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Nell's Game

 Test Your Beardie’s Creative Thinking!  

    The ability to think for himself and to solve problems is one of the most fascinating aspects of the Beardie character and vital to the working Beardie who specializes in  gathering sheep in mountainous country out of sight of the shepherd. I love to give my Beardies new opportunities for problem-solving and I always enjoy seeing how each individual comes up with her own particular solution to the task.

   Here is a simple multi-retrieve game that you can play at home to encourage your Beardie to develop his thinking skills. It was invented by my bitch Nell and is now a great favourite with her mother and sisters.

       How to play:

1)      Throw a retrieve article and send your Beardie to fetch it.

   2)      As he brings it towards you, throw a second one and tell him to fetch.

3)      Don’t tell him how to do it: let him work it out for himself.

   I use ‘Fling-Rings’ (see photos) which will either fly through the air or spin along the ground like a wheel. The Beardies love them and they are ideal for this game because they are easy to carry—not only in the mouth but over the head and neck as well, which is especially useful in the next stage of the game. Once the Beardie has mastered the principle of retrieving a second ring while still carrying the first, I add a third and then more. The Beardies love to play this at great speed, preferably on a steep slope where the rings spin fast downhill. Nan, with a mouthful of rings, races after the next one, stops its flight with a blow from her front foot, then carefully places those in her mouth on top of it, noses them all into a neat stack and picks up the whole lot together.

Carrying one ring Nan uses her foot to stop the next one


 Merle prefers to scoop up the spinning ring without breaking her stride or dropping her load.


    While the ever-inventive Nell likes to try a new method every time. 

Nell adds another ring to her load.....




 And brings back her collection....

Nell holds the record, having managed to retrieve seven rings together, but her sister Merle and mother Nan have both managed six on occasion    They can do the more formal things  too of course and all three were awarded the B.C.C. Senior Working Test Medal at an early age--- Nan at two years and Nell and Merle at just fifteen months.

 Do let me know how you get on: I would love to see some photos of your Beardie’s method. ‘Nell’s Game’ could become an international craze! Have fun – that’s what Beardies are best at!

                                                          Lynne Sharpe

                                                                  2008        Copyright


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