A Sheepdog named Loppa

My first dog wasn?t mine. Her name was Loppa and she belonged to my granny. She was a farm dog.

016Loppa was a Border Collie and quite intelligent. Before she came to the farm there had been a string of dogs. At least three dogs had met unfortunate accidents with cars in the previous five years.

Before that time period there had been an excellent dog named Stubbur. He died when I was around five or six years old but I remember him vividly.

When Loppa came to us she was a simple and wonderful three months old puppy. She loved the car ride with my uncle from up north. From that time she always loved cars. If she saw anyone of us moving towards a car she was quick to jump into it as a door was opened.

She was the kind of dog who aims to please and loves to work. Her main purpose in life on the farm was to help with sheep. Both to gather sheep from the hillsides and also to keep them out of the hay fields. The latter was also my task in summer time.

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The author at age six.

It goes without saying, as we shared a common task, that we came to know each other quite well. Granny also had cows until Loppa was two years old and she also helped with moving them about.

When my father died I was ten years old and a year before that my parent had divorced. A year later I find myself observing my mother having sex with a drunk and unknown sailor. At eleven I find myself permanently sheltered by my grandmother on the farm.

My grandmother on my fathers side wasn?t one with rich emotional intelligence. She believed in the healing power of hard work and ?nonverbal nontouching warmth?.

She was a kind woman and very sensitive, but in her own grief for her son she was blind to the pains of her grandson. As such she was simply true to the spirit of the age which created her.

My granny was an amazing woman and she lived to be ninety six years old. It is now less than a year since she left her and her memory is one of delight only. She was firm in her values of friendship, diligence, accountability, self respect and love for the animals in her care. I learnt much from her and she is far closer to me than my mother ever will be.

There I am around ten years old, having lost my family, with one friend only: Loppa.

I loved to be outside in nature and used to wander the hills. I was never short of finding amusement being outside. Sometimes playing in the hills and the fields. Sometimes in the sheephouse or cowshed, sometimes in the horse fields. Always, without exception, Loppa was there with me.

As the years went on and I reached puberty there were many things to ponder. As the years grew on I learnt to live and to work. As can be expected I didn?t get much emotional intelligence from my granny or my uncles and aunts.

Somehow that dog was my best friend through those years and without me knowing, taught me more about love, trust, respect and friendship than I have learnt from others since.

It never occurred to me to learn how to train her. I wasn?t much interested in dog training in those years. I did observe however how Loppa was mistrained in her work with me uncles and aunts. I did observe how they made her feel bad about herself and how I rejected to treat her the way they did.

I do remember some moments of trying to learn to train her but it never went to far. I didn?t see the point.

I left the farm when I was seventeen. Loppa lived until I was twenty five. In those years I came home once in a while and Loppa always greeted me happily and i always love her.

08-016Somehow through the years I kept moving about, mostly living in Reykjav?k but also elsewhere including Ireland and other farms. Never could I forget about Loppa and always would my mind come back to the subject of Dogs. I wanted a dog and I wanted to to everything right which went wrong in her life.

I kept delaying until I was approaching forty. I found various reasons, among them that dogs didn?t belong in a city or I could provide the security needed as sometimes when you move house you cannot keep animals. How I went about changing those attitudes will be told later.

This is Loppa, my first dog and perhaps the reason for me having learnt excellence in dog training.

 

 

 

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About Guy Ellis

Has trained German Shepherd dogs for Search and Rescue years ago. Maintaines a pack of mixes and purebreds and lives with his pack and trains on a regular basis. Is a qualified instructor in dog training at a training club in Iceland.

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