M62 farmer Jill Thorpe sees value in the bond between boy and dog

After many months of endless nagging and pleading I finally conceded and agreed that it was time for our son, John-William to have a dog of his own. My little Teckel bitch had had a litter of pups but he wanted a sheepdog to help out with his ever increasing flock of sheep.

Read Jill Thorpe's new column first by picking up The Yorkshire Post each Saturday.

Pearl, one of our working bitches was due any time, so he eagerly awaited the arrival of his pup. One evening I heard shrieks of excitement coming from the dog pens and knew that she must have pupped. We gave her space but by the following morning there was no stopping John-William and after a careful prod and poke at each one he laid claim to a bitch with a big white collar and then proudly announced that she was to be called Bramble.

Since the day she left her mother’s side, Bramble has been our son’s shadow, following him up hill and down dale. As she is now seven months old, days of towing her round in a trailer behind his pedal John Deere tractor are long gone, but nevertheless he finds ways to involve her in all his activities. Activities that only an innocent yet imaginative five-year-old can conjure!

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

We kept another pup,Annie, from the litter with the intention of Paul working her in the future. A beautiful, sleek smooth coated bitch, the type he always picks. However, over the last few months his allegiance with Annie has somewhat slipped and he now favours the outgoing, boisterous temperament of Bramble.

On several occasions I’ve been witness to playful banter between father and son for it only to descend into tears and tantrums, usually those of my husband as our son smugly strides away with Bramble at his side.

Last week the first of his ewes gave birth. He proudly marched into the house and announced its arrival whilst grabbing a can of John Deere green marker spray to ensure that daddy wouldn’t mistake it for one of his.

Despite being told that he couldn’t keep all his lambs and that his flock was already getting rather large, John-William was quick to take advantage of the ever increasing cade lamb pen. With numbers reaching in excess of 30, I’d split them up into different pens only to discover one day that somebody had been in and had a reshuffle.

A strange collection of odds and sods had been put into a large pen and all had been liberally and artistically adorned with green marker spray. By some good fortune, the majority of which are gimmer lambs and no doubt will be joining his flock.

I have always struggled with a guilty twinge when I see John-William playing alone. As an only child, living on an isolated farm with no friends close by, he has had to make do with his own company. But when I see the bond he shares with Bramble my worry lifts somewhat.

He unashamedly holds quite lengthy conversations with her, pours his heart out to her after a bad day at school and even shares his sausage sandwiches with her.