was running as fast as the rest of us, out of fear! Being “Daddy’s little girl” didn’t save you from being nipped, did it?
Bluebell – Don’t you speak of Daddy that way! He was running to save me while you and Pearl ran away and left me lying there, helpless on the ground.
Pearl – Now Bluebell dear, we kept running to draw Rue away from you. Rue kept chasing after us, don’t you remember? Perhaps the trauma has shaken your memory, poor thing.
Shirley – Hey, I’m not convinced you fell in any case. I saw you practicing falls behind the lean-to all week long when you thought nobody was watching. I think you faked the whole thing just so “Daddy” would come to your rescue, and then you squealed like a little piggy for attention.
Bluebell – Don’t you call me a piggy. I’m a Dorset-Suffolk lamb…the other white meat with cloven hooves! If you keep it up I’m going to butt you so hard, Rue will feel it.
Shirley – Ha! You were rehearsing the whole dramatic scene in advance.
Bluebell – If you must know, I bought a “Ballet for Dummies” book and have been practicing in the paddock. I just fall down a lot when I pirouette. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I knew you would just make fun of me. Pick, pick, pick. That’s all you ever do.
Shirley – You are a dummy, all right!
Dan – Girls! Girls! Stop your bickering. I ran as fast as I could to protect you all. Besides, Renee was there to keep you safe. It is all about enjoying nature, getting exercise and running around the paddock. Right?
Shirley – Oh yeah? Why don’t you buy a nice lawn sprinkler for us to run around under? This is the worst drought in 50 years. When are you gonna spend a few bucks for our comfort? The Labradors have a pool and a sprinkler. Why do Buddha and Gandhi get all the perks and all you do for us is invite Renee here to unleash her sheep-eating wolf-dogs on us!
Bluebell – Stop picking on Daddy Dear! I warned you and now you are going to get it…
My interview came to an abrupt halt, yet again, as Shirley and Bluebell squared off. They lowered their heads, stomped their feet and began ramming each other silly. As I scrambled for the gate…once more…I saw Pearl swishing and swaying her way past Gandhi as he lounged in the pool, under the gentle mist of the lawn sprinkler, sipping a cool drink.
Pearl – Oh Gandhi, don’t be jealous of Chris. He means nothing to me, though he is rather cute for a border collie. Did you see how he winked at me?
Alas, Gandhi paid no attention and refilled his iced tea, leaving Pearl to dream of a love that could never be. Having settled their dispute for the moment Shirley waddled away with a new lump on her skull. Bluebell donned her tutu and resumed ballet practice behind the lean-to. Her balance really is atrocious, poor thing.