We approached the gate tentatively, the large, snarling, barking yellow dog ensured that we weren’t going to go through it, and called through the open kitchen door to a woman washing the dishes. The barking of the yellow hound kicked off a ruckus of noise from a kennel block behind a nearby wall; lots of dogs, all baying for our blood by the sound of it.
“Hello” she called and walked towards us.
”Hello there”, I shouted over the din “have you lost a sheepdog?”
”A sheepdog?” she asked, looking puzzled “why?”
I explained that we’d been camping on Arenig Fawr the previous night and on our approach, we’d been followed by a sheepdog for about two hours, which had appeared from nowhere and then stayed with us as we climbed higher, pitched camp and made tea and chatted until it got too cold to sit out any longer.
It appeared to be a young dog, fur matted at the back end by sheep dung and it was very nervous and wouldn’t come close enough to even take some of our offered food, despite looking very hungry and lonely. We resolved that if it was still here in the morning we would try and get a lead (a guy rope is what we decided in the end) around it’s neck and lead it down to the nearest farm.
We heard it bark once in the night, but come the early morning dawn it was gone. We took our time breaking camp and the smell of cooked food from both of us should have been enough to bring it close, if it was within range of the smells, but it didn’t reappear.
Other circumstances drove us down the valley in the morning, cutting the walk short and thus found us standing at the gate of the first farmhouse we’d come to.
“What colour was it?” the woman asked.
”A fairly standard black and white Border Collie colour” I said.
”Dog or bitch?” she enquired, I said I had no idea.
”Oh, well, I don’t know if we’re missing one” she said, “I think we’ve got about 8 of them”
This pretty much ended the conversation. I was astounded that a farmer (or even his wife) wouldn’t know if they were missing a sheepdog, or that they would have to give me an estimate of the number they kept. I know these animals aren’t treated as pets, but surely you’d notice if one of them went walkies and didn’t come back?
This was the highlight of our Welsh backpacking weekend – one to be forgotten and nuff said on the matter I think.