She may have little legs, but she won’t let her stature hold her back, having landed the highly respected job of sheepdog at the busy farm where she lives.When Daphne, a two-year-old corgi, was bought for her owner Heather Rutter as a Christmas present, her family expected the pup to laze around the home. But she defied all the stereotypes by putting in plenty of hard work at the Lake District farm. Heather, 27, said Daphne found the role of herding sheep totally ‘instinctual’.
‘I think Daphne is the only sheep herding corgi in the UK, I have not heard of any other farms keeping corgis as anything other than pets,’ said Heather.
‘I have always thought corgis were great and filled with such funny personalities.
‘My fiancé, who is a farmer, said that he looked over my shoulder one day and I was looking at corgi puppies and decided to surprise me with Daphne for Christmas in 2018.
‘When we first got her, she was nervous when she was around the quad bikes, but after a couple of days she settled in and took to the sheep herding straight away, she was really keen for it.
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‘She did not need much training, it was instinctual for her. She copied the other dogs and she was great, a real natural at sheep herding.
‘We would just take her out working with us on the farm and on the quad, and slowly introduced her to the sheep so she could build her confidence with them and she was great.’
Daphne takes it upon herself to herd the sheep most days, and absolutely loves being outside and hard at work with the other dogs.
While her small legs mean she isn’t as fast as the other sheepdogs, Daphne doesn’t let that stop her from giving the task all she’s got.
‘She does try her best,’ Heather said. ‘When she is giving it her all, she is like a bullet flying across the land.
‘She does not have as much range as the other dogs either, so she is usually at the back and a bit closer to us while the other dogs bring the sheep closer.
‘That is when Daphne really comes in to play, as she is great at pushing the sheep forward and keeping them moving, after being gathered, with her barking.
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‘She is also really good during lambing season when sheep are a lot harder to move.
‘Day to day she works with one or two working border collies to herd over one hundred sheep. She works well with the other dogs and they keep her involved.
‘She has picked up the commands well, she is really good at recalls when we want her to come back. She sometimes struggles with the left and right commands unlike our border collies, but she has picked up learning the land which is great.’
Daphne is described by Heather as a well-behaved, energetic and loving dog, with a hint of sass.
Heather adds: ‘Daphne has a dominant personality, she is the boss of all of our four collies.
‘We have to feed her in a separate room because she can get food aggressive and try and steal their meals.
‘She lives inside the house, and I definitely spoil her compared to the working collies that we have. I love to treat her to some cheese and ham, that is her favourite.
‘Because she is so low to the ground, she gets filthy very easily, so we also do have to have frequent shower times too.
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‘Daphne loves getting on the quad bikes now, as soon as she hears the engine she runs over and jumps on the back and is ready to go.
‘She loves racing and chasing the other dogs too, she has an endless amount of energy.’
Beyond the pride of a job well done, Daphne’s efforts in sheepherding have also gained her plenty of admiration from her peers.
Heather said: ‘When people find out that we have a corgi as a sheepherder they love it. She is well known in our local area, all the farmers love her.
‘People are always asking if we are going to breed her. She is fabulous, we love having a corgi as a sheepdog.’
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